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Trazodone For Dogs: 17 Side Effects + Dosage Chart (2022)

Trazodone For Dogs Side Effects Dosage Chart

Lately, your dog is one nervous pup.

And their reactions to fearful things are getting out of hand.

Before you get stressed out as well…

How about giving Fido Trazodone?

You’ve heard other dog parents suggest it.

So, what can you expect from this medication?

Continue reading to discover:

  • If Trazodone is safe for dogs.
  • 17 side effects that a dog can experience when taking Trazodone.
  • What the prescribed Trazodone dosage based on the dog’s weight is.
  • How quickly Trazodone takes effect in dogs (and how long it lasts).
  • And so much more…

Is Trazodone safe for dogs?

Trazodone is generally safe for dogs. But, there are still precautions to take. So, be cautious if your dog is taking other medications. Moreover, this can negatively affect a fetus as well. That’s why pregnant dogs shouldn’t take it.  It also has numerous side effects, but most of them are mild.

Trazodone for dogs dosage chart (by weight)

DosagePer lbs of weightPer kg of weight
Minimum3.74 mg1.7 mg
Maximum43 mg20 mg

Trazodone for dogs: 17 side effects


First of all, Trazodone is an FDA-approved medication for humans only. That’s why there are no veterinary formulations of the medication yet.

Despite that, Trazodone is legally prescribed by veterinarians. But, its prescription is ‘off label’ or ‘extra label.’

What’s that?

It means that the vet’s prescription is different from what appears on the label. Regardless, you must strictly follow the dosage recommended by the vet.

Moreover, its continued use is based on years and ongoing studies. Those center around the safety and efficacy of Trazodone in animals. 

Take it from this research:

It investigates the usage of Trazodone in dogs who just underwent orthopedic surgery. 

Results show that about 90% of the dogs improved within 8 to 12 weeks. These dogs were calm and tolerated confinement.

Now, how about the observed side effects?

That’s the tricky part. 

According to VCA Hospitals, the side effects of this medication aren’t well-documented.  

Despite that, most of them are mild. And let’s talk about them one by one…

#1: Vomiting

This is usually accompanied by gagging.

After all, vomiting is the forceful ejection of the stomach’s contents. Says experts from FETCH.

When to tell the vet

You must act immediately if you notice that your dog vomits too much. That’s more than once a day and almost continuously. 

Moreover, it’s a cause of concern if it’s been happening for more than a day.

#2: Diarrhea

Diarrhea Is A Side Effect Of Trazodone For Dogs

Trazodone can give some dogs diarrhea. 

Although mild, you’ll need to tend to this as much as possible.

According to AKC, dehydration can come second to diarrhea.

So, ensure that you keep Fido hydrated. You can do so by giving them lots of water or unflavored Pedialyte. 

When to tell the vet

Long periods of constant pooping mean it’s time for a trip to the vet.

Moreover, you know your pooch best. So, respect your instincts. 

If you feel that something’s wrong, don’t risk your dog’s welfare. Contact the vet immediately.

#3: Panting

Panting is a normal dog behavior.

You’d see them do so when they’re exhausted, feeling hot, or excited.

But, panting without physical exertion is something else.

For this case, it’s a side effect of taking Trazodone. 

When to tell the vet

Contact your vet once you notice that it has turned to heavy and constant panting. 

#4: Sedation

First of all, Trazopodone is commonly used as an antidepressant.

That’s because it modulates serotonin

What’s that?

It’s a complex neurotransmitter. But it’s known to promote someone’s great mood and memory.

And experts say that serotonin also belongs to the group of feel-good hormones. 

Now, those facts are relevant to explain this kind of side effect.

For dogs, Trazodone is a useful medication to control behavioral disorders. Those are any phobias or anxiety-related issues.

It calms them down by maintaining their serotonin levels.

And when that happens, they’d relax. Moreover, they can enter a sleepy state. And that’s the so-called sedation.

#5: Lethargy

Now, there’s some confusion between sedation and lethargy.

The former, as I said, is a relaxed state. Your dog is calm and collected.

On the other hand, lethargy can be concerning. That’s because it’s when your pup doesn’t have any energy.

