Trazodone for Dogs - Here is What Vets Recommend

Trazodone for Dogs - Here is What Vets Recommend

Author WDF Staff


Like humans, dogs are prone to phobias, anxieties, and stress. When it comes to dogs, most of these issues can be dealt with with focused training and desensitizing the dog to things that cause them stress or anxiety. However, some problems cannot be resolved despite our best efforts. That is when trazodone for dogs comes into play.

Many vets often prescribe this medication to dogs that have behavioral issues. If you are in that situation and you don’t know what else could help your dog, trazodone might be the answer. Here is what you should know about trazodone for dogs.

What is trazodone?

Trazodone is an antidepressant, or more precisely, a serotonin antagonist/reuptake inhibitor (SARI). Some dogs might not respond best to conventional therapy options, and in those cases, vets can prescribe trazodone for dogs. The actual brand names vets might prescribe are Oleptro® and Desyrel®.

What issues can trazodone for dogs cure?

Trazodone for dogs should not be considered a cure. Its effect is different than that of the antibiotic. If a dog has a bacterial infection, the antibiotic will cure it, but behavioral issues need to be resolved differently. Trazodone is only one part of the therapy. Owners should continue working and training their dogs, so the dog stops taking medicine. Here are some of the most common conditions trazodone is prescribed for dogs;

Separation anxiety

If a dog is suffering from separation anxiety, trazodone can help. However, it will not cure separation anxiety; it will only provide your dog with enough serotonin to make them feel calm and well. These types of behavioral issues will continue if the dog is not trained. You can read more about this issue here - Separation anxiety and how to deal with it.

Vet visits

It is a well-known fact that dogs don’t like vet visits, or at least most of them don’t. Some dogs can become so anxious that the examination becomes unsafe for the dog and all the staff at the clinic. An excellent way to make sure your dog is calm and happy is by giving them trazodone before the visit.

Loud noises

Dogs have sensitive ears, and loud noises like thunder or fireworks can easily scare them. If you know your dog is sensitive and scared of loud noises, you can give them a trazodone dose before the fireworks start. It should make your dog feel a lot calmer and content. Check out this article for more information about this problem - Fear of thunder in dogs.

How should it be administered?

Dogs can take trazodone orally, in tablet form. They can ingest the pill on an empty stomach or with food. It is important to know trazodone is a fast-acting drug, and it will take effect about 1 - 2 hours after it is administered. However, that is the case when it is given as a short-term solution for issues like the fear of fireworks. If your dog is taking this drug as a long-term solution for more serious behavioral issues, it might take a few weeks until the full effects of the therapy are visible.

What do vets say about trazodone for dogs?

Most online sources will describe the effects of the drug, its usage, and side effects. We like to talk to actual veterinarians and get the information first-handed. We were curious about the impact this drug has and when and how often do they prescribe it. We reached out to the California-based veterinarian, Dr. Poje, and he told us;

I think trazodone is a great asset. There are several situations I prescribe it to dogs. In most cases, it is when they are recovering from orthopedic surgery. After such surgery, dogs need to be confined, and they are a lot easier and safer to handle when they are on trazodone.”

dog with broken leg

How effective is it for fireworks and thunderstorms?

Dr. Poje said, “Very. If you prepare your dog in time, which means giving them a trazodone pill at least two hours before fireworks, it seems to have a great effect on them. Dogs seem to be a lot calmer, and most owners report significant improvements. However, you should still provide your dog with comfort and distractions. My advice is to combine trazodone with other louder familiar noises. Turn the TV or radio up, and distract your dog until the outside noises pass.”

Would you say this is a safe drug for dogs?

Trazodone is considered a medium-safe drug. This is not a drug that should be taken lightly and too often since it has a long list of potential side effects. There are some drug interactions and precautions your vet should warn you about. Make sure to stick to the dosage your vet prescribed and be careful not to overdose your dog. If used correctly, this should be relatively safe for dogs to use.”

Trazodone side effects

Like any other medication in the world, trazodone for dogs can cause some side effects. They might not be documented very well, but that doesn’t mean they cannot happen. From what we found out, these are the most common side effects of this drug;

  • Sedation
  • Lethargy
  • Dilated pupils
  • Vomiting
  • Increased appetite
  • Aggression
  • Colitis
  • Priapism
  • Arrhythmia
  • Increased anxiety

There is a long list of drug interactions as well. That means that dogs taking other drugs like NSAIDs, diuretics, macrolide antibiotics, and other inhibitors should not take trazodone. Make sure you talk to your vet about anything your dog might be taking. Let them know even if your dog is taking any supplements like vitamins or glucosamine.

Trazodone dosage for dogs

There is a recommended dosage of trazodone for dogs, but the vet can advise you differently. Make sure you stick to what your vet tells you and not what it says on the drug’s packaging. Your vet will know your dog’s conditions and medical history, so it is possible they might advise a smaller or larger dosage of trazodone. The usual dosage can range from 0.8 - 9.5 mg/lb. It is essential to talk to your vet and make sure to stick to the dosage they recommend.

World Dog Finder team

World Dog Finder Logo