Melatonin is actually an innate hormone, present both in our dogs and us, humans. It is a hormone that our dog’s pineal gland produces whenever our dog starts to feel stressed or when they are tired. It is also a hormone that comes as a reaction to dullness. Melatonin supplements have therefore been created for many years now, and they are used by humans and pets alike in order to treat dullness, sleep disorders, depression and anxiety.
When is the best time to give your dog a melatonin supplement?
If you’re wondering when you can give your dog a melatonin supplement, it’s when they’re stressed or dull. There are some clear signs of anxiety that your dog may display, such as barking a lot for no reason, digging an unusual number of holes on your yard, doing nothing all day, refusing to eat or suffering from a sleeping disorder. If those symptoms persist, then you can give your dog a melatonin supplement, but of course with a vet’s prescription.
Even if you do get a prescription for the treatment, you should familiarize yourself with the proper usage, uses and the possible effects that melatonin can have on your dogs.
The proper dosage of melatonin for your dog
Melatonin can come in different forms, either as a tablet, capsule, powder or liquid. Unlike the capsule and the tablet, liquid and powder melatonin are the easiest to use, because you can add them to your dog’s food or water.
Now you should know that the dosage of melatonin will depend on your dog’s age, weight and existing health problems. Let’s go over the weight first: if your dog’s weight is less than 10lbs, then you will only need 1mg of melatonin. If your dog’s weight ranges between 10lbs and 25lbs, then they will need to receive 1.5mg. If your dog’s weight is between 26lbs and 100lbs, then you will need between 3mg and 6mg of melatonin. These dosages should not be taken more than three times a day if you want to avoid overdose issues.
Paying a visit to the vet before giving melatonin to your dog is always a much better idea than simply taking things into your own hands. The reason for that is that an expert will be able to identify the exact dosage that you can give to your dog and when your dog can take it much more easily.
Now let’s go over the age of your dog: melatonin can be given to your dog or puppy when it is 13 weeks old and above. It is not safe for puppies under 12 weeks old to take such supplements, because there is a high possibility that they might overdose. Melatonin is also not safe and not recommended for pregnant dogs, because it might have harmful effects on the mother and the puppies inside her womb.
Of course, you will have to observe the persisting symptoms in order to figure out the exact health problem that they are suffering from. This way, you’ll be able to identify if is it a good thing to give your dog a melatonin supplement as medication. Don’t forget that it is always best to talk to a vet first.
Uses of Melatonin for your dog
As I have mentioned above, melatonin is used to treat dullness, stress, anxiety and sleep disorders that your dog may suffer from. In this part of this article, we will analyse those uses in depth so as to understand how they can help our furry pals.
- Separation-anxiety – this is common in all dogs. They usually have separation-anxiety whenever they are left alone at home. Trust me, it is difficult to deal with dogs that suffer from this issue. They can be howling or barking a lot, and they can also damage your furniture, like your couch, by biting it. That’s why most vets would recommend melatonin, so as to minimize or even treat separation-anxiety.
- Stress – is already common in dogs and even to us, humans. However, it is not healthy for our dogs to be stressed, because this could affect their mental health. Some common symptoms that indicate that your dog is stressed are the refusal to play or the unwillingness to go for a walk. Another indicator is lack of appetite. In such cases, the melatonin supplement can come in handy, relieving the stress experienced by your pet. Most vets would usually prescribe it together with some other medication that your dog will need in order to recover.
- Hair loss (alopecia) – dogs that shed a lot are prone to alopecia. Alopecia can be a minor or major hair loss; one of the reasons why your dog suffers from excessive hair loss is stress. The melatonin supplement can be a treatment aimed at alleviating this problem. However, it is still necessary to bring your dog to a vet to figure out whether your furry pal is also suffering from some other undiagnosed problem.
- Cognitive dysfunction – This is one of the most serious diseases that canines can suffer from. It is similar to the human disease called ‘dementia’, whereby dog or human brains malfunction, causing forgetfulness. In the case of your dog, this issue may become noticeable when the pet appears to have forgotten all of the training it has received. Melatonin is one of the supplements that most vets would prescribe together with some other medications meant to treat the disease.
- Sleep disorder – if your dogs that wander around the house or bark and howl late in the evening, they are most likely suffering from a sleeping disorder. Since melatonin is considered to be the “Sleeping hormone”, most vets recommend it in order to help your dog. The melatonin supplement is the best formula you can give to your dog when it is suffering from sleeping disorders, because it will calm your pet and help it return to its normal sleeping pattern.
The possible side effects of Melatonin on your dogs
Just like many other drugs for dogs out there, melatonin has different possible side effects. The severity of these side effects will always depend on the dosage that you are giving to your dog. Furthermore, they will only occur if you’re giving too much of the supplement to your dog or if you’re not properly following the prescription your vet gave you. Below you can read a list of the most common side effects melatonin can have on your dog:
- Stomach ache – this side effect is just normal if it is the first time you gave a melatonin supplement to your dog. There’s nothing to worry about, and the best thing you can do for your dog is to let it rest and give it some wet meal.
- Muscular spasm – another side effect which is normal for dogs to have when they are taking the melatonin supplement.
- Unusual scratching – your dog will scratch more often once they start taking a melatonin supplement, but again, this is perfectly normal.
- Uncertainty – your dog might get confused or unsure about some of the things that they’re doing, but this is normal because of the melatonin.
- Changes regarding your dog’s fertile cycles
Giving your dog a melatonin supplement as treatment can be a bad thing or a good thing, depending on how responsibly you act.
When giving your dog a melatonin supplement, you should try to observe their symptoms carefully to determine the exact problem that they are experiencing. It is also necessary to research about the proper dosage, uses and effects of the supplement before giving it to your dog. Acquiring certain knowledge about melatonin is a must before you give such a supplement to your dog as treatment for an undiagnosed health problem.
It is also necessary to visit your dog’s vet to get your dog checked and diagnose its health problem. This way, your dog’s vet will be able to give you a proper prescription and more instructions about melatonin. The doctor will also explain some of the possible side effects of melatonin on your dog, and you won’t have to worry in case there are hiccups along the way. Last, but not last, the vet will tell you how long you need to give the medication to your dog.
It is important that you first read the label and instructions written on the packaging of the melatonin supplement before giving it to your dog. Another important thing to remember is that, if your dog is pregnant, you should not give her melatonin, because the supplement can have harmful effects on both the mother and the puppies she is carrying in her womb. under 12 weeks old are also not allowed to take a melatonin supplement, because their bodies won’t be able to handle the side effects of the said supplement.