Melatonin For Dogs: All The Facts You Should Know

Melatonin supplement is common among the human population and while human medications are known to be unsafe for the canine population, the reverse is the case with melatonin. The supplement is quite safe for dogs and is equally beneficial to them in several ways. For one, it helps them in regulating their sleep cycle, as well as managing all kinds of anxiety, promotion of hair growth, and many more. Continue reading to get enough exposure to the meaning of melatonin, the uses, and possible side effects of melatonin for dogs.

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone from the pineal gland which is a pea-sized gland in the middle of both human and animal brains. The function of the gland is to aid the body in knowing the right time to go to sleep, as well as the time to be awake. When a pup’s pineal happens to be functioning optimally, more melatonin will be produced towards nighttime. At this stage, the dog begins to feel weary and sleepy. On the other hand, the production level of melatonin falls with the sunrise as the dog feels fully awake.

Melatonin is also commercially produced as a form of sedative hormonal supplement which is effective for the treatment of hyperactivity, anxiety, restlessness, and many more. Because it has negligible side effects, pet parents favor it over medications produced with chemicals, which are likely to come with harmful side effects.

Melatonin is an over-the-counter drug, though it has not been approved for canine use by the FDA. However, a veterinarian must be consulted before exposing a dog to melatonin, as the drug might have negative reactions when combined with certain medications, In some cases, it can make some health issues worse, and portends risk for newborn dogs and pregnant ones.

What Is Melatonin Used For In Dogs?

Melatonin for dogs
A pup taking Melatonin source

Melatonin is mostly used for the treatment of a plethora of health conditions in dogs, among the major ones are;

Issues With Sleeping

Older dogs often suffer from confusion with regard to their sleeping pattern. Such dogs can be asleep throughout the day and awake all night long. This condition is referred to as sundowner syndrome which is an unpleasant situation for both dog and parent. Since the primary function of melatonin is to manage sleeping behavior and patterns, it is the ideal medication for this condition.

Melatonin for dogs is effective in the treatment of insomnia, but remember that this condition usually comes with an underlying cause, which is generally a pain. Thus the medication can only suffice as a form of stopgap measure, but the dog should be taken to the vet who will examine it for any health issue that might be causing insomnia.


Anxiety comes in various kinds in canines and can be controlled by administering melatonin to dogs. Among these forms of anxiety is separation anxiety which makes a pup to be distressed in the absence of its human family. It also works for the treatment of noise anxiety when canines entertain fear because of sudden noise emanating from fireworks, nearby road construction, or thunder. Another way through which dogs become anxious is by embarking on road trips.

Hair Loss

Since the drug is good for the promotion of hair growth, it becomes ideal for a pup that has lost too much hair. Note, that specific kind of alopecia can be treated with melatonin. It equally works for canines ailed by Cushing’s disease that need to undergo a hair regrowth process.

Other Uses

Though the aforementioned are among the common reasons vets recommend melatonin, they can still be used for some other medical issues like behavioral problems, anorexia, phobias, and weight gain for dogs that have lost weight following surgery or severe sickness. Other conditions it can be used for include canine cognitive dysfunction and platelet conditions.

How Much Melatonin Should My Dog Take?

Apart from pregnant dogs and puppies below 12 weeks of age, melatonin for dogs is quite safe for the canine fellows. Generally, the right frequency should be up to three times daily, and it can be administered as follows;

  1. 1 mg for pups under 10 lbs in body weight
  2. 1.5 mg for dogs between 10 to 25 lbs weight
  3. 3 mg for canines weighing between 26 and 100 lbs
  4. 3 to 6 mg should be ideal for dogs with over 100 lbs of body mass

Once you have given a melatonin supplement to your pooch, it should be kept under close observation for possible allergic reactions. Melatonin begins to take effect after 15 minutes and may last for up to eight hours.

Is It Safe To Give My Dog Melatonin, Does It Work In The Treatment Of Anxiety?

It is agreed that melatonin is beneficial to sufferers of insomnia because of its sleep-inducing qualities, but the question is, how does it benefit a dog that is ailed by anxiety? As discussed above, anxiety can come from any angle – loud noise, thunderclaps, fireworks, and many more. Melatonin supplement has proved to be effective in the treatment of symptoms linked to canine anxiety. The drug may be administered in situations that can lead to anxiety – it assists the dog to calm down.

Apart from the expected side effects, there are still a few things every dog parent should take into consideration before going ahead to give their furry friend melatonin.

Adopters should ensure that they scrutinize the label properly, as some of these supplements may contain the likes of xylitol – a synthetic sweetener, which is known to be toxic to pups. A closer perusal of the label will reveal if xylitol or any other harmful compound is among the components of the supplement.

Also, a pre-existing health issue may be worsened by the administration of melatonin. Again, some already ingested medications are capable of interacting with the supplement – all these and more should be considered before deciding if the drug is ideal for your furball. However, it is best to leave the decision to the experts; the vet should be consulted before you proceed.

Read Also: Do Dogs Have Down Syndrome?

Side Effects Of Melatonin In Dogs

  1. Since melatonin for dogs acts as a hormone for the regulation of sleep, it follows that its biggest side effect will be drowsiness
  2. Melatonin for dogs can engender digestive upset, as well as cramps and upset stomachs
  3. While it causes insulin resistance, it can also have a significant effect on the female reproductive cycle
  4. In several animals, the supplement has been connected to accelerated heart rate
  5. Some canine allergic reactions like itching have been linked to the ingestion of melatonin

So far, the side effects that have been reported on account of melatonin are quite few and it is not expected to get worse so long as the right dosage is administered. The minimal side effects make the supplement preferable to tranquilizers, as well as other forms of medications for a similar purpose.

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