Both dogs and humans naturally produce melatonin, a hormone that makes you feel tired, but you can also purchase and use melatonin supplements. Melatonin has several other clinical uses including treating anxiety, Cushing’s disease, insomnia, and Alopecia.
But is it safe for dogs? This is the question we’re going to take an in-depth look at. We’ll also review any potential side effects, dosage, and benefits. This way, you’ll be able to confidently decide if this is right for your dog or not.
What is Melatonin?
As mentioned earlier, both your body and your dog’s body produce melatonin naturally. It’s a hormone that comes from the pineal gland in your brain and helps to regulate your sleep cycle. Your melatonin levels start to go up in the mid to late evening after the sun sets and stay elevated throughout the night. When they drop off in the morning, you start to wake up. The same goes for your dog.
Melatonin Benefits for Dogs
There are several reasons to give your dog melatonin.
Some breeds of dogs are more prone to anxiety than others. Separation anxiety is common in dogs who have owners who work away from home for extended periods throughout the day. Other anxiety triggers include things like thunderstorms, loud noises, or undergoing injury treatment.
Giving your dog a low dose of melatonin can help mellow them out and reduce their anxiety or anxious behaviors. If your dog isn’t producing enough melatonin on its own naturally, it can lead to generalized anxiety. This is why supplementing a low dose of melatonin can help alleviate the problem.
Possibly Treats Alopecia
Alopecia is a medical condition where your dog loses patches of hair. It can be seasonal, and the bald patches usually occur on one or both sides of your dog’s abdomen.
Since the cause of this condition isn’t completely understood, it’s not clear on whether giving your dog a supplement can help.
However, there are promising human studies that show how applying a melatonin-infused lotion to the affected area will encourage hair growth.
It’s also believed to curb hair loss. Since the side effects are rare and typically mild, many owners feel it’s worth giving melatonin a try on their dogs.
Helps With Cushing’s Disease
Cushing’s disease is a medical condition where a benign tumor interferes with either the pituitary or adrenal gland’s normal function. This disease causes your dog to produce too much cortisol, which can cause several problems, including fragile skin, hair loss, skin infections, increased thirst, and more.
Giving your dog melatonin can help their body block the increased levels of cortisol in their blood. In turn, they experience fewer, and less severe symptoms, improving their quality of life.
Did you know that dogs suffer from insomnia just like humans do? This is especially true for older dogs who have cognitive dysfunctions that disrupt their internal clocks and throw off their melatonin production. This disruption causes them to sleep during the day and be awake at night.
Melatonin supplements help to reset your dog’s internal clock by regulating the levels of melatonin present in their body. This helps your dog sleep during the night and stay away during the day. It also mellows them out if they’re anxious.
Melatonin Dosage Guidelines
You should always speak with your veterinarian prior to giving your dog melatonin supplements because they will recommend the exact dosage for your dog’s size and weight.
You shouldn’t give the following dosages more than three times a day. The dosages by weight are as follows:
- Less than 10 Pounds – 1 Milligram
- 10 Pounds to 25 Pounds – 1.5 Milligrams
- 26 Pounds to 100 Pounds – 3 Milligrams
- 100 Pounds and Up – 3 to 6 Milligrams
Melatonin Side Effects
Fortunately, side effects from melatonin are rare and very mild when they do occur. But you always want to watch your dog when you start giving them anything that’s new.
Again, it’s important to contact your vet and get their go-ahead before giving melatonin to your dog. It’s not recommended for puppies or pregnant dogs. Side effects include:
- Fertility Changes
- Tachycardia (Rapid Heart Rate)
- Upset Stomach and Cramping
In addition to checking with your veterinarian before starting, or ending, a melatonin regimen, be sure to always read the labels of any products before giving them to your dog.
Keep a close eye on your dog when they first start taking melatonin and report any changes or issues to your vet immediately.
Ideally, once their systems are reset courtesy of their melatonin supplements, you should start to see positive changes in a happier, more mellow dog.