Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone in your and your pet’s body. But people also take it as a medication to relax, de-stress, and facilitate sleep. In some cases, the vet may prescribe a specific dosage of melatonin supplements.
But what happens if your dog accidentally consumes it without the need? Will it develop any complications? As a dog owner, you must know about the measures to take when your canine consumes melatonin in overdose amount.
What is Melatonin, exactly?
Before you treat your dog for something it consumed, you must be fully aware of the substance. So it’s worth exploring what melatonin is precise. Melatonin is a hormone that’s produced by a pea-sized gland in our body called the pineal gland.
The hormone induces sleep and helps us fall asleep. If there’s more amount of melatonin in our body, we will feel sleepy. Conversely, if there’s a lower amount of melatonin, we will have trouble falling asleep. That’s the case with your dog too.
The location of this gland is inside the brain of both humans and dogs. The difference is in size. While humans have pineal gland sized 1 cm in length, dogs’ gland measures 1 mm in height.
The light influences the melatonin level. The amount drops in the morning with more sunlight exposure. Likewise, the level drops in the dark, thus inducing sleepiness.
People who are intake melatonin have trouble sleeping because their pineal gland produces a low level of melatonin. The pills release the hormone once they’re inside the body.
Dog Ate Melatonin?
A healthy dog should never consume melatonin. There’s no need for the hormone to enter its body and induce sleep. Since your dog is already in a healthy condition, its sleep cycle must be well regulated.
But there are instances where melatonin the vet may prescribe to your dog. The vet will diagnose your pet and recommend melatonin for the following:
Anxiety and Stress
Just like we humans, dogs can suffer from anxiety and stress. Typically when you take them for a long road trip or stay separated for a long time, they can get stressed.
Separation anxiety is more common than you might think. As per research, it affects almost 20-40% of the dogs. If you leave them alone for too long, they’ll get stressed. To ease them down, vets prescribe Melatonin. The hormone also helps them sleep better.
Insomnia in dogs is only prominent among older dogs. Some may develop cognitive dysfunction that hinders their ability to fall asleep.
Among younger dogs, they may have insomnia if they do not get a proper sleep environment. In each of these cases, the dog might have to use melatonin.
Dogs can develop Cushing’s disease, which is a severe disease. In this disease, there’s a formation of a pituitary tumor that causes the abnormal secretion of cortisol in the body.
In dogs, Cushing’s disease symptoms include increased thirst, excess hunger, and frequent urination. The hormone melatonin prevents the body from taking up additional cortisol.
Vets may recommend the use of melatonin for treating Alopecia in dogs, also known as flank alopecia.
Melatonin Overdose in Dogs
Melatonin is a safe and recommended drug for your dog. But overdose isn’t, and this can cause moderate to severe complications.
So how do you know that your dog has overdosed on Melatonin? There are a few warning signs that you should keep an eye on.
Because of the overdose, your dog might have an upset stomach. So it will either run around and frequent its loo area or lay down in its bed. Food intake will be minimal, even if you toss in its favorite cookies into the bowl.
The symptoms will appear after 10-20 minutes of melatonin consumption. So you should correlate the symptoms with the time duration and make a calculated guess that melatonin overdose might be the reason behind this abnormal behavior.
Excessive sleep and weakness and other symptoms of a melatonin overdose. Since there’s an excess amount of melatonin in its body, it will soothe and relax the muscles. So your dog will feel sleepy for a long time.
Some dogs may also experience diarrhea and vomiting. In some severe cases, pet parents might also witness seizures and loss of concentration.
Whenever you see any of the above signs a few hours after consuming melatonin pills, it’s best to call and discuss the matter with the vet.
How to Treat Melatonin Overdose?
If your dog suffers from a melatonin overdose, you must first contact your vet. He/she will gauge the situation and recommend you a treatment option. In most cases, the symptoms will fade away on their own, and you do not have to do anything.
Just put your dog to sleep and wait for the day to pass. In the next morning, he will be a bit weaker, but the overdose symptoms would have faded away as well.
Since the drug would have already mixed with the bloodstream, there’s no way to bring it out of the body. Therefore, to be on the safe side, you should ensure you’re providing the correct dose to your dog.
A 10-pound dog will have to require no more than 1 mg of melatonin per day. Dogs weighing 10 to 25 pounds will need 1.5 mg of melatonin to reduce stress. For those weighing between 26 to 100 pounds, 3 mg of melatonin is sufficient.
Dogs weighing more than 100 pounds can consume 3 to 6 mg of melatonin, but not more than that. Unless your vet has prescribed something differently, you should stick to the above figures.
To Sum up
Melatonin isn’t fatal for most dogs. They are capable of regulating the hormone on their own. With proper dosage, you’ll help your dog to fall asleep faster and peacefully when it’s stressed out.
But any use of medication and supplement should be under a vet’s supervision.