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Melatonin For Dogs: Discover The Potentially Life-Changing Benefits

Written by: Molly Weinfurter
Molly Weinfurter is a writer for iHeartDogs, and she’s passionate about helping animals in need. She volunteers for Bailing Out Benji and a local dog rescue.Read more
| Published on January 21, 2022

Our dogs have a similar sleep pattern to us, where most of their resting happens at night. Yet, sleep doesn’t always come easy to either species. Like humans, dogs might find themselves feeling anxious or restless before bed. No one likes to get up in the morning without feeling refreshed and ready to start the day. So, our dogs shouldn’t have to experience that either.

Luckily, there are methods of relieving this restlessness that work for both humans and dogs. Melatonin often helps humans improve their sleep. Dogs don’t usually take the same medications and supplements as people, but melatonin for dogs is an exception. It could be life-changing for canines who feel anxious at night. So, is melatonin effective, and what dosage of melatonin is safe for dogs?

Dog restless at night

Related: 12 Best Dog Breath Fresheners

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that exists naturally in both dogs and humans. It’s what regulates our circadian cycle. In other words, it makes us sleepy when our bodies try to regulate our sleep schedule. The pineal gland in our brains creates melatonin based on the light cycle, so production increases during darkness.

Bodies will produce more melatonin when it’s time to sleep, but in some cases, our brains won’t create as much as we need. That’s why humans take melatonin supplements to make up for it. The synthetic version of melatonin can help make sleep easier for humans.

Dogs have melatonin in their bodies just like humans do. So, if their brains don’t produce enough at bedtime, they’ll be left wide awake too. That’s why many dog parents have chosen to give melatonin to their furry friends to help with sleep and other concerns.

Is Melatonin Safe for Dogs?

Yes, melatonin is a safe supplement for dogs. However, if you choose a melatonin brand that’s made for humans, look at the ingredient list closely. Some types of melatonin have fillers and coatings that aren’t safe for dogs.

When you buy melatonin for your pet, make sure it doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners like xylitol since those can be toxic to dogs. Look for an option that’s filler-free because FDA-approved ingredients for humans might not be okay for dogs. Better yet, find an option that’s formulated specifically for pets.

How much melatonin is safe for dogs varies based on your dog’s size, so follow your vet’s instructions closely to avoid complications. Giving your dog the correct amount reduces the risk of side effects.

Melatonin tablets
Wikimedia Commons

Side Effects of Melatonin for Dogs

Melatonin has very few side effects, so it’s often used as a safer alternative to other medications. The only common side effect your dog could face is lethargy when they wake up. Uncommon side effects could include digestive problems, increased heart rates, itching, or confusion. It’s best to avoid this medication if your dog has liver or kidney problems.

Melatonin should never be given to pregnant dogs as it could cause changes in fertility. It could also pose risks for both the mother and unborn puppies. Vets recommend that you avoid giving melatonin to puppies under 12 weeks old. If your dog has any reactions after taking a dose of melatonin, stop giving it to them and contact your vet.

Humans could have irregular sleep patterns, itchiness, drowsiness, low body temperatures, and headaches after taking melatonin, but it’s unclear if these side effects could occur for dogs too.

What is Melatonin Good For?

Taking melatonin is a great way to get a good night’s sleep, but it has many other benefits. In addition to helping with insomnia, it can also reduce anxiety, pain, and stress. It’s a great way to calm the body in a natural way. Like with any new medication or supplement, it’s best to consult a medical professional before using it.

Not many studies have been done about melatonin for dogs, but many dog parents have discussed how it has improved their dogs’ lives. Some research suggests that dogs taking melatonin require less initial anesthesia before a procedure.

Melatonin is often used for relaxing dogs and humans, but it can also benefit a wide range of animals. For cats, it can prevent behavioral problems and suppress heat cycles. Horses can get improved breeding rates from it. Even ferrets can feel better after taking melatonin since it can treat adrenal disease for them.

Dog sleeping on couch

What Does Melatonin Do For Dogs?

Melatonin is a relaxing supplement for dogs that is most commonly used for helping them sleep at night. Insomnia can disrupt a dog’s regular sleep pattern, making them drowsy from a lack of rest. Melatonin helps dogs sleep through the night more easily, allowing them to be more energetic and lively during the day. It also works for dogs struggling to sleep due to cognitive dysfunctions.

Yet, improving your dog’s sleep pattern isn’t the only benefit this supplement can have on canines. Here are some other ways melatonin can positively affect your dog. If your furry friend is struggling with any of these issues, ask your vet if melatonin can help.

Calms Anxious Dogs

Melatonin is commonly used for calming dogs with anxiety, which is why you might find it in Hemp products. The most common type of anxiety dogs face is separation anxiety, which causes dogs to become restless and destructive when their humans are away. You can’t be with your dog 24/7, so it’s important to find other solutions, which could include melatonin.

There are several other types of anxiety that pets regularly face. Some dogs have noise anxiety, which is triggered by loud sounds, such as thunderstorms and fireworks. Others might be anxious during certain situations, such as visiting the vet or meeting new people. Another common dog anxiety is travel anxiety, which includes riding in the car or staying in an unfamiliar place.

Melatonin can ease all these types of canine anxiety. Its calming effects can help them feel mellow in scary situations, which reduces the risk of behavioral problems. Less anxious dogs usually have a better sleep schedule too.

