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Michael Dym, V.M.D.
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Dr. Michael Dym
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Can you give a dog melatonin?

Dog begging for food

Melatonin is a commonly used supplement among humans, and while most human supplements aren't safe to share with dogs, melatonin is on the safe list. In fact, melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain by both humans and animals. In our bodies, melatonin helps regulate the circadian rhythms of the body, meaning our sleep cycles.

 

How does melatonin benefit my dog?

 

Melatonin can be an excellent supplement for your dog. The sedative qualities in melatonin make it effective in calming down and soothing anxious dogs. Melatonin helps improve your pet's mood and relieve your pet's anxiety issues, including hyperactivity, restlessness, separation anxiety, and any kind of phobias like loud noises. Giving your dog melatonin before events of high stress like a thunderstorm, fireworks, or leaving the house can help your dog destress, relax and sleep soundly. It even helps older dogs suffering from insomnia experience a more regular sleeping cycle. Melatonin is actually known to help ease some of the symptoms of mild Cushing's disease, a disease that causes a hormonal imbalance in dogs. Lastly, because melatonin promotes hair growth, it is a great supplement to use in dogs with alopecia.

 

How much melatonin can I give my dog?

 

Melatonin is safe for dogs at the right dosage. Like any other supplement or medication, it's always best to talk to your veterinarian before giving it to your pet. Avoid giving melatonin to pregnant dogs and puppies under 12 weeks old. When discussing giving your dog melatonin with your vet, make sure to talk about the correct dosage for your dog. A general rule of thumb for melatonin dosage (up to 3x daily) for dogs is as follows:

 

  • Dogs less than 10 lbs should be given 1 mg
  • Dogs weighing 10-25 lbs should be given 1.5 mg
  • Dogs weighing 26-100 lbs should be given 3 mg
  • Dogs weighing over 100 lbs should be given 3-6 mg

If you do give your pet melatonin, check the label first to make sure the ingredients don't contain xylitol. This is a commonly used artificial sweetener that is highly toxic to dogs. Also, as with any new medications or supplements you give your dog, keep an eye on them after the first administration in case of an allergic reaction. After administration, melatonin starts to work within about 15 minutes and lasts about 8 hours.

What should I watch out for when giving my dog melatonin?

 

Because melatonin is a naturally produced hormone in the body it's rare to see side effects when given as a supplement. However, there are side effects that can occur:

 

  • Digestive upset
  • Increased heart rate
  • Itching
  • Female reproductive cycle change
  • Confusion
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