Can You Give Melatonin to Dogs - Usage, Doses, and Benefits of Melatonin for Dogs
Like humans, it's normal for your dog sometimes to experience difficulty sleeping. That said, upgrading your furry friend's kennel and beddings might seem like an excellent idea to restore their good night's sleep.
But your dog's beddings aren't always the problem. A simple 'bedroom' upgrade may not count as the most realistic remedy for the trouble. If your pup often has sleepless or restless nights, it may prove wise to consult your vet about anxiety and calming supplements.
Melatonin is an ideal example of these supplements – it can help your dog fall asleep easily and treat several other typical, non-life-threatening concerns.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a natural neurohormone occurring in human beings and other animals, responsible for regulating our circadian rhythm. In simpler terms, it's what makes you drowsy when nature decides it's time to take a rest, and to some degree, it also helps us regulate our feelings of anxiety or stress.
Melatonin is produced in the pineal glands – less during the daytime and more in the evening. But sometimes, the body just doesn't seem to produce melatonin at the right times or release enough of it. That explains why some people turn to melatonin supplements to get their proper sleeping pattern back on track.
Dosage: What is the Dose of Melatonin for Dogs?
A dosage chart can really come in handy when trying to figure out the right amount of melatonin to give your dog. Nonetheless, the correct dosage of melatonin for dogs may vary depending on the reason you're administering the supplement in the first place and your dog's size.
With that in mind, consulting your vet on the proper dosage to give your dog is always the best option as they know better and can recommend using specific dosing. Some cases may require you to administer the melatonin supplement twice a day, and sometimes once a day is enough.
The typical melatonin dosage for dogs, however, depends on the size, weight, and overall health.
Is Melatonin Safe for Dogs?
Yes! Melatonin supplements are safe for dogs, as reported by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). But while you can easily purchase melatonin supplements over the counter, always check the product labels. Some include other additives and artificial sweeteners such as xylitol that may prove toxic to your dog, so it’s always best to purchase supplements that are specifically formulated for dogs.
Moreover, melatonin can also interact poorly with some medications and potentially worsen some medical conditions – more reason why you must consult your vet before administering any dog supplements. And oh, melatonin should generally not be administered to puppies and pregnant dogs.
Potential Side Effects of Melatonin for Dogs
It's not common for melatonin to cause serious side effects to dogs, at least not when appropriately administered. That's perhaps why most dog owners and vets prefer melatonin over tranquilizers and other sleep aids.
However, your pup may still experience slight side effects from a melatonin dosage. They include:
- Cramps and upset stomach
- Insulin resistance (for diabetic dogs)
- Interference of the female reproductive cycle
- Increased heart rate (Tachycardia)
- Lethargy upon waking up
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What Kind of Melatonin Can I Give My Dog?
You have a few options that you can employ to administer melatonin for dogs. They include:
- Chews: This is arguably the most straightforward approach for many pet parents looking to administer melatonin to their dogs. Your pup may assume it's just another tasty treat.
- Pill: Often, melatonin is administered as a capsule or tablet. Consider using a pill pocket to hide the tablet as that makes the administration more manageable.
- Liquid: Some cases call for liquid melatonin administration. But you must be sure the supplement you acquire is formulated for dogs. That's because some human variations don't work great for dogs and can even make your pup sick.
- Implant: Although rare, you could have a vet implant a unique device designed to administer melatonin under your dog's skin.
When to Give Your Dog Melatonin
Melatonin for dogs boasts sedative properties that allow it to supplement the amount produced by the pineal glands. But in what way would your dog benefit from melatonin? Well, here are a few.
Like with people, unrestful or disrupted sleep can bring about other issues during the day, such as feelings of lethargy or elevated anxiety. Unfortunately, the case isn't any different for your dog.
Consider using a melatonin supplement to help your dog enjoy a good night's sleep, stay active and alert during the daytime, and maintain healthy sleep cycles.
Roughly 20 to 40% of dogs experience separation anxiety in varying degrees, resulting in unhealthy coping mechanisms and behavioral issues. Some may also suffer from situational anxiety and phobias, which may arise from things like car rides and loud noises from thunderstorms, firestorms, etc.
That said, melatonin boasts a calming effect that makes dogs mellow during distress, reducing the chances of unhealthy coping mechanisms and behavioral issues.
Some dogs may suffer from seasonal flank alopecia, a skin disorder that's quite common in dogs during winter. The condition causes hair loss in patches around the lower backside of the dog's body, and worst of all, for no apparent reason. And although not a clear-cut remedy, some vets may recommend a melatonin prescription to help treat the condition.
NOTE: When using melatonin to help your dog reduce anxiety before a procedure or relax before bed, administer the correct amount roughly two hours before a veterinary appointment or bedtime. This time frame ensures the melatonin is absorbed in time for maximum effectiveness.
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