Has your veterinarian prescribed tramadol to your painful dog? You likely have questions about this popular pain medication and how it works, so let’s break down everything you need to know below!
What Is Tramadol?
Tramadol is an opioid pain relief medication that is used in both human and animal medicine. Tramadol works by altering the transmission of signals that trigger pain, as well as inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Both of these efforts combined lead to a euphoric pup with decreased pain levels.
Is Tramadol Safe For Dogs?
Tramadol is safe for use in dogs when following your veterinarian’s instruction for administration. It is also only safe in the dose and form that your veterinarian prescribes, as human forms of tramadol may contain higher concentrations or additives that are not safe for dogs. The only form of tramadol that your dog should take is the one that comes from your vet’s office.
Why Do Dogs Take Tramadol?
Tramadol can be used to manage a variety of painful conditions in our canine companions. Tramadol will not treat the painful condition itself, but rather alleviate the discomfort the ailment causes. Let’s list some of the most common reasons why vet’s prescribe tramadol for dogs below.
- Pain from arthritis
- Pain from surgery
- Pain from soft tissue injuries like sprains, lacerations, ligament strains, etc.
- Pain from back injuries
- Pain associated with canine degenerative myelopathy
Tramadol does not have any anti-inflammatory properties, so if your dog is suffering from inflammatory pain, your vet may also prescribe an NSAID like Rimadyl. Your vet may also prescribe another pain medication called gabapentin if your dog is suffering from deep nerve pain. Tramadol is an effective pain management tool when used on its own, but it works well with other pain management options in dogs with severe pain.
Dr. Amy Nicole Lewis, a veterinarian with Worldwide Veterinary Services told A-Z Animals that it is common to prescribe tramadol alongside Rimadyl to manage post-operative pain in dogs. The tramadol takes the painful edge off and the Rimadyl targets any inflamed tissues around the incision site.
How Do I Give Tramadol To My Dog?
Your vet can prescribe tramadol to your dog in pill or liquid form. Tramadol can be given safely with or without food, but if your dog experiences any nausea or drooling after administration on an empty stomach, then it’s best to give it with a small meal. Just remember that you should only offer your dog tramadol that comes from your vet’s office.
What Is The Dose Of Tramadol In Dogs?
Before we offer the standard dose of tramadol for dogs, we should state again that you should never give your dog tramadol without your veterinarian’s approval. With that in mind, there is a standard tramadol dosing range that most vets follow.
The dose of tramadol for dogs is typically 1 to 2 mg per pound of body weight. It is typically given every 8 to 12 hours based on how severe the pain is, and it is usually prescribed or up to 10 days in dogs with acute pain or post-operative pain. However, it can be given long term in dogs that struggle with any form of chronic pain.
Does Tramadol Have Any Side Effects In Dogs?
Tramadol is a generally safe mediation used to manage pain in dogs, but just like any other prescription medication, it can lead to a few minor side effects. Most of the side effects involve sedation due to the fact that tramadol is an opioid medication, but lets break down the potential side effects below.
- Wobbly gait
- Decreased appetite
- Anxiety or agitation
Tramadol is usually well tolerated in dogs, and a bit of mild drowsiness is usually beneficial when the dog is recovering from a painful condition. However, we do recommend reaching out to your vet if any of the above side effects are of concern.
Are There Any Risks With Tramadol Use In Dogs?
As we stated above, tramadol is a generally safe medication that comes with few side effects. However, there are a few risks you should always be aware of when your pet is taking this medication.
The first potential risk associated with tramadol use in dogs is the potential for a life-threatening overdose. Dogs that consume too large of a dose of tramadol can suffer from respiratory depression, decreased heart rate, uncontrolled movement, loss of consciousness, and even seizures. It’s important to have your dog seen by a vet immediately if you think they may have consumed a dangerous amount of tramadol.
Tramadol may also be dangerous for dogs with certain medical conditions or those taking certain medications. Always let your vet know if your dog falls into any of the categories below:
- Pregnant or nursing dogs
- Dogs taking any SSRIs like fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, sertraline, and paroxetine
- Dogs with a history of seizures
- Dogs with liver or kidney disease
The above dogs may still be able to take tramadol, but your vet may simply need to adjust their dose or monitor them closely.
How Do I Get Tramadol For My Dog?
Tramadol is an opioid used to manage moderate to severe pain in dogs. It is a controlled substance that can only be purchased from your vet’s office. We suggest reaching out to your vet if you think your little one can benefit from the use of tramadol!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock.com
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