Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps your body produce the hormones serotonin and melatonin.
These two hormones are responsible for regulating your sleep cycle and circadian rhythm.
If you’ve ever had trouble falling asleep at night or getting up early in the morning, then you might have heard about melatonin.
This supplement has been around since the 1950’s and it was originally developed as a treatment for jet lag.
Today, melatonin is commonly used by people who need to get more restful sleep.
In fact, there’s even a prescription form of this supplement called Lunesta (also known as Esomat).
When you take a look at the ingredients list on any bottle of melatonin, you’ll see that it contains many different chemicals.
However, there is one ingredient that most supplements contain: L-tryptophan.
This is an amino acid that your body converts into melatonin.
So, when you buy melatonin, you’re actually buying L-tryptophan.
However, not all L-tryptophan is created equal.
Some L-tryptophan is produced by bacteria while other L-tryptophan comes from plants.
Because of this, some L-tryptophan supplements may contain toxins like mold, pesticides, and herbicides.
These substances could potentially harm your dog.
So, what exactly is melatonin?
Let’s find out!
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is actually an indoleamine neurotransmitter.
This means it’s a chemical compound that acts like a messenger molecule between cells.
The brain uses these molecules to communicate with other parts of the body.
Melatonin is produced within our bodies, but it also comes from food sources like fish and plants.
When we eat foods containing melatonin, it gets broken down into smaller pieces and absorbed through the digestive tract.
Then, those small pieces enter the bloodstream and travel to the liver where they are converted back into the original molecule.
Our brains use melatonin as a natural sleep aid because it affects our circadian rhythms.
Our circadian rhythms are internal biological processes that keep us on schedule throughout the day.
For example, our circadian rhythms help dictate when we should wake up in the morning and fall asleep at night.
When we don’t have enough melatonin, our circadian rhythms become disrupted which could cause insomnia or other sleep disorders.
If you’re experiencing any problems sleeping, taking melatonin may help.
The Benefits of Melatonin for Dogs
Although melatonin isn’t designed specifically for dogs, some studies suggest that they may benefit from taking melatonin too.
For example, one study found that older dogs could experience better quality of life when they took melatonin supplements.
So, what exactly does melatonin do for dogs?
Improves Your Dog’s Sleep Quality
There are many reasons why melatonin is so beneficial for dogs.
One reason is that it improves their sleep quality.
The melatonin supplements that are available on the market today have different dosages than the supplements you would find in your local drugstore.
Some of these doses range between 2-5 mg per dose.
In addition to improving your dog’s sleep quality, melatonin also aids in helping them feel less anxious during the day.
This makes it easier for your dog to relax and fall asleep at night.
Reduces Anxiety in Your Dog
One thing that most veterinarians will tell you is that dogs with anxiety issues should not take melatonin supplements.
That being said, there are still plenty of anecdotal reports that indicate that melatonin works well for increasing relaxation and reducing stress levels in dogs.
This doesn’t mean that melatonin is safe for every dog though.
If you’re going to give your dog melatonin, make sure that you consult with your vet first.
They can test your dog to see how much melatonin is right for them.
Helps With Diseases of Aging
According to one study, elderly dogs may be able to reduce their risk of developing certain diseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and osteoarthritis if they take melatonin supplements.
Aging is a natural process that affects all living things eventually.
While we don’t want our dogs to suffer from any diseases due to aging, we can try to minimize the problems that come along with it.
Melatonin supplements can help you do just that.
The Risks of Melatonin for Dogs
However, melatonin should never be given to your dog unless you consult with your veterinarian first.
There are many risks associated with giving melatonin to dogs, including but not limited to:
- Abnormal behavior
- Allergic reactions
- Kidney failure
These are just some of the potential side effects that could occur when melatonin is given to dogs.
If your dog swallows any type of supplement, make sure you give them with food.
Also, remember to supervise your dog while they eat their meal because they may be tempted to lick their lips after eating their treat.
As you can see, melatonin is very dangerous for dogs.
Even though taking melatonin is extremely beneficial for humans, it can actually be quite harmful for your furry friend.
How to Give Melatonin to Your Dog
Unlike humans, dogs cannot take melatonin orally like tablets or capsules.
Instead, they must receive their doses intravenously (IV) through an injection.
Also, because melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the brain, dogs cannot manufacture it on their own.
Melatonin injections are usually given once every day.
The amount of melatonin that each dog receives depends on their size and weight.
Some veterinarians recommend giving one milligram per pound of body weight.
For example, a 50-pound dog would receive 50 mg of melatonin.
You should never give your dog more than 12 mg of melatonin at a time.
That’s because too much of this supplement could cause serious health problems.
In fact, it can also be fatal.
Here are some other things you need to know before giving your dog melatonin.
- Melatonin supplements may not work for all dogs.
- If you notice any side effects from melatonin, stop using it immediately.
- The recommended dose for dogs is between 0.5 mg and 3 mg.
- However, some dogs can tolerate higher doses.
- Talk to your vet first if your dog needs more melatonin than what you were prescribed.
- Make sure your dog doesn’t drink alcohol while taking melatonin.
- Alcohol can decrease your dog’s ability to absorb melatonin.
- If you don’t want to completely eliminate alcohol from your dog’s diet, talk to your veterinarian first.
- If your dog is on medication, make sure he/she doesn’t consume melatonin.
- Medications such as heart medications, blood thinners, and steroids will affect how melatonin is absorbed into your dog’s system.
- Talk to your vet before giving your dog melatonin if he/she has any underlying medical conditions.
- For instance, if your dog has diabetes, make sure you check with his/her doctor before administering any melatonin.
- Don’t use melatonin if your dog is pregnant or nursing.
- Give melatonin only when you see signs of sleep deprivation and related disorders in your pet.
- You should start giving melatonin after your dog has been diagnosed with these issues.
- Do not give melatonin to your dog if he/she is allergic to it.
- Some pets will experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach upset.
- Never give melatonin to a dog who is suffering from kidney failure.
The Bottom Line
While melatonin is safe when taken orally, it must be administered with caution due to its potential side effects.
When given in high doses, melatonin can cause drowsiness, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, liver damage, and even death.
There are several different types of melatonin supplements on the market today.
However, each type has different ingredients, dosages, and uses.
Therefore, it’s important to understand how to use melatonin properly before you start giving it to your dog.
Are there any risks associated with taking melatonin?
The biggest risk of consuming melatonin is overdosing on it.
Most people don’t realize how much they need when they take it because most of us have experienced insomnia before.
If you’re already sleeping well, then you probably don’t need melatonin.
But if you wake up during the night and can’t fall back asleep, then you should give it a try!
Some other side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, headache, nausea, and vomiting.
If you’re concerned about these symptoms, then talk to your doctor before starting melatonin.
Can I take melatonin with alcohol or certain medications?
Although melatonin isn’t a narcotic, it does interact with some medications.
So, if you’re using a medication that interacts with melatonin, make sure to check with your physician before taking it.
Some examples include:
Clonidine – This drug is often prescribed for hypertension, but it also interacts with melatonin.
Lithium – Lithium causes a lot of side effects, including drowsiness.
While lithium is typically prescribed for bipolar disorder, it can cause problems with your brain chemistry and affect your sleep patterns.
Tramadol – This painkiller is usually prescribed for chronic pain such as fibromyalgia.
Like many painkillers, tramadol can cause drowsiness and sleeplessness.