Why Do Dogs Lay in the Sun? 5 Key Health Benefits

Published September 1, 2022
Dog On Meadow At Sunset

Have you ever seen your dog laying in the sun? You probably asked yourself, "Why is my dog doing that?" It seems like they may overheat, although they do tend to look fairly comfortable. When you see your dog laying in the sun, you might think they're just relaxing or taking a nap. But there's actually a lot more going on than meets the eye.

Dogs Love the Heat

Sunlight is a natural source of warmth, and dogs have evolved to enjoy the benefits of that warmth. Dogs are descended from wolves, and wolves are very social animals. One of the ways they show their affection for one another is by lying together in the sun. Dogs follow suit because it helps them stay warm in cold climates and helps them cool down when it's too hot to move around outside.

Another reason why dogs like to lay in the sun is because of its soothing effects on their paws and noses. If you ever get a cut or burn on your skin, you know how soothing it feels when someone applies aloe vera gel or other kinds of lotion onto your wound. Dogs feel similar sensations when exposed to UV rays from sunlight. This is one reason why tanning salons use UV light therapy as part of their services; it helps relieve pain associated with arthritis and other joint diseases.

Regulating Body Temperature

If you're a dog owner, you've probably noticed that your canine companion is more likely to lay out in the sun than their human counterparts. This may be because they're trying to stay warm. Dogs are known as "warm-blooded" animals, meaning that they maintain a constant body temperature of around 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Dogs can feel heat and cold through their paws, so laying in the sun helps them regulate their body temperature. Because they have no sweat glands, they need to cool themselves off by panting, which is much more effective when they're laying down.

Accordingly, if it's warm outside and your pooch seems like they want nothing more than a good sunbath, it's probably because they are trying their best not only for comfort but instinctively for survival.

Sleeping in the Sun

Basset Hound sunbathes on his back in the living room at home

If you've ever seen a dog lying in the sun, you might have thought that they were enjoying themselves. After all, they look like they're having fun! But dogs can actually get sunburned and develop skin cancer from too much exposure to UV rays. What's going on here?

Why do some dogs nod off for hours at a time when it's sunny out? It turns out that there's more to this behavior than just laziness or being part lizard. In fact, there are several reasons why your dog might be laying down to soak up some rays, and all of them have something to do with how sensitive their bodies are to ultraviolet radiation.

The most obvious reason for lying down in the sun is that it feels nice. Dogs have a human-like reaction to sunlight, meaning they feel warmer when exposed to UV rays. They might lie on their backs with all four paws outstretched, as if they are soaking up a warm bath, or roll over so that their stomachs are exposed to the world. Dogs do not absorb very much vitamin D through sun exposure, but they still enjoy the sensation of sunlight on their coat and skin.

That's not all, though. Dogs also need to warm up, particularly if they've gotten cold after taking a dip in some water or rolling around on wet grass. It makes sense if they're feeling chilly. What's better than curling up under your favorite blanket and letting the sun do its work? For dogs with short coats who don't have much insulation against the elements, lying down in order to get some sunlight can soothe their chills.

Healthy Skin and Coat

Sunlight helps to keep your dog's coat healthy. You may have noticed that when you take your dog out on sunny days, their coats seem shinier and cleaner than they did when they were in the house all day. This is because sunlight helps to keep the skin underneath their fur healthy, which then makes their coat healthier as a result. When you expose your pup to plenty of sunshine, it can help prevent dandruff and fleas from forming on their skin.

Prevent Depression

Sunlight can help your dog stay happy, healthy, and active. Dogs are social animals and need interaction with other dogs and humans. However, if your dog doesn't get enough social interaction or has been alone for an extended period of time, they may become depressed.

Sunlight provides an effective remedy for this problem. In humans, it increases serotonin levels in the brain, which helps relieve depression, and something similar may be occurring in dogs. Some experts believe that the effects of sunlight on serotonin levels are stronger than those produced by antidepressants.

Don't Overdo It

Of course, limits are necessary. Dogs should not be left outside in direct sunlight for extended periods. Sunburn can lead to skin cancer, and your dog's skin is much thinner than yours. If you're bringing your dog along on a trip to the beach or just hanging out under the sun with them while doing yard work, make sure they have sufficient shade at all times.

The same goes if it's too hot or too cold outside; make sure your pup has access to shade and water when appropriate. And don't forget that during inclement weather (rain or snow), dogs should still be kept indoors!

Keep an eye out for signs of heat stroke or sickness in the event that your canine companion needs some extra TLC in order to enjoy their time spent basking in nature's glory.

Sunshine in Moderation is Beneficial

In short, dogs just love to lay in the sun. It's a great way for them to relax and enjoy themselves. When you think about it, there are many reasons why dogs like to do this. They like the heat, they just like it, or they want something soft against their backsides, such as grass, when laying down outside. They feel safer being near you when outside during the daytime hours. As a bonus, sunlight can aid in reducing the risk of many diseases and disorders associated with inflammation, vitamin, and mineral deficiency.

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Why Do Dogs Lay in the Sun? 5 Key Health Benefits