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Health & Wellness

Is melatonin safe for pets?

When taken safely, there are several benefits

Melatonin, a hormone that our bodies produce naturally, lets us know when it’s time to rest. Pet parents who need help getting a good night’s sleep may take melatonin supplements. This begs the question: If I’m feeling so relaxed after taking melatonin supplements, can I give them to my anxious cat or dog? 

The short answer is yes, melatonin is generally considered to be safe when used appropriately for pets. However, there are a couple things you should keep in mind when giving a safe amount of melatonin to your pet. Veterinarian and pet health advocate Dr. Aliya McCullough breaks it down here. 

When could melatonin help my dog or cat?

Below is a quick list of reasons your pet may benefit from melatonin: 

  • Insomnia: Pets that have difficulty sleeping, such as elderly animals with dementia, may benefit from safe levels of melatonin by getting a restful sleep. 
  • Anxiety: Melatonin has a drowsy effect, so if your pet suffers from certain types of anxiety, it may be beneficial to help them relax while you’re away. 
  • Hair loss: For pets suffering from seasonal, non-allergic hair loss, melatonin may improve their coats (especially with breeds like Pomeranians). 

What are the side effects? 

The most common side effects are drowsiness and an upset stomach — but, be sure to watch out for any other changes in your pet, including allergic reactions like vomiting, diarrhea and itchiness. It’s always smart to contact your vet the moment melatonin has these effects on your pet. 

How should I give my pet melatonin? 

Always talk to your vet before giving your pet melatonin to make sure it won’t interfere with any other medications they are taking — and discuss your melatonin’s ingredients list with them, too. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate supplements, so some brands could include harmful ingredients. If the melatonin is in gummy form or is fruit-flavored, it could include xylitol — an artificial sweetener that’s toxic for dogs. 

Melatonin can be given to your pet as a pill, liquid or capsule with or without food. But, if your pet suffers from a stomach ache or vomiting after eating it on its own, be sure to serve the supplement with food next time if your vet gives you the OK to do so. And always follow the recommended dose from your vet.

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