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Melatonin is a natural product found in many animals and even a few plants. Many humans use it as a natural sleep aid. But what about our fur babies? Can dogs have melatonin?
Like humans, dogs naturally produce melatonin in their brains. So, they already have melatonin! But it can also be taken as a supplement for several conditions.
Read on and we’ll tell you more.
The pineal gland, inside the brain, produces melatonin. Melatonin production is stimulated by darkness, so levels tend to be higher at night, and also during the seasons with shorter days (autumn and winter).
Scientists believe that melatonin helps regulate the circadian rhythm, the body’s daily sleep/wake cycle. But it also helps regulate other functions related to seasons and rhythms, such as seasonal shedding in dogs.
A safe, natural melatonin supplement is okay for most dogs. Veterinarians sometimes recommend melatonin for sleep problems, skin conditions, or behavioral issues.
Because melatonin also has to do with hair growth in dogs, it’s sometimes used to promote hair regrowth. For example, when a dog has alopecia (hair loss), atopic dermatitis or mange, melatonin may help.
In terms of behavior, melatonin can be calming, which is why it is used to treat sleep disorders. But this calming effect has other benefits. Melatonin may also be used to treat dog anxieties, such as generalized anxiety or separation anxiety.
So yes, dogs can take melatonin. However, anytime you give your dog a supplement, be alert to the following:
Some pet parents also give their dogs melatonin before anesthesia, such as before a dental cleaning. Melatonin can promote calm, but be sure to coordinate with your veterinarian before giving any supplement before anesthesia.
A supplement given before surgery has greater risk of contraindicating.
Melatonin can be taken at any age. Older dogs struggling with dementia and young puppies struggling with sleep, and every age in between, may benefit from taking melatonin.
Primarily, you should give your dog melatonin if they have sleep issues, behavioral issues (such as anxiety) and/or skin issues.
Give melatonin at night, within 1-2 hours of bedtime, or as recommended on manufacturer packaging. If you miss a does, do not “double up” and risk giving your pet too much.
Natural melatonin is a supplement and not a drug. So, side effects are rare. However, one side effect is sleepiness, which generally takes effect within 1-2 hours of the first dose. Most melatonin formulas are intended for use before bed, when sleepiness is not a problem for your pet. It may, in fact, be exactly why you are using melatonin-- as a sleep aid!
Other side effects are possible, though, including increased heart rate, confusion, itching, upset stomach, or even fertility changes in dogs which have not yet been spayed or neutered.
Like anything, too much of a good thing can cause problems. So never double-up on dosages.
As with any supplement or medication, if your dog experiences side effects or undesired changes in behavior, discontinue use and check with your veterinarian.
If you have any questions or concerns about giving your dog melatonin, also check with your vet.
If you have an anxious dog or a dog with trouble sleeping, consider calming chews for dogs.
Dog calming chews often also contain other calming ingredients, such as CBD oil, which has been proven to calm an anxious dog.
For the best in wellness for your fur baby, check out our online store.