6 Reasons Why Your Dog Loves to Sunbathe + 5 Sun Tips

Why do dogs sunbathe?

It’s a question we’ve pondered plenty, especially since adopting our sun-worshipping Chihuahua, Leo.

You’ve probably noticed how the sun can turn even the most active dogs into baking couch potatoes.

But what’s the deal with their fascination for those sunny window spots?

Well, as Chihuahua owners and passionate dog enthusiasts, we’ve uncovered all the reasons why your dog loves to sunbathe.

Keep reading to discover the benefits and dangers, plus we’ll share five handy tips to keep your pup protected while they bask in those sunny rays.

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

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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 a natural instinct, but excessive licking can potentially worsen the condition.

Dogs have a tendency to go overboard with licking, whether it’s licking themselves, bed sheets, your legs, or even inside your nose!

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, 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.

If they get too warm, they may seek out a cooler, shaded spot or even resort to sleeping on your shoes or laying down to eat.

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:


Just like humans, dogs can suffer from sunburn.

Areas with thin or light-colored fur, such as the nose, ears, belly, and groin, are particularly vulnerable.

Sunburn can cause pain, redness, peeling, and even skin damage.


Spending extended periods in direct sunlight can lead to heatstroke in dogs.

Dogs regulate their body temperature through panting and limited sweating, making them more prone to overheating.

Heatstroke can be life-threatening and requires immediate veterinary attention.


The heat from the sun can cause dogs to become dehydrated more quickly, especially if they are active or not provided with enough shade and fresh water.

Dehydration can lead to serious health complications if left untreated.

Skin Cancer

Prolonged exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays increases the risk of developing skin cancer in dogs.

Dogs with light-colored fur, thin fur, or areas of exposed skin are more susceptible.

Common types of skin cancer in dogs include squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma.

Solar Dermatitis

Canine solar dermatitis, or chronic sun damage, is a dermatologic disorder.

It is characterized by chronic inflammation, damage, and irritation of the skin due to the cumulative effects of sun exposure over time.

It typically happens to dogs that live in hot, sunny climates or in high altitudes. Dogs with white or lightly pigmented hair and skin are most at risk.

Eye Damage

Dogs’ eyes are also susceptible to sun damage.

Prolonged exposure to bright sunlight can lead to conditions such as photokeratitis (inflammation of the cornea) or cataracts, which can impair vision.

Using dog goggles or hats will help prevent this.

5 Tips to Protect Your Dog From the Sun

1. Sunscreen

Light-skinned, short-haired, and hairless dogs are at risk of getting burnt the most.

When choosing sunscreen for dogs, make sure it DOES NOT contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), as these ingredients are toxic to dogs when ingested.

This Epi-Pet K-9 Care Sunscreen is veterinarian-developed and FDA-compliant. With an SPF 30+ rating, it provides a high level of sun protection for your pets.

The non-greasy and non-oily spray absorbs well and leaves no sticky residue.

2. UV-Blocking Shirts

UV-blocking shirts are an alternative to sunscreen. These shirts provide a physical barrier that shields your dog’s skin from harmful UV rays.

Unlike sunscreen, which requires constant reapplication, UV-blocking shirts offer continuous protection throughout outdoor activities.

You won’t have to worry about your dog licking it off either.

They cover a larger surface area, including the back, belly, and sensitive areas, reducing the risk of sunburns and skin damage.

For dogs who are scared of sprays, shirts are a great option. You can use some of our favorite treats to train your dog to wear a shirt.

This Louie de Coton Sun Shirt provides reliable UPF50+ sun protection, giving you peace of mind while enjoying outdoor adventures together.

3. Shaded Outdoor Bed

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

The Best Choice Products Elevated Cooling Dog Bed is packed with features designed to provide comfort and convenience for your beloved pet.

The bed is elevated, allowing for better air circulation and keeping your dog off the ground, which can be particularly beneficial during hot weather.

The bed comes with a removable canopy shade tent, providing protection from the sun’s rays and creating a shaded area for your dog to relax in.

The canopy is easily adjustable and removable, allowing you to customize the level of shade

4. Hats and Goggles

Accessories like goggles and hats offer ultraviolet protection from the sun.

Namsan Dog Goggles are specially designed to provide protection and style for medium-large dogs. The lenses are equipped with anti-UV properties, shielding your dog’s eyes from harmful UV rays.

They are also windproof and designed to prevent dust and debris from irritating your dog’s eyes during outdoor activities.

The goggles feature an anti-fog coating, ensuring clear vision even in humid conditions.

The soft and adjustable straps provide a secure and comfortable fit for your dog.

HIGH PAW Dog Hats feature a wide brim that helps shield your dog’s face and eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

It has an adjustable drawstring that allows you to customize the fit according to your dog’s head size.

The hat is made from breathable and waterproof materials, making it suitable for all seasons and various weather conditions.

It helps to keep your dog’s head dry and comfortable even in light rain or drizzle.

It is available in various colors and different sizes to accommodate small, medium, and large dogs.

5. Cooling Vests

Cooling vests are designed to keep your canine companion cool and comfortable during hot weather.

This SGODA Dog Cooling Vest is designed with a cooling fabric that helps regulate your dog’s body temperature.

Just rinse it with cold water, ring it out, then put it on your dog.

It effectively absorbs heat from your dog’s body and provides a cooling effect through evaporation, helping to prevent overheating.

It also has a D-ring so you can attach their leash.


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 well-being.

With these tips, you can help give your dog the benefits of the sun in a safe and cute manner. 


Can Dogs Overheat While Sunbathing?

Yes, dogs can overheat while sunbathing, especially if they are exposed to high temperatures for extended periods. It’s important to provide shade, fresh water, and to monitor their behavior for signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

Is It Good for Dogs to Sunbathe?

Moderate sunbathing can be beneficial for dogs. Sunbathing provides warmth and relaxation, and can help regulate their body temperature. However, it’s crucial to monitor their sun exposure and take precautions to prevent overexposure. Too much sun can lead to sunburn, heatstroke, and potential skin damage.

Do Dogs Sleep More When It’s Hot?

Yes, dogs tend to sleep more when it’s hot. Just like humans, dogs may experience lethargy and a desire to rest in response to high temperatures. This is because their bodies naturally try to conserve energy and regulate their internal temperature.

Sleeping helps them avoid the discomfort and potential risks associated with excessive heat. During hotter periods, dogs may seek out cooler spots or shady areas to nap.

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