Over the years, people have turned back to taking more natural supplements for the different needs in their lives.
One common need is help with sleep, and melatonin has become a popular solution.
Melatonin helps humans sleep easier and, typically, more soundly, but will it do the same for dogs?
To answer this question, let’s get a deeper look at this supplement.
What Is Melatonin, and How Does It Work?
Melatonin is a natural hormone, which makes you feel sleepy.
Unlike regular sleep aids, it has more of a calming effect to help you gently drift off to sleep.
The body produces it according to your exposure to natural light.
There is a pea-sized gland in the middle of the brain known as the pineal gland.
It is responsible for letting your body know when it’s time to sleep and wake up.
The pineal gland sends signals according to the sun.
When the sun goes down, the gland increases its melatonin production and transmits it throughout the body.
As the sun rises, the pineal gland slows down the output, so you can wake up and start your day.
Unfortunately, your natural sleep and wake cycle, otherwise known as the circadian rhythm, and your melatonin production can get thrown off track.
For example, if you spend all day indoors, or you use black-out curtains in your bedroom, your body does not get the necessary exposure to sunlight – at least not at the right times.
Limited sunlight can prevent your body from producing the necessary amount of melatonin.
Using black-out curtains means your body does not know to stop producing melatonin, keeping you sleepy for longer.
Getting your natural rhythms and natural melatonin production off track can really mess with your ability to sleep well.
However, taking a melatonin supplement can help you get it back on track.
Is Melatonin Safe for Dogs?
Generally speaking, yes. Melatonin is safe for dogs.
In fact, many veterinarians prescribe it for sleep help, anxieties, and phobias.
A dog’s body naturally produces melatonin, as well, so a supplement is not introducing anything to their bodies that’s not already there.
However, before we go any further, there is one very important thing to do: talk to your vet.
Though it’s usually safe, it’s best to get approval since there can be side effects.
Some of the most common include:
- Insulin resistance if the dog is diabetic
- Behavioral changes
- Stomach pain and other digestive problems
- High blood pressure and increased heart rate
- Reproductive changes
Potential side effects can be even more serious with puppies, pregnant dogs, or those with kidney trouble, liver trouble, bleeding disorders, and other medical conditions.
It’s always best to speak with your vet first as they may need to monitor the melatonin usage.
Can I Give My Dog the Same Melatonin Supplement I Take?
The answer to this is a resounding “No,” unless you check it out with the vet first.
Human melatonin supplements usually have ingredients in them that are not safe for dogs.
The most common of these ingredients is xylitol. It is an artificial substitute for sugar that is safe for human consumption.
However, it can be poisonous to dogs.
Another potential issue is dosing.
While dogs do naturally produce melatonin as humans do, they do not necessarily need the same amount.
The safest bet is to get a melatonin supplement that is made specifically for dogs.
However, you can also have your vet take a look at your supplement.
They can let you know if it contains any harmful ingredients for your dog and tell you the best dosage if it is safe.
Melatonin can be helpful for your dog if they suffer from sleep trouble, anxiety, or phobias.
Just be sure to talk with your vet first to make sure a supplement is a good choice.