The Therapeutic Potential of Melatonin For Dogs: Top Benefits Of Using It

Reviewed By Tom •  Updated: 12/21/20 •  5 min read
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From alopecia and hair loss to anxiety, stress, and pent-up energy, there are many factors for why your veterinarian might prescribe melatonin to your dog. According to the Pet Hospital Banfield, there are around 2,586,738 dogs only in the USA, and more often than not, just like humans, they too go through their own health issues. Luckily, for some of them like alopecia, insomnia, and separation anxiety, there are treatments to help your pup feel better. This is where melatonin comes into play.

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What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a natural hormone that is commonly used as a sleep aid for dogs. It is also used to treat some other doggy medical conditions including hair disorders, cognitive dysfunction, separation anxiety, and sleep cycle disorders.

Though the FDA has not approved melatonin usage for dogs, many dog owners prefer to use melatonin supplements for their dogs instead of drugs. Generally, it is safe for dogs to recover from some diseases. However, it is always important to use the correct melatonin dosage for your dog to avoid unwanted side effects.

Which Medical Conditions Can Benefit the Use of Melatonin for Dogs?

#1 Cushing’s Disease

Cushing’s disease is one of the most common diseases for dogs. It is also known as hypercortisolism and hyperadrenocorticism and it can be a serious threat to a dog’s life. It happens due to the excessive production of a hormone called cortisol in your dog’s body. It causes extreme thirst, and the dog starts to drink extreme amounts of water and urinate frequently.

In some cases, surgery is the best solution to cure dogs of the disease. If your puppy cannot have an operation, melatonin for dogs can be the ideal supplement. It helps to cure Cushing’s disease by inhibiting enzymes that cause cortisol exhaustion from the body. Melatonin helps the dog in several ways, by:

Regulating hormones
Maintaining the body’s circadian rhythm.
Providing antioxidant benefits.

According to the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee, melatonin also reduces cortisol, progesterone, androstenedione, and 17-hydroxyprogesterone levels effectively to recover dogs from Cushing’s disease.

#2 Hair Loss

Sometimes dog’s hair sheds for non-allergic reasons. Giving them melatonin can stimulate hair growth. But the experts are not entirely sure how it works, so they believe more studies are needed.

If you notice your dog experiencing itching, hair loss, or darkening skin and pain, don’t waste more time. You should immediately consult with your veterinarian. If you and your vet think a melatonin supplement is a way to fix it, then don’t hesitate to give it a try.

#3 Insomnia

Melatonin is also known as the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Sometimes a dog’s biorhythm can get disrupted due to stress, fear, and anxiety. In that case, a melatonin supplement may help to fix the biorhythm once again. Moreover, melatonin dosage can be beneficial for senior or blind dogs who have a diminished sense of time.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Most of the dogs hardly experience side effects after taking melatonin regularly. This is mainly why most vets recommend melatonin for dogs with Cushing and other diseases. However, as with any medicine, there might be some side effects you need to know about. Some of the common issues created by the continuous usage of melatonin are:

Abnormal heart rate
Digestion problems
Change in the female reproductive cycle

Moreover, for dogs having diabetes, melatonin supplements can be harmful. The best way to start giving melatonin to your dog is to start with a low dosage and track your dog’s reaction. If you notice any of these side effects, you can stop the dosage or change the amount.

Safe usage

After knowing the effects and side effects of melatonin, you must be wondering what is the safe dosage for your beloved pet. After researching a lot of scientific journals, we came to the conclusion that melatonin usage is safe if it is taken in the right amount:

Dogs that weigh less than 10 lbs – 1 mg
Dogs that weigh 10-25 lbs – 1.5 mg
Dogs that weigh 26-100 lbs – 3 mg
Dogs that weigh more than 100 lbs – 3-6 mg

Never give your dog extra dosage at a time if you think you’ve missed the previous one. If you happen to do it, talk to your vet about how you can make it right.

Dogs That Shouldn’t Take Melatonin

It’s recommended not to use melatonin on dogs who suffer from allergies. You should also be careful about the usage of melatonin for dogs who are pregnant and lactating. Some melatonin brands contain xylitol, which is poisonous for dogs. So, if you are not sure what your selected brand contains, you should consult your vet.

Finally, it is recommended that you don’t use melatonin for dogs with the following health issues:

Dogs with liver disease
Dogs with clotting problems
Bleeding disorders
Brain problems
Leukemia or lymphoma

You should be careful if your dog is taking other supplements and medications. You need to make sure that melatonin does not create any harmful effects, as some may not mix well with melatonin.

Final Words

To sum up, melatonin is one of the best supplements for dogs to recover from some unwanted diseases. If you want to treat your dog for Cushing’s, it is the best option for a steady non-invasive recovery. This gentle approach may help your furry companion happy and healthy for many years to come.

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Tom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!

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