Related: The 10 Best Calming Supplements for Dogs

Eases Disease Symptoms

Melatonin for dogs has been used to ease symptoms of Cushing’s Disease. Cushing’s Disease is when dogs produce too much cortisol inside their bodies, leading to stress and problems with their immune system. Dogs with this condition may experience weakness, frequent urination, skin conditions, and low energy levels.

Some vets will suggest melatonin for Cushing’s Disease because it has fewer side effects than other treatments. Melatonin can block excess cortisol in your pup to help their body function normally.

Melatonin may also benefit dogs with epilepsy. It has helped reduce seizures in some dogs. It won’t treat epilepsy entirely, but it will make the symptoms much less severe.

Heals Alopecia

Alopecia causes dogs to have sudden hair loss, usually around their lower back and tail. Luckily, melatonin can help a dog’s coat grow back after suffering from certain types of alopecia. The most common is seasonal flank alopecia, which only occurs in winter.

Melatonin isn’t a guaranteed solution for this condition, but it’s a low-risk, natural option for dogs. It can help the hair grow back and prevent more from falling out. The causes of alopecia are often difficult to determine since allergies or other skin problems do not accompany it. If left untreated, this condition could lead to dry skin and irritation.

Dog sleeping peacefully

Like all medications, melatonin may not have the same effects on every dog. It might not do anything for some dogs. If that’s the case, talk to your vet about other remedies for your dog’s health concerns.

Melatonin Dosage for Dogs

To figure out how much melatonin for dogs is ideal, you should consult your veterinarian. Even though it’s available over the counter, vets can give you the best dosage based on your dog’s age, weight, and medical history. Most dogs will need between 1 and 3 mg per dose, but dogs over 100 pounds may need as much as 6 mg. A melatonin dosage for dogs should be given no more than three times per day.

How many mg of melatonin for dogs based on weight:

  • Less than 10 pounds: 1 mg
  • 10 to 25 pounds: 1.5 mg
  • 26 to 100 pounds: 3 mg
  • More than 100 pounds: 3 – 6 mg

After giving your dog a dose, the effects will last for about eight hours. Most people give their dogs a dose before bedtime or prior to a stressful situation, such as a vet appointment. Melatonin doesn’t have to be served with food, but it may be the easiest option if your dog is picky about taking medicine. Offering medication with food also reduces the risk of an upset stomach.

When you’re not using the melatonin, store it in a tight container at room temperature. If you’re worried about your dog experiencing side effects, you can start with a lower dose than usual and then work your way up to the recommended dosage.

Are There Any Drug Interactions?

Certain medications can be dangerous if used together. If you give your dog melatonin, avoid using drugs like benzodiazepines, succinylcholine, and warfarin. There’s also a chance that melatonin could decrease your pup’s cortisol and estradiol levels. It’s suggested that you should avoid using melatonin with other medications that could make dogs drowsy, such as Benadryl.

If your dog is taking any other medications or supplements, be sure to mention them to your vet before giving melatonin. It’s better to be safe than sorry when having your furry friend consume something new.

Dog getting checked out by vet

What Should You Do in An Emergency?

Melatonin is safe for dogs, so it’s uncommon for dogs to overdose or experience severe side effects. Yet, to be safe, it’s good to monitor your dog the first time they take a new medication or supplement. Keep an eye out for unusual behaviors, such as an upset stomach or prolonged lethargy.

Contact your vet right away if you have any concerns about your dog’s symptoms after taking melatonin. Be specific when telling them about the dog’s melatonin dosage and the behaviors you’ve noticed. Then, your vet will alert you of the next steps based on that information.

Related: 10 Best Eye Supplements for Dogs

How to Serve Melatonin to Dogs

There are several ways to serve melatonin. The most common way is to give your dog a pill hidden in peanut butter or a pill pocket. Some vets might prescribe a liquid or powder version, which is often better for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Chewable supplements are a less common option, but they are a good choice for picky eaters since the chews seem like a treat. In rare cases, vets may place a melatonin implant under the animal’s skin.

Regardless of the type of melatonin you choose, effects will occur within one to two hours. Some brands might even take effect within 15 minutes. Try to give your dog the supplement at the same time each day. If you miss a dose, don’t administer another one until the next scheduled time to avoid overdosing. The best time to give your pet melatonin is within two hours of bedtime.

Melatonin isn’t the only ingredient that can help your furry friend relax and sleep well. Organic hemp powder, chamomile, L-tryptophan, and valerian root can all work with melatonin to keep your dog feeling as relaxed and peaceful as possible.

Related: The 10 Best Anti-Anxiety Beds for Dogs

Chew on This!

Since chews are often the easiest way to get your dog to take medications and supplements, calming chews are a great option to consider for your anxious or restless dog. Make sure to select a chew from a reliable company that you can trust to use on the highest quality ingredients.

The iHeartDogs 9-in-1 Calming Chews use melatonin plus many other calming ingredients to soothe your dog’s anxiety and help them sleep at night. It also benefits digestion, improves skin and heart health, and controls seizures. This supplement includes all of the soothing ingredients mentioned above to keep your pup feeling their best.

IHD Calming Chews

With these tasty and beneficial chews, you’ll no longer have to watch your dog struggle before they go to sleep. The powerful ingredients will give your pup a natural relief from stress and anxiety. The chews are soft and bacon-flavored to appeal to picky eaters. As an added benefit, iHeartDogs donates 14 healthy meals for shelter dogs for every purchase. So not only will you be helping to keep your pup healthy, you’ll be helping fill the bellies of shelter dogs in need.

Dogs can be restless and fearful just like humans can. Melatonin can offer relief for both people and dogs, so it could help your canine companion sleep better at night and make them less anxious.

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