However, the amount of melatonin that is produced in our pet’s bodies can decline with age. If your furry friend suffers from anxiety, restlessness, or hyperactivity, you should consider giving it to them as a supplement.
Melatonin helps dogs live more relaxed, happy, and stress-free lives. Plus, it’s a great alternative to prescription drugs which can cause terrible side effects and is widely available at most grocery or drug stores.
As always, it is best to consult with your family veterinarian before administering any supplements or medications to your pet. This is because melatonin for dogs is not approved by the FDA. Additionally, it’s not a recommended supplement for pregnant or nursing dogs, nor is it necessarily safe for puppies either. However, under most conditions melatonin is usually considered to be a viable option for dogs.
Speaking with your vet beforehand is a standard process you should follow anytime you decide to introduce your fur baby to a new supplement. Your vet can determine if it will interfere with other medications your pet may be taking and recommend the appropriate dosage.
When consumed in a safe manner, melatonin can provide your dog with the relief they need. Do you want to know more? We’ve done the research for you. Below are a few of the many uses of melatonin, the correct doses, and possible side-effects.
How to Use Melatonin for Dogs
So, how does melatonin work? It is a hormone that is naturally produced in your dog’s pineal gland. Taking melatonin supplements this process.
The following is a comprehensive list of conditions that melatonin can help treat.
1. General Anxiety Disorders
Does your dog suffer from any kind of anxiety? Many dogs panic when their owners leave the house. Some get anxiety from things like thunderstorms and fireworks. Others suffer from more specific phobias. Melatonin acts as a sedative and helps calm them during those issues. Your furry friend will begin to feel a sense of calm rush over them. As a result, they will be able to rest and relax fully.
2. Hair Loss
Partial hair loss in dogs is known as alopecia. It’s specifically referred to as seasonal or flank alopecia. However, many animals also suffer from it year-round. If your pet has it, you will see patches of missing hair on either side of their midsection.
Experts aren’t fully aware of what causes this hair loss. Stress is often thought to be a culprit in this process. As a result, some veterinarians recommend giving your dog melatonin chews to treat alopecia. It isn’t a proven method, but several pet owners say it works.
It is common for people to use melatonin to treat their insomnia and is just as useful in dogs. This hormone helps their body recognize when it is night or day. It naturally regulates their sleep patterns. Sometimes, their bodies lose the ability to regulate sleep on their own.
That’s where melatonin comes in. Supplementing with this hormone can help your dog get a better and longer night’s sleep. They are able to reach a productive REM, (rapid eye movement), cycle as a result. This helps keep them healthier in general, because sleep is necessary for vital bodily functions to continue working properly.
4. Cushing’s Disease
Melatonin is commonly used to treat Cushing’s disease. Symptoms of this disease include weakness, panting, obesity, bloating, increased urination, skin darkening, bruising, thin skin, scaly patches, and increased thirst.
This disease is usually caused by a non-malignant tumor on their pituitary gland. As a result, their bodies produce excess amounts of a hormone that’s known as cortisol.
Other times, it can be the result of a benign adrenal tumor. This is the cause in 15 to 20 percent of dogs. In those cases, surgery could be the best option.
However, for pituitary-dependent Cushing’s disease, melatonin can help. It blocks excess cortisol from being absorbed. It’s also helpful while treating atypical cases. These can cause an increase in the production of sex hormones in your dog.
Many veterinarians start by supplementing with melatonin. It is a better option because of its lack of serious side effects. Beginning with a natural option can be safer than opting for prescription drugs, which may cause diarrhea, vomiting, and even kidney shutdown. Because Cushing’s disease puts dogs at risk of anesthesia complications during surgery, melatonin can also be paired with anesthesia before operations to sedate dogs more safely.
Possible Side Effects
Melatonin is usually a safer option for dogs. This is because it doesn’t usually contain any of the harmful chemicals that prescription medicines do. However, consulting with your dog’s veterinarian will help you better understand if melatonin will work for them. They will also be able to help you figure out which dose is best.
Possible side effects of melatonin include the following.
The most common side effect of melatonin, drowsiness is mainly caused by giving your pet more melatonin that they need. No need to worry too much though, after a couple long naps, the dose will wear off and they’ll be themselves again. Next time just remember to give them a little less.
2. Digestive Problems
Some dogs get an upset stomach after ingesting melatonin, although it will be minor. Your dog may eat less than normal or seem a little lethargic.
3. Increased Heart Rate
This is known as Tachycardia and in rare cases can be caused by taking melatonin. If your dog’s heart rate exceeds 140 beats per minute, see your veterinarian.
Itching is usually a minor issue, however, if it persists or seems extreme, an allergic reaction may be occurring. Consult with your vet right away.
Confusion may be the result of the sedative effect that melatonin brings with it. Speak with your vet about lowering your dog’s dose or stopping it completely.
6. Reproductive Issues
Female dogs may see a shift or upset in their reproductive pattern, though this only applies if your dog has not been spayed. The resulting changes in her hormones may also change when she goes into heat.
7. Insulin Resistance
While the jury is still out on the exact effects of melatonin on insulin sensitivity, melatonin may lead to higher rates of insulin resistance. This is likely due to the fact that sleep patterns are one of the many factors that influence insulin levels. Because of this, melatonin shouldn’t be given to diabetic dogs.
The kind of condition that you are trying to treat will help determine which dosage your dog needs. Each dog is different. Talk with your veterinarian. Most vets will recommend starting with a smaller dose. This allows you to increase the dose gradually when necessary. Starting with a small dose is also a great way to avoid nasty allergic reactions.
The amount of melatonin you give your dog will depend on their size. If your furry friend weighs less than 10 pounds, they should receive around 1 milligram. 1.5 milligrams are best for dogs that are between 10 and 25 pounds. If your dog weighs anywhere from 26 to 100 pounds, you can give them up to 3 milligrams. For extra big fur babies who weigh over 100 pounds, 3 to 6 milligrams is the recommended dose.
Remember that it is vital that you do not give them more than three doses each day.
Melatonin comes in several forms. You can buy it as a capsule, tablet, powder, and liquid. The kind you choose depends on how finicky your dog is. Additionally, you may give it to them without food. If they are picky, you might try dosing them with the help of a treat or bowl of food.
It can take between 10 to 15 minutes before it starts to affect them. Once it does, they may feel the effects for up to 8 hours. This is why many dog lovers choose to dose their fur baby before bed.
Since melatonin naturally occurs in our bodies and the bodies of our dogs, many pet owners choose it as their natural supplement. Adding it to your dog’s daily regimen can help with many disorders. Many dogs suffer from anxiety, insomnia, Cushing’s disease, and hair loss. Melatonin for dogs is a natural treatment option for these issues.
Prescription medicines often come with serious and sometimes life-threatening side effects. These include vomiting, diarrhea, and kidney failure. Consider trying melatonin first.
The best melatonin supplements don’t contain any harmful additives. Therefore, you can feel confident while giving it to your pet. The dose that you give them will depend on their weight and condition. Bigger dogs need higher doses. Side effects are rare but can still occur. If your dog experiences itching, vomiting, confusion, or is acting differently in any way, consult with your veterinarian. They can help you determine whether melatonin is right for your pet or not.
It can give them the relief that they crave. Melatonin increases sleep and decreases hyperactivity. Plus, it can soothe their nerves. We all love our dogs and want to give them the best lives we possibly can. Supplementing with melatonin for dogs can do just that.
About the Author
Chris Barry is a lifestyle and wellness writer based in Montreal, Canada. Visit his website