Do you enjoy being outside on a sunny day? The sun brings the urge to sit back, relax, and take it easy. It is great to feel the warmth of the sun and stretch out for a nap. Dogs feel the same as most people about taking time out to enjoy a lazy day in the sun. The sun is one of nature’s sources of feel good energy when it is not too hot. Just the right amount of the sun’s rays and the right length of time will be beneficial to you and your dog. Sunshine in the right doses offers more than just that warm fuzzy feeling. It is a source of vitamin D for man and animals. Vitamin D is a hormone that works hard to help the body create phosphorus and calcium. These minerals are absorbed into the body and help with healthy bones and muscle and nerve control. We need vitamin D and so do our dogs. Sunlight helps produce a chemical that is absorbed through the skin and into the body. We can do this directly through our skin, but dogs have fur, so the process is slightly different, but the benefits are the same.
The Root of the Behavior
Dogs seem to know instinctively that the sun is good for them. Some dogs are lucky to have free access to a sunny spot outside while others need to find a place where the sun warms up a corner of the room. It might be under a window or on a favorite chair, but you will see every pooch will take advantage of a chance to stretch out and enjoy the sun. Knowing the benefits of this activity will help you understand why your dog chooses to lie in the sun. It is good to know how amazing nature is and how it has provided a way to get the goodness from the sun to our furry friends. One of the main benefits of lying in the sun is the way the energy from the sun helps your dog to produce vitamin D and can get the vitamin absorbed into the body. Dogs and furry creatures must lick their fur to get the beneficial vitamin D they need. In human terms the absorption of vitamin D happens directly through the skin. Dogs, well most of them, have fur and so nature has decided that by licking their fur dogs will still get to absorb that vital vitamin as they groom themselves. Vitamin D helps with building calcium and the calcium is needed for healthy bones. There are other important positive things that come with a little sun tanning. Lying out in the sun helps create the feel-good mood enhancer called serotonin. It is a natural anti-depressant so stretching out in the sun increases serotonin and just makes you feel good. Taking advantage of a bit of time out in the sun is a great stress reliever. Try it with your dog and see how relaxed you become. Sunshine increases melatonin in the body and encourages sleep. Dogs are known to rest with more tranquility. Your dog is not aware of these scientific benefits, but he will notice how the warmth of the sun is restful and a happy place to be. Older dogs will always enjoy having a bit of extra warmth to ease their weary bones. Sunshine is a great way to turn up the heat for an hour or two but it is wise to be cautious about too much sun and always have water on hand in-case of dehydration.
Encouraging the Behavior
Snoopy says, ‘Have a sun shiny day.’ And in his cartoon the picture shows the Beagle, Snoopy, with his sunglasses on looking ready for a sunny day. Dogs do enjoy sunshine and gravitate to that sunny spot. Sunshine is beneficial It is good to encourage some time in the sun to let that vitamin D get absorbed into the body. Increased amounts of calcium, created by the vitamin D, will help keep bones healthy and prevent osteoporosis. Dogs, like the American Staffordshire Terrier, and other stocky breeds benefit from an improved nervous system and muscle control. A bit of sunshine is probably going to encourage you and your dog to go out for a walk or some exercise and that is going to be a feel-good experience for you both. There is something tranquil about seeing a dog completely relaxed and lying in the sun. A real air of contentment. Knowing that while your dog is resting nature is busy working is a great feeling. Lying in the sun is not a waste of time by any means! You can look at your contented dog and remember there are other benefits of vitamin D absorption, serotonin, calcium and phosphorus, relaxation and improved rest. All a great chemical balance for your dog and the only thing that had to be done was sit in the sun.
Other Solutions and Considerations
It really can be true to say, ‘Mother Nature knows best.’ We only see what goes on the outside and don’t stop and think for a moment about the inside. Nature has provided a perfect source of pet therapy. Dogs and people can take a break on Nature’s sun-bed and at the same time vitamin D is being absorbed. It is amazing that furry creatures just know they will be licking themselves after a session in the sun. Then the vitamin D will not go to waste but will be absorbed as your dog licks his fur. Lying in the sun is a natural behavior that is good for dogs and humans alike. Since you are the dogs care giver it will be up to you to keep an eye on the amount of sunshine he is exposed to and the safety of your sun worshiper.
John Denver, the country singer, sang about sunshine. His lovely country song was a big hit. ‘Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy, and ‘If I had a wish I could wish for you I’d make a wish for sunshine all the while.’ It is wonderful to share a sun shiny experience with your canine friend and if Fido could speak he would probably say, as he lies back in the sunshine: ‘This is just pawfect!’