Yes, you can give your dog melatonin, under the guidance of a veterinary professional. Vets often prescribe melatonin for dogs that are experiencing anxiety, sleep disorders, or other issues. What many people don’t realize is that melatonin works in dogs the same way that it works in humans.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that exists in mammals. It’s secreted by the brain’s pineal gland, and it regulates sleep cycles. This means that it tells the body when it’s time to go to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. Melatonin levels in the body are their highest at night and their lowest during the day. Melatonin is also responsible for helping reduce feelings of anxiety, helping to calm the body down when it feels anxious.
Dogs have very similar circadian sleep cycle rhythms to humans. Dog waking patterns follow the diurnal sleep rhythm, meaning that, like humans, they’re more active during the day, and they sleep during the night. And, also just like with humans, a lack of melatonin in dogs affects their ability to go to sleep, their ability to remain calm, and their ability to manage chronic pain.
Veterinarians prescribe melatonin to dogs for several reasons, including hair loss, anxiety, Cushing’s disease, disordered sleep, or if a dog is going through chemotherapy for cancer. If your dog is being treated with melatonin for anxiety issues due to phobias from things like thunderstorms, melatonin may be prescribed alongside some sort of non-drug therapy.
Dogs react to melatonin the way that humans do. Once they ingest it, they tend to calm down. In fact, many veterinarians give dogs melatonin before surgery because they find that the dogs that get it are a lot less anxious and actually require less initial anesthesia.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), it is completely safe to give your dog melatonin. There is very little risk for your dog developing harmful side effects, and the one side effect that dogs do get, if any, is feeling a little bit tired and groggy when they wake up in the morning.
When choosing melatonin for your dog, make sure that you get the type that doesn’t have any added fillers, coatings, or sweeteners like xylitol, which can actually be harmful for dogs. Speak with your veterinarian before giving your dog melatonin as it could interact with other medications that your dog is currently taking.
You should also speak with your vet about how much melatonin you should be giving your dog. If your dog is being treated for sleep disorders, the general prescribed amount is anywhere between 3 and 6 mg. If you’re giving a dog melatonin because of anxiety, the general consensus is that you should give the dog .1 mg of melatonin per kilogram of the dog’s body weight. Again, your vet will be the right person to help you with dosage amounts.
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