We all love summer. Sunbathing in a park or beach is simply a relaxing and joyous activity. We aren’t the only ones that seem to embrace summer and the sun; our furry friends do so too!
If you’re a dog owner, you must have caught your dog lying in front of the window or on the patio sunbathing, never really wondering why? Mainly because you have seen your dog excessively panting after a walk during summertime or have been constantly told not to leave your dogs in the car if it’s sunny outside. Why is it that dogs can’t handle the heat but love to lay in the sun?
Why Dogs Like Laying In The Sun
Apart from laying in the sun just being a comforting experience, when we humans layout in the sun, the rays help create vitamin D by breaking down the oils in our skin. Vitamin D is essential to regulate the amount of phosphate and calcium in the body. These nutrients help keep the bones and muscles healthy. Lack of vitamin D can lead to a condition called Osteomalacia in adults or rickets in children. These same conditions can also occur in your dogs; Vitamin D is necessary for bone formation and muscle and nerve control.
Dogs have the same chemical reaction on their skin when the sun’s rays hit them. However, they don’t automatically and efficiently absorb this nutrient because of their fur. Vitamin D stays on their fur till they lick and groom themselves. It is vital to make sure this nutrient is part of their diet in some cases. There is, however, a fine line between the right amount of Vitamin D and excessive amounts. Some dog owners fear that their dogs might not be getting enough vitamin D, so they resort to vitamin D supplements.
Too Much Vitamin D In Dogs
Extra doses of Vitamin D can start accumulating in your dog’s body and progress to several complications like kidney problems and the formulation of calcium stones. Thus, it is essential that you consult a professional before adding extra supplements to your dog’s diet. The vet can test your dog’s blood and determine whether supplements are needed.
Like us, prolonged exposure to the sun can be harmful to dogs. As much as our little friends love to sunbathe, they too can experience the side effects of the sun, like sunburn and, in some cases, skin cancer. Dogs lack sweat glands, so they can quickly overheat if not provided with shade or a cool area during hot summer days. Your dog might be particularly susceptible to sunburn if they are a hairless breed; however, areas like their ears and tongue can experience the side effects even if they have fur. Dogs with light fur or even white coloured fur are also susceptible to sunburns.
To avoid any harmful effects of the sun’s rays on your dog, you must ensure that your dog has well ventilated and shaded areas. Dogs instinctively know when they are about to overheat and move towards cooler shadier areas. You also need to ensure that your dogs are well hydrated, especially during summers.
You could also invest in a dog-safe sunscreen, especially if you tend to spend time outside in the sun. Ensure that the sunscreen does not include zinc oxide, which is toxic to pets.
Dogs and Sunbathing
Some dog owners might feel that their dog isn’t getting enough Vitamin D. This can be a case if you live in colder areas of the world, like the Scandinavian countries or Canada, etc. Sunbathing in these areas provides dogs with essential nutrients and helps regulate their body temperature. However, these areas are also notorious for having long winters with barely any sun, so how can your dog get the benefits of the sun?
Apart from providing your dogs with supplements after consulting the vet, you can also set up a UV bulb/ lighting. The light from these bulbs can, to some extent, have the same effect as direct sun rays. However, it’s best to consult the vet about any such product. Also, you shouldn’t leave your dog in this UV light for long periods. The light from the UV bulb can cause skin irritation and even eye damage.
In some areas, even when you do get the sun but don’t step out much, your dog will not be reaping the full benefits of sunbathing. Vitamin D cannot be formed in the body without direct interaction with the sun’s Ultra-violet rays. Your windows, these days, are manufactured with material that blocks these rays. Thus, your dog lying in front of the window sunbathing will not be able to make the necessary nutrient. Encourage your dog to spend a few hours outside in the sun, ensuring they have access to shade and water.
I hope this article helps you gain a little more understanding of your dog’s peculiar habits!