Melatonin for dogs safety, uses, dosage and side effects

Melatonin is a hormone that is used by veterinarians as a natural treatment for various conditions. Research has shown that it can help relieve stress in dogs, eliminate anxiety, and diminish seizures among other health benefits. Despite this, the Food and Drug authority does not approve its use in pets yet veterinarians continue to use it albeit legally. We explore whether melatonin for dogs is safe, whether it works, appropriate dosage as well as the side effects and precautions to bear in mind.

Is Melatonin Safe for Dogs? – Can I Give My Dog Melatonin?

A common concern online regarding melatonin is whether melatonin is safe for pets. In particular, is melatonin safe for dogs and can I give my dog melatonin?

Melatonin is in the neuro-hormone class of drugs and has various veterinary uses. It is used as an anti-convulsant, sedative, reproductive cycle regulator as well as an anti-oxidant.

Most pet owners and vets prefer to use melatonin in dogs since it is made up of natural substances as opposed to some medications available in the market that are made of synthetic substances.

Melatonin for dog seizures
A dog suffering a seizure

Melatonin has become increasingly popular over recent years with veterinarians, after discovering the huge positive effects that this medicine has when it comes to training your dog, adjusting their behavior and minimizing symptoms of serious health conditions.

As such, it is safe to administer melatonin in dogs as long as this is done under the guidance of a veterinarian and the recommended dosages are adhered to.

Does Melatonin Work On Dogs?

While it is safe to use in dogs, does melatonin work on dogs and what will melatonin do to a dog? Used correctly and in the right dosage, melatonin should work for some specific conditions without having any negative effects. Some of the conditions it can help improve include:

Melatonin for Dogs Hair Loss

According to franklintnvet.com, pet owners and vets have had success with the use of melatonin therapy for canine hair loss and shedding. Seasonal alopecia is the most common form of hair loss in dogs and is exhibited on the back and the dog’s flanks. It could occur on the nose, ears and tail too.

Melatonin for dog hair loss is used to help in dog hair growth and thickening the fur. Some pet owners are known to use it to help thicken the coat of their pets in the winter. In addition, it will help reverse the skin problems resulting from hair loss.

Melatonin for Dog Anxiety

Dogs tend to suffer various forms of anxiety attacks. There are some that have noise phobias and will be anxious due to noises from thunderstorm, car alarms, sirens, vacuum cleaners and the likes. Others will start displaying signs of anxiety while about to ride a car. For others, separation anxiety kicks in whenever they are left alone.

According to webcanine.com, dogs that have melatonin in their system before they experience the cause of anxiety do well. It is advisable to give a dose of melatonin at least half an hour before the anxiety causing events take place. That is before things such as thunders and fireworks strike.

Melatonin for Dogs with Cushing’s

Yet another common question among pet owners is whether melatonin is safe for dogs with Cushing’s disease. Cushing’s disease is among the three most common diseases in older dogs.

It occurs when the adrenal glands of the dog produce too much corticosteroids leading to too much of it circulating in the body. Some of the early signs of the disease include increased water intake and frequent urination. As the disease progresses, weight gain and hair loss may be experienced too.

Endocrine specialists from the University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine, suggest that the use of melatonin in dogs can help treat Cushing’s disease,

Melatonin for Seizures in Dogs

Dogs with epilepsy tend to suffer most seizures at night. The best way to address this is to have a vet prescription for epilepsy. Melatonin supplements for dogs have been said to reduce the severity and frequency of seizures.

Melatonin for Sleep Cycle Disorders and other Uses in Dogs

Another use of melatonin for dogs is to correct any sleep cycle disorders the pet may exhibit. It helps regulate the sleep-wake cycles and ensures dogs sleep well. In addition, it regulates the reproductive cycle and body rhythms. It has also been known to tame aggression and correct other behavioral shortcomings in dogs.

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In addition, melatonin acts as an antioxidant and thus helps in fighting free radicals in dogs. These have been known to lead to brain deterioration if left unchecked.

Melatonin Dosage for Dogs

Before giving your dog melatonin, it is important to talk to your vet about it. This is because the supplements could react with other medications resulting in negative side effects.

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The dosage for melatonin for dogs depends on a number of factors. The end result you are looking to achieve is one. The dosage can be administered regularly if the dog is suffering from insomnia.

The K9 Melatonin for DogsFor epileptic seizures, the best time to administer it for maximum efficacy is right before sleep. For anxiety cases, it can be administered in anticipation to anxiety causing incidences.

Melatonin takes effect 15-20 minutes after it has been given to a dog. The effects last up to eight hours. It is therefore recommended that the maximum number of times for each dosage is three times per day.

Another way to determine the dosage is by using the weight of the dog. To treat phobias, anxiety, fear and insomnia, the recommended safe amounts are as follows:

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1 mgDogs weighing less than 10 lbs
1.5 mgDogs weighing 10 lbs to 25 lbs
3 mgDogs weighing 26 lbs to 100 lbs
3 to 6 mg

Dogs weighing over 100 lbs

Where to Buy Melatonin

Melatonin supplements are available over the counter. Petco and Petsmart stores are some of the places you can check. It is also possible to purchase melatonin for dogs online such as on Amazon. The only thing to bear in mind is to settle for trusted brands.

Although available in tablet, capsule, powder and liquid forms, Vet Info recommends the plain tablet form. This is as opposed to the other sublingual or time release forms. Do not opt for human melatonin as these may contain Xylitol which is an artificial sweetener that could proof harmful to your pet.

Melatonin for Puppies

Although melatonin is considered relatively safe for pets, it should not be administered to puppies less than 12 weeks old.

Melatonin in Dogs Overdose

It is important to consult your veterinarian before you can give your dog melatonin. This will ensure that the correct dosage of the supplement is administer. It will also ensure that prescribed brands are meant for use in dogs as those meant for human consumption contain slightly higher and stronger amounts of the drug.

If despite putting into place all the precautions necessary you still suffer a dog melatonin overdose, seek immediate veterinary attention. Among some of the symptoms of a melatonin overdose in pets include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of coordination

Melatonin for Dogs Side effects

Just like in humans, administration of drugs in dogs should be done with caution.

The drug should not be given to pregnant dogs and young puppies. Always consult your vet first before giving melatonin to dogs especially those with pre-existing medical conditions.

  • The drug is known to slow down the process of blood clotting. It is therefore important not to give it to dogs along drugs with anticoagulant properties. This includes drugs such as aspirin.
  • Another side effect that may be observed is an interference with hormonal functions in females causing a change in when she goes to heat as well as her urge to mate.
  • The drug can cause drowsiness in dogs and slight stomach upsets.
  • It is also important to keep to the recommended amounts of the drug as a melatonin for dogs overdose could cause various negative side effects such as those discussed above.
  • The drug is not recommended for people with hypersensitivities as well as those with allergies.

Sources:

Webcanine: Melatonin for Dog Stress

Cuteness.com: Melatonin Side Effects

Franklintnvet.com: Melatonin and Lignan Cushing’s Treatment

Atopzpetcare: Can I Give my Dog Melatonin?

Vetinfo.com: Melatonin Supplement for Dogs

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