Is melatonin safe for dogs? This natural sedative is an effective choice for calming down dogs when needed. It can also help in soothing anxious dogs. But, there are some side effects. Contact your veterinarian to discuss if it’s a good choice for your dog.
Is Melatonin A Good Choice For My Dog?
Do you have an anxious dog in need of relief and you’re wondering if melatonin is the answer? Is your dog suffering from separation anxiety and you hope that melatonin can calm him down?
This natural sedative is often used by humans to calm the mind and help them fall asleep. It’s found in many over the counter sleep aids and stress support supplements.
But, does it work the same way for your dog? It’s a question that many pet parents have asked.
The truth is that there are many great benefits to giving your dog melatonin. But, there are also side effects to consider.
Deciding if melatonin is the right option for your dog will mean weighing the pros and cons. To help you make that decision, here are some important factors to consider.
Can You Give Dogs Melatonin?
The first, and most important question when discussing the use of a supplement is whether it’s dog-friendly.
Melatonin has long been used to address conditions in people. But, that doesn’t mean that it’s a good choice for your pup.
Is Melatonin Safe for Dogs?
Melatonin is a safe and effective supplement for your dog. But, like all supplements, it needs to be given in the right dose.
Before giving your dog any supplement or over-the-counter medication, you should talk to your vet. They are familiar with your dog’s unique needs and can offer personalized advice.
There are some health conditions, like diabetes, with which melatonin should not be used.
It should be noted that the use of melatonin for animals has not been approved by the FDA.
This doesn’t mean that it’s unsafe. It means that they have not studied its uses, side effects, and safety enough to give their approval.
But, there are many highly-trusted products available that incorporate melatonin. It’s especially common in calming treats.
Common Uses of Melatonin for Dogs
While melatonin is often associated with helping people sleep, this isn’t the only use.
This supplement can provide several benefits from improving sleep to improving hair loss. It has even been credited with helping to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.
These are some of the most common uses.
To Treat Separation Anxiety
For dogs that are experiencing high anxiety, melatonin can provide some relief.
Dopamine is often known as the “feel-good” hormone. But, in larger amounts, it is the cause of several anxiety disorders. This includes separation anxiety.
Melatonin works by inhibiting dopamine in the brain. This helps to calm the mind and prevent anxiety in the earliest stages.
To treat Sleep and Behavior Disorders
The most common use of melatonin, this supplement can help quiet your dog’s mind and improve sleep. But, this quieting effect can do more than that.
It’s also effective in addressing some dog behavioral issues.
This is especially true for healthy dogs that may act out as a result of feeling uneasy in certain situations. For example, it can help to calm blind dogs that can’t see as well at nighttime.
Non-Allergic Hair Loss
Some studies have found that melatonin can help to stimulate the growth of hair in dogs with hair loss.
This is due to its ability to encourage and support hair follicles at a cellular level.
This is done by influencing the hormones that are involved in hair growth. By interrupting the hormone responsible for hair loss, it encourages hair growth.
Melatonin may also be able to provide relief from seasonal alopecia or seasonal hair loss.
The connection between melatonin and Cushing’s Disease continues to be studied. But, early research shows that it may help to provide relief from mild cases.
Cushing’s Disease is caused by an excess production of the hormone cortisol.
When this naturally occurring hormone is present in excess, it can cause weight gain and bruising. It’s also associated with feelings of fatigue and depression.
While melatonin isn’t a cure, it can offer relief from the effects of the disease.
Melatonin Side Effects in Dogs
Like any medication or supplement, there are some side effects that you should watch out for. These can range from minor discomfort to more serious side effects.
Common side effects include:
- Digestive problems including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Extreme drowsiness and fatigue
- Increased heart rate
- Low body temperature
- Changes in hormones and the female reproductive cycle
- Weight gain
- Disorientation or confusion
- Insulin resistance in diabetic dogs
If you notice any of these side effects, contact your veterinarian.
How Much Melatonin Can I Give My Dog?
The correct dosage of melatonin for your dog will depend on his weight. The larger your dog, the more melatonin will be needed to feel the effects.
To determine the right melatonin dosage for your dog, you should contact your veterinarian.
The recommended dosage is often presented as a range. Start your dog on the lowest amount to begin. You can increase the dosage as needed.
Melatonin for Dogs Dosage Chart by Weight
The following recommendations are a general rule of thumb to give you an idea of how much Melatonin might be needed.
- Less than 10 lbs: 1 mg
- 10 lbs to 25 lbs: 1.5 mg
- 26 lbs to 100 lbs: 3 mg
- Over 100 lbs: 3-6 mg per your veterinarian
How Long Does it Take for Melatonin to Kick In for Dogs?
The length of time that it will take for the effects of a melatonin supplement to kick in can vary from dog to dog. But, most accounts say that you will start to see it take effect in approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
The beneficial effects of melatonin can last for up to 8 hours.
This means that it will last long enough for dogs with sleeping disorders to enjoy a peaceful sleep all night.
There are reports that some dogs won’t feel the effects as quickly. It can take as long as 1 to 2 hours to kick in.
