Do Chihuahuas like to Sunbathe?
How many times has this happened to you? You are walking through your house and all of sudden you feel a little furry bundle under your foot? Sprawled out in the rays of the sun is your baby Chihuahua, looking up at you like you have betrayed its tanning time! Chihuahuas are sun-loving little dogs revered by the ancient civilizations of the Aztecs that were known for worshipping the sun, seems fitting doesn’t it? Below are the reasons why Chihuahuas love to sunbathe, why it is good for them, what can happen if they get too much of a good thing, and what you should do to keep them safe and protected while letting them be their adorable little selves.
Why do Chihuahuas love the Sun so much?
- They love to relax! You have probably seen those energetic spurts that hit Chis regularly. However, as much as these sassy little bundles love a good zoomie session, they love to rest just as much! A good sunbathe is the best natural relaxant for your dog. You may even notice that it notably reduces stress and anxiety levels that Chihuahuas can sometimes suffer from.
- They are happier. Exposure to sunshine boosts serotonin production. The “happiness hormone,” works to maintain mood stability. Sunlight also helps the separation of melatonin, a substance that regulates the sleep cycle in mammals. In short, dogs sleep better as a result. The better quality of rest results in a great deal many benefits and keeps your dog happier overall.
- They can warm up. Chihuahuas are vulnerable to lower temperatures. This is especially true for short-haired Chis. As they get older it becomes even more crucial to have exposure to the warmth of the sun often, in order to regulate their body temperature.
What are the benefits of sunbathing?
- It allows Chihuahuas to absorb vitamin D. This vitamin is vital to your Chihuahua’s overall health, and the majority of it comes through their diet. However, the sun fills in the gaps and gives Chis even more of this vital nutrient. Vitamin D acts like a hormone rather than a vitamin in their body. It is needed to regulate calcium and other important minerals. As a breed that requires as much strength as possible, Vitamin D really helps to build strong bones and joints. Preventing chronic diseases like osteoporosis. It also helps control their nerves and muscles. When Chis lay in the sun for long enough, their body is able to make Vitamin D, however, it sits on top of their fur so they must lick it off for the Vitamin to be absorbed into their fatty tissue. From there it can be utilized by their body properly.
- Strengthens their immune systems. The immune system acts like a non-stop housekeeper working away inside your Chihuahua’s tiny body. It identifies potentially harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, then works to eliminate them before they can do any harm. If this internal machine becomes compromised, your little pooch may become vulnerable to illnesses. An immune system that is not working correctly for a long period of time can lead to chronic health issues down the road. When Chihuahuas are exposed to the sun for the right amount of time it actually builds their mood up as well as their physical health, resulting in a stronger immunity overall. Remember - a happy Chihuahua is a healthy Chihuahua!
- Old Chihuahuas can relieve their joint pain. Chis who are of an advanced age tend to suffer from rheumatic diseases. These can be very painful issues to endure that can make it impossible for Chihuahuas to comfortably move around. The vitamin D that Chihuahuas are able to get from the sun aids in their ability to gain more calcium and phosphorus which improves their bones and joints.
Can my Chihuahua get too much Sun?
In a word, yes. Too much sun can be very dangerous for these little bundles of fur. Like humans, Chihuahuas have to be careful about soaking up too much sun, as excess sun exposure can lead to conditions including heatstroke, sunburn, and skin cancer. Here is a list of some ways that too much sun affects Chihuahuas.
- Vitamin D overdose. Chihuahua puppies can absorb more vitamin D than they need. Excess vitamin D in growing puppies makes them produce too much calcium. This contributes to the incorrect formation of the jaw and teeth during the growth stage. It also can negatively affect the nervous system, and muscles while they are growing.
- Sunburn. Short-haired Chihuahuas or ones with very light fur are at a much higher risk of suffering significant sunburns if they are in the sun for too long. Not a pleasant experience for anyone to go through!
- Cancer. Excessive sun exposure can also cause skin cancer in Chihuahuas. These are tumors of skin cells and tumors of blood vessels that reside in the skin. These lesions can also occur along the third eyelids of affected pets. Lesions can be anywhere on the body, but the ears, nose, and around the eyes are the most susceptible. Always keep a watchful eye on these spots.
- Dehydration. Losing fluid and not having access to sufficient water to replace it will cause your Chihuahua to dehydrate. This can quickly become an emergency situation! Tell-tale signs of dehydration in dogs include sunken eyes, sticky gums, lethargy, and weakness.
- Heatstroke. When our pets overheat, their body temperatures rise without returning to normal on their own. This can cause organ systems to shut down and can be fatal! Initial signs of heatstroke usually include excessive panting and a reluctance to walk. Signs also include collapse, weakness, loss of consciousness, vomiting/diarrhea, seizures, and red, blue, or gray shaded gums.
How to protect your Chihuahua from too much Sun?
Here are some ways you can be sure that your best bud is protected and still able to enjoy his favorite pass time.
- Don’t be tempted to cut your long-haired Chihuahua’s coat too short as his fur will give him some protection. It is not recommended to trim the coats of short-haired Chihuahuas at all.
- Do Stay out of the sun between 12 and 4 pm, this is when the sun is at its hottest and most dangerous. It is best to keep your Chihuahua indoors during this time and maybe avoid letting them sleep near a window for long periods of time.
- Protect your Chis paws. Try this bare feet test. If the ground is too hot for your bare feet then it is too hot for your Chihuahua’s paws too. If you can wait to expose those tender tootsies that would be best, otherwise consider paw socks.
- Do invest in a Chihuahua outfit to protect her from the sun! Yes, they exist! If your Chihuahua is going to spend a lot of time outdoors or in the sun then a sun-protective suit is the way to go.
- Do protect your Chihuahua’s eyes. Like us, Chihuahuas need the same sun protection for their eyes. Luckily, Chihuahua sunglasses are gaining popularity and can be found almost everywhere.
- Do have access to shade wherever possible. Remember, Chihuahuas with very thin coats and light-colored hair are more susceptible to the sun than their counterparts. To prevent them from getting too many harsh rays of the sun, make sure your Chi has access to cooling shade all the time. Chihuahuas will naturally move into the shade when the sun becomes too intense.
- Do use sunblock for vulnerable areas on your Chihuahua’s body that can’t be covered. Use a dog-specific sunscreen, that’s safe if ingested, but also offers broad-spectrum protection. Avoid products with zinc oxide, PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), or octyl salicylate, as those are toxic to your Chi. It is important to be careful with this type of product because Chis tend to lick the product off once applied. If you use the incorrect product type it can lead to illness. Be sure to reapply it often throughout the day while your Chi is in the sun for long periods of time.
- Do provide your furry friend with a continuous supply of fresh water daily and especially while out in the sun. Consider a portable water dish for those times that you are away from home.
Letting your Chihuahua enjoy the benefits of golden sunshine is crucial for a happy healthy dog. As you know, a happy dog equals a happy and healthier owner too. Always be mindful that your Chihuahua is vulnerable to the dangers of too much fun in the sun. Make sure to keep the extra items on hand that are listed above to keep your dog from developing dangerous health issues that could potentially turn into chronic problems later in life. Our dogs are a huge part of our lives and bring us so much joy, Chihuahuas have a way of adding a level of high-spirited, plucky love that can be such a joy to experience. So take care of your little furry friend and he will keep you happy for years to come. Bring on the sunshine!