Is Melatonin Safe for Dogs?

Posted by Max Martinson on

dog staring at a bottle of melatonin

Dogs need a great night’s sleep in order to be healthy. They’re just like us in that respect.

When something gets in the way of your dog’s sleep schedule, they might act unusually. Early signs of sleep deprivation in dogs might include restlessness and high excitement followed by incoordination. As things progress, they could even become nervous, snappy, or aggressive.

Sleep disruption is typically caused by physical or psychological challenges such as joint pain or anxiety. There might also be factors in your home environment disrupting your dog’s sleep.

Loud machinery outside, an inconsistent home schedule, or the lack of a comfortable place to catch a few winks could all contribute to poor sleep.

When you can’t sleep, you can just take melatonin, right? It might not be the preferred way to drift off, but it’s arguably the safest sleep aid for humans on the market.

It works for humans, so does it help dogs fall asleep? More importantly, is melatonin safe for dogs? Let’s find out. 

Is Melatonin Toxic for Dogs?

No. Melatonin itself is not toxic to dogs. It’s a hormone that both humans and dogs create naturally.

That said, melatonin products for humans could be toxic to your dog. Products for humans are usually made with additional ingredients to improve flavor, change appearance, or make the product more effective for humans.

There’s promising research that suggests melatonin could be an effective medicine for sleep issues, severe anxiety, phobias, and more in dogs. That said, melatonin has not been approved by the FDA for use in animals.

So, there’s a potential for melatonin to help your dog but it’s difficult (and risky) to find products that you’re confident about. The solution?

Contact your veterinarian and ask them. They will have the most insightful answer concerning your dog, potential drug interactions, and products that safely meet your needs.

If you’re still eyeballing your human melatonin bottle, thinking “it can’t be that bad for my dog,” the following are a few more reasons to use caution.

woman looking suspiciously at pill bottle.

 

Reasons to Use Caution

In order to get approval from the FDA, all drug ingredients are rigorously tested at the appropriate dosage to ensure a specific species can metabolize them and that they don’t cause harm. When something is safe for humans, that doesn’t mean it’s safe for dogs.

While dogs are mammals with similar internal organs and bodily processes, their ability to digest and process things is very different from ours. Their digestive systems aren’t inherently tougher or more resilient than ours, either.

Highly-concentrated substances are involved almost any time we’re dealing with pharmaceutical medicines. The same is true for processed human foods.

The best example of this is the sweetener, Xylitol. Xylitol is used as an artificial sweetener in many foods because it contains fewer calories than natural sugar does.

On any given day, most people reading this will have consumed Xylitol or a product like it. Humans can process loads of Xylitol without getting sick.

Xylitol is toxic to dogs, however. Plus, it’s coated on some medications to improve flavor. Your melatonin pills could have some artificial sweetener on them, for example.

The point is, products made specifically for humans should not be given to dogs without a veterinarian’s approval. There are too many hidden, extremely-concentrated ingredients that could be toxic to your dog.

The consequences could be really painful for your pet. In the worst cases, fatal.

What Is Melatonin Used for In Dogs?

Melatonin is used for dogs in a number of ways. People who find safe products they trust claim to have great results for things like anxiety, insomnia, Cushing's disease, and alopecia.

*Lolahemp doesn’t have direct experience with those results. Anecdotal claims from pet owners suggest that they’ve had success using melatonin for the issues listed above. Always contact a veterinarian before trying a new medicine to help your pet.

Alternatives to Melatonin for Dog Sleep

little dog sleeping with a blue background

If you’re trying to get your dog back into a healthy sleep schedule, there are a few other things you can try before you resort to melatonin. Let’s check a few ideas to get your pup counting sheep instead of chasing them.

1. Exercise More

If your dog isn’t sleeping, maybe it’s because they haven’t expended enough energy.

It can be tough to go on those long walks, but they’ve got to be a priority. Your dog needs to work off all of that energy, especially if they’re still young. Some breeds require a great deal more exercise than others as well.

Here are some breeds that require a little more room to roam than others.

You can also plan your walks strategically, taking the dogs out an hour or so before it’s time to wind down. If your dog outstretches you in terms of energy and willingness to walk, you have a couple of options.

Consider a dog walker to take the roll for you. Someone who’s got the ability to walk long distances on a regular basis. You might also consider riding your bike alongside your pooch if they’re well-trained.

That way, they’ll get a healthy jog in for as long as they want and you have the luxury of coasting by their side. Here’s a little guide to safely biking alongside your dog.

2. Improve Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene simply means creating a healthy and comfortable routine surrounding someone’s sleep cycle.

Make sure your dog has a comfortable place to sleep and ensure that the environment is dark. Dogs don’t necessarily need a whole bedroom, but where are they sleeping if they’re not sleeping with you?

If they’re out on the living room couch with appliance lights and technology beeping away, they might not be getting the kind of sleep they need. Many people sleep in the same bed as their dogs, and research suggests that it’s a mutually beneficial thing to do.

3. Calming Chews or Oils

Even though it might be hard to find a good veterinarian-approved melatonin option, there are a number of other calming agents available to you.

For example, cannabidiol has been shown to be safe for long-term daily use in dogs, and tens of thousands of owners say that it helps their dogs immensely in different ways. 

Joint discomfort, distress, and trouble walking are all things that can impact a dog’s sleep schedule. These are issues that pet owners regularly look to hemp oil to address. Hemp oil with full spectrum CBD has been shown to promote calmness, relaxation, and the natural regulation of sleep patterns. 

Lolahemp calming chews subscribe and save 20 percent.

 

4. Check for Underlying Health Issues

Sleep disruptions often come from different underlying health issues. It’s tough to sleep if you’re incredibly anxious, in pain, or struggling with a physical issue that you can’t voice.

Your dog might be suffering in silence, failing to fall asleep, and feeling things progress as a result. If your dog is struggling to sleep for more than a few days, a trip to the vet is in order.

Sleep is important, and your dog’s body will prioritize it when possible. When an issue is making it impossible to fall asleep, it demands attention. You might be relieved to find that once the underlying issue is fixed, your dog can relax and drift away like they used to.

What’s The Final Verdict?

Melatonin itself is safe for dogs, although some of the products that contain melatonin might not be. If you’re looking for something to promote calmness and relaxation, melatonin could be a good fit if approved by your veterinarian.

If your dog is struggling to sleep, however, it’s worth finding the root cause and addressing it before turning to sleep aids.

 

References:

1. https://pethelpful.com/dogs/dog-sleep-all-night
2. https://www.allaboutdogs.net/sleep-deprivation-in-dogs/
3. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/melatonin/melatonin-for-dogs
4. https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/melatonin-dogs-it-safe
5. https://www.petco.com/content/petco/PetcoStore/en_US/pet-services/resource-center/health-wellness/melatonin-for-dogs.html
6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31351807/
7. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/animals-and-sleep/can-you-give-dogs-melatonin

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Author

Max is a copywriter from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He spends his free time traveling with his girlfriend, Nicole, or lounging around with their cat, Herbie. He’s been copywriting for various companies ever since he graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire in 2017 and enjoys the variety and freedom that freelancing allows. He contributes to Lolahemp in various copywriting and SEO capacities, focusing primarily on Lola & Friends.