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What Are the Uses of Melatonin for Dogs?

Dogs are given melatonin to prevent seizures.
Melatonin has been used to treat anxiety and other behavioral issues with dogs.
Veterinarians may prescribe melatonin to control seizures in dogs.
Melatonin supplements for dogs is available in pill form.
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  • Written By: Daphne Mallory
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2014
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Dog owners who are interested in a natural treatment for behavioral problems should ask their veterinarian about melatonin for dogs. Melatonin is a neurohormone, and it can be used as a sedative or to control seizures in dogs. It can also aid in regulating the normal body rhythms of the animal. There is no specific formulation of melatonin designed for dogs. It’s manufactured in human formulation, and the FDA has not actually approved its use in dogs. Veterinarians often prescribe it for a number of different treatments in dogs, however, and can do so legally. Melatonin does not require a prescription. The human formulation is sold under the brand name Melatonex®, and it can be found in generic form simply labeled as melatonin.

Many owners have successfully used melatonin for dogs that are anxious or display other behavior problems. It can help calm a dog that becomes frightened at loud noises, such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or other sounds. The medication is often prescribed for canines that suffer from separation anxiety, such as when their owner leaves the house to go to work. Some dogs become overly excited at night and begin pacing or otherwise become a nuisance while the household is trying to sleep. Melatonin often works to calm a dog down enough so that it can rest. A surprising benefit of melatonin for dogs is that it may prevent brain deterioration or dementia in some breeds.

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Melatonin is naturally produced in the pineal gland, and melatonin for dogs is simply a distillation of the hormone in pill form. It is manufactured in formulations ranging from 300 mcg to 5 mg. The size of the dose that a veterinarian will prescribe often depends on the weight of the dog. Small dogs are often prescribed 0.5 to 1 mg, while medium-sized dogs receive 1 to 3 mg, and large dogs receive 3 to 9 mg. Melatonin is often prescribed at eight-hour intervals so the dog can have a constant supply of the hormone in its system. It is largely tasteless, and the capsules can be broken open and sprinkled over food. As melatonin is a natural substance, it is very safe for the animal, and overdose is highly unlikely.

There are very few side effects to melatonin for dogs. A small number of animals have been known to have an allergic reaction to melatonin. As it affects the rhythm of bodily systems, it can have a negative impact on the breeding cycle of female dogs. Breeders and owners wanting to breed their pet should be aware of this. Melatonin can also interact with other drugs in the dog’s system. As it often works as a calming sedative, it should not be taken in conjunction with tranquilizers. The owner should talk with his or her vet about any other drugs their dog is taking before administering melatonin.

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anon961040
Post 3

@Telsyst -- There is a heck of a lot more to separation anxiety in some dogs than teaching them to "learn to cope".

I have had my dog for 10 years, and he goes into separation anxiety anytime I leave the room. Yesterday, just for me to step outside to do yard work, he toppled over two lamps and a stereo stand trying to run to every window to watch (granted, he is currently wearing a cone due to recent surgery, which he is not all that graceful with). I can't take him outside with me because he is scared of the yard machines. He has been this way since birth, and any amount of ignoring it so he can "learn to cope" has not helped -- ever.

I have had and trained dogs my entire life and am very well aware of the "Pavlov" behavior of dogs and what encourages / discourages them and their behaviors.

So please remember that separation anxiety is a major issue with dogs, and every dog is different. This is the only dog I have ever had that reacts this way. Once you have a dog you have to take major steps with simply so he can be left with a vet for surgery, and how separation anxiety causes issues for the vet's office (my dog's actions at being left makes the other animals anxious in turn, the vet has a hard time working with him because he "wants his momma", etc.), you will figure out any way possible to help calm that animal down outside of being medically sedated.

So, long way to get to my point, but if melatonin will help with separation anxiety in my dog, I am certainly willing to try it.

Certlerant
Post 2

Good point, Telesyst. Another thing to consider is that, put simply, dogs sleep. If they are having trouble doing this, you might want to have your vet check for underlying medical issues.

If the problem is simply that your dog's sleep times don't fit your schedule, you can make changes to play and feeding times to fix that.

Telsyst
Post 1

If you just want to calm your dog down and/or help it sleep, a change in diet or increased exercise may be preferable to using melatonin.

Dogs are easily excitable, and if you respond to separation anxiety by medicating your animal, you are not giving the dog a chance to learn to cope with your absence.

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