Melatonin is one of the first drugs we turn to when it is difficult to sleep. And with the effectiveness of melatonin at combating insomnia and anxiety in humans, dog owners often wonder whether this drug is equally suitable for managing their Fido’s sleeplessness.
So, can you give melatonin to dogs? Melatonin is safe for use in dogs when administered in the prescribed amounts. And because this drug is known to induce little to no side effects in dogs, it is often what most vets turn to when treating sleeping disorders in pooches.
Melatonin is an excellent supplement to use for dogs, with its soothing properties proving handy in treating various anxiety issues and sleep disorders in pooches. Regardless of the effectiveness of melatonin in improving canine health, there are caveats that come with the use of melatonin for dogs, and they will be adequately discussed in this article.
However, before we go into all this, let’s see why melatonin is generally considered safe for dogs and how much of this drug you can safely give to your canine buddy.
Can You Give Melatonin To Dogs?
Dogs can safely use melatonin as long as it is administered in the dosages prescribed by the vet.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that is synthesized by the pineal gland and is known to boast properties that serve as a sleeping aid.
That said, melatonin is commonly used among humans. But unlike most other human medications, this drug is safe for use in dogs, although little research has been done to study its side effects on pooches.
According to the American Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), melatonin is safe for dogs to use, with the little to the almost non-existent risk of side effects being a major reason for adopting the use of this drug for pooches.
Melatonin is often administered orally in the form of tablets, capsules, or liquid, and it can be given to a pooch with or without food.
How Much Melatonin Can I Give My Dogs?
The amount of melatonin that is safe for dogs to use varies, and it is hugely influenced by the nature of the underlying health condition being treated.
That said, the proper melatonin dosage must be determined with a vet’s help to adequately cater to the medical problem being treated.
Dogs suffering from sleeping disorders typically require between 3 to 6 mg of melatonin, while for pooches battling with anxiety disorders, the recommended dosage is usually 0.1 mg of melatonin per pound of body weight.
Melatonin prescription is also usually done according to the pooch’s body weight, and the generally prescribed dosages are as follows:
- For dogs that weigh between 0 to 9 lbs – 1 mg of melatonin is recommended.
- For dogs that weigh between 10 to 25 lbs – 1.5 mg of melatonin is recommended.
- For dogs that weigh between 26 to 100 lbs – 3 mg of melatonin is recommended.
- For dogs that weigh above 100 lbs – between 3 to 6 mg of melatonin is recommended.
The figures quoted above aren’t set in stone, however, and you should always consult a vet for a proper prescription before attempting to treat your canine buddy with melatonin.
Why Is Melatonin Good For Dogs?
Melatonin helps lower stress levels in dogs, and it also has sedative properties that help induce sleep in pooches that are finding it difficult to sleep.
Melatonin has sedative properties that make it effective at soothing and calming dogs that are agitated and stressed out from occurrences such as thunderstorms or fireworks displays.
Additionally, the calming properties contained in melatonin make this drug effective at treating symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs, reducing hyperactivity and restlessness, as well as elevating a pooch’s mood.
Alleviates Sleep Disorders
Melatonin generally has soothing properties, and in addition to calming agitated dogs, this drug is also effective at inducing sleep in dogs suffering from various sleep disorders.
The inability of a dog to sleep is a medical disorder that typically results in the pooch suffering cognitive impairments, and melatonin supplements are often prescribed to help treat and manage this condition.
Helps Manage Hair Loss
Seasonal alopecia is a medical condition that causes dogs to lose hair and develop bald patches at various locations around their bodies.
And while it remains unclear as to why melatonin is effective at managing this condition, many vets report good results in using melatonin to manage hair loss due to alopecia in dogs.
Treatment Of Cushing’s Disease
Cushing’s disease in dogs is a medical condition characterized by the excessive production of the hormone cortisone by the adrenal gland, which places a dog at risk of suffering from serious medical conditions such as diabetes and kidney damage.
Melatonin supplements assist a pooch’s body in blocking the uptake of increased cortisol, and in addition, the absence of side effects has seen more vets turn to this drug in treating Cushing’s disease in dogs.
Can Melatonin Be Bad For Dogs?
Sometimes, the use of melatonin in dogs results in the development of side effects such as stomach upset and a faster heart rate. Additionally, melatonin prepared with artificial flavoring can be toxic for dogs to use.
While melatonin is generally considered to be safe for use in dogs, there are certain side effects, although extremely rare, associated with the use of this drug. And these side effects are typically amplified by the administration of melatonin in inappropriate dosages.
That said, dogs using melatonin may experience side effects such as:
- Stomach upsets
- Increased heart rate
These side effects are usually more pronounced in puppies and pregnant dogs; Hence, you should avoid giving melatonin to this set of dogs.
Presence Of Additional Ingredients
Occasionally, certain melatonin products contain extra ingredients such as xylitol, an artificial sweetener. Such ingredients can be fatal for dogs when ingested.
Xylitol poisoning in dogs has been linked with the development of a medical condition known as hypoglycemia, which is characterized by a sudden and drastic drop in a pooch’s blood sugar level. And if not promptly attended to, hypoglycemia can result in a dog’s death.
Consequently, to protect your pooch from xylitol toxicity caused by using melatonin, it is recommended that you always take the time to properly go through the labels on melatonin products to ensure that they don’t contain ingredients that can be harmful to your Fido.
Possible Drug Interactions
Melatonin is known to interact negatively with drugs such as warfarin and benzodiazepines; Hence, if your canine buddy is using any of these medications, it is best that you steer clear of administering melatonin to such a pooch.
In the same vein, melatonin decreases a pooch’s estradiol and cortisol levels while also worsening certain medical conditions. And this is why it is important to consult a vet before giving melatonin to your pooch.