Sun Seekers

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Izzy the greyhound rests in the late winter sun after a day of teaching a massage workshop for other greyhound owners

Our dogs are warm-blooded mammals, just like we are.  It’s no wonder that so many dogs love sitting in the sun and will move as the sun moves.

Based on the meridian theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine, it makes sense to me that the sun’s warmth will gently warm acupoints, stimulating blood and qi flow and releasing endorphins which make the dog feel better.

Dogs also produce Vitamin D in their skin, it’s a bit like humans only harder because the sun’s rays have to penetrate through their fur.  Dogs aren’t as efficient in converting 7-Dehydrocholesterol, which is the precursor to vitamin D.

If there’s a wound on the dog, sunlight will help to dry it out.  Sunlight is also a natural anti-bacterial (which is why our mothers and grandmothers swore by the need to hang towels and sheets in the sunlight to brighten and freshen them.)  Sunlight can help kill excess yeast which is particularly useful for dogs that fight skin problems relating to yeast.

Even though a dog can sit inside during winter to enjoy the warmth of the sun, windows will filter out some of the sun’s rays which we probably want to have in terms of penetrating through the fur to help with Vitamin D production.  That’s why in winter, I like to exercise Izzy on sunny days without her coat so she receives the full effect of the sun.

Thin coated dogs (like Izzy) have to be protected from UV radiation during summer and the warmer months.  White-coated dogs and those with thin skin over the muzzle or under the arms also need to be protected from sun damage.

But that’s not much of a worry right now, during the depths of the southern hemisphere winter.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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