It’s not that they’re relaxed. 

#6: Dilated pupils

According to ASPCA, dilated pupils can be a sign of arousal or stress. 

It also shows that your dog is feeling tense. Their eyes would appear rounder than usual. 

Moreover, they might also exhibit ‘whale eye.’

What’s that?

It’s when their eyes show a lot of white (the sclera) around their small pupils.

#7: Ataxia

What’s this one?

Ataxia is when your dog’s movements are uncoordinated. So, their gestures seem unusual.

And like I said, dogs under this medication are sedated and lethargic.

That’s why they’re bound to really drag their feet. They’d do that instead of walking straight. After all, it’ll also be a struggle for them to do so.

#8: Colitis

Another common side effect of Trazodone in dogs is colitis. Or the inflammation of the colon.

Moreover, this can result to even more side effects.

You see, colitis causes reduced water absorption in the GI tract. Then, that lowers the ability to store feces in the colon.

With that, your dog will also experience diarrhea. And sometimes, you might find mucus or blood on their stool.

#9: Priapism

You can only observe this side effect on male dogs.

That’s because priapism only involves a canine’s penis.

According to the MSD Vet Manual, it’s the persistent erection of the penis. And it occurs without any sexual stimulation.

So, don’t be creeped out if your doggo has their lipstick out…

Give them a break. It’s out of their control after taking Trazodone.

#10: Arrhythmia

In simpler terms, arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat.

After taking Trazodone, Fido’s heartbeat might be too slow or too fast. Sometimes, it can even skip a beat.

Warning: This is unhealthy. PetMD tells us that it can cause physical weakness.

With that, it can lead to loss of consciousness. Although it’s uncommon, it’s still a risk. 

When to tell the vet

The moment you notice this side effect, report it to the vet ASAP.

As I said, this is an unhealthy occurrence. So for your canine’s welfare, don’t delay any calls to the vet about this.

#11: Agitation 

Here you’ll see Fido struggling to be comfortable.

Agitation will push them to pace back and forth. That’s if they can. Given that they might also be experiencing ataxia.

You might also catch them stirring on their bed. 

Poor Fido…

They don’t know which position they’d stay in.

Moreover, this can be accompanied by whining and vocalization. 

#12: Restlessness

Before, I explained that your dog would feel agitated.

And what comes after that is restlessness.

Since Fido’s not comfortable anywhere…

Then they’d have trouble resting. And they won’t be able to get some sleep (which can affect you, too).

#13: Hyperactivity

Hyperactivity

Now to the total opposite of the previous side effect.

This time, it’s hyperactivity that you might be dealing with…

It’s when your pooch can’t seem to relax.

Moreover, they’re gonna have a hard time listening to you.

Yep, they won’t pay attention to anything outside their interest…

With that, they’re excitable and stimulated.

#14: Shaking

I know…

Once you see your pup shaking, you’ll be worried. And that’s valid.

So, how can you help your pooch?

Even though you’re concerned for your pupper, it’s best to be calm around them.

Why?

That’s because dogs are sensitive to your emotions, too.

Whatever you show them, they might mirror.

So if you’re stressed because of this, Fido can sense it. With that, their well-being will be more in trouble.

Instead, give them as much reassurance as you can. Regularly check if they’ve improved. And that the shaking has decreased.

Lastly, remove any possible stressors. Any exposure to such can make them feel more fearful. With that, the shaking can be more severe.

#15: Aggression

You know that your fur baby is friendly and gentle.

But after taking Trazodone…

That can change for a while.

I say so as aggression is one of its side effects.

But don’t worry. As I mentioned before it’ll only be for a while.

And while it’s ongoing, continue being understanding and gentle to your dog.

They’ll need it from you.

That’s because this type of aggression is usually pain-elicited. And atop all those other side effects…

They’re gonna go through a lot.

Your fur baby definitely needs your patience on this one.

#16: Increased appetite

When you give your dog Trazodone, ready to fill their dish…

Or if not that, prepare yourself. Because your pupper might start begging for food.

It’s due to their increased appetite. Which is a common side effect of taking Trazodone.

#17: Increased anxiety

Now, this side effect shocks many dog parents.

