Melatonin for Canine Thunderstorm Anxiety

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Any pet parent knows how difficult it can be to help a dog with intense thunderstorm anxiety. Thunderstorm anxiety in dogs can be triggered by Any of the many storm elements: thunder, lightning, wind blowing, rain sounds, the smell of ozone or of the earth and pavement when rain hits it, the darkness it causes mid-day, or even the fluctuations in barometric pressure associated with storms. Any one of these or a combination of these can send your dog into a panic, often characterized by panting, pacing, rapid breathing and heart rate, trembling, and even urinary incontinence.

If traditional behavioral methods don’t work, you may try homeopathic avenues before imposing medications on your dog. One such homeopathic remedy is melatonin. Melatonin is a chemical that the brain produces to tell your body when it is time to sleep. Melatonin is often used in humans to safely regulate sleep cycles. It has a similar effect when used in canines. While it does not always produce sleep, it can help your dog get into a relaxed state of mind, and your dog may not be bothered as much by thunderclaps or flashes of lightning. With dogs that have severe anxiety, melatonin may not work however. The success directly depends on your dog’s breed and unique body chemistry.

Melatonin comes in pill, lozenge, or liquid format. You can purchase it at herbal drugstores, some veterinarian’s offices, and online pharmacies. The dosage for a dog under 30 pounds is 1.5 mg; for dogs over 30 pounds, increase it to 3 mg. You can administer it directly by mouth or hide in a small piece of cheese, a little yogurt, or anything your dog likes as a treat. You may need to adjust the dosage based on your dog and his weight. You should always consult your veterinarian on dosages of any homeopathic medications before giving it your pet, and check for any potential drug interactions if your pet is already on other medications.

Thunderstorms can be traumatic for your pet, but with a little forethought and planning, the natural chemical melatonin may provide some much-needed relief for the storm-related anxiety.