Dr. Laurel Davis, western NC’s holistic veterinarian, offers Stories from a Holistic Veterinarian, the blog of a holistic vet and “animal interpreter.” With a clinic in downtown Asheville, NC. Dr. Laurel also offers animal health, lifestyle and vaccination advice for cats, dogs and their human friends across the country.
Have a question for Dr. Laurel? Send it in.
Want comprehensive or detailed dog or cat advice? Schedule an Ask Dr. Laurel™ phone or Skype consultation.
Let the Sun Shine In: Beta-endorphins Benefit Your Dog or Cat
As I mentioned last week, sitting in the sunshine (wearing sunscreen, of course!) is one of my favorite pastimes.
I love how it feels on my skin and warms me from the inside out. On a perfectly sunny day, I can understand why ancient cultures the world over spent their time in ceremonies honoring the sun!
I also love watching my furry friends and patients enjoy their favorite sunbeams. It brings a smile to my face everytime I see a furr-ball stretch out lazily in the sunny floor of my consult room in western NC, comfortable and content with his perfect little sunbeam. Last year, there was one older cat, Marnie, who was visiting my Asheville clinic regularly in her last months of life for holistic support. Marnie was a sweet little torti who was such a sun-worshipper! I often walked into the waiting room to find Marnie sitting by her owner’s head in the south-facing window of our clinic waiting room, sunbathing.
There are several reasons that our mammalian bodies and brains respond so positively to bathing in sunlight.
Some studies in mice have shown that exposure to UV light results in higher levels of a molecule in the blood called beta-endorphin. Similar to drugs such as heroin and opium, beta-endorphin activates feel-good processes in the brain. So, maybe we and our animal friends are drawn to the sun by the endorphin release that occurs as we soak up the rays. Our bodies create positive feedback that encourages us to seek out the sun, which we all need in the right amounts in order to be fully healthy.
Aside from being able to recognize our dogs and cats for the sunbathing-addicts that they are, how does the understanding of sun-medicine benefit the four-legged friends in your life?
Here are three ways a daily dose of sunshine enriches your fluffy sun-worshiper’s life:
- The sun creates endorphins. Soaking up the sun’s UV rays can help stabilize our fluffy friends’ moods by acting as an effective natural antidepressant. You’ll be grateful for the sun when your dog or cat shares their frisky, playful energy with you!
- Warmth from the sun is healing for many of the dogs and cats who suffer from arthritis. Exposure to sunlight increases the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the tissue, increases flexibility, stimulates joint fluid and just plain feels good.
- A romp or cuddle in the sunshine is a wonderful way to bond blissfully. Since humans AND animals love to lounge in the sun, this is one indulgence you can share with your dogs and cats!
As western NC’s holistic vet, it’s my duty to remind you: as the days get longer and more sunny opportunities arise, please find some time to soak up some rays with your favorite feline and perfect pooch. I’d love to hear how you indulge with your animal-friend in the comments below or over on our Facebook page.
If you like learning about the sun and your animal-friend, check out my post from last week…
Dr. Laurel Davis is western NC’s holistic veterinarian, offering phone and Skype consultations for animal lovers everywhere. Call 828-254-2221 or order an Ask Dr. Laurel™ phone or Skype session or bring your dog or cat to her downtown Asheville, NC clinic. Read more patient stories.
Get to know Dr. Laurel by reading her blog.