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Melatonin for Dogs’ Skin: Coat & Skin Benefits

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Melatonin can help with your dog’s skin, especially if it has hair loss problems. It can aid medical conditions such as seasonal alopecia, alopecia X, or alopecia due to Cushing’s disease. The starting dose of melatonin is 1 mg/10 lbs. body weight. Melatonin is not recommended for puppies under 12 weeks, pregnant females, or lactating females.

Dogs can suffer from a variety of skin conditions, especially hair loss (alopecia). 

Hair loss in dogs has many causes, such as inflammation, hormonal issues, parasites, and so on. Some of these conditions are treated with melatonin to help with hair growth.

Many veterinarians choose to use melatonin to treat different types of alopecia. This is because melatonin has little or no side effects in dogs.

It can promote partial or complete regeneration of the coat in dogs at risk of hair loss. This treatment is especially important for breeds prone to alopecia.

In this article, you will learn what melatonin is, what skin conditions it can treat, whether you can give your dog melatonin for hair loss, and more.

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the brain. It is also found in some foods or is taken as a supplement. The main role of melatonin is to initiate and maintain sleep. It also helps regenerate hair in dogs suffering from alopecia.

Melatonin is known as the sleep hormone. It is secreted by the brain and the white blood cells, bone marrow, retina, and intestinal tract.

This hormone tells the body when to relax and fall asleep. During the day, the production of melatonin gets blocked by the light, telling your brain to stay active.

You can find melatonin as supplements or in some foods:[1]

  • Eggs
  • Goji berries
  • Milk
  • Fish
  • Nuts

Some veterinarians choose to administer melatonin to dogs suffering from sleep disorders or other conditions as recommended dosages have few or no side effects.

Melatonin

What Is Melatonin Used for in Dogs?

Melatonin in dogs is used for insomnia, anxiety, Cushing’s disease, or skin conditions where the main symptom is hair loss. Many veterinarians choose melatonin instead of other drugs as melatonin has fewer side effects. 

Melatonin has a sedative effect by supplementing the hormone already found in dogs’ bodies. It also helps with hair growth.

You can use melatonin for dogs for a number of conditions:

  • Sleep induction
  • Anxiety
  • Noise phobias
  • Hair loss – seasonal alopecia and alopecia X
  • Hair growth after surgery
  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Cushing’s disease

Never give your dog melatonin without talking to your veterinarian first. It can interact with other medications or worsen chronic hepatic and renal disorders.

You can give your dog human melatonin if you can’t find the veterinary form. Make sure it doesn’t contain xylitol and the concentration isn’t too high. Xylitol is toxic to pets and can cause poisoning and death.

Related: Can Melatonin Kill Dogs?

Change Your Dog’s Nighttime Routine

Can I Give My Dog Melatonin for Hair Loss?

Melatonin is mainly used for dogs suffering from alopecia (hair loss) or to improve hair growth after surgery. Talk to your veterinarian before administering melatonin for your dog’s hair loss.

Dogs can suffer from many types of alopecia, but only three are treated with melatonin supplements:

  • Seasonal alopecia
  • Alopecia X
  • Hair loss from Cushing’s disease

Melatonin can also be used to speed up hair growth after surgery.

Seasonal alopecia and alopecia X are considered cosmetic conditions. They do not endanger your dog’s life or cause other symptoms.

Melatonin for Seasonal Alopecia

Seasonal alopecia is the most common type of alopecia in dogs. It is also called cyclic follicular dysplasia.

It usually starts in early spring and lasts until late fall[2]. The dog’s hair grows back after this period, but it can reappear every year. Seasonal alopecia occurs only once for some dogs.

The causes of seasonal alopecia are not fully understood. It is thought that this type of alopecia is caused by an abnormal response of the hair follicles. These respond to the hormonal changes that occur when the length of days changes. 

Melatonin for Seasonal Alopecia
Image Source

In other words, it’s a result of a lack of sunlight.[3]

Veterinarians recognize this type of alopecia by its characteristic pattern of hair loss. It appears on the sides and back.

Hair loss can also occur in other places:

  • At the base of the tail.
  • On the nose.
  • On the ears.

The skin darkens in color in the areas where the hair falls out, and the rest of the fur becomes dry and coarse.

