All dog owners have been faced with this dilemma at some point: you’ve got an upcoming vacation and the thought of leaving your fur baby behind in a kennel breaks your heart.
You want to bring your friend along, but maybe your dog has severe anxiety during traveling that makes the journey seem impossible. What can you do?
Many dog owners who have stressed, nervous, or even aggressive dogs choose to medicate them with Trazodone, a drug that has been safely used in humans, too.
Like the good owner you are, you need to do all the research necessary before making such a big decision for your pet.
You need to weigh your options and be reassured that you’re making the absolute best choice to give your dog the happiest life they deserve.
Luckily, instead of spending hours on the internet, this article will serve as your one-stop guide for everything you need to know about using Trazodone in canines.
So What Is Trazodone Exactly?
According to Dr. Debra Primovic, Trazodone is used to treat various behavioral issues in dogs that stem from anxiety and fear like separation anxiety or stress during vet visits.
The drug acts as an antidepressant that rebalances the chemicals in the brain during emotional trauma.
Trazodone works by increasing the levels of serotonin, a vital neurotransmitter that influences mood, appetite, memory, sleep, and more.
In humans, people lacking serotonin are more likely to have depression and other mood disorders.
By using Trazodone in canines, the result is alleviating any stress or discomfort triggered by a situation they’re not used to or expecting.
One thing that is worth noting is that Trazodone and other brands of this medication are only approved by the FDA for use in humans.
Trazodone is used to treat depression, anxiety, insomnia, and can even help recovering addicts through withdrawals.
Although it is not FDA approved for canines, many veterinarians have been legally prescribing the drug and achieving successful results.
Continue reading to learn more about potential side effects reported in canine use.
Are There Any Side Effects?
The veterinarians who prescribe Trazodone to your dog will start them out on a small dosage to see how your dog responds to the medication and to decrease their risk for potential side effects.
However, like any drug for humans and other animals alike, there are always potential risks.
The Recovery Village reports that side effects to watch out for while medicating your dog with Trazodone are diarrhea, vomiting, panting, sluggishness, shaking or restlessness, and agitation.
According to the professionals, dog parents should wait a few days to see how the medication settles in your dog’s system.
Trazodone is supposed to weaken in reactivity as time goes on. If your dog doesn’t respond well immediately, it’s worth waiting a few days to see if their condition improves.
If your dog is experiencing symptoms more severe than what is listed above, please contact your vet for further guidance.
Rarer but more serious side effects can include low blood pressure, trouble walking, and seizures.
Is Trazodone Good For Traveling With Pets?
Trazodone can be a great option for keeping your dog relaxed and comfortable during a long trip where they could get anxious from the confined space.
In fact, one study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, dogs who were administered Trazodone after a surgery that would confine them in a cage fared much better than dogs who did not receive any medication.
The results from this study, in particular, are overwhelmingly positive. Over 90% of the dogs either responded moderately or extremely well to the medication and no dogs were reported to have suffered from any side effects.
The medication took under an hour to kick in and the dogs were relieved from any confinement anxiety for four hours or longer.
These results make Trazodone an attractive choice for keeping your dog happy during any traveling where they would be confined to their cage or any other confined spaces.
Please do note that since this medication may cause your dog to vomit or have diarrhea, be prepared to clean any mess they may make.
Nothing would spoil a road trip more than a stained car seat that stinks up the entire car!
Can I Give Trazodone To My Aggressive Dog?
Trazodone will work to lower your dog’s aggressive behaviors, but it is not a suitable longterm fix.
Dr. Wayne L. Hunthausen explains in a blog that he may administer Trazodone to dogs who exhibit aggressive behaviors during regular vet checkups to minimize any distress to the dog and any harm done to the doctors and assistants trying to examine the dog.
Dr. Hunthausen believes that dog owners need to train their dogs as puppies to get rid of any aggressive behaviors because that is when they are most open to learning.
However, some people adopt older dogs and don’t want to give them up due to some aggressive tendencies.
If you’re dealing with an older dog who is aggressive, Trazodone might be a good solution to help you safely get through a training period.
While training a dog to correct any kind of undesirable behaviors, rewards work much better than scolding.
Instead of only yelling at your dog when they are doing something wrong, try rewarding them with delicious treats and praise when they exhibit positive behaviors.
Dr. Hunthausen suggests using meats or cheeses since these treats are highly desirable to dogs.
Remember that yelling at your dog can trigger even more aggression from them, so the best thing to do when your dog is being aggressive is to simply walk away and ignore them.
What Are The Dosages For Trazodone In Dogs?
According to Tamara Foss, a cardiovascular technologist who has worked for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for almost two decades, the short answer is that it depends on many different factors!
Initially, your vet will want to start your dog on the lowest possible dosage to minimize their risk of experiencing any negative side effects.
