Tramadol for Dogs

By Dana King It’s hard knowing your companion is in pain, and it can be even harder to determine the best way to treat it. Owners want to know that what they decide on will provide safe, effective relief and won’t put their pet in danger.

Whether its arthritis, an injury, or pain after surgery, making your pet comfortable is of the utmost importance. Pain and discomfort can make your pet irritable, distant, and unaffectionate which is distressing.

Thankfully, there are solutions for pain management, and Tramadol is a common drug used to treat pain in animals.

What is Tramadol?

Tramadol is a pain medication commonly prescribed for dogs. Its an atypical opioid pain reliever utilized to treat chronic pain as well as moderate to severe pain. Its one of the few painkillers used by people that’s safe to treat pain in animals.

In addition to altering the perception and transmission of pain, this drug prevents the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine in your dog’s brain. This reaction increases that amount of both chemicals in the blood, creating feelings of relief and euphoria. Morphine has similar results.

The DEA classified Tramadol as a Schedule IV drug in August of 2014, so you can only obtain it with a prescription from your veterinarian. Physicians and vets must carefully document all prescriptions for Schedule IV drugs that they write. Never give your pet your prescription Tramadol if you take it because the dosing for animals is different from humans.

Veterinarians may also prescribe Tramadol for some spinal diseases and dogs with coughs. It may also help dogs with inoperable inter-vertebral issues.

As your pet gets older, they slow down and develop conditions such as osteoarthritis and joint pain. Tramadol helps with these conditions. Vets also prescribe it for cancer pain and extreme anxiety. For anxiety, Tramadol calms your pet and puts them at ease.

Its also used to treat pain from short-term injuries. Although not common, veterinarians also use Tramadol as an anti-depressant for dogs.

Tramadol Dosing

Never calculate your dog’s Tramadol dose on your own. Leave this job to your veterinarian. The American Kennel Club explains that your vet uses several factors to calculate the right dosage for your dog. Your vet considers your pet’s pre-existing conditions, weight, liver values, and the cause of the pain. Additional factors include other medical issues present, the degree of pain, and length of time that your pet needs to take the drug.

Research has illustrated that each dog metabolizes Tramadol differently by studying its procession through the body. As a result, they determined that the best way to decide whether a certain dosage of Tramadol is correct is to watch how your pet responds to the medicine. If you notice a concerning change, contact your vet immediately. If you work during the day, you should hire a dog sitter or have a friend check on your pet while you’re gone.

Tramadol usually comes in the form of a 50 mg pill for dogs. It’s crucial to understand that different types of pain and diseases require different doses of this drug. A dog using Tramadol for acute pain won’t take the same does as one on the medication for anxiety or coughing.

The general guide for Tramadol dosing is one mg per pound that the dog weighs. This rate means that the heavier dog, the larger the dose. Dosage may increase depending on your dog’s pain level. Typically, dosing requires you to administer the medicine every 8-12 hours.

Like humans, dogs may eventually build-up a tolerance to Tramadol the longer they take it. Your vet may prescribe additional medication to help manage your pet’s pain or condition. One negative aspect of using Tramadol is the way it affects the brain, changing how humans or pets feel pain. It doesn’t heal or relieve the underlying problem.

Dogs shouldn’t take Tramadol for extended amounts of time unless your vet approves long-term use. Your vet will include how to safely wean your dog off Tramadol as part of his treatment plan. Don’t worry that your pet will become addicted to this drug as long as you follow the prescribed dosage and duration set forth by your veterinarian.

Tramadol is not nearly as addictive as traditional opioid pain medication and doesn’t affect dogs the same way it impacts people in this aspect.

Ingredients in Tramadol

Tramadol capsules usually contain Tramadol Hydrochloride. Tramadol also comes in the following formulations:

  • Epidural solution
  • Tablets
  • Powder
  • Solution for IVs

Some Tramadol formulations contain other active ingredients such as acetaminophen. Many of these ingredients are okay for people to consume but dangerous for dogs, so it’s best to treat your pet with plain Tramadol.

The most common way to administer this medication to your pet is an injection or swallowable tablet. Tramadol is a strong medication to take and giving it with food is the best way to dose your pet because it reduces the likelihood that he will get sick or vomit.

Make sure it’s a food that he can swallow and not chew. Chewing Tramadol may lead to other adverse health issues.

How Long Does It Take For Tramadol To Work In Dogs?

Tramadol acts fast, especially for temporary pain. It should kick in and start showing effects within an hour or two. You will immediately notice an improvement in clinical signs.