For a medication that aims to calm a canine…

Then why does it cause increased anxiety?

Unfortunately, the answer’s only available in the case of humans.

As I said before, Trazodone is only approved for human use. Yet, it’s legally prescribed by vets.

Moreover, there are no veterinary formulations that’ll further support a direct answer.

And so, let me use the explanation by Psychiatric Times:

So, there’s a component in Trazodone that swings both ways.

It’s the metabolite called meta-chlorophenylpiperazine (mCPP).

Unfortunately, this is the reason why Trazodone doesn’t work for everyone.

That’s because it can make depression better or worse.

The sudden rise of the said component is what can cause increased anxiety.

#BONUS: Drug interactions

This is an important thing to note when giving Fido Trazodone.

You should consider any current medications your pooch is already taking.

That’s because some drug interactions can put your pup in danger.

According to VCA Hospitals, your pup shouldn’t take these drugs with Trazodone:

  • Aspirin.
  • Digoxin.
  • Diuretics.
  • Tramadol.
  • Cisapride.
  • Ondansetron.
  • Fluoroquinolones.
  • CNS depressants.
  • NSAIDs (steroids).
  • Macrolide antibiotics.
  • SSRI antidepressants.
  • Antihypertensive drugs.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors.

So, if your pooch is already on any of those meds above, consider also…


Trazodone for dogs alternatives


There’s no denying it…

That was a long list of side effects.

And although those can be mild and short-term, they still pose a concern.

So, you go on considering alternatives.

Let me present a few that many vets and dog parents recommend:

#1: Alprazolam

This anxiety medication is a popular option.

Alprazolam works as a sedative or tranquilizer. So, it helps out with anxiety or panic.

To be specific, you can give it your pooch for separation anxiety. But it also works for any generalized anxious tendencies.

Lastly, this medication is available in the following brand names:

  • Xanax.
  • Niravam.
  • Alprazolam Intensol.

#2: Lorazepam

This medication works best for situational anxiety.

What’s that?

It’s when an event or a situation is the reason why your dog feels anxious.

For example, vet visits incredibly stress your pooch.

So, you can give Lorazepam to them in advance. Preferably 30 to 60 minutes before the exposure.

Or you can give it to them once they show early signs of anxiety. 

According to AKC, those are:

Aggressive Dog
  • Pacing.
  • Panting.
  • Drooling.
  • Excessive barking.
  • Sudden aggression.

Available brand names of Lorazepam:

  • Ativan.
  • Lorazepam Intensol.

#3: Clomipramine

This is another medication that works for situational anxiety.

Moreover, wanna know a fact about Clomipramine?

According to PetMD, it’s also a treatment for separation anxiety. And it’s the first one to get FDA-approved for such.

Its available brand names are:

  • Placil.
  • Zoiral.
  • Maronil.
  • Clopram.
  • Clofranil.
  • Clopress.
  • Anafranil.
  • Tranquax.
  • Equinorm.
  • Hydiphen.
  • Clomicalm.
  • Novo-Clopramine.

#4: Diazepam

Diazepam is a type of tranquilizer. And you can use it to medicate situational anxiety in your dog.

Its brand names are:

  • Vivol.
  • Valium.
  • Diastat.
  • Meva-C.
  • E Pam Tab.

#5: Sertraline

This medication works the same way as Trazodone. It also maintains serotonin levels in the brain.

That’s why Sertraline is an effective medication. Both for behavior disorders and anxiety in dogs.

Some of its brand names are:

  • Anilar.
  • Zoloft.
  • Insertec.
  • Bicromil.
  • Tresleen.

#6: Paroxetine

Paroxetine can be prescribed for the following anxiety-related issues:

  • Aggression.
  • Fear of noises.
  • Compulsive behaviors (e.g., licking skin).

Moreover, it does its job by upping serotonin levels in the brain.

Its brand names are:

  • Paxil.
  • Brisdelle.

#7: Dexmetodomidine

Let’s take it from this research:

76 subject dogs are given dexmedetomidine gel. They’re the kind of puppers who show defensive behaviors in the vet clinic.

But after the medication, 40.7% of the subject dogs are relaxed. Whatever procedure they needed was performed well.

