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Why Do Dogs Sunbathe?

David Fields
Last Updated on
by David Fields

Dogs seem to love sunbathing just as much as humans do. As soon as they see sun rays, they immediately seek a sunny spot to enjoy its warmth. But why do dogs lay in the sun?

Laying in the sun feels great to dogs. The warmth helps them regulate their body temperature.  However, it does more than just make them feel good because laying in the sun offers many health benefits, too.

They get sun vitamins just like us, but they get them in a much different way. So why do dogs lay in the sun, and what benefits do they get from it? Let’s find out.

Why Do Dogs Lay in the Sun
Dog Laying In Sun

Why Do Dogs Lay in the Sun?

Dogs like to lay in the sun for several reasons such as rest, warmth, and for vitamin D.


When dogs feel tired and want to take a break, they look for a sunny and warm spot to lie down. So, if you wonder why do dogs lay in the sun, the answer is simple. It feels relaxing to them, just like it does to us. When they lie in the sun, they feel calm and relaxed.

So, the next time you catch your pooch laying there in the sun, don’t disturb them because they are probably just getting a little rest.


Dogs enjoy the sun’s warmth, just like we do. There’s a good reason why both humans and dogs love sunbathing because the sun’s warmth feels great on our skin. Lying in the sun feels great for our dogs, but it also helps regulate their body temperature, which can help them during colder seasons.

For senior dogs with joint pains, the sun’s warmth lessens their pain and makes them feel more comfortable.

Vitamin D

The sun not only helps in regulating the dog’s body temperature, but it also helps in the production of vitamin D in their body. Vitamin D is regarded as a pro-hormone that helps dogs absorb calcium. Dogs get it through exposure to direct sunlight.

The vitamin D that is produced is stored in their hair and fatty tissues. Additionally, vitamin D helps regulate the calcium and phosphorus balance in their body, which is a must for bone formation. Vitamin D is also beneficial in nerve and muscle control. The majority of the vitamin D used by the body can be obtained through diet, but a significant portion can be gained through exposure to direct sunlight.

Unlike in humans, the processing of vitamin D is different for dogs because they have fur. They can’t absorb vitamin D into their bodies. Thus, the vitamin remains underneath the fur. They can only absorb it once they lick their fur and groom themselves. This is also the reason why the majority of vitamin D comes through their diet.


Another reason why dogs like to lay in the sun is that it increases their serotonin levels. Serotonin is the hormone responsible for stabilizing our mood and happiness. No wonder being in sunlight makes our dogs feel relaxed. And it makes them happier, too.

So, the next time you find your dog sunbathing, join him and take advantage of it as it is a great stress reliever! Let both of your serotonin levels go up.

Microbial Effect

Aside from increasing serotonin levels to make our dogs happier, another great reason why dogs sunbathe is the sunlight’s microbial effect. In fact, the sun plays an antibacterial role that helps our dog’s skin stay healthy and clean, killing yeast and bacteria that grows on their skin. The sunlight stops any bacteria from growing and spreading further.

Is Sunbathing Harmful for Dogs?

In general, sunbathing is a very healthy activity. Sunlight has many health benefits, such as producing serotonin, keeping their body warm, and getting rid of unwanted microbes and bacteria. Dogs’ instinctive behavior teaches them that getting sunlight is beneficial for them.

Let your dog lay in the sun if they want to do so, and you should also ensure that they have clean and fresh water close to them to avoid dehydration. There must be a shady spot nearby so they can stay there once they feel they have had enough of the sun.

Even though sunbathing offers many health benefits, too much is not good for your dog. If they are in the sun for too long, it can cause serious health problems such as:

  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heatstroke
  • Skin cancer

Always remember to stay close to your dog while they are outside to ensure that they aren’t spending too much time under the heat of the sun. As a general rule, if you feel you have had enough of the sun already, you can bet your dog has had enough of it, too. So be aware of when you and your dog have spent enough time outdoors in the sun.

How Much Sun Do Dogs Need Daily?


According to experts, your dog must get 20-30 minutes of sunlight twice daily to reap the many benefits of sunlight. For larger breeds, they need 40 minutes twice daily. The time of exposure is also crucial. The kind and amount of sunlight that our dogs enjoy can affect their circadian rhythm.

Different hours of the day can produce various UV and UVB light levels, which are essential in their circadian rhythm. Thus, it’s recommended to let them out for 30 minutes early in the morning, another 15 minutes during midday, and the last 30 minutes in the late afternoon or early evening.


Now you know why do dogs like to lay in the sun. Like many things in life, sunlight is a balancing act. Our dogs need enough sun to realize the many benefits that it provides, but not too much.

Also, remember to spend time outdoors yourself together with your pooch. It’s the perfect time to bond with each other and stay mentally and physically healthy in the process.

About David Fields
David Fields
David Fields is a long-time animal lover and has been blessed to share his life with many companions. A short list includes ragdoll cats, siberian husky and greyhound dogs, an African Grey parrot, many fish of all sorts, and a pandemonium of parakeet. He writes most of the articles on iPetCompanion and is regularly featured on other popular websites on the Internet.
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