Melatonin for Dogs: A Complete Guide to Benefits, Safety, and Use
Sleep is crucial to wellness for both humans and their dogs. Many humans have had success using melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone, to help them fall asleep and stay asleep. This has left some pet owners wondering if melatonin is something that can help their dogs, too.
While studies of melatonin for dogs are ongoing, and we still have a lot to learn, there are also some things we do know about melatonin that can help you decide if it’s a good choice for your furry family. To make that decision, you need some answers. What is melatonin? Is melatonin safe for dogs? And what’s the best way to give melatonin to your dog?
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally in humans, dogs, cats, and plenty of other animals. It’s important to know how melatonin is produced and synthesized in your dog’s body and how this hormone affects your pet.
How Your Dog Produces and Synthesizes Melatonin
Melatonin is produced and synthesized by the pineal gland, a small and simple gland located in the brain and is part of the endocrine system. In dogs, the gland is only about 1 millimeter long. Almost all vertebrates have a pineal gland that uses melatonin to dictate sleeping and waking times.
Fun fact: the pineal gland is named as such because it is shaped like a pine cone!
How Melatonin Affects Your Dog
The melatonin produced by the pineal gland regulates the body’s routine of being asleep and awake (called circadian rhythms). For example, the pineal gland responds to darkness by producing more melatonin, which encourages the body to sleep. Alternatively, exposure to light reduces the body’s synthesis of melatonin.
In wild animals, melatonin also affects reproductive function. As the seasons change, the length of the day changes, and this can indicate to the animal when breeding seasons begin and end. Livestock farmers have even used melatonin to induce a second annual breeding season in sheep, who normally only have one breeding season.
What Are the Benefits of Melatonin for Dogs?
The use of melatonin for dogs has various benefits, and there are also some side effects to watch out for too.
Melatonin can have a variety of benefits for dogs. Using melatonin as part of a daily routine is simple and can support your canine’s relaxation and encourage a full night’s sleep. Some benefits of melatonin are that it is natural and easy to use, supports rest, and promotes calm.
Natural Is Always Best!
The fact that melatonin is naturally occurring in your dog’s body is a major benefit because you don’t have to worry about introducing something foreign into their system. You can also feel confident about the substance’s purpose and effect on your pupper.
Melatonin Is Easy to Use
Melatonin is available in various applications and is very easy to introduce into your pet’s daily routine. There are a variety of melatonin supplements for dogs available in many different applications and flavors, so you can easily find one that works for your lifestyle.
It Supports Your Dog’s Rest
Restful sleep is a major component of your dog’s overall health, and melatonin can support your animal’s sleeping schedule to ensure they have plenty of energy during their waking hours. This is one of the primary reasons pet owners use melatonin for dogs – it improves their animals' sleeping hours, making their waking hours more pleasant and productive.
Melatonin Promotes Calm
Melatonin can support dogs who experience separation issues or other stress-related challenges by decreasing levels of cortisol, the hormone associated with stress. No one likes seeing their furry friend feeling skittish or hyperactive, and melatonin can encourage your dog to feel relaxed, no matter what the day brings.
What Are the Side Effects?
When you introduce melatonin to your dog, there are some side effects to watch out for. These are all relatively uncommon, but you should still monitor your furry friend closely when introducing melatonin to their daily regimen. Some side effects of melatonin for dogs include lethargy, digestive issues, skin irritation, and confusion.
While many of these side effects are minor and will likely go away if you cease using melatonin, you should always consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.
Melatonin Can Cause Lethargy
Sometimes a dog will display lethargy or tiredness during their waking hours when you start using melatonin. This means the addition of melatonin to their health routine, combined with the naturally occurring melatonin in their brain, has resulted in too much melatonin in their system.
Some Dogs Experience Digestive Issues
Ingesting something new like melatonin might upset your dog’s stomach and give them cramps. While this might result from the melatonin, it could also be a filler or another ingredient in the melatonin product you are giving to your pet.
It Might Make Your Dog Itchy
Melatonin can cause skin irritation in some dogs. This is a rare side effect, but some pet owners have noticed a connection between various skin conditions and the use of melatonin supplements.
Confusion Is a Rare Side Effect of Melatonin
If your dog is excessively sleepy from the additional melatonin, they might display confused behavior. This could include wandering around the house or forgetting where their food bowl is located. If you notice these behaviors, discontinue use immediately and consult your veterinarian.
Is Melatonin Safe for Dogs?
Many ongoing studies are examining how this substance works in animals, and right now, melatonin is generally considered safe for use in dogs. Many dog parents have used melatonin to help support their dog’s comfort and sense of ease, and it is widely considered safe for canine consumption. Especially for dogs who struggle with separation issues, melatonin can be useful.