Thus, dexmedetomidine is effective and safe. That’s for decreasing the dog’s fear and anxiety.


Trazodone for dogs reviews (what are verified dog parents saying?)


Trazodone continuously gains recognition from dog parents. But most cases start with a rough patch. 

Dosage

It’s an understandable situation. A loving dog parent’s concern is valid. Especially when making their pup try a new medication.

That’s why many are hesitant at first. 

And you might be driven to feel the same way as well. Especially when you see the dosage prescribed for your pupper.

But if you ever feel that way, don’t hesitate to contact the vet. With that, they can help clarify things.

Side effects

Now, let’s talk about side effects again…

You might be doubting after seeing those 17 effects above. 

But then again, this is the catch for most cases:

If ever any side effects are present, expect that they’ll be mild.

Moreover, those side effects shouldn’t last long. Normally, side effects would only show within 24 hours.

But for dogs with any kidney or liver diseases, it can be longer.

Warning: If any side effects persist for more than 24 hours, immediately tell the vet.

Efficacy

Trazodone is continuously used because it proves to be effective in dogs. And that’s backed up by numerous studies.

It’s also attested by many successful experiences.

However, there’s one thing that you should remember. And that’s to remain patient. Also, manage your expectations.

That’s because efficacy will depend on one dog to another.

Remember what I said earlier? That a side effect of Trazodone could cause increased anxiety in some dogs.

It all lies in the fact that all recovery is linear. And that no response is similar to any dog.


Frequently asked questions:


What happens if I give my dog too much Trazodone?

If you give your dog too much Trazodone, they could experience an overdose. Another concern is when they develop serotonin syndrome.

Trazodone overdose

First of all, when is it considered that your dog’s overdosed?

This is a rule of thumb:

Taking more than the prescribed dosage can lead to overdose.

Moreover, it creates adverse effects on your dog’s well-being.

Remember that a veterinary formula for Trazodone is yet to be approved.

And so, whatever the vet prescribes, follow it strictly. That’s the right dosage for your doggo’s size, age, and overall well-being.

Don’t try to go your own way and increase the dosage without the vet’s instruction. If you do, Fido’s put at risk for overdose.

And when that happens, PetMD says these signs will show:

  • Lethargy.
  • Vomiting.
  • Bloody urine.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Lack of coordination.
  • Sudden and excessive drooling.

When any of these show, bring your dog to the vet ASAP.

Warning: If not treated immediately, it can lead to seizure, collapse, coma, and worse, death.

Serotonin syndrome

Now, this is a little different from taking too much Trazodone. But, your dog could get serotonin syndrome in a similar sense.

So, does your dog take other medications for their anxiety?

If yes, better watch out for this…

How?

Start by being honest and open to your dog’s vet. Tell them whether you’ve given your pooch any other anxiety meds.

Then, they’d assess the initial meds’ components.

That’s because your dog shouldn’t take so many serotonergic drugs.

Those are the meds that elevate serotonin levels.

So, taking more than one kind of serotonergic drug can lead to serotonin syndrome.

And according to VCA Hospitals, the clinical signs of this are:

  • Pacing.
  • Panting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Agitation.
  • Vomiting.
  • Restlessness.
  • Muscle tremors.
  • Elevated heart rate.
  • Decreased appetite.

Warning: Immediately report any of those signs to your dog’s vet.

How long does Trazodone last in dogs?

Trazodone should last for at least 24 hours. As for its side effects, they might be present longer than its efficacy.

How does trazodone make dogs feel?

Trazodone makes dogs feel calm and relaxed. At least that’s how they appear on the outside. But it’s also because they feel sedated and lethargic.

Let’s talk about the findings from ASPCA’s unpublished data. I extracted it from a peer-reviewed vet article.

It shows that among 104 dogs, 43% experienced sedation and lethargy.

How quickly does trazodone take effect in dogs?

Trazodone takes effect in dogs after 1 to 2 hours. And that’s if it’s used for short-term relief. When applied in long-term treatment, you can observe effects after a few weeks.

Can I give my dog trazodone every day?

You can give your dog Trazodone every day if the vet prescribes so. But sometimes, the administration is on an as-needed basis.