Trazodone for Dogs – Is It Safe For Dogs?

Trazodone is a prescription medication for humans. Sometimes veterinarians may prescribe trazodone for dogs as well.

Read below to learn about Trazodone, how it might help your dog, and whether it’s safe.

What is Trazodone?

Trazodone is an anti-anxiety prescription drug sold under several brand names across the globe. In humans, it’s mainly prescribed to treat major depression, anxiety disorder, and insomnia. In dogs, the drug is used to treat short-term anxiety and help in post-surgery recovery.

Trazodone is categorized as a serotonin receptor antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARI). It manages depressive moods by controlling how the body releases and absorbs serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain. Serotonin works similarly in human and dog brains.

When is Trazodone Prescribed to Dogs?

This antidepressant medication is commonly used in treatment plans for managing behavioral issues caused by fear or anxiety in dogs.

Some dogs may act out aggressively because of irrational fears. For example, loud thunderstorms trigger fearful and anxious responses in some dogs. An otherwise well-behaved dog may show signs of aggression and could become difficult to manage. Veterinarians may prescribe Trazodone to manage similar short-term anxiety issues in dogs.

Trazodone is usually included in treatment programs for the following conditions:

  • Storm phobia and other noise phobias
  • Post-surgery recovery
  • Separation anxiety
  • Travel phobias

A veterinarian may prescribe the medication for related mental health problems as well. Trazodone is only used when typical behavioral modification training doesn’t work.

How Safe is Trazodone?

Trazodone is generally considered a safe drug for dogs, though some minor side effects may occur. The drug has not undergone extensive clinical testing in dogs to indicate serious health risks.

Some studies have tested the effectiveness of Trazodone for aiding post-orthopedic surgery recovery for dogs. A study conducted in 2014 found that Trazodone has a calming effect on confined dogs immediately following orthopedic surgery.

A vet would not prescribe Trazodone for your dog if there are safety concerns involved. You can consult your vet about what these are.

Trazodone Side Effects in Dogs

Trazodone causes side effects in both people and dogs. Here is a list of common side effects that dogs may experience:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Agitation or an excited mood
  • Panting
  • Sedation or sleeping too much
  • Lack of voluntary muscle movements (ataxia)
  • Priapism in male dogs
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)

It’s possible that other side effects than the ones listed above may occur. It’s recommended to ask your vet about other side effects that may occur.

Side effects from Trazodone typically disappear in a day or two. Serious side effects do not occur when Trazodone is prescribed in low dosages. If the side effects from the drug persist, you must immediately take your dog to the vet.

Contraindications

Other than side effects, Trazodone, like all medications, can cause dangerous reactions when used together with other medicines.

When a SARI, like Trazodone, is used with a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA), like Elavil, it can increase the chances of developing a seizure. Therefore, tell your vet about any other medication your dog is on when getting a Trazodone prescription.

Should You Give Trazodone to Your Dog?

Trazodone is always prescribed by a veterinarian. If your dog has fear or anxiety-induced behavioral problems, yo could ask your vet for a Trazodone prescription. The drug might help your dog manage anxiety in certain circumstances.

The vet will first diagnose the dog before administering Trazodone. He might prescribe a comprehensive treatment program for anxiety which may include Trazodone as a calming drug.

If your dog is about to undergo surgery, ask the veterinary surgeon about using Trazodone in post-surgery recovery. Not all dogs need calming drugs so the vet will assess your dog’s individual needs before prescribing Trazodone.

Trazodone is not suitable for some dogs. Mainly, the medication is not recommended for use in breeding male dogs.

How to Administer Trazodone to a Dog

The drug is administered orally, usually in the form of a pill. Trazodone pills come in different dosages and will be prescribed to a dog as such.

Trazodone has not yet been approved by the Federal Drug Administration for use in dogs. Therefore, the dosage prescribed may vary.

You should give your dog Trazodone as prescribed by the veterinarian. Make sure to follow the dosage schedule as recommended.

Do not skip doses. More importantly, avoid giving double doses to your dog to make up for a missed dose. This may cause a serious reaction.

Read the labeling on the package before you administer the drug. If the patient information leaflet in the box is intended for humans, ask your vet for more information about administering this medication to a dog.

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