Breeds most prone to seasonal alopecia:

  • Bulldog
  • Boxer
  • Airedale Terrier
  • Labrador retriever
  • Schnauzer
  • Scottish terrier
  • Doberman pinscher
  • Akita

Melatonin is recommended to help with hair growth for seasonal alopecia.

Melatonin for Alopecia X

Alopecia X occurs in dogs due to non-inflammatory causes and is also called Wooly Syndrome, coat funk, black skin disease, or pseudo cushings. The causes of this type of alopecia are unknown; it is not induced by endocrine, genetic disorders, bacteria, fungi, or parasites.[4]

In this type of alopecia, the hair cycle stops, and new hair stops growing.

Alopecia X occurs in dogs between the ages of one and ten and has no gender predisposition.

Northern breeds are more commonly affected by alopecia X:

  • Pomeranian
  • Malamute
  • Chow chow
  • Schipperke
  • Keeshond

It can also affect Poodles, especially miniature and toy varieties.

Alopecia X mainly affects the following regions of the body:

  • Trunk
  • Tail
  • Thighs
  • Friction zones

This type of alopecia does not cause itchiness. The hair falls out progressively, and the skin becomes pigmented in the hairless areas. The rest of the hair on the body turns dull and dry, like a wooly lamb. Other dogs develop total alopecia.

For this condition, melatonin is recommended to help with hair growth and remedy the situation.

Melatonin for Cushing’s Disease

Melatonin for Cushing’s Disease
Image Source

Cushing’s disease is a result of an overproduction of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), It affects both middle-aged and older dogs, regardless of breed.

Among the most common symptoms of Cushing’s disease in dogs are:

  • Increased thirst and urination.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Swollen abdomen.
  • Hair loss with hairless skin areas (alopecia).
  • Muscle weakness/atrophy.
  • Hyperpigmentation.
  • Urinary incontinence.

Melatonin can help dogs with Cushing’s disease recover, although some dogs do not respond to melatonin treatment[5]. Melatonin also helps with hair regrowth.

Melatonin for Hair Regrowth After Surgery

Melatonin can help dogs grow their hair back after surgery. Dogs are shaved before surgery. It helps disinfect and prepare the area for surgery. In some cases, the hair grows back slower than typical or not at all.

Melatonin Doses for Skin and Hair Regrowth

The initial dose of melatonin for alopecia in dogs is 1 mg/10 lbs. body weight. Some veterinarians recommend increasing the dose over time.

You only need to administer 1 milligram of melatonin for dogs weighing 10 lbs. Dogs that weigh 100 lbs. or more should take between 3 and 6 milligrams of melatonin.

Dog’s WeightMelatonin in mg
< 20 lbs. (~10 kg)1 mg
10 – 25 lbs.1.5 mg
26 – 100 lbs.3 mg
> 100 lbs.6 mg

Melatonin is inadvisable in puppies and pregnant or lactating females. There are not enough studies to show its effect and potential side effects.

Although melatonin has rare and few side effects, too much will lead to an overdose. 

Symptoms of a melatonin overdose in dogs include:

  • Gastrointestinal problems (upset stomach, vomiting, and/or diarrhea)
  • Drowsiness
  • Lethargy
  • Itchiness
  • Wobbly walk
  • High blood pressure
  • Fast heart rate
  • Seizures

Side effects and symptoms should wear off in 12-24 hours. Talk to your veterinarian if your dog’s symptoms persist or worsen.

FAQs

Is Melatonin Good for Dogs’ Skin?

Yes, melatonin can help your dog if it suffers from seasonal alopecia, alopecia X, and Cushing’s disease. It can also help if your dog underwent surgery and its hair grows slowly or not at all.

Does Melatonin Help Hair Growth in Dogs?

Yes, melatonin can help your dog with hair growth. The initial dose is 1 mg/10 lbs. body weight. Talk to your veterinarian if your dog weighs less than 10 lbs. or over 100 lbs.

Can You Overdose a Dog on Melatonin?

Yes, but melatonin overdoses are rare. A dog that overdosed on melatonin can show drowsiness, wobbly walking, seizures, itchiness, fast heart rate, and lethargy. Talk to your veterinarian if you think your dog ate your melatonin or you administered too much.

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.

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