A bright sunlit day is always welcome to all. Like human beings, animals too try and derive the most from a bright sunny day. Dogs never stop entertaining. All the funny things that your four legged best friend does are quite a delight to watch.
Sometimes dogs also do stuff that human beings love doing, for instance, lazing around in the sun. A true dog lover can actually understand how what it means to have a dog accompany you while sunbathing. While humans love sunbathing to acquire a healthy tan, have you ever wondered why your canine companion might be indulging in the same?
In summers, people enjoy spending the day at the beach with glares on, applying a sunscreen lotion and simply spread out on a towel or a mat. Surprising enough dogs can also be observed just stretched out in the sun and doing nothing. Getting a tan is definitely not their goal – like humans dogs do not need to get a tan. This implies that there is another reason for this proclivity, one that lies beyond the feel-good factor of soaking the sun’s warmth. It entails generation of Vitamin D within the body, one of the nutrients that are essential for both human beings and animals.
Is that the only reason? There is more to this phenomenon.
Dogs and Their Love for Sun’s Rays
On a sunny day, canines love to spend their day outdoor, but it not just for the love of it. Their body generates Vitamin D and in addition, the warmth also serves to regulate body temperature. Therefore when it is a bright sunlit day, unleash your dog and let it benefit physiologically as also emotionally by bathing in the sun.
How Does Vitamin D Form In a Dog’s Body?
In dogs, Vitamin D performs the dual role of a vitamin as also a hormone. A dog’s body is not capable of producing calcium without the presence of Vitamin D. This vitamin also acts as a hormone when the dog’s system manufactures it with the help of direct sunlight.
Vitamin D is present in the fatty tissues of the body and the liver of a dog. It helps in regulating the quantities of calcium and phosphorus – both minerals develop and strengthen bones in a dog’s body. Vitamin D obtained from the sun is important not only in forming bones but also for effective control of muscles and nerves.
A study by the Pet Education says that retention of calcium in the dog’s body is stimulated by the presence of Vitamin D, which in turn stimulates preservation of calcium in the kidneys. Although the sun’s rays help in generating this vital nutrient, a dog’s diet acts as the main source of this vitamin.
In What Ways Do Sun’s Rays Benefit a Dog?
In a human body, the sun’s rays split or break down the oils in the skin that produce Vitamin D. When exposed to direct sunlight, the Ultra Violet rays (UV rays) react with the oil in our skin by breaking the chemical bonds, thereby generating Vitamin D3. Through the process of dermal absorption, this Vitamin is channelled back into the body and blood stream. The duration of this process is not much, taking up merely fifteen to twenty minutes.
Dogs possess the same chemical in their skin, and thus the process is same. The difference lies in the fact that the furry coat of a dog does not allow efficient absorption of the vitamin thus generated. As a result, Vitamin D3 is left on their fur. Dogs take in this left-over vitamin orally when they spruce themselves by licking. Hence the licking action is not just restricted to grooming but also makes up for the inefficient absorption of Vitamin D.
Apart from these advantages sun’s rays also help improve the canine’s ability to sleep. By regulating the body temperature, sun’s rays help a dog to sleep well, which is essential for the well being of any living being, be it humans or animals.
Can an Overdose of Sun’s Rays Cause Harm?
An overdose/overexposure can never be good and sun’s rays are no exception to this rule. Increased exposure to Sun might cause your beloved canine to suffer from sun-burns, or worse still from deadly diseases like skin cancer. Dogs, especially with short and thin coats, minimal hair, white or light colored furs are more vulnerable to sun-burns. However, they have a stronger sense than any other animals – if the sun’s rays are too much for the dog to sustain, they instantly seek shelter.
In order to save your dog from sunburns and to make sure the canine does not miss out the fun on a sunny day, you can use a dog-safe sunscreen. Various brands are available in the market to prevent sunburns from forming on your dog’s coat. You should be careful about not using a human sunscreen on your dog because it contains zinc, a mineral that is lethal and harmful for your dog.
Related Post: Best Sunscreens for Dogs
Like human beings, dogs too are at a high risk of developing skin cancer if exposed to direct sunlight over an extended duration. The only shield that can effectively protect your dog from this deadly disease is again a dog-safe sunscreen. Apart from sunburn and skin cancer, chances of a heat stroke occurring in a dog cannot be ruled out altogether.
Therefore, before exposing your dog to sun, make sure it is well hydrated and well taken care of. Do not ruin your and your pet’s fun in the sun by being too casual.
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Does Your Dog Have A Favorite Spot?
All that this adorable and faithful creature requires is a good and caring master. But when it comes to choosing a favourite sunny spot, these animals do excel in picking the best. They nominate a small corner or niche as their own feel-good area. Be it a window pane or a door carpet, dogs never let go of a single ray. They make full use of the sunny spot that they have claimed as their own.
Hence, next time if you see your dog lazing around in the sun, do not disturb. It is taking good care of itself by proactively producing vitamin D, thereby ensuring its own well being.
- Keep Pets Safe In The Heat, The Humane Society of the United States
- Summer Fun in the Sun: Hot Weather Safety Tips for Your Pets, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals