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Melatonin Side Effects in Dogs

Melatonin Side Effects in Dogs
Melatonin is a stress-combating drug that is prescribed for reducing the anxiety levels felt by dogs. Though it is considered to be a fairly safe drug, it may cause certain side effects. The following DogAppy write-up provides information on the side effects of melatonin in dogs.
Rahul Thadani
Last Updated: Jan 19, 2018
Melatonin, chemically known as N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, is a hormone that is naturally produced in plants, animals, and microbes. It helps in the smooth functioning and regulation of the circadian rhythm (the 24 hour cycle) of various bodily functions and processes. It also plays a role as a powerful antioxidant in the body. Like everything else, this substance CAN lead to a few not-so-pleasant side effects, such as adverse drug interactions, allergies, hormonal imbalance, etc. These have been discussed at length in the following segment.
Side Effects of Melatonin in Dogs
As melatonin is naturally produced by the body, it may not cause many side effects. But it goes without saying that too much of this drug will only cause harm. So, be cautious about the amount of melatonin you give your dog. Keep the following side effects in mind, to avoid any complications in the future.
  • If a dog is known to be sensitive to melatonin, then it should not be given to the drug. Doing so could cause an adverse reaction. Do not continue with the dosage, if your dog develops an allergic reaction.
  • Some female dogs may experience disruption in hormone which may reduce their desire to mate. The dog may become very passive or dormant as a result.
  • In rare cases, larger doses could cause the dog to urinate more often than usual.
  • Additionally, melatonin can produce side effects if it interacts with medications such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors, sedatives, and steroids, which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and allergic reactions. Visit a veterinarian immediately, if such a situation arises.
Taking into consideration the aforementioned contraindications, you may want to update yourself on exactly what health issues are treated by melatonin and its appropriate dosage in canines. The following segments deal with these two issues.
Melatonin for Canine Health
The product called Melatonex, that is widely available in the market, contains melatonin as its primary ingredient. It has been used for many years by human beings in the form of a sedative. But as far as pet dogs are concerned, it simply reduces their stress levels without causing any drowsiness. Inside the dog's brain, the neurotransmitters that majorly influence the behavior patterns of the animal are dopamine and serotonin. The levels of these neurotransmitters is affected by the level of melatonin in the body. It also aids the dog's body in combating stress by increasing the levels of the cortisol hormone in the body. Generally speaking, melatonin is put to the following uses for dogs.
  • Any noise phobia that the dog may have can be cured. This comes handy during thunderstorms and on occasions when there are other loud booming sounds, which are bound to scare the dog.
  • Separation anxiety induced in dogs can also be treated.
  • It may prove beneficial for dogs that have difficulty sleeping at night, or elderly dogs with disrupted biological clocks.
This drug is easily available over-the-counter, across many drug stores, but it should not be bought or given to a dog before consulting a vet, as doing so may expose the dog to some unforeseen side effects. Only if the doctor has prescribed the drug for the dog, should the dose be administered.
Melatonin Dosage Information
Keep the following information in mind before administering any amount of dosage of melatonin to your pet dog.
  • For large-sized dogs, the dosage must be given no more than three times a day. The dosage must be taken orally, and the amount can vary between 3 - 9 mg.
  • For medium-sized dogs 1 - 3 mg of melatonin must be administered orally, about 2 times a day.
  • For small dogs an oral dosage of about 0.5 - 1 mg once a day should be adequate.
  • DO NOT administer a dosage of melatonin to your dog without consulting a veterinarian. This can cause your dog much harm, as you may not be aware about the amount of dosage, as well as the intervals between each dosage.
Many dog owners have also noticed that melatonin can be given to dogs suffering from epilepsy as well. According to them, this drug helps lessen the frequency and intensity of seizures in canines. There are not any serious side effects, but if too much of this drug is administered, unwanted complications might occur. Make it a point to get a proper prescription from a veterinarian, before you go ahead and decide to give melatonin to your dog.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a veterinarian.
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