I was sitting on the couch one day, watching my 50 lb dog. He was contorting himself into some pretty interesting shapes, just to fit his body into a sun patch that was 2 feet x 8 inches in size. Being winter, the sun isn’t out as strongly as it is in the summer. Adding to that, our current house doesn’t have optimal sunbeams. We have light, but not that strong ray of sun that draws dogs. Watching my dog in his attempts to catch some rays, I wondered why he was going to such trouble for a little sun.

Why Do Dogs Lay in the Sun?

I know humans get Vitamin D by being in the sun. Technically, the sun’s rays break down oil in the skin to create Vitamin D. It is then absorbed back into the skin and enters the blood stream.

Dogs have the same oil on their skin. Laying in the sun converts that oil to Vitamin D for dogs, as well. Unlike humans, however, Vitamin D isn’t absorbed back into your dog’s skin due to all his fur. When dogs lick their fur after sunbathing, they are ingesting their Vitamin D.

Why is Vitamin D So Important?

Vitamin D is technically not a vitamin, but more like a hormone. It helps regulate the mineral metabolism in your body, or your dog’s body. This maintains the calcium balance in bones. In fact, it is thought that Vitamin D affects the expression of over 200 genes! So, when your dog is sunbathing, he is actually helping to maintain his bone structure. For large breed dogs especially, this is an important task.

What if My Dog Can’t Get Enough Vitamin D Naturally?

If you think your dog can’t get enough Vitamin D naturally, there are supplements that contain Vitamin D. These supplements help support the bone structure, as well as provide your pup with some other important nutrients.

The next time you see your dog laying in a sunbeam, whether he is relaxed or twisted up like a pretzel, know that an important chemical reaction is going on that will help maintain your dog’s health!

View more articles written by Kristen Sydelko.

About The Author Kristen Sydelko

Kristen is the Web Coordinator at PetSolutions. She has over 5 years of experience working in the pet care industry, with many more years of pet ownership experience! When not at PetSolutions, Kristen enjoys spending time with her family (which includes an extremely spoiled Lab mix), crafting, and trying to decide when to set her fish tank back up.

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