Trazodone for Dogs: Dosage, Side Effects, and Alternatives
Nali Macklin - March 22nd 2020
Table Of Contents
You’ve desperately tried everything from Googling do-it-yourself training to spending hundreds of dollars on professional dog trainers, but nothing seems to help ease your dog’s fear & anxiety.
Whether it’s vet visits, loud noises (like thunderstorms & fireworks), or just leaving him alone for 10 minutes, your pooch becomes nothing less than a nervous wreck.
Finally, your vet suggests prescribing him Trazodone or other doggie downers (prescription anti anxiety medications).
“Wait, as in Trazodone for humans? Is that safe to give my dog?”
For humans, Trazodone is an antidepressant prescribed to treat anxiety, depression, and mood-related disorders. However, this drug is also commonly prescribed by veterinarians for dogs suffering from separation anxiety and other anxiety-related issues.
Trazodone works by increasing the serotonin levels in the dog’s brain when it’s unbalanced.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates many of the body’s functions, including behavior. When your dog doesn’t get enough serotonin, it can result in behavioral issues such as fear, aggression, and anxiety.
Vets can prescribe Trazodone for dogs (and sometimes cats), but this drug is only FDA approved for humans.
This drug is commonly available in 50mg, 100mg, 150mg, and 300mg tablets. Your vet can determine the proper dosage for your dog.
When trazodone is given to dogs for instant release or daily use, vets will prescribe anywhere from 3mg per pound per day, all the way up to 40mg per pound per day.
When trazodone for dogs is used in combination with other drugs such as antidepressants, they will generally advise on a dose between 4mg per pound per day and 30mg per pound per day.
This drug should not be given to dogs with hypersensitivity to Trazodone as it can cause an allergic reaction.
While side effects of Trazodone are uncommon, the following symptoms can occur:
- Increased Aggression
- Increased Anxiety
- Priapism (prolonged erections)
In some cases, your dog can develop a condition called “Serotonin Syndrome” - the most severe potential side effect of Trazodone and can be life-threatening.
Serotonin syndrome occurs when Trazodone is taken in high doses, taken with other medications, or has a poor reaction with certain foods.
Signs of serotonin syndrome may include rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, dilated pupils, or tremors/shivering. If your dog is showing these symptoms, you should contact your vet immediately.
Trazodone is available as generic and brand names (Desyrel and Leptro).
According to drug.com, the average cost for 50mg of Trazodone is $10 for seven tablets.
Prices will also vary depending on the pharmacy you visit.
As mentioned earlier, the most severe potential side effect of Trazodone is developing serotonin syndrome.
The following medications could increase the risk of developing this condition and should use extreme caution when combined with Trazodone
Certain drugs such as Carbamazepine, Modafinil, Phenobarbital, Phenytoin, and Rifampicin can decrease the effect of Trazodone.
If you’re looking for a natural alternative to Trazodone for your dog, you might want to talk to your vet about CBD. CBD works with your dogs endocannabinoid system, which is related to many bodily systems, including those which regulate anxiety.
Studies are researching how CBD can affect anxiety, and in many cases they have had positive results, though more research is needed to fully be sure of its effects.
Other studies are exploring CBD's potential to influence pain management, heart health, seizures, cancer, and if it could be a natural remedy for arthritis in dogs.
Some side effects of CBD oil include dry mouth, lowered blood pressure, drowsiness, but nothing has caused severe harm to pets as far as we know. However, there is still ongoing research on the side effects of CBD oil.
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