Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain and controls the sleep cycle and hair shedding/growth in dogs. Synthesized melatonin supplements are available without a prescription in the United States. But can you use melatonin for dogs and pets?
As the perfect natural option for different behavioral and mood patterns, your vet may prescribe it for insomnia, Cushing’s disease, or anxiety.
While there is a lack of scientific evidence on this drug, many vets still prescribe it for various treatments. Besides being safe, when it’s given in the correct amount, it can effectively help with certain conditions.
What Is Melatonin
Secreted in the pineal gland of the body, melatonin is a hormone that performs various functions in the body. Since it’s responsible for sleep, if it’s not produced in enough quantities, it can lead to sleep issues or a condition known as insomnia.
If you’ve ever had insomnia then you understand that it’s a horrible condition. To combat the insufficient production of melatonin, most vets commonly prescribe this drug.
This drug can also be used in humans to help with sleep. It can also help with other behavioral problems with very few side effects.
Melatonin can be purchased over the counter, though the FDA has not approved it for use in dogs. You should always consult a veterinarian before placing your dog on any type of new supplement or drug (even natural ones), as it may interact with certain medications, or could worsen medical conditions.
How Melatonin Works In Dogs
By regulating sleep pattern, it means melatonin works in the same way as it is in humans. For instance, your body will signal the pineal gland to increase the production of melatonin once it gets dark.
The increased production of this chemical is what’s responsible for making you sleepy. Similarly, when the sun comes up, the body signals pineal glands to reduce the production of melatonin, and this is what causes you to wake up.
Most dogs who suffer from insomnia do not receive enough amounts of melatonin. Their pineal glands may not be producing enough of this chemical.
Just like you’ll give your dog calcium supplement to make up for calcium deficiency, you also need to provide him with melatonin supplements.
If given in proper doses, your dog will be able to sleep peacefully. This will also make you sleep peacefully, knowing very well that your dog is sleeping well.
You may also use it to treat other common behavioral issues such as hyperactivity.
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Uses of Melatonin for Dogs
According to Doctor Judy Morgan, and veterinarian, melatonin can sometimes be given to dogs who suffer from anxiety.
This drug supplement can be used to reduce the symptoms of anxiety caused by a family vacation or long days in the office. It can also be used to help the dog relax before going on a long road trip or to stop destructive behavior such as digging or chewing.
She further said that melatonin could help dogs who have thunderstorm kind of anxiety. So if you need some form of calming effect, then it’s the best drug to use for your dog.
Although some dogs shed hair seasonally, some may shed too much fur, thus leading to a condition known as alopecia. If this is the case, then melatonin can help. Says, Doctor Marie Haynes, a veterinarian in Ottawa.
While it’s not known what causes alopecia, it’s also not clear how melatonin help with this condition. Various studies have shown that melatonin can significantly help with this condition.
Melatonin can also help regulate the processes that signal to the body that it’s time to sleep or wake up.
Apart from humans, melatonin can also be used to help dogs who suffer from cognitive functions to ensure that they get good sleep.
While sleeping problems are more evident in older dogs, if you give them melatonin, they will not only sleep at the appropriate time but also for the proper amount of time. This will help your overall pets long term health.
Cushing’s disease is a condition that causes fatty deposits and weight gain. As a hormonal imbalance disease, it leads to the increased production of cortisol levels in your dog’s body.
This supplement can help the body to block the production of cortisol by the pituitary glands possibly being an efficacious treatment for the disease.
Is Melatonin Safe for Dogs
Yes. Melatonin is quite safe in dogs. But if your dog is suffering from a condition such as Cushing’s disease, you need to consult your veterinarian first before putting him on the drug.
By doing this, you’ll know the right amount to give your dog. He will also advise you in case your dog already on other medications.
Another thing that you need to check is the dosage. The key to successful melatonin treatment is accurate and proper dosage.
Depending on the weight, size, and condition of your dog, your vet will tell you the right dosage that you need to give him.
