Tramadol For Dogs: Side Effects, Dosage, And Natural Alternatives
Molly Weinfurter - December 8th, 2020
Accuracy Review & Edit: Nicole Wanner, DVM - July 1st 2021
Seeing your dog in pain is unbearable. Many dog parents turn to a medication called tramadol to soothe their dog’s discomfort.
What is tramadol for dogs, and is it safe? This article will cover the safety, side effects, dosage, and explore some natural alternatives for tramadol.
Table Of Contents
- What is tramadol for dogs?
- What is it used for?
- Is tramadol safe for dogs?
- Tramadol for dogs side effects
- Tramadol dosage for dogs
- Tramadol for dogs vs. humans: is it the same?
- Drug interactions you should be aware of
- Natural alternatives
What is tramadol for dogs?
Tramadol is most commonly a human medication, but it has recently gained popularity in the canine world. It’s a centrally acting opioid analgesic.
If your dog needs tramadol, a vet must prescribe it. Never give it to a dog without a professional’s prescription.
What is it used for?
Like humans, dogs can take tramadol for aches and pains. Vets will commonly prescribe tramadol for dogs suffering from arthritis, cancer, post-operative pain, or other chronic pain disorders. In some cases, it also helps dogs with anxiety.
Since tramadol is part of the opioid family, it soothes pain by altering the perception of it. It increases the levels of norepinephrine and serotonin in your dog’s bloodstream, which may cause your dog to have feelings of euphoria, similar to humans who take this medication.
Is tramadol safe for dogs?
Tramadol is safe for dogs, but only if you closely follow the recommended dosage. This drug is fast-acting. While overdoses of tramadol are uncommon because the range of acceptable doses is wide, it can potentially be lethal. If you’re not sure if your dog needs medical attention, call your vet’s office or the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680).
For certain dogs, tramadol isn’t safe, even at the prescribed dosage. Dogs with pre-existing conditions, pregnant dogs, or dogs taking other drugs may be at a higher risk. Your vet can help you determine if tramadol is unsafe for your dog.
Never use tramadol unless given by a medical professional. When prescribed, always follow your vet’s recommended dose to keep your dog safe at all times.
Tramadol for dogs side effects
Tramadol can have serious side effects. Luckily, most dogs tolerate it well as long as you follow the dosage closely.
Here are some side effects to look out for:
- Loss of appetite
- Slow or fast heart rate
- Difficulties breathing
If your dog experiences any of the above symptoms after taking tramadol, contact your vet right away.
In the event of an overdose, your dog could experience those same side effects, along with more serious symptoms, such as seizures, comas, or a loss of consciousness.
Tramadol dosage for dogs
Tramadol dosages greatly vary based on the dog’s weight, health, and severity of pain. Thus, vets advise dog parents to follow the instructions and never to guess their dog’s dosage.
The typical dosage for dogs falls between 2 and 5 milligrams per pound of body weight, but your veterinarian will make the final determination as there are so many variables.
Tramadol for dogs is typically only sold in 50 mg tablets. Based on where and when you purchase this medication, it will likely cost you anywhere from $0.35 to $1.30 per tablet. You may need to cut up the pill or serve more than one, depending on your vet’s recommendations.
Therefore, if you only need a small quantity, such as ten tablets, it could cost you anywhere from $3.50 to $13. If you need a larger amount, such as 50 tablets, it could cost between $17.50 and $65. Like most medications, it will cost you more if your dog weighs more.
Tramadol for dogs vs. humans: is it the same?
Tramadol is one of the few medications that can be used for humans and dogs while still having similar effects. In most cases, it’s the same drug with different amounts for people and animals.
That said, you should never give your dog “human tramadol” if you have it. If your dog needs tramadol, only use the specific medication that your vet provides. If you have unused human tramadol in your home that you think would work for your dog, you should still ask your vet about it first before using it.
Never give your dog any medication without confirming with your vet first. They know the correct type and dosage to keep your dog safe. Giving your dog human tramadol without asking a professional will add to the risk of side effects and overdose for dogs.
Drug interactions you should be aware of
If your dog is taking other drugs, they could interfere with tramadol, possibly worsening the side effects. Be sure to disclose any other medications with your vet before giving your dog tramadol.
Here are some drug interactions to be aware of:
- Azole antifungals
- MAO Inhibitors
- SSRI and tricyclic antidepressants
When discussing medications with your vet, don’t forget to mention vitamins, supplements, and herbal therapies. The more information you can provide them, the safer your dog will be.
Many prescription medications for dogs in pain can have severe side effects, especially when taken long term. One veterinary study concluded that tramadol is not the most effective form of pain relief for dogs with osteoarthritis. In contrast, another recent study found that the vast majority of osteoarthritic dogs given CBD showed decreased visible signs of pain after only two weeks.
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