Melatonin, a naturally occurring neurohormone, has long been thought to work as a sleeping aid in humans. Now there’s some evidence it may be useful for several canine conditions. Its sedative properties have been helpful in treating separation anxiety in dogs, as well as stress from noise like fireworks, thunderstorms or other noise phobias. According to Linda Aronson, DVM, who published a study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, she has seen successful results in about 80 percent of canine patients treated with melatonin. Other evidence suggests that melatonin for dogs successfully treats some forms of hair loss (canine alopecia).
Is Melatonin Safe for My Dog?
While some pet owners like the natural properties of melatonin as opposed to chemical medications, you should talk to your veterinarian before deciding on a melatonin regimen. There has not been much study of its side effects and safety, nor has it been approved by the FDA for use in animals.
There are several melatonin products on the market made specifically for dogs, including melatonin chews which double as calming treats.
Side effects of melatonin in dogs, although rare, include:
- Changes in fertility
- Gastric upset and stomach cramps
- Increased heart rate
However, if you and your vet determine that melatonin is a good option for your dog, you may find it treats a range of anxieties and phobias, as well as sleep problems.
How Much Melatonin Should I Give My Dog?
Even though melatonin is available over the counter, you should always confer with your veterinarian to determine the correct dosage. They may want you to use a specific prescription.
None of us like to see our canine pal suffer from having stress, fear, or anxiety. If you and your vet decide melatonin is worth a try, it may be just the thing to calm your dog and ease their fears.