Is Melatonin Bad for Dogs? 3 Things to Consider

Key Takeaway: Melatonin, given at dosages recommended by vets, can cause a calming/sedative effect. There are side effects to consider, and there may be natural alternatives that should be used instead.

Is Melatonin Bad for Dogs? 3 Things to Consider

When your pup isn’t getting all the sleep they need, it can create a lot of disharmony in the household. If you’re looking for a natural way to restore that balance, then Melatonin may be what you’re looking for, but is the cure worse than the problem? We’ll explore that question here, as well as some potential natural alternatives.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps regulate the body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, which controls your tiredness levels. Melatonin levels in the body naturally rise in the evening and fall in the morning, which helps you feel tired at night and alert during the day. Melatonin levels rise and fall because they are directly related to the presence of light. Melatonin production is inhibited by bright light, making it difficult to fall asleep whenever the sun is up.

In addition to its role in regulating sleep, melatonin also has other important functions in the body. For example, it helps boost the immune system and has antioxidant properties, which help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, which are byproducts of some of the body’s natural processes. Melatonin supplements are available over-the-counter in many countries and are commonly used to treat sleep disorders such as insomnia, and to help reset the body’s internal clock when traveling across time zones.

Is Melatonin bad for dogs?

No, melatonin is generally considered safe for dogs when used appropriately and under the guidance of a veterinarian. It is sometimes recommended to help manage certain conditions in dogs such as noise phobia, separation anxiety, and sleep disorders.

It is important to note that the appropriate dosage for dogs differs from the dosage recommended for humans. Giving too much melatonin to a dog can cause undesirable side effects such as digestive upset, lethargy, or behavioral changes. In rare cases high doses of melatonin can cause more serious side effects as seizures or elevated heart rate.

It is also important to consult with a veterinarian before giving your dog melatonin, especially if your dog has a health condition or is taking other medications. Your vet can help determine the appropriate dosage and advise you on any potential risks or interactions that apply to your dog’s specific case.

How much melatonin is bad for dogs?

The appropriate dosage of melatonin for dogs can vary depending on the dog’s size and individual needs. However, as a general rule, the recommended dosage for dogs is between 1 and 3 mg of melatonin per 20 pounds of body weight (0.1-0.3mg/kg), given once daily, typically 30 minutes before bedtime.

According to a 2019 study published in the Journal of Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia, dogs given high doses of melatonin (5 mg/kg) before surgery were calmer and needed less anesthesia than dogs given a placebo. Both before and after treatment, the study found the dog’s vitals to remain normal (Niggemann, et al. 2019).

While melatonin can be beneficial for dogs when used appropriately, it is important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the appropriate dosage and to avoid giving too much, which can cause side effects or potentially harmful effects.

Does Melatonin interact with other medications?

Yes, there are some drug interactions that you should be aware of if you are considering giving melatonin to your dog.

Melatonin may interact with certain medications, including:

  • Blood thinners (like Warfarin)
  • Benzodiazepines: These are a class of drugs commonly used to treat anxiety in dogs, and they may interact with melatonin.
  • Corticosteroids: These drugs are often used to treat inflammation and allergies in dogs, and they may reduce the effectiveness of melatonin.
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): These drugs are commonly used to treat pain and inflammation in dogs, and they may also reduce the effectiveness of melatonin. If your dog is taking NSAIDs, you should talk to your veterinarian before giving melatonin.

It is important to talk to your veterinarian before giving your dog melatonin, especially if your dog is taking any other medications. Your veterinarian can help determine if melatonin is safe for your dog and advise you on any potential drug interactions or risks.

Are there bad side effects for Melatonin in dogs?

While melatonin is generally considered safe for dogs when given in appropriate dosages, there are potential side effects that you should be aware of.

Some of the most common side effects of melatonin in dogs include:

  • Drowsiness or lethargy: Melatonin can have a sedative effect on dogs, and some dogs may become excessively sleepy or lethargic after taking melatonin.
  • Gastrointestinal upset: Some dogs may experience mild gastrointestinal upset, such as nausea or stomach aches.
  • Changes in appetite or thirst: Melatonin can sometimes affect a dog’s appetite or cause dry mouth.
  • Changes in behavior: Dizziness or irritability.

It is important to use melatonin in dogs only under the guidance of a veterinarian and to follow recommended dosages. Additionally, if you notice any concerning symptoms after giving your dog melatonin, such as severe lethargy, vomiting, or incoordination, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

Are there Natural Alternatives to Melatonin?

If you are looking for natural alternatives to melatonin for your dog, there are several options that you can consider. Here are some natural remedies that may help promote relaxation and restful sleep in dogs:

  • Valerian root: Valerian root is an herb that has been used for centuries as a natural sleep aid. It can help calm the nervous system and promote relaxation in dogs. Valerian root can be given to dogs in various forms, including capsules, tablets, and tinctures.
  • Chamomile: Chamomile is another herb that can help promote relaxation and restful sleep in dogs. It has natural sedative properties and can be given to dogs in the form of tea or capsules.
  • CBD Calming Chews: CBD Calming Chews for Dogs have both Valerian and Chamomile in them, as well as a host of other beneficial natural calming ingredients, like Tryptophan, the ingredient in turkey that makes you sleepy after eating it.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise is an important part of promoting restful sleep in dogs. Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise throughout the day to help burn off excess energy and promote relaxation at night.
  • Massage: Massaging your dog can also help promote relaxation and restful sleep. Use gentle, circular motions to massage your dog’s muscles, and focus on areas that are particularly tense or sore.
  • CBD Oil for Dogs: CBD can help a dog’s body naturally achieve homeostasis, a state of balance. When a dog is in homeostasis, they are much more likely to be relaxed.

It is important to note that while natural remedies can be effective for some dogs, they may not work for all dogs. Additionally, if your dog is experiencing chronic sleep problems, it is important to talk to your veterinarian to rule out underlying conditions and to develop an appropriate treatment plan.

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Biscuit's Story

Chris Kjolseth | CEO, Relievet

To say Biscuit lived an active life would be an understatement. Ever since she was a puppy, she’d spend her days running and playing. I’d take her on walks, to the beach, and to dog parks.​​

Unfortunately, at age 10, she started to limp after trips to the dog park. It broke my heart to see her in pain doing what she loved the most. I started feeding her a raw food diet and added high-quality supplements to ensure her nutritional needs were met.

Unfortunately, while she loved the food, the limping persisted. My pets are my children. I want the best for them, so when it came to researching what would be best for Biscuit, I went all in and got obsessed.

I read literally hundreds of studies, and the more I learned, the more concerned I became about my options. But I wasn’t ready to give up hope for Biscuit yet...

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