What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone released in our brains in the evening to signal to our body that it’s time for sleep. Melatonin helps reduce feelings of anxiety
and calms the body.
Synthetic melatonin is available as an over-the-counter supplement in pill or chewable tablet form, and as teas and tinctures. It’s relatively affordable and often a first step in treating insomnia and other sleep-related issues.
How Does Melatonin Affect Dogs?
Melatonin seems to have a calming effect on dogs, like it does on humans. In a study of healthy dogs getting ready for a surgery, those that were given melatonin before the procedure were more calm and required less initial anesthesia.
In addition to calming effects, melatonin has been shown to be beneficial in other ways for canines. In another study of dogs, those who were administered melatonin experienced less initial anesthesia compared to those that did not take melatonin.
Is Melatonin Safe for Dogs?
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), melatonin is a safe supplement to give to your dog. Melatonin has little risk for harmful side effects . The most common side effect is lethargy upon waking the next morning. However, please ensure that you are purchasing melatonin free of added fillers or coatings that could be harmful, or the sweetener xylitol, which can hurt dogs.
While there is little risk of serious side effects from melatonin, it may interact with other medications your dog is on. Talk to your veterinarian before starting your dog on any new supplements, melatonin included.
How Much Melatonin Should You Give Your Dog?
The literature is limited when it comes to the appropriate amount of melatonin to give your dog. Depending on body weight, the appropriate dose for dogs with sleeping disorders is between 1 and 5 milligrams.
Talking to your veterinarian about the right amount for your dog based on their age, weight, and any other health issues or medications is your best course of action. If your veterinarian recommends giving your dog melatonin, make sure you purchase it in the right amount.
When Should You Give Your Dog Melatonin?
If you’re going to use melatonin to help your dog relax before bed or feel less anxiety before a procedure, administer the appropriate dose approximately two hours before bedtime or veterinary appointment. This time frame allows for the melatonin to be absorbed into your dog’s body for maximum effectiveness by the desired time.