Can You Give Dogs Melatonin?
When we can’t sleep at night, we will often take a dose of melatonin to relax. Melatonin is a naturally occurring neurohormone often used as a sleeping aid for humans. While we can get a lot of benefits from using melatonin, you might be wondering: can dogs have melatonin?
Does Melatonin Affect Dogs?
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that plays a significant role in our circadian rhythms. It is released into our brains in the evening to help signal when it is time to go to bed. Melatonin benefits include anxiety reduction and a body calming effect.
People who take synthetic melatonin (which is readily available as an over-the-counter supplement in the form of pills, chewable gummies, or specialty teas) often use it to treat insomnia and other sleep-related issues.
As a rule of thumb, most medications and supplements humans take cannot be given safely to dogs. However, melatonin for anxiety and restlessness treatment seems to work similarly on dogs as it does on humans.
Melatonin has a relaxing effect on dogs, and some veterinarians will prescribe it before surgery so that less initial anesthesia needs to be administered to your dog. Another study performed in 2019 suggests that melatonin can help dogs who have been castrated regulate their hormones.
Is Melatonin Safe For Dogs?
According to the ASPCA, melatonin is a safe supplement to administer to dogs. The most common side effect is lethargy, but the ASPCA warns that there are rarer but more severe side effects, such as:
- Changes in fertility
- Gastric upset and stomach cramps
- Increased heart rate
Additionally, while melatonin is safe to give to dogs, you must ensure that there are no additives in the supplement that are dangerous to your dog. For example, many pills are coated with the sweetener xylitol, which is very harmful to dogs when consumed.
Finally, even though melatonin is safe for dogs, it may interact negatively with other medications your dog is taking. You should always consult with a veterinarian before administering melatonin to your dog.
How much melatonin can I give my dog?
Because melatonin can have potentially adverse effects when taken with other medications, we recommend consulting with your veterinarian before giving some to your dog. They will know the appropriate amount based on their age, weight, health, etc.
Additionally, a few sources like the Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook suggest that the correct melatonin dosage for dogs who suffer from sleeping disorders is between 3 to 6 milligrams.
However, to treat anxiety in dogs, Plumb’s recommends a melatonin dose for dogs of 0.1 milligrams per kilogram of body weight for your dog. For example, a 25-pound dog should take about 1.13 milligrams of melatonin.
If you give your dog melatonin, make sure to consider the amount of time needed for the hormone to take effect. Melatonin needs about two hours to be fully absorbed into your dog’s body. Make sure you give melatonin sufficient time to take effect before your dog’s bedtime or before their doctor’s appointment.
Should You Give Your Dog Melatonin?
While melatonin is safe to give to your dog, we still recommend consulting with your veterinarian before administering any kind of supplement to your dog. Only a veterinarian will be able to tell you for certain what the safest way of administering melatonin to your dog will be.