When most people think of dogs, they think of fur balls that are happy and goofy. But dogs are like people in that they can experience many different emotions. Dogs can sometimes experience stress and anxiety, and their vet may prescribe Trazodone to help alleviate these emotions.

trazodone side effects in dogs

When are times that a dog may experience stress and/or anxiety?

  • During vet visits
  • During fireworks and thunderstorms
  • On car rides
  • When they are left home alone
  • After a major surgery

A recent study published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medicine Association found that Trazodone can be a very helpful sedative during recovery after a major surgery. Many dogs feel stressed and anxious because of the strict confinement after surgery, but Trazodone can calm and relax them. If your dog has just had major surgery and is having trouble with confinement, you may want to speak to your vet about Trazodone.

What is Trazodone and How Does it Work?

Trazodone is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that has an extensive history of treating people with depression and anxiety. In the last decade, Trazodone has also been used to help dogs and cats with their anxiety.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for making people, and dogs, feel good. Trazodone basically helps the synapses in the brain hold onto serotonin for a longer period of time. When your dog is given Trazodone, the medication helps balance the amount of serotonin in his brain, relieving anxiety and keeping him calm.

How is Trazodone Given to Dogs?

how to give trazodone to dogs

Trazodone is given orally (by mouth) in pill form. You can give Trazodone to your dog either with food or on an empty stomach. It should be noted that there are instances where Trazodone may irritate an empty stomach, causing your dog to vomit or act sick. If this happens with your dog, try giving them their next dose with a little bit of food.

Trazodone is most commonly used short term for stressful or anxiety-inducing situations. When given on a short-term basis, the medication will take effect in about 1 to 2 hours. When given for long-term treatment for a behavioral issue, full effects may not be noticed for a few weeks.

Trazodone Side Effects in Dogs

Trazodone is considered a short-acting drug, with effects lasting no longer than 24 hours. Side effects in dogs are not well documented at this time. Those that have been documented are mild in nature.

Possible side effects include:

  • Sedation
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Colitis (inflammation of the colon)
  • Priapism (persistent and painful erection of the penis)
  • Ataxia (loss of muscle control)
  • Increased anxiety
  • Increased appetite
  • Arrythmias
  • Aggression

Should Trazodone be used in conjunction with other serotonergic drugs, a condition called serotonin syndrome may develop. This condition includes side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, blindness, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), dilation of pupils, disorientation, coma, loss of control of movements, sensitivity of the skin, depression, vocalization, excessive salivation, difficulty breathing, paralysis, and death.

dog sleeping

Possible Drug Interactions

The following list of drugs should be used with extreme caution when given along with Trazodone:

  • Antihypertensive Drugs
  • Aspirin
  • Azole Antifungals
  • Cisapride
  • Cns Depressants
  • Digoxin
  • Diuretics
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Macrolide Antibiotics
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
  • Metoclopramide
  • NSAIDs
  • Ondansetron
  • Phenothiazines
  • SSRI Antidepressants
  • Tramadol

If your dog is currently taking any other medications, including vitamins, herbal therapies and other natural supplements, be sure to tell your veterinarian.

What if I Miss a Dose of Trazodone (or the Shipment is Late)?

If your dog is on Trazodone for the long-term and you accidentally miss a dose, give the dose when you remember. Having said this, if you remember very late and his or her next dose will be given within a few hours, then skip the dose you missed and just wait for the next scheduled one. You never want to give your dog two doses at the same time or two doses too close together. If you’re unsure of timing call your vet for advice. If they are closed, call your local ER clinic and speak with a vet there. It is always better to err on the side of caution with these medications.

Which Dogs Should Not Take Trazodone?

Dogs with underlying kidney or liver issues should not take Trazodone. The liver and kidneys are two organs responsible for breaking down and excreting this medication from your dog’s body. If your dog’s liver and/or kidneys are not functioning properly, there can be a build-up of the medication in their body, causing an overdose effect.

Trazodone should also not be given to dogs who react with hypersensitivity or to those using MAO inhibitors.

Dogs with angle-closure glaucoma should not be prescribed this medication.

Animal studies have also found that Trazodone at high doses has adverse effects on developing fetuses, so speak with your vet if your dog is pregnant.

happy dog

Giving Your Dog the Relief They Need

In many instances, giving your dog Trazodone can be very beneficial if they suffer from anxiety or other behavioral issues. But be sure you speak with your vet to ensure they know of any other medications or supplements your dog may be on, or if they are experiencing any symptoms that may indicate they have an underlying health issue such as liver or kidney disease.

Are High Vet Bills Causing You Anxiety?

When our dog is experiencing anxiety, we want to do everything we can to make sure they get the relief they need. But sometimes taking our dog to the vet doesn’t just cause them anxiety – the bill can also cause us to feel uneasy.

Those bills can add up fast, especially when you factor in multiple monthly visits and necessary medications! A pet health insurance plan can help, allowing you to ensure your dog gets the treatment they need. Depending on the plan and the provider, you may receive reimbursements of up to 90% of the bill.

Pet Insurance Review was created to help pet owners get the help they need so they can get the medical help their dog or cat needs. We are constantly searching for the absolute best pet health insurance policies on the market today.

Get a free quote today so neither you or your dog are left suffering from anxiety.

References:

  1. Gruen, M. E., Roe, S. C., Griffith, E., Hamilton, A., & Sherman, B. L. (2014). Use of trazodone to facilitate postsurgical confinement in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association245(3), 296–301. https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.245.3.296
  2. Chu A, Wadhwa R. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. [Updated 2022 Jan 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554406/
  3. Volpi-Abadie, J., Kaye, A. M., & Kaye, A. D. (2013). Serotonin syndrome. The Ochsner journal13(4), 533–540.