Recently, I have been noticing my dog goes into our balcony, finds a comfortable spot for himself, faces the sunlight and takes a long sunbath for almost 3-4 hours. Now, this has become his routine ever since winter has arrived!”
If you are also this pet parent and your pet is also basking in the sun, then read on! They are actually doing an important job & they need your support to keep up with it. Trust us!
What is sunbathing in pets?
Sunbathing is simply basking in the sun. And it has many benefits too. It plays a crucial role in your pet’s life right from when they are young. Sunbathing keeps their bone & cardiac health in check.
It is a well-researched fact that your pet should get natural, raw sunlight from all three parts of the day. They should receive sunlight during the sunrise (morning hours), during the middle of the day (noon time), and during the late afternoon hours or during sunset. This is because the ultra-violet rays during different parts of the day are effective on them. UVA is present more during the morning and evening hours whereas UVB is stronger during the middle part of the day.
Why Vitamin D?
Vitamin D present in the sunlight has a direct impact on their cardiac health. Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium from the intestines and hence maintains the blood calcium level aiding in the contraction of the heart muscles.
Vitamin D is fat-soluble and gets stored in the body mostly in the fat tissue as a hormone known as calcitriol which helps in maintaining strong bones. Our pets get Vitamin D from the sunlight in a very minimal amount. This is because of the 7-dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC).
7-DHC present on the surface of the skin (epidermis) which helps to convert the sun rays into Vitamin D and also for cholesterol synthesis. According to a theory, the rate of conversion of 7-DHC into cholesterol is faster than Vitamin D. The body can absorb Vitamin D from the raw sun in a very minimal amount. Hence, pets also need additional Vitamin D from their diet as just the sun rays are not enough.
The body produces a chemical called melanin when it gets exposed to sunlight. This melanin is then converted into melatonin with the help of the pituitary gland. Melatonin helps in regulating the circadian rhythm a.k.a healthy sleep cycle. Disturbed circadian rhythm levels lead to many chronic health conditions.
During the evening hour or sunset, the increase in the red light and darkness influences the production of more melanin. Hence, pets can have a healthy circadian cycle and it also helps to calm your pet.
Bring on those Walkies
Getting your pet out twice a day is a great exercise for you and your pets to be in great shape. A daily 20-30 min walk/run is more than enough for your pets to have a good soak in the raw sunlight. Sun Rays also help to make pets less lethargic and more active and playful.
Even though they have multiple benefits, exposure to sunlight for long periods can also lead to sunburn or even skin cancer. It may also aggravate the skin infection if your pet is already suffering from it. Pets with small hair coats can suffer from it more. Exposure to raw sunlight can also damage their paws and nose and they can become dry and rough. Use Vaseline or balm for your pet’s healthy paw and nose. Applying a small amount of balm on your pet’s nose and ears can also help to protect them from sunburn.
Everything has its good and bad effects. But this doesn't mean you should not take your pet out in the sunlight. Moderation is the key to everything.
Then the question arises how much sunlight is even necessary for pets?
Outdoor sessions of 20-30 minutes in the morning and evening are great for the short-haired breed dogs. While you might extend for 15-30 minutes for the long-haired ones. Make sure to provide free access to fresh and clean water for your pet after a good sunbathing session.
Now that you know about the benefits of sunlight, make sure your pet gets a proper dose of it. It is extremely essential for their overall health and development. But at the same time, take precautions to protect them from sunburns and dehydration.
If you need more information or assistance, make sure to call us on +91 8431620000 & we would be happy to help you!