1. Melatonin is a class of drug called a neuro-hormone, it has a number of potential veterinary uses such as sedative properties, may act as an anti-convulsant, and it can help regulate your dog’s body rhythms and reproductive cycles. But it also appears to have uses as an antioxidant which will combat free radicals which may be important in some disease conditions. This drug is available over the counter in a number of countries in the world but is not specifically licensed for animal use, that said many vets have found it to be of use in the following specific situations.
A. Melatonin has been used in the treatment of separation anxiety in dogs.
B. It is also used to treat other stressful conditions, such as noise anxieties related to fireworks etc.
C. Melatonin has been used to help sleep patterns in pets that are very active at night and not sleeping at the right time. This can sometimes occur in older dogs ( sundowner syndrome ) Basically it helps re-sets the animal’s biological clock.
D. It has been used to treat various other behavioral problems in dogs and it has sedative properties.
2. Dose rates for Melatonin in the dog : While this is an over the counter drug it is used in some complex situations, you would therefor be wise to get your vet involved rather than self treat on your own. That said for small dogs, Melatonin is given at up to 1 mg per dog three times a day orally. For medium sized dogs a dose of up to 3 mg per dog three times a day has been used orally. And in larger dogs consider a dose rate of up to 9 mg dog orally again given three times a day. The duration of the course would depend on the response to treatment and any side effects which may occur. This drug has often been safely used in dogs when given for long periods of time.
3. Side effects : This drug is generally considered to be safe and few side effects have been noted, but like any drug hypersensitivity reactions are possible in a very small number of individuals. Other side effects have been related to drug interaction with medications which the dog is already taking such as sedatives, steroids and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. With some individuals you may see excessive lethargy or paradoxically nervous behaviour.
Melatonin is a drug which at the moment has fairly limited use in the veterinary field but as time goes on and we get to knowledge it may come into more extensive usage.