Melatonin a naturally occurring hormone produced within the body by the brain’s pineal gland. Though commonly used as an over-the-counter sleeping aid for insomnia, melatonin has many other benefits when given to dogs in helping treat separation anxiety, hyperactivity, stress, phobias, various forms of alopecia (hair loss), and canine epilepsy. Like humans, dogs can experience insomnia and even depression due to insufficient production of melatonin. This could be due to anxiety, fear, stress, or other external factors. In such situations, supplemental melatonin may be a good solution.
CAN I GIVE MY DOG MELATONIN? YES
Being a natural substance, melatonin is an excellent choice for pet owners looking to avoid synthetic medicines such as the diphenhydramine formulation of Benadryl that can also be used for insomnia relief.
Though still considered ‘experimental’, melatonin appears to be as safe for dogs as it is for humans with the appropriate dosage. However, as with any supplement, make sure you purchase a quality brand that doesn’t contain unnecessary fillers or potentially harmful substances. For example, xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is toxic to dogs, can be found in some OTC melatonin products.
Melatonin supplements are available in several forms including tablet, powder, capsule, and liquid that can be administered directly or incorporated into pet food. The regular tablet form is recommended for dogs. It can be administered on a regular basis or whenever your dog exhibits signs of fear, anxiety, or panic.
While effects can vary from dog to dog, melatonin typically takes effect within 10 to 15 minutes for dogs. The relaxing and canine calming effects of melatonin lasts for up to 8 hours. If your dog is experiencing disrupted sleep patterns; you should administer the supplement right before bedtime to help facilitate a full restful sleep until morning.
Safe Recommended Melatonin Dosage for Dogs
Melatonin dosage is dependent on several factor including the size of your dog and the condition being treated. As always, consult with your vet regarding the right brand, dosage, and other important considerations which may be relevant to your particular dog.
The recommended dosage below is for treating insomnia, anxiety, fear, and phobias based on your dog’s weight. It is to be taken by mouth once every 8 – 24 hours, up to a maximum of 3 times per day.
|1 mg||Dogs weighing less than 10 lbs|
|1.5 mg||Dogs weighing 10 lbs to 25 lbs|
|3 mg||Dogs weighing 26 lbs to 100 lbs|
|3 to 6 mg||Dogs weighing over 100 lbs|
Where to Buy Melatonin
Compared to many drugs and supplements, melatonin is relatively safe for dogs. Pregnant dogs and young puppies (12 weeks and under) should not be given the drug. Caution should be exercised if there is an pre-existing medical condition. Because melatonin can slow the blood clotting process; it is not recommended to administer it alongside other drugs with anticoagulant properties such as aspirin. In epileptic dogs, it should be administered before bedtime to help effectively reduce the risk of epileptic seizures at night
If your dog is suffering from hair loss, it is strongly recommended you consult with a vet for diagnosis. Hair loss in dogs can be associated with various conditions such as Cushing’s disease, thyroid disease, parasite infections, and bacterial infections that may require other forms of treatment.
Alternatives to Melatonin
While melatonin has its benefits in helping calm fearful and panicky dogs, pet owners should remember that insomnia and anxiety in dogs may also be due to emotional distress or physical pain (such as canine arthritis). It is always important we understand the underlying cause(s) and ensure we treat those issues appropriately. Some common factors includes recent moves, environmental changes, your absence, emotional tension in the household, joint-related pain from old age, or change in the family ‘pack’. In certain situations, safe alternatives to help make your canine companion feel relaxed and even-tempered could be a Thundershirt or reestablishing his regular routine.
Conclusion on Melatonin
Melatonin can help calm your dog in stressful situations and alleviate the common fear of loud noises such as fireworks and thunder. In fact, with supplemental assistance, many dog owners have been able to help their puppies and dogs overcome their panic and fear of loud noises permanently over time. Dogs suffering from Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (similar to Alzheimer’s disease) also benefits from better sleep and less restlessness with the supplement. As a better alternative to tranquilizers and a natural alternative to synthetic drugs such as Benadryl, melatonin is valuable medicine to keep on hand for dogs with anxiety or sleeping issues.