However, when it comes to chronic diseases, it might take up to a couple of weeks before Tramadol starts to unwind its magic. For example, if your dog has cancer, it might take about two weeks of taking Tramadol for them to start feeling a little bit better.

Side Effects of Tramadol and How to Decrease the Likelihood that Your Pet Will Develop Them

As with any new medication, Tramadol usage can cause certain side effects. Your veterinarian will explain how to administer the medicine including the proper dosing and how often to give it to your pet. There is no way to prevent side effects. It depends on how your dog metabolizes the drug, and it affects each pet differently.

There are things that you can do to mitigate any adverse effects of Tramadol. Make sure that your pet’s medical history is accurate and up-to-date. Your vet needs to know the drugs that your dog’s allergic to and past negative reactions to any medications used. Also, a list of current medication is critical to treat your canine pal properly. The vet will likely want to know of past surgeries and illnesses as well.

If you stop administering Tramadol to your pet too early, the symptoms the drug-treated may return, and they are often more severe than they were previously. Increasing your pet’s dosage without consulting your veterinarian is dangerous. It won’t make them get better faster; it may make them worse.

Suddenly stopping the medicine can give your dog negative symptoms of withdrawal such as nausea, tremors, respiratory issues, chills, and more. Tramadol also tends to make your pet thirsty so make sure he always has plenty of water.

Furthermore, missing a dose can also cause severe problems so be sure to keep up with your dog’s prescription regimen. It also may not work well in conjunction with some drugs and may cause irreversible damage to your pet. Discuss any questions about possible drug interactions with your vet. Some drug interactions include:

  • SSRIs or Serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as paroxetine, fluvoxamine, sertraline, and fluoxetine
  • MAOIs or Monoamine oxidase inhibitors such as selegiline

Side effects may also occur when your pet takes Tramadol along with muscle relaxers, herbal products, blood thinners such as Coumadin and Warfarin, and other pain medication. Also, use caution if your dog takes Lanoxin that contains digoxin for congestive heart failure, or an anti-fungal antibiotic called Nizoral.

Some dogs with pre-existing medical conditions should not use Tramadol. Some of these conditions are:

  • Nursing or pregnant dogs
  • Dogs with epilepsy and seizures
  • Liver damage or disease
  • Kidney disease and the damage associated with it

Also, remember that this medicine is not an immediate cure. It may take several weeks for the drug to build up in your pet’s body and work.

While dogs tolerate Tramadol well, there are still some side effects. Common side effects of Tramadol are as follows:

  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Ataxia or lack of coordination
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Drowsiness
  • Appetite Loss
  • Stomach pain
  • Joint pain
  • Upset stomach
  • Itching
  • Fainting

More severe side effects are rare but include issues with:

  • Convulsions
  • Respiration
  • Declining heart rate
  • Rashes

Symptoms of Tramadol Overdose

Overdoses on Tramadol can cause irreversible damage to your pet’s health. An overdose may happen when you give your dog too much medicine or if your dog finds the bottle and consumes too much on his own. It’s imperative that you recognize the symptoms of an overdose and seek immediate help from your vet or an emergency animal clinic. Symptoms include:

  • Severe, excessive vomiting
  • Coma
  • Possible sedation or lethargy
  • Loss of Consciousness
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Dilated pupils
  • Ataxia, lack of coordination
  • Respiratory depression
  • Uncontrollable, excessive tremors
  • Agitation
  • Uncontrollable drooling
  • Seizures

Your pet may also have overdosed if they begin acting compulsively such as pacing, obsessively chasing their tail, shadow chasing, or hoarding household objects and toys. Your dog may also have stomach pain, blood-tinged vomit, or black stools.

Look for any difference in urination, excessive thirst, or complete collapse. If your pooch ate a large amount of the drug, they could experience tremors, liver failure, halitosis, or renal failure.

If you think that your dog has overdosed on Tramadol, contact your vet, emergency veterinarian clinic, the Animal Poison Control Center Helpline (1-888-426-4435), or the ASPCA Pet Poison Help Line (1-800-213-6680). They will advise you what to do but will likely want to see your pet immediately.

Alternatives to Tramadol

The thought of giving your pet Tramadol may be daunting, and while it works well, you may want to look at other options. Other prescribed medication such as opioids may be worse for your canine friend. Luckily, other treatments are available.

Acupuncture and massage therapy can help a dog with chronic pain. It may bring relief for an extended period. The key to your pet receiving the maximum healing benefits of these therapies is consistency. It’s a substantial commitment but seeing your pet relieved of excruciating pain is worth it, right?

