How Much Melatonin Can I Give My Dog: Info & Tips
written by/ October 20, 2022
As you probably know, melatonin is a commonly used supplement. However, as it often comes in a mix with other supplements, many dog owners wonder whether melatonin is safe for their pets.
This hormonal supplement helps reduce feelings of anxiety and calms the body. Since melatonin is a naturally-appearing hormone produced in the pineal glands, it is largely considered safe for dogs.
The main question then remains what the proper melatonin dosage for dogs is, and we’re here to find that out. Keep reading!
How Much Melatonin Can I Give My Dog?
Before we start talking about the correct melatonin dosage for your pet, we should mention that individual dogs may have different needs due to the conditions they are being treated for, which is why it would be best if you got help from your vet.
The veterinarian can determine the proper amount based on your dog’s age, weight, and maybe some other factors.
When it comes to the standard dosage, it depends on your dog’s size. According to Vetinfo, these are the usual dosages:
- 1 mg for dogs under 10 lbs
- 1.5 mg for dogs weighing 10 to 25 lbs
- 3 mg for dogs from 26 to 100 lbs
- 3 to 6 mg for dogs over 100 lbs
What Is Melatonin Used For?
Now that you’ve learned about the proper melatonin dosage for dogs, let’s explore the ways melatonin can benefit your pup. Although this sedative is mainly used to calm pets with anxiety, it also helps dogs with numerous other problems.
While melatonin is not approved for dogs by the FDA, most vets recommend it as an excellent supplement. Your vet could prescribe melatonin for your pet if they have the following issues:
As per some statistics, 20-40% of dogs suffer from some level of separation anxiety.
Not only could the calming effect of melatonin help your pet with this problem, but also other forms of stress, including noise anxiety triggered by phobias from thunderstorms or fireworks, or situational anxiety like fear of car rides.
Just like humans, dogs can have many sleep disorders, including insomnia. Luckily, melatonin can help restore natural sleep cycles for dogs who either sleep irregularly or have difficulty sleeping.
However, you should be careful since an underlying problem like pain often causes insomnia, so your vet should also look for potential issues.
When it comes to sleep issues, this is usually the case with older dogs, who may get confused about their sleeping habits due to their age-related cognitive dysfunction.
An endocrine condition that causes dogs to encounter hair loss and a darkening of the underlying skin, called Alopecia X, doesn’t have a standard treatment. However, many vets prescribe melatonin for dogs since it promotes hair growth.
Even though the hair usually grows back for dogs treated with melatonin, no one can conclude that it wouldn’t grow back without melatonin.
Cushing’s disease is caused due to excessive production of the cortisol hormone, leading to issues such as constant urination, lower energy and muscle weakness, and various skin conditions.
Unfortunately, this disease in dogs can lead to several severe symptoms and complications that could shorten their lifespan.
If a tumor on the adrenal gland causes the disease, melatonin can sometimes help ease the symptoms and intercept the intake of extra cortisol. This is why numerous vets opt for a melatonin-based treatment before trying other medications that can cause serious side effects.
Melatonin can also treat hyperactivity and epilepsy, while it can even help dogs who need to gain weight after an illness or surgery or those undergoing chemotherapy.
What Are the Ways to Give Melatonin to Dogs?
Melatonin comes in capsule, tablet, powder, and liquid forms and can be given with or without food.
Many pet owners opt for putting a tablet or capsule into their dog’s favorite treat, while there are also some treat chews containing melatonin or some other ingredients that could help your pet relax.
Note that melatonin levels vary with each distributor, so people should always check with their vets about the correct melatonin dose for dogs.
Some companies create a liquid form of melatonin, often packaged in a small vial with an eye dripper used for administration.
Although pills are the easiest and most widely-spread way of giving your pet melatonin, some veterinarians may recommend an injection, especially if your pet is dealing with Alopecia X.
Another way to administer melatonin is by placing tiny medical devices, known as subcutaneous implants, beneath your pet’s skin. These implants will then slowly release melatonin and keep the right amount flowing through the bloodstream.
What to Pay Attention to When Using Melatonin for Dogs
Apart from making sure you are giving the proper melatonin dosage to your furry friend, you should also be aware of several things, the most important being the ingredients of the tablets.
While melatonin usually ranks high on the top natural sleep aid lists, there are many different melatonin supplements on the market.
This is why it’s essential always to read the label and ensure it doesn’t contain added fillers, especially the sweetener xylitol, which is highly toxic for dogs.
Besides, since melatonin lasts about eight hours after administration, you shouldn’t administer the above dosages more than three times a day. For this reason, pet owners usually decide to give melatonin to their pets right before bed to provide a whole night of sleep.
Melatonin kicks in quickly, around 15 minutes after taking it, which also gives you time to keep an eye on your pet in case of an allergic reaction.
Note that doses are lower when used for sleep than for any health condition, while they are also lower for smaller dogs, where a tiny difference in the amount of the supplement can leave serious consequences.
Most importantly, melatonin for puppies under 12 weeks of age is not recommended, nor for pregnant or lactating females.
Lastly, if you are currently giving some medications to your dog, you must consult your vet before administering melatonin since it could interact with other medicines and potentially harm your dog.
What Are the Potential Side Effects?
Regarding the pros and cons of melatonin for dogs, while there are some possible side effects, as with any supplement, these are usually mild and quite rare.
To ensure everything goes fine, you should give the melatonin supplement your vet has recommended, specifically for dogs.
Some of the side effects include the following:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Digestive issues
- Increased heart rate
- Insulin resistance in diabetic dogs
- Fertility changes
Just like people, dogs, too, sometimes need supplements to function normally or improve some aspects of their lives, such as sleep deprivation or anxiety. While there is no scientific proof that melatonin is 100% effective for dogs, most vets do recommend this supplement for various issues.
While you can follow the chart and determine the proper dosage for your dog, it is still advised to consult your veterinarian to avoid any possible side effects.
Is melatonin safe for dogs?
When administered properly, melatonin is considered safe for dogs since its potential side effects are not serious. However, if there are some added ingredients, like xylitol, melatonin could be harmful.
Moreover, since melatonin can interact with other medications your pet is taking, always consult your vet before giving melatonin for the first time.
Can melatonin kill a dog?
As long as the vet’s recommendations are followed, melatonin is considered safe for dogs. A mild overdose is unlikely to cause severe problems. However, a significant overdose can be more serious and requires an immediate visit to the vet.
High blood pressure, seizures, and rapid heart rate are some of the symptoms to pay attention to, but they will only be caused if a supplement dosage is much higher than recommended. Even then, the likelihood of a melatonin overdose killing a dog is small.
Can you give a dog melatonin everyday?
While you could give your dog melatonin daily, it’s usually unnecessary, so it’s better to monitor your dog closely and see if it really needs it. Moreover, since each dosage lasts eight hours, you shouldn’t give melatonin to your pet more than three times a day.