There are a few things you can try if you have trouble sleeping: playing white noise, practicing meditation, counting sheep. Or, you might try taking a supplement like melatonin. This hormonal supplement is often recommended for those who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

Melatonin is naturally produced by your dog's pineal gland, just as it is produced by yours. Melatonin helps to regulate our body's circadian rhythm, or the pattern of waking and sleeping. And it does the same thing for your dog. 

But does that mean it's safe to give your dog your melatonin supplement? It's important to know a few things before giving your dog melatonin. ​There are potential benefits and side effects to melatonin for dogs, so you'll need to consult with your vet before giving it to your pet. Let's take a closer look at this supplement and how it impacts our canine companions.

What Are the Benefits of Melatonin for Dogs?

melatonin for dogs: Jack Russell Terrier sleeping on a sofa

You'll want to check with your veterinarian to find out more about the exact administration protocol. And remember: Only give your dog a melatonin supplement that has been recommended by your veterinarian.

A melatonin product might come as a chewable tablet, in capsule or pill form, or as powder or liquid. Melatonin for dogs might be given with or without food. 

There are several reasons why melatonin might be given to dogs. It may be able to help with things like:

Trouble Sleeping

Vets often prescribe melatonin as a sleep aid and to help with sleep disorders, as melatonin is used to regulate the sleep cycle, a dog whose cycle is off can be aided by the supplement.

Insomnia is something that many older dogs develop, just like humans. And older dogs sometimes develop Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, the dog version of Alzheimer's, which can make sleeping difficult, too. Melatonin can make a big difference when it comes to helping these dogs fall asleep.

Anxiety

If your dog has separation anxiety, melatonin might help them calm down when you leave the house. Pet owners can give their dog a melatonin supplement an hour before leaving home, for example, to help their anxious dog. 

Melatonin for dogs can also be useful in the case of noise phobias. If your dog is frightened of loud noises from fireworks or thunderstorms, melatonin can have a calming effect. 

Note that some dogs are hyperactive because of anxiety. However, some are simply high-energy. In either case, dog owners might need a solution if their dog is destroying things around the house, acting aggressively, or is becoming impossible to train or socialize.

Because melatonin products have a calming effect on your four-legged friend, they can be very useful for a hyperactive dog.

Cushing's Disease

Melatonin has also been known to help ease symptoms of Cushing's disease, a hormonal disease in which your dog's body produces too much cortisol. This disorder usually occurs in middle-aged to older dogs. Because it develops slowly, the early symptoms often go unnoticed. 

Cushing's disease symptoms include increased thirst and urination, lower activity levels, an increase in appetite, excessive panting, hair loss, and a bloated abdomen. If you spot these symptoms in your dog, it's time to call your vet's office. 

Alopecia

Alopecia is hair loss. Melatonin has been known to help treat it. That's because an additional benefit of melatonin for dogs is that it helps to promote hair growth. 

Alopecia itself is caused by some kind of bigger health issue. Possibilities include parasitic infestation, allergies, hormonal issues like Cushing's disease as described above, and even autoimmune disorders, among others. That's why you'll want to contact your veterinarian when you see hair loss in your dog. Your vet can help treat the issue itself, and something like melatonin could be prescribed to deal with the specific symptom of alopecia.

Is There Any Risk of Side Effects?

There have been some reported side effects of melatonin for dogs. However, side effects aren’t common. Most veterinarians prefer a natural supplement like melatonin compared to tranquilizers and other types of drugs. Still, it's important to be aware of the side effects to make sure your dog is safe.

Possible side effects of melatonin for dogs include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Itchiness
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Upset stomach

Dogs with certain medical conditions shouldn't take melatonin. Diabetic dogs, for example, should never be given melatonin because it can result in insulin resistance, leading to potentially life-threatening symptoms. And because melatonin could react poorly with other medications, you'll want to check with your vet before giving melatonin to a dog who is already taking other medicines.

It's also important to be aware that some melatonin products, especially chewable tablets, could be made with xylitol, an artificial sweetener. This substance is highly toxic to animals, your dog included. Remember: Only give your dog melatonin as prescribed and recommended by a veterinarian. 

How Much Melatonin Should a Dog Have?

Cute Jack Russell Terrier under a white blanket

If you and your vet decide it’s safe to give your dog melatonin, follow their guidelines on dosages. It's important to understand that the correct dosage of melatonin varies depending on the dog themselves and the reason that the supplement is being given. So, there is no one-size-fits-all dosing of melatonin for dogs. 

With that being said, some general dosage amounts can be estimated based on your dog's weight and/or size. Check the correct dose with your veterinarian.

Melatonin usually starts to take effect within 10 or 15 minutes after ingestion, and the effects can last up to eight hours.

Is Melatonin for Dogs Safe?

Are you still asking yourself, "Can I give my dog melatonin?" It's a good question, and there isn't one simple answer. Is melatonin safe for dogs? Yes, when given with the express permission of a veterinarian and in the proper dosage.

Melatonin for dogs may help with sleep disorders like insomnia or cognitive dysfunction, alopecia, Cushing's disease, hyperactivity, and anxiety. And even in dogs without a specific medical condition, it may help regulate sleep patterns to help pets sleep soundly through the night.

If you're interested in trying melatonin for your canine friend, check with your vet first. That way, you can be sure you're giving your dog melatonin the right way and in the right amount. Remember that while melatonin is typically safe for dogs when discussed with your vet and given properly, many other supplements made for humans aren't safe for dogs.

Looking for safe chewable supplements to give your dog that have health benefits? Native Pet's Allergy Chicken ChewsBladder Chicken Chews, and Yak Chews are great choices. These tasty treats are packed with beneficial ingredients, so you can feel good about feeding them to your dog.

Want to read more about your dog's health and wellness? Check out the Native Pet blog here.

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