Diet and exercise are two essential components of your dog’s health. The right foods can help manage osteoarthritis pain because they reduce inflammation in the body. Hemp nutrition has risen in popularity, and more people choose it as they learn about its benefits. You can use hemp nutrition in conjunction with other dietary supplements and medicine. It safely treats many chronic pain problems as well as other conditions and diseases.

Turmeric is another all-natural remedy to reduce inflammation. Inflammation causes many conditions such as arthritis, joint disorders, cancer, digestive diseases, allergies, dental diseases, kidney diseases, and more. Adding Turmeric to your dog’s diet can prevent and soothe inflammation.

CBD derived from hemp also treats pain in dogs and people. It works so well that medical experts are debating whether to officially create a new drug class for pain treatment. One of the best aspects of CBD is that there are essentially no adverse reactions.

Furthermore, hemp crafted from CBD never has more than 0.3 percent THC, so your pet gets the therapeutic benefits without the high feeling. CBD oil has natural anti-inflammatory effects and comes in a variety of forms for your pet such as soft chews and dog treats.

Glucosamine is another excellent remedy for dogs with joint pain and distress. This compound occurs naturally and stimulates the repair and growth of synovial fluid and cartilage that protects joints.

Much like exercise for humans with Rheumatoid Arthritis, physical movement and activity may help your pet maintain their overall health. Starting with something simple such as laying down and standing up can be beneficial. You can build up your pooch’s exercise routine from there.

Can You Mix Tramadol With Other Drugs?

There are numerous medications that you can give your dog even when they’re on Tramadol. For example, all of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used to relieve pain, glucosamine, and MSM are medications that sit well with Tramadol. 

However, regardless of how safe mixing these drugs is, always inform the veterinarian of your dog’s other condition/s (if any) and if he’s taking other drugs – you do not want to risk any unnecessary side effects.

Furthermore, there are several drugs that you should NEVER mix with Tramadol. These include:

  •         Deprenyl – used for senility
  •         Amitraz – a drug applied externally against parasites
  •         Antidepressants, serotonin inhibitors, or any other psychoactive drugs
  •         Antihistamines – relieves allergy symptoms such as Benadryl and Zyrtec
  •         Anti Anxiety medication, etc.

Be extremely careful with what you give your pet, because it might lead to pain, hyperactivity, depression, and many other undesirable results.

depression, and many other undesirable results.

Dog vs Human Tramadol

You might have heard about Tramadol before because a lot of people use it as a painkiller, anxiety-relief drug, etc. Tramadol pretty much has the same effect on dogs as it has on humans, as Tramadol for dogs and Tramadol for humans have almost the same ingredients. Generally, it should be safe to give your dog human Tramadol if you know how to dose it properly.

On the other hand, even though these drugs are very similar, avoid giving your dog any medication that is not prescribed by a veterinarian. If you find something that might work for your dog, make sure to consult the vet and ask about the dosage first. Do not put your pet in danger just because it’s more convenient to directly treat your pet than ask the vet a couple of questions!

Humans and dogs need different amounts of Tramadol, which is why you need to be extra careful. Give your dog the prescribed amount to avoid overdose. If not used properly, Tramadol can be lethal.

Developing Tolerance or Physical Dependence

Tramadol generally doesn’t cause physical dependence. However, this can happen if you suddenly stop giving your dog Tramadol after a long period of consumption. The only way out of this situation would be to gradually reduce the frequency of consumption until you notice that it’s safe to stop giving it completely.

Also, note that your dog can easily develop tolerance to Tramadol because this medication is meant to treat short-term pain and not as a therapy. Regular dosage is usually not recommended. Still, if you’re to use it for a longer period, the vet will most likely prescribe an additional drug alongside Tramadol.

A Final Word

Tramadol for dogs is an excellent pain management option for your four-legged friend. Managing their pain, anxiety, or other health conditions is critical to enhancing their quality of life. It’s distressing when you know that your pet experiences moderate to severe pain and many pet owners will do whatever it takes to make their dog feel better.

Remember to follow the treatment plan that your veterinarian creates. Be aware of your pet’s reaction to Tramadol and any symptoms that may signal they are experiencing severe side effects or an overdose on the drug.

There are times when giving your dog Tramadol may be necessary such as after surgery or injury. However, if you don’t want to give your dog Tramadol, try one of the alternative treatments to ease your dog’s discomfort and pain.