It’s, therefore, essential to get a prescription from your vet before you buy it for your dog.
What Dosage of Melatonin Should You Give Your Dog
Just as we’ve said above, melatonin is only safe for dogs when it’s given in the right dosage. Like any other drug, it’s essential to consult your vet first before putting your dog on the medication.
You also need to avoid giving it to dogs that are less than 12 weeks old or pregnant.
Melatonin also comes in different forms. The one that you buy generally depends on the behavior of your dog. It can come as a tablet, powder, capsule, or liquid form.
Although you can give then without food, if they are picky, you may need to be creative or provide them with a treat. We like these pumpkin dog treat ideas– there are soft and hard ones to hide or reward with.
When talking about melatonin with your doctor, always remember to ask them about the correct dosage.
However, as a general rule, ensure that you give it out three times daily. Most vets recommend the following Melatonin dogs dosage. However to ensure the proper amounts for your dog, you must defer to your veterinarian.
Melatonin Dog Dosage
- Dogs less than 10 pounds should be given 1 milligram.
- Dogs between 25 to 100 pounds should be given 3 milligrams.
- Dogs weighing more than 100 pounds should be given 3 to 6 milligrams.
However, while administering the drug to small dogs, you need to be very careful about the dosage. Any small mistake can lead to severe effects.
Also, before you give it out, check the label and ensure that it does not contain xylitol as one of the ingredients.
It’s important to know that it takes between 10 to 15 minutes for melatonin to start having effects on the body.
Once the medication kicks in, the dog may sleep for even up to 8 hours. This is why most people prefer giving it when they are going to bed.
Melatonin for Dogs Side Effects
As compared to other drugs,melatonin has very few side effects. You rarely find a dog showing any side effects after being given the medication.
While the side effects are quite a few, it’s still your responsibility as a pet owner to know about the adverse reactions that your dog may experience after taking medicine.
This is very important because your dog can overdose without your knowledge by merely chewing the bottle. It’s, therefore essential to know the warning signs.
This will not only allow you to respond quickly but will also make the difference between life and death. Some of the main side effects include:
- Increased heart rate
- Insulin resistance
- Stomach upset including diarrhea and vomiting
- Loss of fertility
- High blood pressure
What You Need To Do In Case Your Dog Overdoses
In most instances, when your dog overdoses, the symptoms are similar to the side effects. However, they are much more severe.
If your dog has taken a lot of the drug, he may experience symptoms such as constant vomiting and extreme diarrhea.
When your dog is on melatonin, you need to pay keen attention to it and watch it throughout the day.
If you see any severe symptoms the best thing to do is to call your vet as soon as possible. To prevent overdose here are some of the things that you can do.
- If you miss a dose, do not give your dog double doses.
- Keep all the drugs in a place where your dog cannot reach them.
- Always ask your vet the correct dose.
- If your dog has accidentally taken a lot try to induce vomiting while contacting the vet
- Ensure that all your family members know about the dosage
Although the chances of an overdose might be scary, they are rare. If you consult your vet and keep the drugs safe and out of reach, this should hopefully never occur.
- Only buy the drug from a trusted site.
- Make sure that the supplement is free from xylitol.
- When talking to your vet ask them to recommend the best brand.
- Look for melatonin that has been formulated for dogs.
Since melatonin is a naturally occurring chemical, most vets choose it as a supplement for a number of different ailments to help soothe dogs.
Giving it to your dog can, therefore, help with several medical conditions.
As one of the best supplements out there, melatonin is a natural treatment option for conditions such as Cushing’s disease, insomnia, anxiety, and hair loss.
However, the dose that you give depends on the condition, size, and weight of the dog. Although side effects are rare, they still occur.
Make sure you contact your vet in case you see any unusual symptoms. They will help you know whether melatonin is the right supplement or not. Otherwise, since melatonin is safe in dogs, supplementing with it can help with many health issues.