If your furry friend isn’t looking so furry, your veterinarian may want to try a melatonin supplement. Some dogs respond well to melatonin therapy, but only certain causes of hair loss, or alopecia, respond to melatonin. Alopecia x and seasonal flank alopecia are two examples of conditions responsive to melatonin.
When your dog has alopecia, your veterinarian will need to evaluate him. Evaluation may include an exam, blood testing and potentially a skin biopsy. Hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease are common causes in dogs and should be ruled out before attempting supplementation. Symmetrical hair loss may be indicative of alopecia x -- often seen in Pomeranians -- or seasonal flank alopecia -- often seen in boxers. Your veterinarian may recommend melatonin in these cases.
Melatonin is a supplement that is typically given to humans. This supplement can help regulate body cycle or circadian rhythms. The major side effect of melatonin is sleepiness, although your pooch may not be affected. If your dog responds to melatonin, hair growth should occur within a few weeks to three months of supplementation. Typically within a few months, the amount of hair growth will cease. Many dogs are weaned to a weekly versus daily dose to maintain the growth.
Elizabeth Muirhead is a practicing veterinarian with an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. She has real-world experience with the husbandry, grooming, training and feeding a variety of household pets.