During this period, your dog will likely be prescribed one or more other drugs in conjunction with Trazodone to achieve the calming effects.
As your dog becomes acclimated to Trazodone, their dosage will be increased until Trazodone alone can solve your dog’s behavioral issues.
As a general rule of thumb, most vets will prescribe your dog with 3.5 milligrams of Trazodone to be administered to them every 24 hours.
However, the proper dosages for medication can range anywhere from 2.5 milligrams per pound each day to 15 milligrams per pound each day.
Bigger dogs will obviously require bigger dosages to achieve the desired effects. Your vet will also examine how stressed your dog is to distinguish the healthiest dose.
The more severe the anxiety, the higher the dose will be to rebalance the chemicals in your dog’s brain.
Dogs who have constant or frequent mood disorders can be given Trazodone every 24 hours, and vets can also prescribe Trazodone to keep on hand when an owner is anticipating a stressful event.
In the case that you are medicating your dog for special occasions that you know, they will experience stress, such as fireworks during the Fourth of July, severe thunderstorms, or a long car ride, veterinarians recommend administering the drug an hour before the anticipated event so that the medication has time to kick in.
Will Trazodone Put My Dog To Sleep?
This depends on how your dog acts when they are relaxed! Some dogs will behave very mellowly and passively whereas other dogs might feel so good that they can’t help but take a nice snooze.
As long as your dog is still breathing normally, there is no reason to be alarmed if they are taking a nap.
Since lethargy is a common side effect of the drug, your dog may act sleepy for a few hours after taking Trazodone.
Remember that a sleepy dog is much happier than a panicked one!
How Does Trazodone Interact With Other Drugs?
Trazodone can interact negatively with other drugs or alter their potency, so it is always best to inform your vet of any medications your dog is currently taking if they do not have your dog’s medical history on file.
If your dog has to take diuretics, antibiotics, antifungals, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, aspirin, or any anti-inflammatory drugs, Trazodone might not be suitable for them.
Drug interactions specific to which brands your dog is currently taking are best assessed by your veterinarian who can tailor any medication specifically to your dog’s needs.
What Should I Do If My Dogs Gets Into Trazodone Or I Suspect There Is An Overdose?
Dogs are like big babies who have an innate gift for getting into things they know they shouldn’t be getting into.
Accidents can happen, and you may find that your dog got into their medication and consumed a high volume.
The first thing to do is to stay calm and not panic. Since Trazodone has a wide range of milligrams that can be safely consumed, your dog may not be in serious danger.
However, you absolutely should not hesitate to call your veterinarian or locate an emergency animal hospital.
If your dog overdoses, they may have a seizure or, in the most extreme cases, they could go into a coma.
You should seek professional help immediately so that a veterinarian can evaluate and treat your pet.
I’m Still On The Fence About Giving My Dog Trazodone
Giving your fur baby anything out of the ordinary that can cause uncomfortable side effects can be a scary thing!
Ultimately, your vet who is familiar with your dog’s medical history has the best judgment in their case and they should be more than happy to discuss all of your dog’s options.
If you’re interested in seeing how one dog with severe anxiety during thunderstorms responds to Trazodone, check out this video posted by Guthrie Pet Hospital.
You can see for yourself how much calmer and more comfortable this dog appears after getting the drug in her system.
Here Are Some Other Helpful Tips For Giving Your Dog Trazodone
– Trazodone is safe to give to your pet on an empty stomach or with food. However, if your dog doesn’t respond well or vomits after taking Trazodone on an empty stomach, they may feel better taking the medication with a full stomach.
– If you and your veterinarian decide that Trazodone isn’t effective or if you’re uncomfortable with continuing the treatment, be sure to wean your dog off of Trazodone or they may exhibit withdrawal symptoms.
– If you notice that your dog is feeling better before the course of their treatment is completed, you should still continue to administer their medication until the prescription is finished.
– Although Trazodone is often prescribed to help dogs with separation anxiety, you should never leave your dog unsupervised when starting them on a new medication. Until you know that your dog doesn’t experience any negative side effects from Trazodone, you should be around to keep an eye on them to monitor their condition.
– Since Trazodone isn’t approved by the FDA but is legally allowed to be prescribed to dogs, you may find brand name and generic versions of the drug in your dog’s medication. Pills can come in 50, 100, 150, and 300 milligram tablets, so be sure to carefully listen to your veterinarian’s instructions and read the bottle to ensure your dog is being properly treated.
– Although not as well studied in dogs, men who have taken Trazodone have reported priapism, which is an erection that lasts a long time, so dogs who have not been neutered or are being used to breed may react differently to Trazodone than other dogs.
Hopefully, this guide has answered all of your questions about giving your dog Trazodone.
If you have any more questions or concerns, be sure to contact your veterinarian to get more information specific to your dog’s needs and medical history.
Here’s to many years of happy and stress-free adventures with your pet!