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Melatonin For Dogs: Everything You Need To Know

Written by Ella White


sleeping dog

It’s no coincidence that dogs follow the same sleep patterns as their owners. Although they’re more likely to experience the luxury of napping through the day than we are, dogs are diurnal and follow similar circadian rhythms to humans: in short, they’re awake through the day and sleep through the night.

So if you’re noticing your dog doesn’t sleep well, or they’re experiencing disrupted sleep due to other problems like chronic pain or cognitive issues, you might consider supplementing their diet with melatonin.

Melatonin is a hormone that naturally occurs in the brain to let it know it’s time for sleep. Diurnal animals, like humans and dogs, release this hormone in the evening. It helps us to feel calm and soothes anxiety, making way for a sound sleep. 

In dogs, it has been used to cure sleep disorders but also to aid behavioural issues and treat alopecia and other non-allergic hair loss.

The calming effects of melatonin have been recorded in dogs with aggression and hyperactivity issues, as well as those who struggle with their sleep. It’s been proven to calm animals before surgery meaning they require less initial anaesthesia, and helps their hormones remain balanced after spaying operations. Melatonin can also treat adrenal disease and improve breeding.

Though there is very little risk of side effects or harm from giving your dogs melatonin, some may experience lethargy the next morning. It’s also important to check that your melatonin doesn’t contain added fillers or ingredients like xylitol that are harmful for dogs.

Melatonin can also interact with some medications so you should speak to your vet before adding it to their routine.

Melatonin for dogs usually comes in tablet, capsule, or liquid form. It doesn’t need to be administered with food, but some dogs are prone to vomiting when fed supplements on an empty stomach so it’s recommended to feed it with their dinner if possible.

The effects can be seen within 1-2 hours, so if you’re trying to improve your dog’s sleep pattern, it’s best to administer their dose in the evening. If it’s for behavioural issues, it might be more effective to feed in the morning.

Front of the Pack’s Harmony supplement is designed to promote a sense of calm in dogs, cutting anxiety off at the source and supporting a relaxed and stress-free mindset. Results can be seen in just 90 minutes, and the supplement can be fed with your dog’s meal or on its own. Made with a blend of clinically proven, natural ingredients, it’s a safe and established way to help your dog sleep better and relieve any anxiety that could be blocking their natural melatonin.

Dogs with sleeping disorders are recommended to take between 3 and 6 milligrams of melatonin, while anxiety disorders can be helped with 0.1 milligram per kilogram of your dog’s body weight. It should not be administered more than three times per day.

Your vet will be able to advise the correct dosage depending on your dog’s breed, size, and needs. Pre-weighed supplements can be a useful way to ensure you’re not overfeeding.

A rough guide to what your dog needs can be determined by their weight.

  • Less than 10lbs = 1 mg
  • 10 to 25 lbs = 1.5 mg
  • 26 to 100 lbs = 3 mg
  • 100 lbs and over = 3 to 6 mg

When you feed your dog their melatonin depends on their reason for taking the supplement. If it’s to relax before bed or a surgical procedure, they should take it around two hours before.

If you miss a dose by an hour or so, you can still administer it late. But if you’re running close to the next time you’d usually give your dog their next dose then wait, and skip the one you forgot. It won’t have a long-term effect on their melatonin intake, and dogs should never take two doses at once in an attempt to ‘catch up’.

As we already mentioned, there are very limited side effects and taking melatonin is low risk for most dogs. However, like all supplements and medications there is a small chance that your dog could have an adverse reaction, so it’s important to know the risks and possibilities before administering any new ingredients in their diet.

The main side effect of melatonin ingestion is sleepiness, which in most cases is a positive considering the main reasons for giving it to your dog in the first place. However weight gain, upset stomach, increased heart rate, itching, confusion, and fertility changes have all been reported as side effects in dogs.

Though the effects of melatonin should wear off within 24 hours, this can be longer for dogs with existing liver issues. So if your dog is given it pre-surgery as an alternative to a tranquiliser, you should keep an eye out for prolonged effects.

As a natural alternative to sleep-inducing drugs, melatonin has a good reputation as a treatment for dogs. And with the right supplement, you should notice your dog acting and feeling calmer in just a matter of hours.