If you find Oliver twisting and turning in the middle of the night, you may have groggily pulled out your phone and Googled, "can I give my dog melatonin?" After all, you do have a bottle of melatonin gummies sitting on your bedside table. Your findings will show that melatonin is safe for dogs! It is important that you give your dog melatonin that is free of added fillers! These fillers can be harmful to Oliver and cause a slew of unwanted reactions!
Wait! Don't doze off just yet! We're just getting started! Keep reading to learn more about how to help Oliver relax at night and get a good night's sleep.
What Are Sleeping Aids?
Sleeping aids are just what they sound like! They are supplements or prescribed drugs to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Sleeping pills fall under the category of hypnotic or soporific drugs. This is a class of psychoactive drugs with a primary function to induce sleep and to treat insomnia. This group of drugs is closely related to sedatives.
Unlike you, your dog doesn't spend excessive time looking at a computer screen to the point where they need blue light glasses. Avoiding caffeine also comes easy for dogs because, guess what, they shouldn't have any caffeine in their diet anyway!
While over-the-counter sleeping aids are widely available, not all of these are suitable for dogs. We advise you to consult your veterinarian before giving your dog any of the medications listed below.
Diphenhydramine is a sedating antihistamine often used for allergy relief. This sleeping aid is available under name brands Benadryl and Aleve PM. We know you've seen these on the shelves of your local pharmacy or possibly have them already in your medicine cabinet. If you live in urban areas and hate the smog, then you’re probably accustomed to taking Benadryl for your allergies. It can also help your pooch doze off into a deep slumber. But before you give your dog some of your Benadryl, you should consult your vet to determine your dog’s safe dose for vet-approved Benadryl tablets and ointments.
Sleep disorders are just as frustrating for your dog as they are for people! Imagine being tired and ready for bed but not being able to naturally fall asleep. That’s where valerian root comes in to help you and your dog get a good night’s sleep.
Valerian root is another sleeping aid that can be found at health stores and vitamin shops. While supplements made from this plant are less common than other sleeping aids such as melatonin or antihistamines, valerian root still has properties that may aid your dog's sleep.
We'd like to remind you that while Diphenhydramine and valerian are commonly used sleeping aids, it doesn't mean that they are safe for dogs. Never assume that any medication in your medicine cabinet is safe for your dog. If you have any questions regarding these medications, you should seek the veterinary advice of a licensed veterinarian.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced by both humans and dogs in response to darkness. Melatonin supplements are commonly used by those that may have trouble sleeping due to sleeping disorders such as insomnia, REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), and sleep apnea, just to name a few!
Just like you and I, dogs have a circadian rhythm. Relax, this is just a fancy phrase to describe our 24-hour internal clock in our brain. This rhythm regulates cycles of alertness and sleepiness responding to light changes in our environment.
The average dog sleeps 12 to 14 hours a day with a combination of daytime naps and nighttime sleep. Just like people, dogs need enough sleep to feel good throughout their day. If dog’s don’t sleep well, it can affect their energy levels, mood, and appetite.
It’s important to note that not all sleep disorders can be treated with melatonin. It is important to gauge the severity of your dog's sleeping conditions before giving them any kind of sleep medication. Here are a few of the most common types of sleep disorders that affect dogs:
This sleeping disorder is rare in dogs; however, it is common in obese dogs and flat-faced breeds like English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, and Pugs. Dogs that suffer from sleep apnea have excessive internal fat or abnormal respiratory anatomy that can temporarily collapse, jolting them awake for 10 to 20 seconds at a time. Loud, chronic snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea.
REM Behavior Disorder
Have you ever noticed your dog chasing squirrels in his sleep? Most of us think it's endearing and that they may just be dreaming. Little do we know that this may be a sign of REM behavior disorder. This disorder causes physical activity during sleep. This activity can become extreme for some dogs, such as running into walls or attacking inanimate objects.
Dogs with REM behavior disorder will normally awaken with no confusion or disorientation. If you suspect or have noticed unusual sleeping activity in your dog, take them to a licensed veterinarian to get checked out. Do not try to manage or diagnose the sleeping disorder on your own, as this could prolong your dog's poor sleep quality.
Can I Give My Dog Melatonin?
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), melatonin is safe to give to your dog. So don't worry, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for Oliver's sleepless nights. Or maybe there's darkness at the end of the tunnel, but in this case, Oliver needs the darkness!
