Tramadol For Dogs: Is It Safe?

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tramadol for dogs

Today’s question: can I give my dog Tramadol? The short answer is yes. However there are things you should know before giving Tramadol to your dog. Scroll down for detailed answers.

It’s no huge secret that in the United States a lot of people use prescription drugs. It has become a massive part of American culture and daily routine for some, or rather, many. Tramadol is a prescription narcotic-like analgesic drug used to treat moderate to severe pain. When your dog is in pain, it’s natural that you want to make your pup’s pain to go away. Are pain medications that are made for humans safe for pets too? You may wonder if you can give this drug to your furry friend as well. Is Tramadol safe for dogs?

tramadol for dogs

What is Tramadol?

Used to treat moderate to strong pain, tramadol is an opioid-based medication. Despite being a painkiller, it is also often prescribed to help with anxiety and insomnia. For whatever reason you are prescribed it, many people find that after a consistent use, when it comes to stopping your medication, it’s near impossible and you’re all of a sudden taking 5 every day. This is a very common narrative when discussing tramadol prescription. Tramadol is used mainly for constant pain management that is around-the-clock. It’s not meant to use on an as-needed treatment for pain. As of now, Tramadol prescription can only be refilled up to five times within a six month period.

Usually tramadol is well received by most people but it can also cause numerous side effects. These side effects may also worsen with higher doses. Common side-effects associated with tramadol are:

  • headache
  • itching
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • dizziness
  • constipation
  • drowsiness

Other side-effects (less common or rare) are:

  • serotonin syndrome
  • seizures
  • severe allergic reactions
  • breathing difficulties
  • angioedema
  • low blood pressure
  • serious skin reactions
  • thoughts of suicide
  • withdrawal symptoms

Tramadol can also be costly. Let’s estimate that a packet of 120 tramadol tablets costs about $35. That’s about 3 weeks’ worth of tramadol if you’re consuming 5 per day. Then think of the reoccurring trips back to the psychiatrist to update your prescription. That’s a huge amount of money being generated through prescriptions. However, there are immediate-release and extended-release formulation of tramadol available generically which can help save hundreds of dollars. You can ask your doctor to prescribe you generic medications which cost less if you can’t afford the other ones. Tramadol extended-release pills need to be taken whole, not chewed, crushed or split.

Tramadol can be habit-forming. Over long periods, you may realize that you’re damaging yourself. But long-term use of tramadol will produce a physical dependency and withdrawal symptoms. These often manifest in the form of panic attacks, paranoia, nausea, confusion and general numbness. Although tramadol is not one of the stronger pain relief opioid medications on the market, it is definitely a starting point for many. Due to its lower strength, it is more likely to be prescribed to younger or less in need patients. If you feel like that you are formong an addiction to this drug, you should find local support groups. These groups may be helpful for individuals who take tramadol for pain relief. Joining these support groups will help you discover others that are related to similar conditions and medications.

This is not to say that anyone and everyone on tramadol has an addiction or does not need the medicine. In many cases it is a totally justified prescription and everything is okay. But like humans, many dogs are in need of pain relief. When we are in recovery from an operation, we often require pain relief to help us sleep. And most of us don’t become dependent and addicted to the medication. Can the same be said for a dog who is recovering from a broken leg?

As with many prescription drugs, young and elderly may need dosage adjustments. Also, people with liver or kidney disease often require dose adjustments. The dosing interval can be adjusted, the dose can be reduced, and many people can have a maximum dose they shouldn’t exceed per day.

Tramadol for dogs, is it safe?

Generally, when used correctly, tramadol should be well tolerated by dogs. However, tramadol may not be recommended to dogs who suffer from liver or kidney disease, poor lung function or seizure disorders. It may also be not suitable for dogs who have progressive illnesses such as osteoarthritis. If that’s the case, NSAIDs may be prescribed for adjunctive therapy.

It should be firstly noted that dogs do not show obvious signs of pain unless it is extreme pain. So one shouldn’t consider their vet as the evil psychiatrist rolling in bathtubs of money that was previously described. Your vet may very well prescribe a small dosage of tramadol for your dog after its been spayed or had an operation. This is a normal enough procedure.

Having said that, tramadol is damaging to a dog’s health, in the same way it is for a human. It ruins our liver and general immune system over time, and this will happen to a dog too. If you feel that your dog is getting on okay after the first day or two, maybe ease up on the prescription of tramadol and give their liver a break.

Because it is not a typical opioid drug, it is safer to use on dogs than other opioid drugs and poses less of a danger towards addiction; not to say that your dog is potentially going to raid your valium stash and have mental breakdowns, but dogs can show signs of addiction by way of character changes and mood swings. Thankfully, tramadol doesn’t pose such a risk.

However, as it is used for lower levels of pain, which may last longer, tramadol may lose its effectiveness on your dog over longer periods of time. Like almost any drug’s effect on humans, addiction does stem from immunity levels rising, urging us to take more and more. If this is the case, your vet may prescribe a higher-level pain relief to combat the dog’s immunity.

Uses of tramadol for dogs

Tramadol can be used to manahe chronic or acute pain in dogs. This drug can also be used to manage other conditions such as fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, diabetic neuropathy, some forms of cancer, and other neuropathic pain.

Dosage of tramadol for dogs

Generally, the dosage recommendations depend on the degree of pain your dog is in, any other drugs your dog is currently taking or any underlying medical issues your dog may have, and the length of time the medication is needed. Your pet’s vet will prescribe a dosage based on these factors. Your vet may also choose to inject the medicine if quicker relief from pain is required.

The usual dosage for dogs is 0.5 mg/lb to 1.8 mg/lb to be taken orally every eight to twelve hours. However, this dosage is determined by the conditions being treated. If your dog has cancer, the dosage will be higher.

Many studies have shown that every dog absorbs tramadol differently, which means that the appropriate dosage can be achieved by watching your pet carefully after administration of this drug.

You should monitor your dog carefully after giving him tramadol. If you notice any unusual behavior, you should consult with the veterinarian immediately.

Tramadol side effects for dogs

The most common side effect of tramadol in dogs is sedation, especially in the context of the above paragraph, when it is used with higher-level pain relief medication. Anxiety and agitation are other side effects, as well as upset stomachs. You should also explain if your dog has suffered seizures in the past if your vet prescribes tramadol. Humans have been reported to suffer seizures as a result of using tramadol, so if your dog is prone to seizures, use the drug carefully.


It would be unwise to give your dog some of your own tramadol to treat a little pain, but you shouldn’t worry too much if it eats one or two of your stash or if your vet prescribes it. Tramadol takes on a different concern in the human world, but our dogs don’t possess the characteristics or dexterity to develop a tramadol addiction through a small prescription for a sore paw.



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