Can I Give My Dog Melatonin?

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In short, yes, melatonin is safe for dogs with a vet’s approval. All animals, including the dogs, need to sleep. If dogs do not get enough sleep at night, they will have a difficult time recharging for the next day and may suffer from medical issues if inadequate sleep is persistent. 

An inability to sleep can significantly negatively impact your dog's quality of life, and there are many reasons why your dog might have difficulty sleeping or relaxing. Perhaps your dog has a history of mental health issues. Maybe your dog is distracted by something physically distressing in their body.

In this post, we’ll discuss when melatonin is safe for dogs, its risks and benefits, as well as answer some frequently asked questions on the topic.

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that your brain produces naturally. It plays a significant role in the sleep cycle. When melatonin is released, it travels throughout your body, and it causes you to feel tired. In general, when it gets dark outside, your body releases more melatonin. It plays a significant role in your circadian rhythm, which is responsible for helping you wake up and fall asleep on a regular schedule.

While naturally-produced melatonin can make it easier for you to fall asleep at night, many people also take it as a supplement for jet lag or persistent sleep problems. Melatonin is typically available as an over-the-counter option for humans, at the same time, some people are wondering if melatonin is safe for animals. And in many cases, it is, with their vet’s approval.

Is Melatonin Safe For Dogs?

If you see your dog restless at night, you might be wondering, can dogs have melatonin? Yes, dogs are allowed to have melatonin, but you need to get approval from your veterinarian before you do so. Just because melatonin is safe for people doesn't necessarily mean the same product is going to be safe for dogs. Remember that most dogs are significantly smaller than people, so the correct dosage can differ.

Furthermore, melatonin is not the only ingredient contained in most supplements. It is not unusual for certain types of melatonin to have other ingredients in them. For example, there are some types of melatonin that contain Xylitol. Xylitol can cause people to have an upset stomach, but it can be incredibly toxic for dogs. Therefore, you always need to read the package before you decide to give melatonin to a dog. 

You also need to make sure that melatonin is not going to interact with any other medications your dog is taking. Remember that certain medications can interact with one another, and you need to talk to your veterinarian to make sure that is not going to happen if you decide to give your dog melatonin. Your veterinarian can take a look at the current pharmaceutical profile to ensure there's not going to be any negative overlap. 

Potential drug interactions with melatonin

In addition, your dog may be having a difficult time sleeping because there is an underlying health issue. For example, your dog may have a hard time sleeping at night because there might be an issue with their joints. Or, your dog may have a difficult time sleeping because there is an infection going on. You must make sure you understand exactly why your dog is having a hard time sleeping at night before you decide to give him or her melatonin. 

Therefore, before you give melatonin to your dog, always talk to your veterinarian. You need to know what dose is appropriate for your dogs, and you must make sure that it does not contain any ingredients that could be toxic to your furry friend. Your veterinarian can help you sort through these critical pieces of information.

Melatonin Dosage For Dogs

So, can dogs take melatonin? In general, this will be okay, but you need to ensure you give them the right dose recommended by your veterinarian.

Keep in mind that the exact amount of melatonin you should give your dog will also depend on how much your dog weighs. This is another reason why you should reach out to your veterinarian before you decide to give it to your dog. That way, you understand exactly how much melatonin you should provide. It is also possible that you may need to increase the dose if it is not working, but you should not increase the dose without approval from your vet.

Melatonin can take several hours to kick in, so just because it doesn't work right away doesn't mean you have to increase the dose. You do not want to give your dog more melatonin immediately, as you may run the risk of giving an overdose. This is another reason why you need to work closely with your veterinarian to make sure you provide your dog with a safe dose of melatonin. 

What Is Melatonin Used For?

There are several examples of situations where dogs may benefit from melatonin. They include1:

  • Sleep disorders: Primarily, melatonin can be beneficial for your dog if he or she has a difficult time sleeping at night. 
  • Alopecia: Additionally, melatonin can be used to treat alopecia-X in dogs as well as canine pattern balding.
  • Clinical Sedation: Melatonin has also been used to help sedate dogs during certain procedures in veterinary visits.

Side Effects Of Melatonin

Of course, before you start giving your dog melatonin, it is important for you to understand that there are possible side effects that might develop. In general, the only side effect of melatonin is going to be sleepiness. After all, it is the job of melatonin to make your dog tired, so if you notice this developing after you give your dog melatonin, it is to be expected.

Rare side effects of melatonin

At the same time, it is important to note that there are rare side effects that could develop. However, the use of melatonin in dogs has not yet been studied. The information reported is how melatonin affects humans, which may or may not be the same for dogs. With that said, some of the possible, rare side effects of melatonin include1:

  • Changes in Fertility: It is possible that melatonin could have an impact on the fertility of your dog. A lot of pet owners decide to have their dogs spayed or neutered, so this may not be a significant side effect; however, this also means it could have an impact on your dog's other hormones, so you need to talk with your vet about this issue before you start giving your dog melatonin.
  • GI Issues: There are also specific situations where melatonin could have an impact on your dog's GI tract. For example, your dog may develop an upset stomach, or you may notice that your dog is having some stomach cramps. Keep an eye on your dog's appetite after you start giving him or her melatonin.
  • An Increased Heart Rate: In some situations, melatonin can have an impact on your dog’s heart rate. There are some situations where your dog's heart rate may increase, so you should keep an eye on your dog after giving him or her melatonin for the first time.
  • Itching and Scratching: There are certain situations where melatonin could cause your dog to develop itchy skin. If you see that your dog is spending a lot of time scratching, it could be a side effect of the medication.
  • Confusion: There are some dogs that can get confused when they start taking melatonin. If you feel like your dog is struggling to understand what is happening, you may want to spend some extra time with him or her to try to calm him or her down.

