Just like humans, dogs are able to synthesize a chemical in their body called melatonin. This chemical is essentially a hormone produced by the pineal gland which is tucked deep inside the brain. While most dogs produce just enough melatonin on their own, others may need supplemental doses in order to help them manage some medical conditions.
Generally speaking, melatonin is mostly used for regulating the sleep cycles, but it has proven beneficial for treating all kinds of anxiety, hyperactivity and severe diseases like Cushing’s. However, while it is always recommended to talk to your vet before introducing any new supplements into your dog’s health care regime, you should be well acquainted as well with what melatonin for dogs actually does.
We have compiled the most important information you should know about melatonin including its main uses, dosage and most importantly if it’s safe for your pet.
How does melatonin work for dogs?
The production of melatonin in dogs is similar to the one in humans. As soon as it gets dark outside, the body signals the pineal gland to produce more melatonin which makes the body feel sleepy. This production decreases once the sun comes up, causing the body to wake up.
If there is a lack of melatonin production, the results are usually disrupted sleep cycles which may further lead to behavioral disorders and other more serious health conditions. Giving your dog supplemental melatonin will not only help regulate its sleeping schedule, but it will also help ease symptoms of some medical problems.
Uses of melatonin for dogs
One of the best things about melatonin is that it is a natural and chemical-free product that the body already makes. There is no need to worry about giving your pet something that may cause them some serious harm. With that being said, here are four main health benefits of using melatonin for dogs.
Cushing’s disease occurs when there is an excess production of the cortisol hormone by the pituitary or adrenal gland. In this case, melatonin for dogs works by helping the body block the uptake of the increased cortisol production and ease the symptoms of the diseases altogether.
Senior dogs often suffer from insomnia, which is the inability to fall asleep, and as a result, they have a disrupted sleep schedule. In this case, a melatonin supplement may be given to dogs as it can help regulate their biorhythms and allow your pet to get a better night’s sleep.
Dogs may suffer from separation anxiety or phobias from loud noises like thunderstorms and fireworks causing them to feel anxious. Since the melatonin supplement generally works as a sedative, it is often given to dogs to calm them when they are going through such an uneasy experience.
Seasonal flank alopecia is a skin condition in dogs marked by bald patches on either side of the abdomen. Although there is no exact evidence of how melatonin helps fight seasonal alopecia, vets still prescribe it as it gives comfort to pet owners that they are combating this health condition.
Melatonin dosage for dogs
The most important factor that determines the exact melatonin dosage for your dog is its weight. For example, if your dog weighs less than 10 pounds, then the appropriate dosage would be 1 mg. Or, if it weighs more than 100 pounds, then the dosage would increase up to 3 to 6 mg.
Besides the weight, another factor that is taken into account is the medical condition your dog is combating. For example, if your pet is about to go through an anxiety experience, you can give it melatonin just before that happens.
In most cases, the average daily dose ranges from 1 to 3 times a day with 8 to 12 hours in between each dose.
Forms of melatonin for dogs
Another good thing about melatonin is that it can be consumed in different ways. Usually it’s the vet that prescribes the appropriate method of using this supplement. Here is a brief description of the four different consumption methods.
- Chewable tablets or pills which dogs can either swallow voluntarily or by putting them inside a treat or coated with something tasty
- Injections as an alternative to pills if your dog is suffering from Alopecia skin condition
- Drops which may be applied to your dog’s food or a treat using an eyedropper
- Injectable implants which are implanted under the chin and help maintain a steady level of melatonin
Is it safe to give melatonin to your pet?
While it is completely safe to give your dog melatonin, it is always recommended that you consult with your vet about the appropriate dosage. Since this supplement is completely natural, most dogs won’t even experience any side effects from using it.
However, there may be a slight chance of your dog experiencing increased heart rate, confusion, itching or fertility changes. These reactions may also be caused due to an overdose of melatonin which can additionally lead to severe diarrhea or vomiting. In this case, it is important that you contact your vet immediately to take further steps.
In the meantime, here are some tips you can follow to avoid any undesired events.
- Always stick to the recommended dose of melatonin
- Keep all medications in a safe place away from your dog
- If your dog misses a dose, don’t double up on the dosage
The biggest upside of giving melatonin to your pet is that it will help your dog build up its health without using chemicals or medications. In situations where your pet may be feeling anxious, hyperactive or restless, giving it this supplement can certainly ease such symptoms. Whatever health condition your furry friend may be combating, the most important thing is to stick to the proper dosage in order to achieve the best results. So in case you need to use melatonin for dogs, refer back to this guide in order to be fully acquainted with its main health benefits.