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Why Do Dogs Like To Lay In The Sun & Sunbathe?

You don’t have to travel far to find a dog lying in the sun.

Just about anywhere you see dogs, you’ll find one laid out on the ground, basking away.

Even indoors, most dogs will find a sunny spot to nap.

Often, though, you’ll see them panting as they are lying there.

And it leaves one to wonder if they are actually suffering and, perhaps, just too tired to move.

The truth is that dogs, in general, love the sun.

Let’s take a look at why and what’s going on when they are enjoying the sun’s rays.

2 Common Reasons Dogs Love to Sunbathe

While we don’t know everything that’s going through a pup’s mind while lying in the sun, there are two reasons we know they love it.

It Feels Good

Dogs are remarkably like humans in many ways.

We love the feel of the sun on our skin and the relaxation that goes along with just lying there.

Granted, there are some extremely hot days when sunbathing feels more like torture, but we enjoy it most of the time.

Your dog is the same way.

The sun’s rays feel good, and they help to regulate your dog’s body temperature.

It produces the same results as cuddling, making your pup feel warm and secure.

And because it feels good, dogs repeat the behavior.

It’s Healthy for Them

As with humans, dogs get vitamin D from the sun.

Vitamin D is imperative for bones, nerves, and muscles in humans and dogs.

With humans, vitamin D is absorbed directly into our skin.

With dogs, their fur prevents skin absorption.

However, it sits on and in their fur.

When they groom themselves, they ingest it.

Like other animals, dogs rely on their instincts.

They don’t understand that they need to lie in the sun to get vitamin D or how it helps their bodies.

However, their instincts tell them that they need to lie in the sun, and they follow those instincts.

Can Sunbathing Be Dangerous for Dogs?

Too much direct sun exposure can certainly impact any two-legged or four-legged being.

It’s essential that you take precautions to limit the danger.

Like humans, dogs can experience sunburn and even skin cancer.

Of course, those with thick, long, dense fur are at lower risk for these issues.

Hairless breeds or those with very thin, short coats typically suffer more.

Additionally, the lighter the color of the fur, the greater the risk.

Tips for Doggy Sunbathing

Following these tips can allow your dog to enjoy the sun while minimizing potential harm.


Any time your dog will be out in the sun, he’ll need to stay hydrated.

No matter how much he may be enjoying it, the heat can cause dehydration and exhaustion.

Keep a water source close by so that he can replenish his fluids as needed.

Limit Exposure Time

There are no set guidelines for how long your dog should bask in the glory of the sun, but about 20 or 30 minutes should be sufficient.

If you notice them panting too much or acting strangely before that time is up, you might need to shorten it.

And the hotter the day, the shorter that time should probably be.

Have a Cool Spot

At some point, your dog is going to get hot and want a break from the sun.

It’s best to have some sort of shady spot available for these times.

If you have a shade tree in your yard, you are all set.

If not, you can purchase a dog shade bed, set up a tent area, or put up a dog house.

Have water available there, too, so your furry friend can enjoy a full cool down.

Use Doggy Sunscreen

If you plan on being outside for a long time, you’ll want to protect your pup.

Pick up some sunscreen that’s safe for him.

Don’t use yours as it likely contains zinc oxide — a hazardous ingredient to pets.

Visit your favorite pet store for dog-friendly sunscreen instead.

This would be especially true if you’ll be heading to the beach, hiking, camping, or similar activity.

And if your backyard stays covered in sunlight, they’ll need some any time they’ll be hanging out there for a while.


Your dog is similar to you in many ways.

You can allow him to enjoy the sun every day if you wish.

If you follow the tips listed above and basic safety precautions that you would follow yourself, you can potentially prevent sunburn, sunstroke, and skin cancer.

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National Canine Research Association of America