If you’ve been an unfortunate sufferer of insomnia or simply have difficulty falling asleep on a regular basis, then you’ve probably had experience with melatonin supplements.
You can purchase this hormone in a pill form to help regain your normal sleep cycle, and it helps drop your body back into its normal circadian rhythms so you can fall and stay asleep. If you’ve ever wondered if melatonin is used in dogs, it does have a few uses in canines.
Is Melatonin Safe for Dogs?
As long as it’s been approved by your veterinarian, you can give your dog melatonin for noise phobias, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. Melatonin is a hormone produced in the body that can cause depression or sleeplessness if its levels are too low, but it also has a minor sedative effect on dogs.
Some owners give their dogs a dose of melatonin before a big thunderstorm or if they know there are going to be fireworks. It isn’t safe in some dogs with preexisting conditions, necessitating the approval of your vet before you start popping pills into your dog.
It’s a more natural alternative than a sedative and has less of a sedative effect, which is why it’s best suited for dogs with minor behavioral problems. Some owners have used melatonin to treat their dog’s epilepsy, but this is not recommended unless your vet has said that it could be worth a try.
Whatever you’re treating with the melatonin, you can wind up causing more harm than good if you haven’t discussed the melatonin with your vet first.
Normal, healthy dogs don’t typically experience any negative side effects, but older dogs with failing health or puppies with undeveloped systems won’t see any benefits from melatonin. It’s especially important to avoid giving your dog melatonin if they have preexisting kidney or liver problems.
How Often Can I Give My Dog Melatonin?
Melatonin doesn’t have a set dosage because it depends on how large your dog is, any medications they’re on, their age, or any health conditions.
However, the typical dosage is 1.5 mg once per day for dogs under 20 pounds. Dogs that are 30-50 pounds can have 3 mg once per day. Dogs over 50 pounds may have up to 9 mg every day, maximum.
What Can You Give Dogs for Anxiety?
There are other options to calm dogs if they’re suffering from anxiety. Thundershirts are weighted vests that put constant pressure on your dog’s body, allowing them to feel safe and secure. Pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system and is used quite effectively in treating anxiety and noise phobias.
It doesn’t require any additional training and you might notice improvement in your dog’s behavior right away. If that doesn’t seem to be helping your dog and their anxiety (especially separation anxiety) is through the roof, they might need a daily drug like Xanax to help battle their anxiety.
Like human anxiety, your dog might need a mood stabilizer to help them regain control of themselves.
Combining training and drugs will make a vast improvement on your dog if their anxiety is affecting their quality of life. If you can’t leave the house without your dog getting diarrhea or tearing up your house, then this could be a great time to consider a combination of drug therapy and behavioral reconditioning.
Having a serious conversation with your vet about your dog’s anxiety and how it’s affecting their life will ensure you’re giving your dog the right medication to help them live a normal, happy life.