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What Can I Give My Dog To Help Him Sleep?

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There are lots of reasons for wanting your dog to sleep soundly. Travel, post-surgical rest, and avoiding the anxiety of fireworks or thunderstorms are all good reasons.

When looking for ways to help your dog get quality sleep, be sure to check with a veterinarian. Ask about melatonin before using this guide.

The melatonin dosage for dogs is, roughly:

  • Dogs less than 10 pounds- 1 mg of melatonin
  • Dogs 10-25 pounds- 1.5 mg of melatonin
  • Dogs 26-100 pounds- 3 mg of melatonin
  • Dogs over 100 pounds- 3 to 6 mg of melatonin

Is Melatonin Safe For My Dog?

Melatonin is considered safe for dogs when used appropriately and in the right dose.

The melatonin dosage for dogs is one simple way we have to treat sleeplessness, restlessness and anxiety in our pups that is both safe and effective!

Melatonin is a commonly available supplement that can help reduce stress and anxiety in your dog. It is also produced naturally in our bodies (and our dog’s bodies too).

I recommend you consult with your veterinarian before starting your dog on a new supplement like melatonin. They can give you the most accurate information on dosing and side effects, and can help you figure out how often your dog should take it.

Melatonin has been a game changer for many dog owners! Read on and I will introduce you to this wonderful supplement.

Melatonin Dosage for Dogs

Melatonin doses vary, depending on the health of the dog, reasons for treatment and other medications they may be taking. You should discuss melatonin dosage for dogs with your vet before starting your dog on this supplement.

How To Give Melatonin to Your Dog

Generally, veterinarians recommend starting low and observing how the melatonin dosage for dogs specifically affects your pup.

For issues that are related to nighttime problems, like dementia or restlessness, your vet may have you only give the supplement in the evening. This mimics the way our own bodies produce melatonin.

For other problems, like general anxiety, your vet may have you give the supplement up to three times a day.

These are just the basic guidelines. Your veterinarian will be able to give you a dose precisely calculated to your dog’s condition and health problems.

Side Effects of Melatonin in Dogs

While melatonin is naturally produced in our dog’s bodies, that doesn’t mean that the supplement has no side effects.

Usually, the most common side effects from melatonin use in dogs is sleepiness and relaxation.

Sometime dogs may also get an upset stomach when they start taking it. So if your dog has a really sensitive stomach, be aware that this supplement could cause some surprises.

In dogs with medical problems, melatonin can sometimes cause an increased heart rate, or can make diabetes harder to manage. This is not a common side effect, but it’s another reason to talk about using melatonin with your vet before you start giving it.

One thing to note for safety. If you are using a human version of the supplement (and you likely are), check the label before giving it to your dog.

Be sure the melatonin does not contain xylitol! This ingredient is often used in foods and supplements intended for humans, but is highly toxic to dogs! Do not give the supplement to your dog if it contains xylitol.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, in the middle part of our brain. This hormone helps regulate our sleep cycle (circadian rhythms) by telling our bodies it is time to wind down and sleep.

When the brain senses it is getting dark, this prompts the pineal gland to produce melatonin. The melatonin relaxes the body and helps you feel sleepy. During the day, the body does not produce melatonin, so you feel alert and awake.

Melatonin is a very necessary hormone! Without it, the sleep cycle gets out of whack, leaving people and dogs grumpy and restless at night.

How Melatonin Helps Dogs

Melatonin can help dogs in the same way it helps humans, by regulating the sleeping cycle.

If you have ever suffered from insomnia, then you know how much it hurts to be exhausted but unable to sleep. Melatonin can make a huge difference in insomnia!

Dementia- Sundowner’s Syndrome

One very frustrating side effect of advanced age in dogs is dementia. Often, this dementia gets much worse as the sky darkens into night. My own schnauzer has this problem, and she usually spends her evenings pacing across the kitchen.

Sundowner’s syndrome is the name of this common dementia symptom. Often, dogs who suffer from it are pacing, panting, drooling and generally keeping their families up all night.

We don’t know exactly why this happens, but using melatonin has shown to relieve these symptoms and help older dogs (and their owners)  get rest at night.

Anxiety

Since the main side effect of melatonin is sleepiness, it is a great supplement to try for anxiety!

Whether your dog has general or separation anxiety, or anxiety specifically triggered by an event, melatonin can bring them down a notch and give them a sense of peace. It can also be used in combo with other meds and supplements to create a sense of well-being.

Some dogs with noise phobias do very well with just a daily dose of melatonin! Talk to your vet about this. I’ve seen it work for anxious pets, and it is nice if you don’t have to use a more powerful sedative all the time.

Cushing’s Disease

Nighttime sleeplessness is a common complaint from owners whose dogs suffer from Cushing’s disease.

Cushing’s disease is a complicated medical condition that impacts every dog differently. Cushing’s dogs have problems regulating their own hormones, often due to a tumor on their pituitary gland. The medications given to help regulate these hormones can also have side effects. Cushing’s disease is complicated and no fun to manage.

I have seen many Cushing’s dogs successfully treated with melatonin, and it can make a huge difference in regulating their sleep cycles!

Melatonin For Dogs

Overall, melatonin is a safe and effective way to treat sleep problems and anxiety in dogs.

The melatonin dosage for dogs will be best determined by your vet. Melatonin can help with anxiety and dementia by regulating the dog’s sleep cycles. This will relax them AND you, since you won’t be up all night pacing with them!

Just be careful that the supplement you choose does not contain the ingredient xylitol, as this is a deadly and toxic substance to dogs.

I hope you enjoyed this post and I look forward to your comments.  Have you ever given your dog melatonin?  I’m curious! Send me a reply through email: [email protected]

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AUTHOR BIO:

Jen Clifford has a B.A. in Biology from Reed College. She was a field biologist for several years and then spent 10 years working in veterinary medicine as a receptionist and technician.  Jen is currently a freelance writer living in the Pacific Northwest with her tribe of pets. She is a passionate animal lover who is dedicated to helping people find solutions to their pet-related challenges. You can find more of her work on her website https://MyWickedTribe.com

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