In the treatment of coat loss, Melatonin (a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland) is being used in veterinary medicine and by pet owners as a natural treatment for hair loss in dogs, cat and ferrets to help re-grow coat, to increase the appetite and put weight back on an animal after stress, surgery, illness or genetic related problems that have caused balding.
Many cases of canine, feline and ferret alopecia have responded favorably to Melatonin therapy. In veterinary trials, treatment response time was usually 1 and 1/2 to 4 months for significant coat improvement.
The following diseases, pseudo-Cushing, adult-onset growth hormone deficiency, hyposomatotropism of the adult dog, growth hormone-responsive alopecia, castration-responsive dermatosis, gonadal sex hormone dermatoses, sex-hormone alopecia, sex hormone/ growth, hormone dermatosis, biopsy-responsive alopecia, adrenal sex hormone imbalance, congenital adrenal hyperplasia-like syndrome, Lysodren-responsive dermatosis, follicular dysplasia of Nordic breeds, Siberian husky follicular dysplasia, follicular growth dysfunction of the plush-coated breeds, and others have been treated with melatonin by several veterinary dermatologists with apparent success in more than 50% of the cases.
Melatonin Dose for Dogs, Cats and Ferrets
Doses for Dogs: 1.5 mg for dogs under 25 lbs, 3 mg for an average medium to large sized dog and 6 mg if the dog's weight exceeds 100 lbs. Dose once daily. The dose should be given to dogs in the evening.
Dose for Cats: Start with a dose of 0.75 mg of melatonin. Dose once daily, for 4 to 6 weeks.
Melatonin Dose for Ferrets: 1 mg of liquid melatonin, per keg or per ferret once a day, given indefinitely. The daily dose for ferrets should be given, 8 to 9 hrs after sunrise. The importance in the 'timing of the dose' is to stimulate the ferret's circadian clock into triggering its fall and winter photoperiod. This will tell the body to put on its winter coat and its winter weight. If no improvement is seen, then the dosage can be increased to 3mg/ferret.
There are several options for the treatment of adrenal disease in ferrets. Surgery is usually considered to be the best option; however, surgery is not always possible in all cases. Fortunately though, Melatonin can be used to treat and control the symptoms of adrenal disease and possibility, if started early enough, as a preventative measure too. For most ferrets it does a good job helping them grow their coat back. In treatment, Melatonin can be given with Lupron or it can be used on its own.
Some veterinarians have used melatonin implants after adrenal surgery to aid in re-growing the ferrets coat faster, increase the appetite and put weight back on the animal. (Ferrets Magazine, Jerry Murray, DVM, Dallas, Texas, USA). Having the implants done can be a lot easier than daily oral dosing.
Is Melatonin Safe to Give to Dogs, Cats and Ferrets?
Melatonin appears to be safe, but owners should be made aware of the experimental nature of the treatment and consult with a veterinarian accordingly.
Melatonin has been shown to regulate light-mediated reproductive events in mammals. Therefore, it is best to avoid its use in breeding dogs.
Side effects: There have been no significant side effects reported. However, a few animals may experience minor gastric upset or sleepiness.
Where to Buy Melatonin Supplements
Melatonin can be purchased over the counter at most health food and drug stores. It is sold as 1 or 3 mg tablets. It is also available in a liquid version. Be warned that the liquid products can vary a great deal as to the amount of melatonin per ml in the manufacturer's mixture. So, it is really important to read the label closely, to find out exactly how many mg are in each ml to determine how much of the liquid to give your pet for the proper dose. Product Sources: liquid melatonin, regular tablets. NOTE: Use regular melatonin, Do not use, 'time released', sublingual or vitamin enhanced.
In the United Sates and some other countries, melatonin is marketed as a human dietary supplement rather than a drug (so it is not regulated). Melatonin is a synthetic so it is relatively inexpensive.
Additional Recommendations: There are several ways you can help increase or stabilize your pet’s natural melatonin levels. Here's how, make sure your pet sleeps in total darkness, 10 hours daily. No glare from a TV screen, no computer monitor, no night lights. If you are doing home cooking, add melatonin-rich foods to your pet's diet. The highest is organic brown rice and oats, but remember carbs are not good calorie sources if your pet has cancer. Try some fresh sage, it contains naturally occurring melatonin in the plant leaf. Keep your pet away from high voltage, electrical fields, these areas cause melatonin levels to drop in the body. If possible, switch the animal to a species appropriate, homemade diet.
If an animal has dull or thin hair or fur, it may imply a problem with blood circulation, food absorption, or general metabolism.
You may need to have your veterinarian check your pet's thyroid gland with a blood test. In dogs, a thyroid indicator can be hair loss across the sides of the saddle are. Also, poor-quality food may contain nutrients but lack the enzymes necessary to make them available to your dog or cat's body. Use commercial foods with chelated, readily absorbable minerals, or add fresh foods to the diet.
Nutritional supplements that help make hair strong and glossy include essential fatty acids with Omega 3 and 6 oils such as flaxseed for dogs or fish oil for cats. Give 100-200 mg of either daily. Vitamin C at 100-1,000 mg daily helps oxygen and blood reach the skin. Vitamin E at 50-400 IU, plus Vitamin A at 5,000-10,000 mg daily (as long as there is no history of liver problems, where A is stored), along with Biotin and Seaweed for trace minerals, shine and to thicken the coat.
Recommendations: For keeping pets healthy the natural way, we recommend using Pet Remedy Charts, a Step-by-Step Holistic Home Healthcare System that will enable you to naturally treat your pet at home (without drugs) using safe, side effect free healing methods for dogs, cats, horses, birds, pet rats and backyard chickens.
Disclaimer: The information herein is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to be used as a diagnosis, prescription or treatment, nor is it meant to replace the medical services of a veterinary professional. The remedies, approaches, and techniques described in these materials are not to be a substitute for, professional veterinary care or treatment. They should not be used to treat an ailment without prior consultation with a licensed veterinarian. You should always consult with your veterinarian before beginning any course of treatment.
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