But there are some specific factors to be aware of when it comes to melatonin for dogs, including other ingredients in the supplement you use and interactions with other health conditions. There are some additional concerns if you have cats in your household, too.
Other Ingredients in Melatonin for Dogs
It’s important to be wary of the other ingredients that you might find along with the melatonin you’re giving to your dog. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener, is found in some melatonin products, and it is very toxic to dogs. Always read the ingredient list and confirm that everything found in the product is safe for your pet – don’t blindly trust a product.
Is Melatonin Safe for Cats?
If you have cats in your house, too, you should be wary about your felines getting into the melatonin for pets. Many of the same issues that may affect dogs could have a negative effect on cats as well.
When Melatonin Might Help Your Dog
There are a number of scenarios where a pet owner might consider using melatonin as a wellness resource to support healthy sleep for their dog. These include (but are not limited to):
- When you’re moving house
- During the holidays
- When there are family or household transitions
- When your dog’s routine changes
Melatonin Might Help During a Move
Moving into a new house or to a new city or town can be very stressful for your dog, and stress can disrupt your pet’s sleep schedule. If you have plans to move, you might consider introducing melatonin into your dog’s routine to support them. Providing them with additional resources to encourage normal sleep and wake cycles during the transition can allow them to be more comfortable amidst the changes.
Holiday Parties and Visitors Are Stressful
During the holidays, many of us tend to have additional visitors and festive parties with large groups in our home. These occasions, while pleasant and fun for the people involved, can be extremely stressful for our pets. Even a normally calm and collected dog might struggle to stay relaxed during a big party or when there are strangers in the house. You may even notice your dog demonstrating stress signals before or after a holiday party, and it might be hard for them to relax after all the excitement. This could be a perfect time to utilize melatonin to help regulate your dog’s sleep schedule and ensure they stay well-rested.
Family Transitions Can Interrupt Sleep
The addition of a new pet or family member, or other changes to the family living in your dog’s space, can be a difficult adjustment for any animal. Especially young creatures like puppies, kittens, or babies who have irregular sleep schedules and tend to make a lot of noise can disrupt your pet’s rest and make them irritable and stressed. Changes like these present a perfect opportunity for wellness support like melatonin.
Changes to Your Dog’s Routine
While dogs might be less routine-oriented than cats, they are still sensitive to sudden changes in their daily life. Your dog’s health and wellness can be disrupted by shifts like you returning to the office after working from home for an extended period. If your dog’s daily routine is going to change in some way, melatonin might be able to support their sleep so they can handle the change with grace and comfort.
How to Give Melatonin to Your Dog
Setting up a daily routine that includes melatonin for dogs should be fun and easy. You’ll want to talk to your veterinarian, find the best product, choose a safe amount, be consistent, monitor your dog closely, and consider combining melatonin with other helpful products like CBD for pets.
Consult Your Veterinarian
As with any change in your dog’s diet and routine, it’s important to consult your veterinarian before giving melatonin to your pet. Your veterinarian can alert you to any potential interactions that melatonin might have with other medications or supplements your dog is currently taking.
Find the Best Melatonin for Dogs
Your dog will experience melatonin’s benefits more readily if you choose a melatonin supplement that is high-quality and reputable. This means it won’t have any fillers or additives (especially not xylitol, which, as stated earlier, is toxic for dogs); it will have clear instructions for use. It will also be specifically formulated for cats or dogs, depending on your needs.
Choose a Safe Amount
The amount of melatonin your dog will need depends on many factors, including the pet’s size, weight, and lifestyle. Start with a small amount to see how your dog reacts to melatonin, and then you can adjust as needed. The packaging and your veterinarian can help you decide how much to give your pet.
You should use the same amount for several weeks before adjusting your dog’s regimen. It might take some time for you to see the benefits of melatonin in your animal.
Monitor Your Pet
To know how melatonin is affecting your dog or cat, you need to watch them carefully. Some of the changes might be subtle, so keep a close eye on your furry friend.
Try Melatonin with CBD for Dogs
Combining CBD and melatonin makes for a powerful combination of wellness support, like in our CBD Calming Oil for Dogs. Melatonin and CBD provide some of the same benefits for your dog – including the promotion of calm, comfort, and restful sleep. They can work together to help maintain your dog’s lifestyle and keep Sparky wagging his tail and chasing his ball!
Consider Introducing Melatonin for Your Dog’s Wellness
Melatonin for dogs can make it easier for canine companions to maintain a regular sleep schedule and get the best rest so they can enjoy their favorite activities. Now that you know this substance is safe and beneficial for your pet and how to make it part of their daily regimen, you can start using melatonin for dogs today. It can be a valuable tool for maintaining your dog’s overall wellness and keeping them happy and healthy for years to come!