Remember that every dog is going to respond to medications differently. These side effects are rare, but you do need to keep an eye on your dog after giving him or her melatonin. If your dog starts to develop side effects, it does not necessarily mean that you have to stop giving him or her melatonin. On the other hand, it is something that your vet should know about. 

Should I Give My Dog Melatonin?

So, can dogs have melatonin? Yes, it is fine to give your dog melatonin, but you need to make sure that you get approval from your veterinarian before you move forward. There are plenty of treatment options available for just about every possible medical condition that your dog might develop. Therefore, you need to talk with your veterinarian about every option available before you decide to use melatonin.

With the approval of your veterinarian, melatonin can be a good option if your dog has trouble sleeping or is dealing with alopecia or pattern balding. You also need to understand how much melatonin you can give your dog and what brands are safe. Keep in mind that just because melatonin is safe for people doesn't mean the exact same product is going to be safe for a dog. If you have your veterinarian's guidance, melatonin could positively impact your dog's quality of life. 

Melatonin For Dogs: FAQs

There are several common questions that pet owners ask about melatonin for dogs. Some of the most common questions pet parents ask include:

How long does it take for melatonin to kick in for dogs?

You should expect melatonin to take up to eight hours to kick in. The exact amount of time it will take melatonin to kick in will depend on how much melatonin you have given your dog, how frequently you give your dog melatonin, and the size of your dog. Therefore, you should not expect melatonin to act immediately after you give it to your dog. It will take an estimated eight hours to kick in, however, there are currently no studies that answer this. Don't forget to keep an eye on your dog after you give him or her melatonin for the first time. You need to make sure that your dog does not have any adverse reactions, and you must make sure the melatonin works exactly as you expect. 

How long does melatonin last for dogs?

In general, you should expect melatonin to last for one to two hours, however, there are currently no studies on the pharmacokinetics, metabolism, and safety of its use in dogs. Again, the exact half-life can vary depending on a number of factors. It will depend on your dog’s metabolic rate, the size of your dog, and how much melatonin you have given your dog. If you need melatonin to help your dog sleep through the night, you may want to talk to your veterinarian to make sure you have given your dog enough of this medication. Remember that you need to talk to your veterinarian if you are interested in increasing the dose. 

What can I give my dog to sleep through the night?

If you want to make sure that your dog can sleep through the night, you need to talk to your veterinarian first. It is not unusual for pet owners to buy something over the counter to give their dogs, but this is not necessarily the right move. You need to make sure that the medication is safe for your dog to take before you decide to give it to him or her. You should never give your dog medication without getting prior approval from your veterinarian.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of reasons why your dog may have a difficult time sleeping through the night. It could indicate an underlying health issue, and you must ensure the medical problem is addressed appropriately. Or, it could be a sign that your dog has a mental health issue, such as anxiety, which must be addressed with a vet professional's help. 

It is highly likely that your veterinarian will have multiple options available, and melatonin might only be one of them. If you are interested in speaking with a professional who can help you address health and behavioral issues with your dog, rely on Dutch! Always speak to a veterinarian before you decide to give your dog medication for the first time.

Close up of Chocolate Lab sleeping

Final Thoughts

So, can dogs take melatonin? Yes, dogs are allowed to take melatonin, but it is important for you to speak with your vet before you decide to give your dog melatonin. Just because melatonin is safe for people doesn't mean it is going to be safe for your dog. For example, there are some types of melatonin that people take that contain Xylitol. This ingredient is toxic for dogs, so you need to make sure the melatonin you provide does not contain this ingredient. Otherwise, you could run the risk of making your dog sick.

You also need to make sure that you understand exactly when it is safe to give your dog melatonin. For example, your dog may benefit from melatonin if he or she is having a hard time sleeping at night. 

Do not forget that you need to work with your veterinarian to see what dose of melatonin is appropriate. There are a lot of factors that can play a role in how much melatonin you should give your dog. It is also possible that your veterinarian may want to increase the dose after a certain amount of time, but keep in mind that melatonin will take several hours to kick in. Do not increase the dose of melatonin without talking to your veterinarian first. 

There is a lot of information to absorb, and you need to work with professionals who can help you. That’s where Dutch comes in. Before you provide your dog with something you find at the local store, you need to talk with a professional. Dutch offers convenient telemedicine for pets to treat a variety of issues from the comfort of home. From allergies to anxiety, Dutch’s team of vets is available to answer questions, diagnose concerns, and prescribe treatment.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

How much will it cost for Dutch to treat my pet?

The Dutch membership starts at $15/mo for unlimited access to the vet. No more long waits for appointments or surprise bills.

In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.