6 Reasons Why Your Dog Loves to Sunbathe + 3 Cute Tips

Ah, the sun. It can turn even the most active dogs into baking couch potatoes.

But what drives them to search for those perfect spots by the window to nap in the rays of the sun?

Continue reading to learn why your dog loves to sunbathe, the benefits and dangers, and 3 cute tips to keep your pup protected.

Tan chihuahua wearing red sunglasses and a red collar sunbathing in a park next to a yellow rubber duck

6 Reasons Why Your Dog Loves to Sunbathe

#1: Relaxing

The self-evident reason. See your pup’s troubles melt away as they make their way to “the spot.”

In the way that humans nap spontaneously on warm afternoons, dogs take any opportunity they can to nap and relax beneath the sun’s rays.

It helps them regulate their body temperature and, more importantly, fall asleep.

Be sure to keep your camera handy for the perfect nap pose.

#2: Soothes Pain

Nothing hits a dog parent as hard as knowing their pup is in pain.

Thankfully, there is a free way to begin healing your dog.

Author and DVM Ihor Basko promotes the many benefits of sunshine for your pup. “Sunlight speeds up healing,” Dr. Basko explains. “It increases the production of endorphins, which are good for pain.”

And as a bonus…

#3: Antibacterial Properties

a tan chihuahua sunbathing with squinty eyes on the patio
Leo, our Chihuahua, sunbathing on the patio

A dog licking its wounds is an instinctual act, but it might make things worse. Fortunately, the light from the sun plays a pivotal role as an anti-bacterial.

Dr. Basko notes again, “Sunshine can kill the extraneous yeast and bacteria that can grow in wounds. Sunlight helps dry out wounds and helps kill microscopic fungi.”

Light from the sun is so effective with wounds that certain veterinary hospitals carry full-spectrum lighting in the recovery area to mimic sunlight and impart its benefits to your pup. 

#4: Circadian Rhythm Regulation

a tan chihuahua sunbathing and yawning on the patio
Leo, our Chihuahua, sunbathing and getting sleepy

This goes out to the dog owners feeling the struggle of midnight pups, the ones who get up at all hours of the night.

Did you know that sunlight in the morning helps wake up the metabolic process in your dog, but the late sun helps wind things down?

While blue light, which is at its strongest in the morning, wakes up a dog’s metabolic system, the red light from the evening sun triggers an increase in melatonin and prepares your dog for the night cycle of their circadian rhythm.

Unfortunately, this phase for your dog to wind down is often interrupted by artificial lights with their higher levels of blue light.

For the sake of your dog’s sleep, be sure to limit their exposure to screens from tablets to tv.

To ensure your dog’s circadian rhythm runs smoothly, get them out in the sun during the three most critical times of the day; morning, noon, and before sunset.

#5: Mood Booster

While it’s true that we dog owners often misinterpret our pupper’s expression as a recognizable human emotion (like thinking a panting dog is happy because we see a smile), our dogs nonetheless experience a range of emotions.

From exciting highs to crippling lows, our furry buddies feel it all. Sometimes they can fall into a slump, just like us. To help recover from this hole, our dogs turn to the sun for a little boost.

Exposure to sunlight can help animals produce serotonin which generates feelings of well-being.

Next time you have a grumpy or anxious dog on your hands, try letting him catch some of the sun’s good vibes.

#6: Warmth

a tan chihuahua sunbathing on the patio

Dogs love warmth, and the sun provides it in droves.

Your pup might be chasing the warmth of the sun to compensate for a cold house or yard.

Dogs enjoy basking in the warm sun and often seek out spots that receive direct sunlight.

While your dog might be sunbathing to stay warm, it’s important not to let them overheat.

Do Dogs Get Vitamin D From the Sun?

a tan chihuahua sunbathing inside lying on his mat with his teddy bear
Leo, our Chihuahua, sunbathing with his teddy bear

They don’t get much, if any, Vitamin D from the sun.

Dogs and cats do not get vitamin D from sun exposure and must therefore get it through nutrition.

While the sun produces sebaceous oil on their coats that can be ingested during grooming, this amount does not fill your dog’s needs for vitamin D.

Your pup should get a reliable amount of vitamin D from a balanced diet, but it can also be supplemented with certain dairy products, fish liver oil, and multivitamins.

Be sure to check labels to make sure the brand fits your dog’s vitamin D needs.

How Long Should Your Dog Sunbathe For?

a tan chihuahua sunbathing on the patio

The answer depends on the size and coat of the dog as well as the intensity of the sun.

Generally speaking, your dog can do between 30-60 minutes in the morning and late afternoon. In the middle of the day, however, the amount drops to 15-30 minutes. 

Dogs with darker coats will absorb heat faster and should stay within lower ranges.

Look out for signs like excessive panting to get your dog back in the shade and have water available.

Dangers of Too Much Sun

While the sun offers many benefits for your pupper, too much exposure can result in:

  • Sunburn
  • Heatstroke
  • Dehydration
  • Skin cancer
  • Solar dermatitis

3 Cute Tips to Protect Your Dog From the Sun


Light skin, short hair, and hairless dogs need sunscreen the most.

Sunscreen for dogs should not contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), as these ingredients are toxic to dogs when ingested.

Look for a waterproof, unscented dog sunscreen with an SPF of 30 that contains titanium dioxide.

UV blocking wearables

An alternative to sunscreen and you won’t have to worry about your dog licking it off. Accessories like bodysuits, shirts, goggles, and hats offer ultraviolet protection from the sun.

Shaded outdoor bed

A great solution for pampered princes that guarantees shade, comfort, and style.

a chihuahua sunbathing on a lounge chair on the patio


We hope you found this blog post about why your dog loves to sunbathe helpful!

Sunlight plays a major role in your pup’s overall health and emotional wellbeing. With these tips, you can help give your dog the benefits of the sun in a safe and cute manner. 

Comment below your dog’s favorite place to sunbathe!

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