If your dog suffers from anxiety and sleeplessness, you’ve probably been wondering if melatonin is a safe alternative for him. Yes, it is! Vets prescribe melatonin for dogs to help treat sleep disorders and moderate signs of anxiety, as well as a handful of other issues. This post will explore how melatonin may help dogs and what food pet parents should consider getting their diabetic dogs. Remember to speak with your vet before giving your pet any type of supplement.
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in mammals’ brain pineal glands that coordinates sleep cycles, signaling the body when it’s time to lie down and sleep and wake up when the sun comes up the next morning. Melatonin levels are highest at nighttime and lowest during the day.
Why Is Melatonin Prescribed for Dogs?
Generally, vets may prescribe melatonin for dogs if they experience some of the following:
- Hair loss
- Disordered sleep
- Cushing’s disease
In extreme cases, a vet may also prescribe melatonin if your dog has cancer and is undergoing chemo. When taken to manage sleep or anxiety complications, especially noise phobias triggered by stuff like thunderstorms or fireworks, melatonin may be taken in combination with other non-drug treatments or, in some cases, behavior therapy.
Is Melatonin Safe for Dogs?
Now that you know what melatonin is and what it can do, you may wonder if such an avenue is safe for your dog. The answer is that you absolutely can, but there may be adverse side effects. That’s why it’s better to get approval from your vet first.
Moreover, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t control supplements (including melatonin). This can be risky, as some may contain xylitol, a sugar substitute that’s harmless to humans but lethal to dogs. If you’re planning on ordering your dog melatonin, be sure to inspect ingredient labels thoroughly – your dog’s life depends on it. Preferably, it is best to only buy from a reliable brand recommended by your vet.
How Does Melatonin for Dogs Work?
Melatonin’s effectiveness depends on a few markers: your dog’s health status, the condition being treated, and the span of treatment.
Melatonin for Sleep
Melatonin supplements may improve a dog’s sleep pattern. This can be particularly helpful for senior dogs suffering from cognitive issues and blind dogs who can’t determine when it’s nighttime or morning.
Melatonin for Anxiety
Melatonin also promotes calm in anxious dogs. Experts at the British Small Animal Veterinary Congress reveal that this is due to melatonin’s ability to “inhibit dopamine,” the feel-good brain substance. Increased levels of dopamine are linked to anxiety.
Cushing’s disease occurs when a dog’s body is generating too much of the hormone cortisol. Healthy levels of cortisol help manage stress responses as well as the immune system. On the other hand, too much of it can lead to problems, such as constant urination, lowered vitality and muscle deficiency, and various skin issues.
In some cases, melatonin may help relieve the symptoms of Cushing’s disease. If a tumor produces the disease, melatonin will work to hinder the uptake of excess cortisol. When it comes to Cushing’s disease, Many vets opt for a melatonin-based treatment before other remedies that can cause serious side effects.
Some dogs go through what is known as seasonal flank alopecia in the winter periods. For no apparent reason, they lose spots of hair on their lower backside near the tail. This condition is not usually followed by other serious skin issues, making this seasonal condition so puzzling. Some vets may prescribe melatonin to treat this seasonal hair loss, although it’s not a definitive solution.
While the hair usually grows back when the condition is treated with melatonin, there’s no evidence suggesting that it wouldn’t grow back without melatonin, so it’s kind of a gray area. Nonetheless, it is a safe solution for most dogs.
Melatonin Dosage for Dogs and Potential Side Effects
Most dogs won’t experience any severe side effects. This is why vets and parents alike prefer melatonin over other sleep aids such as sedatives. You may notice a bit of laziness in your dog during the day. Increased itchiness or digestive upset is another potential mild side effect. More severe side effects include elevated heart rate, confusion, and cramping.
The best way to make sure your dog’s body is reacting to the melatonin as it should is to start with a low dosage and increase it over a couple of weeks. If any of the above side effects manifest themselves, talk to your vet before proceeding with higher doses.
While some pet parents prefer melatonin’s natural characteristics instead of synthetic sleeping pills for dogs, you should talk to your vet before committing to a melatonin regimen. There has not been enough research of its side effects and safety in dogs, nor has it been approved by the FDA. That’s why consulting your vet is imperative when contemplating such a decision. If you think your doggo would benefit from melatonin, speak with your vet to see if it’s the right alternative for your furry friend.