Maybe you had too much caffeine, or took too-long of an afternoon siesta. Or maybe you just have a rough case of insomnia. Regardless of the reasoning, if you’re up late tossing and turning, you may have considered taking a sleeping aid to help you doze off – with one of those aids being melatonin. But did you know melatonin can also work for your pup?
If you have a dog with anxiety, or a pup that has a ruff time staying asleep after bedtime, melatonin could be the solution to their sleepless nights. But what exactly is melatonin, how does it work, and is it really safe for dogs? Read on as we walk you through it.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is naturally produced in dogs the same way as it is for humans.
It’s a hormone in the brain (both human and dog!) that is produced in response to darkness. Melatonin is required to assist in the timing of circadian rhythms (the 24-hour internal clock) which aids with sleep,
If humans or dogs are exposed to light at night, it can block melatonin production, so melatonin can be taken as a dietary supplement to help the brain produce the hormone that causes sleepiness and helps the body fall asleep.
Is Melatonin Safe for Dogs?
Melatonin is naturally produced in dogs, so a melatonin supplement is perfectly safe for them to take. However, keep in mind that you should only purchase melatonin supplements made for dogs, since some supplements designed for humans can contain xylitol and other potentially harmful ingredients that can be toxic to dogs.
Because melatonin has a naturally calming, relaxing, and soothing effect, it can be used to treat a multitude of health and wellness issues in dogs, including:
- Helping an overly energetic dog relax
- Calming an anxious dog’s nerves (especially if they have separation anxiety)
- Assisting an insomniac with getting a full night’s rest, leading to better quality of sleep (for both you and your dog!)
- Aiding a dog undergoing chemotherapy with keeping weight on
Additionally, if you have an older dog, or a dog with dementia or other cognitive impairments, taking melatonin can help them get a better night’s rest, thus improving their overall health. In fact, a regular dose of melatonin can help regulate any dog’s natural sleep rhythm so their body learns when it’s time to sleep, and when it’s time to be awake.
How (and How Often) to Give Your Mutt Melatonin
Depending on your dog’s size, health, and generally how often they need it, melatonin can be safely administered one to three times a day. When it comes to dosing, it’s recommended to give 1 mg of melatonin per 20 pounds of your dog’s weight. Start with a low dosage and give it about 30 minutes to fully kick in before giving them any more just to gauge how they’ll react to the supplement.
Depending on your pup’s preference, you can purchase dog-specific melatonin supplements in pill, treat, or tincture form. If you’re giving it to a restless pup, try administering their dose 30 minutes before bedtime. If you’re dealing with a dog with separation anxiety, you can give them their dose about 30 minutes before you leave the home to help keep them calm and relaxed.
Finally, before administering any new supplements or medication, always consult with your veterinarian. They’ll be able to help you best determine if melatonin is the right supplement for your dog, along with providing you with the proper dosage, timing, and even brand of melatonin to ensure your pup’s health remains in tip-top shape.