Can trazodone be used for dogs?

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In this blog we will discuss if trazodone can be used for dogs.

We will also briefly discuss the use of this drug in veterinary care, the side effects of this drug, and precautions related to its use and dosage.

Can trazodone be used for dogs?

Trazodone is used for dogs. Though it is not FDA approved for its use for dogs, one of the main off-label uses of this drug is that it is prescribed as an anti-anxiety drug for dogs.

This drug is used in veterinary care for its anti-anxiety and it’s sedative properties to manage 

manage generalised anxiety in dogs. Other than this it is also commonly used to help treat or manage situational anxiety such as anxiety related to travelling or change in environment. 

Some veterinary doctors and medical providers also prescribe the drug post-surgery for its sedative properties to restrict activity during the recovery period and facilitate healing.

The drug is also prescribed either alone or with other drugs as a supplementary treatment in combination with other drugs for anxiety and behavioural problems in canines. 

What is Trazodone?


Trazodone is a serotonin modulator and it works by normalising serotonin levels in the brain inorder to promote a sense of well-being, thus making individuals calm and relieving anxiety. 

This drug was developed around the 1980s and was used for treating depression and anxiety related to trauma, and insomnia for human beings however it was only recently- around the late 2000s that vets began to use the drug for animals- particularly for dogs.

The drug is a Serotonin 2A antagonist/reuptake inhibitor and the way it works is that it prevents the reupate of serotonin by working on the receptor signs and this increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain thus, balancing the levels of serotonin in the synaptic space for a longer period of time.

Because serotonin is a feel good chemical, it leads to an increased sense of well-being and decrease in stress and anxiety- thus, improving mood and behaviour. 

The drug trazodone is not FDA approved for its use on dogs however the medicine used to treat behavioural disorders in pets is ‘extra-label’ or ‘off-label’. Due to it’s off-label usage, vet’s instructions become very important for dog owners to follow since the instructions can be vastly different from the labels provided by the drug manufacturer. 

The main use of Trazodone is to minimise anxiety in short-term situations, as needed, or for generalised anxiety where the drug is given to the dogs on a daily basis. 

What is Trazodone used for?

Trazodone used in veterinary care for its anti-anxiety and it’s sedative properties to manage 

manage generalised anxiety in dogs. Other than this it is also commonly used to help treat or manage situational anxiety such as anxiety related to travelling or change in environment. 

Some veterinary doctors and medical providers also prescribe the drug post-surgery for its sedative properties to restrict activity during the recovery period and facilitate healing.

The drug is also prescribed either alone or with other drugs as a supplementary treatment in combination with other drugs for anxiety and behavioural problems in canines. 

Trazodone can help dogs with:

  • Travel anxiety
  • Separation anxiety
  • Stress associated with vet visits
  • Noise anxiety
  • Post-surgical recovery

The drug trazodone is not FDA approved for its use on dogs however the medicine used to treat behavioural disorders in pets is ‘extra-label’ or ‘off-label’. Due to it’s off-label usage, vet’s instructions become very important for dog owners to follow since the instructions can be vastly different from the labels provided by the drug manufacturer. 

The main use of Trazodone is to minimise anxiety in short-term situations, as needed, or for generalised anxiety where the drug is given to the dogs on a daily basis. 

The tablets can be given with food or after food and as often as 2-3 times a day on an ongoing basis. The drug can also be administered to the dog right before (within an hour before) a high stress situation- eg; travelling; as its effects can be felt within 30-60 minutes.  

The time of onset and how long it lasts does vary from dog to dog, so it is recommended that you do a test before the day of the stressful event so that you can develop a schedule for your pet. 

What are the Trazodone side effects in dogs?

Trazodone is quite safe for dogs however, there are times when some mild and rare side effects are observed in some dogs. 

These symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Increased aggression
  • Lethargy or drowsiness
  • Panting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting or gagging
  • Changes in appetite
  • Dilated pupils
  • Colitis (painful inflammation of the inner lining of the colon)
  • Priapism (prolonged, painful erection of the penis)
  • Ataxia (loss of muscle control)
  • Arrhythmia

If you notice any of these side effects it is advised that you speak to your vet as soon as possible to either change treatment or to reduce or correct the dosage. 

What are the Trazodone risk factors?

Some of the risk factors that must be considered before administering this drug for intervention and treatment includes:

This drug must not be used if your dog is sensitive to this medication or has been observed to react negatively to the medication prior. 

It should not be used for dogs with kidney or liver diseases as it can retrain in the body and lead to overdose. 

It is not recommended for dogs with heart diseases and narrow angle glaucoma. 

Traxohone should be avoided if the dog is pregnant as some animal studies have found that very high doses can cause adverse effects on foetuses of the puppies.

Most often trazodone is combined with other drugs for optimal benefits and it is commonly prescribed with other anxiolytics and mild sedatives like gabapentin for anxiety. 

