Melatonin and Lignans Treatment for Atypical Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

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In my clinic, the melatonin and lignans treatment is quite effective for dogs with Cushing’s disease and atypical Cushing’s.

Cushing’s Disease, aka  Hyperadrenocorticism (HAC), is a disorder common to geriatric dogs.

Sometimes, a dog has the classic signs of Cushing’s disease in physical symptoms and standard blood tests, but still has a normal response to specific Cushing’s tests. When this happens, the diagnosis is Atypical Cushing’s Disease.


Melatonin and Lignans Dosing for Atypical Cushing’s Disease in Dogs

When a dog suffers from Atypical Cushing’s Disease, our clinic recommends a natural and holistic protocol. This protocol consists of supplementation with melatonin and lignans.


Melatonin

  • 1.5 mg once or twice daily for dogs under 25 lbs
  • 3 mg once or twice daily for average to medium-sized dogs
  • 6 mg once or twice daily for dogs over 100 lbs
  • Note: Research recommends not exceeding a melatonin dosage of 3 to 6 mg every 8 to 12 hours.
  • Note: Make sure you read the label and give your dog supplements containing melatonin only. Colorings and additives may be toxic to your dog.


Lignans

  • HMR Lignans 10 mg – 40 mg daily for small to large dogs


The Research Behind the Melatonin and Lignans Treatment Recommendation

Melatonin Research

Melatonin is a hormone. The pineal gland produces melatonin. 

Melatonin regulates the body’s hormones and circadian rhythm. 

It is also used in veterinary medicine as a natural treatment for coat loss in dogs, cats, and ferrets.

Researchers are not exactly sure how melatonin helps thicken and regrow fur.  

Some researchers think it may be the relationship between melatonin, sunlight, and the body’s circadian rhythm.  

Others feel that melatonin’s antioxidant properties help promote hair growth.

Melatonin has also to helps pets gain back weight after surgery, stress or illness and help with anxiety, insomnia, and noise phobias.

Mink farmers have been known to use melatonin to promote thick coats in the winter. Research recommends not exceeding a melatonin dosage of 3 to 6 mg every 8 to 12 hours.

A general guideline for dosing melatonin is:

  • Dogs under 10 lbs – 1 mg of melatonin every 12 hours (also for those who want to give their dogs very low doses of melatonin)
  • Dogs under 30 lbs – 3 mg of melatonin every 12 hours
  • Dogs over 30 lbs – 6 mg of melatonin every 12 hours
  • Note: Research recommends not exceeding a melatonin dosage of 3 to 6 mg every 8 to 12 hours.
  • Note: Make sure you read the label and give your dog supplements containing melatonin only. Colorings and additives may be toxic to your dog.


Note: If melatonin makes your dog excessively sleepy, give melatonin only at night.


Lignans Research

When ingested, the body converts plant lignans to other lignans such as enterolactone.

Enterolactone is a major-endogenous-mammalian lignan formed by the action of intestinal bacteria on plant lignans when they are ingested and acts as a phytoestrogen in the body.

There are two kinds of lignans:

  • SDG (secoisolariciresinol diglucoside) lignans – a flax hull extract
  • HMR (7-hydroxymatairesinol) lignans – a Norwegian spruce tree extract

The main differences between the two types of lignans are:

  • With the SDG flax hull lignan, a cleavage of sugar chains must occur by the gastrointestinal bacteria before the enterolactone is formed.
  • With the HMR Norwegian Spruce tree lignan, the conversion to enterolactone by gastrointestinal bacteria is immediate upon ingestion.

Reports show that HMR lignan is completely and quickly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, while SDG lignan is not completely absorbed.

This indicates that enterolactone formed by HMR lignans is absorbed better and more quickly than that of the SDG flax hull lignan, allowing for the use of lower dosages.


According to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, the suggested doses are:

  • SDG flax hull lignans  – 1mg per lb of bodyweight
  • HMR lignans – total doses of 10 mg – 40 mg daily should be adequate for small to large dogs


Melatonin and Lignans Treatment Side Effects, Warnings, and Interactions

Lignan Side Effects, Warnings, and Interactions

If using SDG flax hull lignans, stool frequency and occasional diarrhea may occur because of its fiber component. (HMR Norwegian Spruce lignans contain very little fiber, so using this type of lignan should not cause issues with stool frequency and diarrhea.)  

According to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, no adverse effects on the use of SDG flax lignan have been reported based on their suggested dose of 1mg/lb of body weight daily.

UT report limited feedback on the use of HMR lignan, citing only human studies showing that single doses of 1,200 mg did not cause any side effects in humans and that a 13-week study in rodents at a dose of 2,600mg/kg of HMR lignan did not cause any toxic effects.


Melatonin Side Effects, Warnings, and Interactions

There have been no reports of significant side effects of melatonin use in dogs.

Melatonin has a few reports of minor gastric upset and sleepiness.

Also, melatonin sometimes slightly alters the time a un-spayed female comes into heat.

In addition, melatonin may interact with corticosteroids and some internal body processes.

Some vets advise against melatonin use in breeding dogs because it sometimes alters mating desire and when a dog comes into heat.

It is very important not to exceed the recommended amount of melatonin.  

Be very careful when choosing your melatonin product. Many of the melatonin products sold for humans are much stronger than the recommended amount for dogs. 

Signs of overdosage include diarrhea, vomiting, high blood pressure, incoordination, and even possibly seizures.



Note: Make sure you read the label and give your dog supplements containing melatonin only.

Colorings and additives may be toxic to your dog.

The information on this site is meant to be for educational purposes only and is in no way to be taken to be or substituted for the provision or practice of veterinary advice, help, diagnosis, services or treatment. The information should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation or advice of your veterinarian. Should you have any healthcare-related questions, please call or see your veterinarian.

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