Can Dogs Take Melatonin for Humans?
Basic melatonin supplements may be suitable for your dog, but it will depend on the dosages.
This will only work if the supplement is free from added ingredients. “Sleepytime” supplements and others that include melatonin could include other unsafe elements.
Before offering melatonin of any form, take note of any medications your dog may take.
Are there any drug interactions to be aware of?
Melatonin is known to interact poorly with:
It should be avoided with any dog that is taking a medication to suppress the immune system.
To be safe, contact your veterinarian to discuss existing medications and the use of melatonin before starting. They may have recommendations such as changing doses for the best results.
Can I Give My Dog Melatonin Gummies?
Melatonin gummies made for human use may not be safe for your dog. This is due to both the dosage amounts and the other ingredients that are included.
Some human gummies include sugar substitutes like xylitol.
Xylitol is safe for human consumption. But, it is highly toxic and even life-threatening for your dog.
There are many melatonin supplements made specifically for dogs.
Experts recommend sticking to these products when choosing an option to address your dog’s needs.
Can Dogs Overdose on Melatonin?
Anytime that you are offering a medication or supplement, there is a risk of overdose. Luckily, with melatonin, overdoses are uncommon in dogs.
Pay careful attention to the instructions on the package of your dog’s supplement.
Following these instructions will greatly reduce the chance of problems. But, some dogs are more sensitive than others.
Melatonin is a calming supplement that is known to cause sleepiness and loss of energy.
Watch carefully for any sign that your dog is experiencing any adverse reaction. This could include extreme lethargy, disorientation, or confusion.
If at any time you are concerned, consult with your veterinarian. Be prepared to provide details about what he has taken including brand and dose.
You may be asked to bring your dog in for testing. They may also want to supervise your dog during the more critical early stages.
Types of Melatonin Supplements Available for Dogs
There are several forms of melatonin that you can choose from. To choose the best option for your dog, consider which will be the easiest to administer.
After all, no supplement is going to help your dog if you can’t get him to take it!
While some dogs will easily swallow a pill, many will avoid pills at all costs. For these dogs, there are alternatives that could be easier.
The most common form of melatonin is pills and capsules. If your dog will allow you to give pills, this is a convenient choice.
They are easily stored and travel-friendly for those that are going to be on the road.
You may be able to hide pills in a piece of hot dog or a pill pocket treat. But, over time, your dog may figure out these tricks.
If pills are an issue, a chewable supplement is a great solution. These often look and taste like treats, making it easy to convince your dog to take them.
Your dog may even return asking for more when given a dose.
Liquid supplements are sometimes preferred for pickier dogs. If he turns his nose up at a chewable, this is another option.
They are usually administered from a small syringe or dropper. But, there are some options that can be added to your dog’s food.
Pay careful attention to make sure that you are only purchasing liquids that are made specifically for dogs. Human liquid supplements can make your dog feel very ill.
Melatonin implants are rare, but they may be suggested for dogs with ongoing issues.
This is usually only for the use of melatonin for Cushing’s Disease or hair loss. It will provide a constant supply of the hormone to your dog throughout the day.
Is There Melatonin for Puppies?
There are some melatonin supplements on the market that include dosages for puppies. But, it is usually restricted to the ages of 12 weeks old and older.
This is due to the fact that young puppies are continually growing and changing.
Not only is your puppy physically growing, but his hormones are developing and balancing. For this reason, it’s not recommended to take anything that could impact those hormones at a young age.
Before offering any supplement, carefully read the instructions. Make sure that you are choosing a product that is formulated for puppies.
It is also recommended to consult your veterinarian when considering supplements for puppies.
Can Pregnant Dogs Take Melatonin?
The most important thing to consider when it comes to pregnant dogs is how melatonin works.
Melatonin is a natural hormone in the body. Released by the pineal gland, it directly impacts your dog’s sleep and wake cycles.
But, the hormones during pregnancy differ greatly from those of other adult dogs. Any supplement that could disrupt these hormones can be problematic.
The amount of melatonin in supplements is generally higher than the natural levels.
Studies are still ongoing to better understand the impact of melatonin on dogs. This is why it’s not yet FDA-approved. But, there is even less information about melatonin and pregnant dogs.
There is a chance that these hormones could have an impact on developing fetuses.
Until there is a better understanding of the impact on mom and puppies, it’s safe to avoid it.
If your pregnant dog is experiencing anxiety or sleep disorders, contact your veterinarian. There are other prescription alternatives that have been studied closer.
Conclusion: Melatonin for Dogs
Is it safe for your dog to take melatonin supplements?
The truth is that there are some great benefits associated with giving dogs melatonin. It’s a natural way to treat dogs for several conditions including sleep disorders, anxiety, and even hair loss.
But, there is still a lot that needs to be studied and better understood.
Before pet owners give their dog melatonin, they should talk to their veterinarian, express their interest in the supplement, and discuss the benefits and risks of its use.
Your vet can also offer recommendations for a safe dose.
Always watch over your dog after giving a new supplement. If you notice anything that appears “off” or abnormal, call your vet.