Odds are that your dog likes to lay in the sun. Sunlight is warm and comforting and usually lulls our pups to sleep for long periods of time. Other than feeling good, however, is light really necessary for our canine companions to thrive? The short answer is yes! Sunlight has a rich melody of beneficial effects for dogs from improving mood to preventing illness. So with spring officially here and the light getting warmer and lasting longer, it’s the perfect time to learn why your dog should get outside for some much needed sunlight!
It Promotes Restful Sleep
Sunlight helps with controlling sleep patterns in your dog by altering their circadian rhythm and producing melatonin. Exposing your dog to early morning sunlight essentially pushes their sleep schedule to an earlier time, meaning your pup will start to get sleepy earlier in the evening and probably wake up earlier as well. Having them get late afternoon to evening sunlight usually means they will stay awake later into the night and sleep more during the day. Knowing this, it’s easier to help your pup get to sleep sooner or stay on a healthy sleep schedule by choosing when you take them outside for play time or a nice, long walk. Sunlight also helps to produce melatonin in the brain which will tell your dog it’s time for some shut eye. We guess that’s why our dogs are always napping in the sun!
It Improves Your Dog’s Mood
Just like in us humans, dogs can get hit with the winter blues when the sun stays out for a shorter time and the light reaches them less. However, as the days get longer and the sunlight gets warmer, it increases the production of serotonin in the brain which leads to a sense of happiness and keeps depression and anxiety at bay. Dogs, too, can feel anxious, depressed and angry when stuck inside all the time and can actually suffer from a lack of serotonin. Bringing your dog out into the sunshine, however, increases this chemical as well as helps regulate body temperature. Coupled with the fact that dogs need daily exercise to help stimulate their brains and bodies, bringing your pup out for some playtime in the sun can only do them a world of good!
It Helps Keep Them Healthy
Everyone knows that sunlight helps produce vitamin D in humans, but did you know it’s the same for our dogs? When UV rays from the sun come in contact with skin, they interact with natural cholesterol in order to promote the production of vitamin D, which then enters the body. While dogs don’t usually get as much vitamin D from the sun as us humans (their fur gets in the way!), they still absorb enough to help strengthen their bones and teeth, keep cognitive thinking sharp, and even help fight certain cancers. On top of this, exposure to natural sunlight directly activates key immune cells by increasing their movement and production. therefore strengthening your dog’s immune system. In short, there are many wonderful benefits to your dog’s health by letting them bathe in sunlight!
It Keeps Them Feeling Good
On top of producing vitamin D, serotonin, and cell growth, all things that promote good health and happiness in your dog, sunlight can also ease their physical aches and pains such as arthritis and rheumatism. Working as a natural heat pack, sunlight can warm up the muscles in your dog’s body and help relax away pain at a cellular level. Older dogs, specifically, can benefit from the warmth and natural pain relief that comes from laying in the sun. On top of this, sunlight can also kill certain bacteria and yeast that live on the skin and in the fur of your canine companion. Specifically, anaerobic bacteria, which thrive in dark, damp places, in susceptible to sunlight and will dry out and die when exposed to it. This means clearer, healthier and less itchy skin for your dog!
Like all things in life, exposing your dog to sunlight should be done in moderation. Too much direct sunlight and for long periods of time can actually have negative side affects for your pup and leave them feeling dehydrated, groggy, and more susceptible to skin disease or cancer. When out for appropriate amounts of time and under the watchful eye of their owners, however, dogs benefit from the natural healing properties of the sun and thrive in the warmth and light. As the days get longer and the light lasts later, it’s the perfect time to shake those winter blues and get you and your dog out for some much needed spring sunlight!