However, there are some medication that should be avoided with this trazodone:

  • Aspirin (which should not be used in animal patients without strict approval from a vet)
  • Antihypertensive drugs
  • Azole antifungals
  • CNS depressants
  • Cisapride
  • Diuretics
  • Digoxin
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Metoclopramide
  • Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors
  • Macrolide antibiotics
  • NSAIDs
  • Phenothiazines
  • Tramadol
  • Ondansetron
  • SSRI antidepressants

It is very important that you know that the medication should never be used together with other serotonergic drugs as it can increase the likelihood for serotonin syndrome. 

Combining trazodone with antibiotics and antifungal medication can also lead to higher sedative effects which can impact your dog to become more drowsy and more lethargic. 

It is important that you mention your dog’s entire medical history to your vet before administering this drug. This means that you should let your dog know if your dog is taking any medications, including supplements or vitamins. 

You should also let them know from your vet if your dog has worn a tick collar or had a flea dip in the last 2 weeks as it can negatively interact with trazodone. 

What is the Trazodone dosage for dogs?

The average dosage for Trazodone for dogs is around 1.7 to 19.5 mg/kg/d on a daily or as-needed basis with immediate action tablets.

The tablets can be given with food or after food and as often as 2-3 times a day on an ongoing basis. The drug can also be administered to the dog right before (within an hour before) a high stress situation- eg; travelling; as its effects can be felt within 30-60 minutes.  

When it is given with other drugs, its recommended dosage is 2 to 5 mg/kg which can be gradually increased over time. The dosage for the dog can vary depending on the weight of the dog. 

The smaller dogs receive a smaller dose than larger dose and the dosage is gradually increased if necessary. It is typically administered orally, with food or on an empty stomach. 

However, if the dog vomits after ingestion on an empty stomach, it is advised that you give the medication with food next time. 

While the drug takes effect fairly quickly, for long term treatment it might take at least a week before improvements are observed. 

If you miss a dose of dog Trazodone, you should administer it as soon as possible. However, skip the dose if it is time for the next dose so as to avoid double dosing. 

One must remember that dogs with liver and kidney diseases might have a hard time metabolising the drug and can lead to overdose. You and your vet must be able to take into account any liver or kidney diseases before considering treatment with this medication. 

Trazodone overdose in dogs manifest with  the following symptoms:

  • Restlessness
  • Excess sedation
  • Slower breathing
  • Depression
  • Ataxia
  • Apnea
  • Bradycardia or tachycardia
  • Hypotension or hypertension
  • Disorientation
  • Hyperesthesia
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Usually these signs of overdose are observed within an hour and it’s condition can last for a day or more- it is avoided that you contact your vbet as soon as you notice these signs and seek medical attention. 

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed if trazodone can be used for dogs.

We have also briefly discussed the use of this drug in veterinary care, the side effects of this drug, and precautions related to its use and dosage.

FAQ related to Can Trazodone be used for dogs?

Can I give my dog human Trazodone?

While the drug is administered by vets for anxiety in dogs, the drug trazodone is not FDA approved for its use on dogs however the medicine used to treat behavioural disorders in pets is ‘extra-label’ or ‘off-label’. 

Due to it’s off-label usage, vet’s instructions become very important for dog owners to follow since the instructions can be vastly different from the labels provided by the drug manufacturer. 

How much trazodone can I give my dog?

The average dosage for Trazodone for dogs is around 1.7 to 19.5 mg/kg/d on a daily or as-needed basis with immediate action tablets.

When it is given with other drugs, its recommended dosage is 2 to 5 mg/kg which can be gradually increased over time. The dosage for the dog can vary depending on the weight of the dog. 

How long does it take for trazodone for dogs to kick in?

The drug takes action fairly quickly- around 30 to 60 minutes for immediate release form. 

Thus it is advised that the drug be administered to the dog right before (within an hour before) a high stress situation- eg; travelling; as its effects can be felt within 30-60 minutes.  

While the drug takes effect fairly quickly, for long term treatment it might take at least a week before improvements are observed. 

What does trazodone do to dogs?

Trazodone has sedative effects so it can make your dog calmer and less anxious. Though it is not FDA approved for its use for dogs, one of the main off-label uses of this drug is that it is prescribed as an anti-anxiety drug for dogs.

This drug is used in veterinary care for its anti-anxiety and it’s sedative properties to manage 

manage generalised anxiety in dogs.

References

Walther.R. Trazodone for Dogs: How Does It Work and When Is It Prescribed? Policy Advisor. Retrieved on 7th March 2022. https://www.pawlicy.com/blog/trazodone-for-dogs/

Aycock-Williams. A. Trazodone for Dogs: A Vet’s Guide to How it Works and When It’s Given. The Dog People. Retrieved on 7th March 2022. https://www.rover.com/blog/trazodone-for-dogs-a-vets-guide-to-how-it-works-and-when-its-given/

Foss.T. Trazodone in Veterinary Medicine. Today’s Veterinary Nurse. Retrieved on 7th March 2022. https://todaysveterinarynurse.com/articles/trazodone-in-veterinary-medicine/

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