Melatonin is a natural sleep aid and has very little risk for side effects. The most common side effect reported was lethargy upon waking the next morning. However, even though melatonin is a safe supplement to give to dogs, ensure that you are purchasing melatonin without added fillers or coatings. You should specifically be on the lookout for the sweetener xylitol, which could harm your dog if ingested.
While there is little risk associated with this supplement, we recommend speaking to your vet before starting your dog on any new medication or supplement.
How Much Melatonin Can I Give My Dog?
There’s a good amount of worry pet parents feel when starting their pets on a new medication or supplement. There are so many things that run through our minds. How much of this should I be giving Oliver? What will happen if I give him too much or too little? The same concerns may be racing through your mind about melatonin for dogs. Dosing your dog correctly is important.
Research is limited on the correct dosage of melatonin for dogs. According to Plumb's Veterinary Drug Handbook, the appropriate dose for dogs is between 3 and 6 milligrams. The best course of action is talking to your veterinarian about the appropriate dose of melatonin. You want to keep in mind other factors, including age, weight, and any other health issues your dog might have.
How Can Melatonin Help My Dog?
Melatonin can help treat sleep disorders in dogs. Keep in mind that any severe sleep disorders, like those mentioned above, require a licensed veterinarian's diagnosis. With that being said, if okayed by your veterinarian, melatonin will have a calming effect on your dog, just like it does in humans.
In a study of healthy dogs getting ready for surgery, the dogs given melatonin before their procedure were calmer and required less anesthesia. In another study, dogs given melatonin after castration were better able to regulate hormones that are usually out of balance after this procedure.
Another more widely known benefit for dogs when using melatonin is easing anxiety. Melatonin will help improve Oliver's mood and help relieve causes of anxiety, including hyperactivity, restlessness, separation anxiety, and phobias such as loud noises. Giving your dog melatonin before high-stress events such as thunderstorms or fireworks can help them destress and relax.
Related: More Home Remedies for Dogs
What Are the Side Effects of Melatonin?
Like with any supplement or medication, there is always the possibility of side effects. Some supplements list severe side effects, while others list mild side effects that may fade with continuous use. The most common side effect from melatonin use in your dog is lethargy the morning after. You can categorize this side effect under the mild category!
Although side effects from melatonin are rare, it's always important to be aware of the possibilities. Some side effects may include:
- Changes infertility
- Gastric upset and stomach cramps
- Increased heart rate
What To Consider Before Giving Your Dog Melatonin
There are a few things you may want to consider before giving your dog a melatonin supplement. While melatonin can be used to treat dogs experiencing sleep inconsistencies, it may not always be the best choice for your dog.
As a reminder, you should not be giving your dog melatonin without the advice or guidance of a licensed veterinarian. That being said, when consulting with your veterinarian, you should inform them of any underlying health issues and medications that your dog may be taking.
Here are a few medications that may interact poorly with melatonin:
What Are Natural Alternatives to Melatonin?
There are several natural alternatives to melatonin. While melatonin provides your dog with relief from sleepless nights, it doesn't do much else but act as a sedating compound. Remember, melatonin is a naturally occurring compound in your dog's body. Even though your dog produces melatonin, sometimes he may need a little more help. Here are some of the best natural alternatives to melatonin.
Believe it or not, dogs can have certain types of teas, and there are even companies that make herbal teas specifically for dogs. Dogs cannot consume caffeine, so it is important to ensure that you do not choose a tea with caffeine.
Dogs can have chamomile tea and ginger tea. Chamomile is the most recommended tea for dogs. It not only will help with stress, but it will also promote better sleep, just like it does for humans! Who would've thought!
Healthy CBD dog treats and CBD oil are also great alternatives to help canines get a better night's sleep. All mammals have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) with receptors all over the body. Yeah, that includes Oliver!
CBD interacts with ECS receptors to promote and support overall balance and wellbeing in the body. Cannabidiol is hemp-derived, and here at HolistaPet, we can say our products are 100% natural. This means no added preservatives, dyes, or harmful chemicals.
We are in the business of making pets, and their humans feel better! We offer a variety of products ranging from crunchy treats, soft chews, and oils, ensuring there's something for everyone.
Final Thoughts - Can I Give My Dog Melatonin
Giving your dog melatonin can be beneficial if they have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep. While melatonin is widely used as a sleeping aid, it has a lot of other benefits as well! This includes soothing, relaxing benefits that can help your dog with stressful situations!
Listen, we get it. You haven't slept in a week, and coffee isn't doing it for you anymore. Wait, what are you doing? Do not give Oliver coffee, he can't have caffeine!