Reviewed By Joana Garrido DVM
Melatonin is a natural hormone found in mammals and is primarily produced in the pineal gland of the brain. Melatonin has sedative and calming properties that make it effective in treating separation anxiety and anxiety caused by loud noises in dogs, such as fireworks or thunderstorms.
Melatonin also improves sleep patterns, reduces cortisol levels in dogs with hyperadrenocorticism, and helps control the signs of canine cognitive dysfunction.
In this article, we’ll explore the top 5 natural sources of melatonin for dogs, providing you with the information you need to help your pup manage anxiety and sleep better.
1. Tart Cherries (Prunus cerasus) as a Natural Melatonin for Dogs
Only a handful of fruits contain ample amounts of melatonin, and the tart cherry is one of them.
In a 2001 study, the fresh and frozen forms of tart cherries contain higher melatonin concentrations compared to the melatonin levels found in the blood of animals.
The Montmorency and Balaton tart cherry species are both melatonin-rich, but the former has 6 times the amount of melatonin than the latter.
When preparing tart cherries, it is important to remove their pits as they contain a toxin known as prussic acid, which can cause intestinal blockage, especially in smaller dog breeds.
For easier consumption, blend the tart cherries in a blender after getting rid of all their pits, pour the liquid into an ice cube tray, and let it freeze in the fridge. Now you have refreshing frozen natural sleep aid treats for dogs.
2. Eggs as a Natural Melatonin for Dogs
A 2017 study shows that eggs, particularly in their solid, dried form, house more melatonin compared to lamb, beef, and pork meat. It also trumps the melatonin content of chicken meat, skin, liver, and heart.
Aside from acting as a natural sleeping aid for dogs, eggs also offer ample amounts of high-quality proteins to them. These nutrients are essential building blocks for his body.
They play an important role in creating tendons, muscles, ligaments, hair, and skin. Other health-nourishing vitamins and minerals found in eggs are:
- Vitamin A
Although this human food is highly beneficial to canines, it should be consumed in moderation. Eggs contain a compound known as avidin, which is a biotin inhibitor. Overconsumption of eggs puts dogs at risk of developing biotin deficiency.
3. Goji Berries (Lycium barbarum) as a Natural Melatonin for Dogs
A study conducted in 2021 assessed whether melatonin is naturally occurring in certain berry varieties. 6 types of berry fruits were chosen to be examined namely:
- Black mulberry
- Bursa black mulberry
- Goji berry
- Purple mulberry
- White mulberry
Researchers discovered that goji berry contains the highest concentration of melatonin. Hence, feeding it to your dog can help improve his sleep patterns.
Goji berries are also a good source of antioxidants, which promote better immune function in canines. They fight off free radicals and protect the body from oxidative stress and damage.
However, pet parents need to be aware that goji berries contain low levels of a toxic alkaloid called atropine. Allowing dogs to eat too much of these fruits should be avoided to avert the risk of poisoning.
Additionally, goji berries are known to lower blood pressure. They may interact with antihypertensive drugs for canines. Be sure to check with the vet if these fruits are safe and suitable for a medicated pooch.
4. St. Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum) as a Natural Melatonin for Dogs
Many types of medicinal herbs naturally produce melatonin for dogs. However, St. Johns Wort is one of the varieties that contain a fairly significant amount of it than others.
The plant’s flowers were found to have 4490 ng/g DW of melatonin, while its leaves have 1750 ng/g DW.
St. John’s Wort can be given to dogs in several different ways, such as tincture, powder, or flower essence. Another easy option for pet pawrents is to simply brew the herb into a tea.
Be careful when using St. John’s wort on your furry pal. It is known to possess a few potential side effects when taken in large doses like photosensitivity, gastric irritation, and restlessness.
This natural sleep aid for dogs may interact with some types of canine medications. Keep your dog safe from these potential dangers by consulting the vet before using the herb.
5. Mushrooms as a Natural Melatonin for Dogs
A 2021 study suggests that certain species of mushrooms are good natural sources of melatonin specifically:
- Button mushrooms ( bisporus)
- Chantarelle ( cibarius)
- Porcini ( edulis)
- Saffron milk cap (L. deliciosus)
In another research, the portobello mushroom variety was the only one that contains melatonin out of all A. bisporus mushroom species. The compound was particularly housed in its stipe or stem.
It should be noted that mushrooms more exposed to harsh environmental conditions have been shown to produce higher levels of melatonin.
This could mean foraged mushrooms yield more melatonin than cultivated ones. However, for safety purposes, we suggest sticking to shopping for these edible mushrooms in grocery stores.
Only resort to foraging if you have adept knowledge of distinguishing toxic and nontoxic mushrooms from each other. Do this to keep your canine companion safe from the dangers of mushroom poisoning.
FAQs About Melatonin for Dogs
1. Can Dogs Have Natural Melatonin?
Yes, dogs can have natural melatonin like the food we have mentioned above. However, before incorporating them into his meals, make sure to discuss your idea with the vet.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in canines. If your dog’s body produces it in sufficient amounts, supplementing his diet might not be necessary.
2. Do Vets Recommend Melatonin for Dogs?
Yes, vets can recommend and prescribe melatonin for dogs to regulate circadian rhythms and manage allergies, hair loss, seizures, and separation anxiety. However, it should not be used in diabetic dogs due to the risk of insulin resistance.
3. Can I Give My Dog Melatonin for Anxiety?
Yes, you can give your dog melatonin for mild forms of anxiety. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the ideal melatonin dosage for dogs to treat insomnia might be different when dealing with canine anxiety. To determine the right dosage for your dog, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that the melatonin supplement works better when used in conjunction with behavior therapy. If your dog is experiencing severe anxiety, it would be best to talk to your veterinarian about the most suitable treatment options available for him.
4. Is Human Melatonin Safe for Dogs?
In general, human melatonin supplements are safe for dogs. But pet owners must stay vigilant of some products that use harmful ingredients for canines.
Certain supplements use xylitol as a sweetener, which is highly toxic to dogs. The vet can help narrow down the list of safe human melatonin for your canine companion and advise on the suitable dosage for your dog.
If you remain skeptical about their safety, there is no harm in opting for natural melatonin sources.
A handful of fresh foods are wonderful sources of natural melatonin for dogs.
With the vet’s approval, combining them with your furry pal’s meals can help address sleep issues such as insomnia. Even better, they provide additional nutrients that boost his overall health.
Learn more natural ways to keep your canine companion fit and healthy by heading to our Diet & Recipes section.