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Is Melatonin Safe for Dogs?

By Wendy Rose Gould
published: September 28, 2018 - updated: March 22, 2022 • 3 min. read
melatonin safe dogs

Key Takeaways

  • Yes, melatonin is safe for dogs when administered properly.
  • Melatonin is a natural sleep aid that can also help dogs with separation anxiety and stress.
  • For dosing, the recommendation is 1 mg of melatonin per 20 pounds your dog weighs.
  • It takes about 30 minutes for the effects of melatonin to kick in.
  • Melatonin can cause side effects in dogs, such as drowsiness, upset stomach, and increased heart rate.

When administered properly, melatonin is considered safe for dogs. There’s also evidence that points to melatonin’s ability to help dogs in numerous ways. As always, speak with your veterinarian before administering any over-the-counter medications or supplements to your dog. This is especially true if your dog has any existing medical conditions, is diabetic, is pregnant or nursing, or is currently on other medications.

NOTE: It’s also very important to make sure that the melatonin supplement you buy is approved for dogs, and ideally recommended by your veterinarian. There are some supplements that combine melatonin with other ingredients (such as xylitol) that are not safe for dogs to ingest.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a neurohormone that’s naturally produced in the pineal glands of humans and animals. It’s responsible for regulating sleep, and our bodies produce more of it in the evenings and less during the day. Many people take a melatonin supplement to help them fall asleep, and sleep more thoroughly, through the night. It may also help with feelings of anxiety.

“[Melatonin]’s sedative properties have been helpful in treating separation anxiety in dogs, as well as stress from noise like fireworks, thunderstorms, or other noise phobias,” states the American Kennel Club’s website. “According to Linda Aronson, DVM, who published a study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, she has seen successful results in about 80 percent of canine patients treated with melatonin.”


Dosage Information

How much melatonin your dog may take depends on how much they weigh. As a general rule of thumb, 1 mg per 20 pounds is recommended. It takes approximately 30 minutes for the melatonin to kick in, so if you anticipate a stressful or loud day, evening, or event, this allows you to easily plan ahead. Note that this dosage should be repeated no more than three times per day with eight hours between each dosage.

Since your pet may not be too keen on taking a pill, consider administering the approved melatonin supplement via a pill pocket or mixing it in with their food.

Potential Side Effects

Melatonin, when administered properly, is considered safe for dogs. As is the case with many supplements and medications, though, your dog may experience some side effects. These include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Upset stomach
  • Increased heart rate
  • Insulin resistance in diabetic dogs
  • Disruption of the female reproductive cycle

You may find that melatonin seriously helps your dog find more peace in stressful times. However, if your dog experiences ongoing anxiety, stress, or inability to sleep, there are other medications and treatments that could be more effective. Speak with your veterinarian about all your options so you can ensure your pup is living his or her best life.

Vet bills for common accidents and illnesses can add up, so signing up for pet insurance is essential when pets are young. While major issues like soft tissue injuries to worm treatments can be covered up to 90%, behavioral treatment will not be covered. Find out more by getting a free quote.   

The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical diagnosis, condition, or treatment options.

wendy gould
By Wendy Rose Gould

Wendy Rose Gould is a freelance lifestyle reporter based in Phoenix, Arizona. She has been in journalism for over a decade, and has been freelancing almost that entire time. In addition to lifestyle reporting, she also works with brands to create marketing content for their websites and blogs.

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