Tramadol For Dogs: Usage, Proper Dosage, Side Effects and Safety

As a dog owner, it can be pretty alarming to see your usually playful dog in pain. After all, dogs are experts at hiding their pains because it is part of their survival mechanism. Therefore, it would take a whole lot for a dog to “admit” or manifest his pains.

In such cases, the veterinarian should be visited as soon as possible so that you can identify the cause of the pain and find a possible solution. Tramadol may be prescribed for your dog whenever there is a pain. This article will talk about what tramadol is, its appropriate dosages, and how it helps to manage pain.

It’s worth noting that tramadol is only available by prescription, and should therefore only be used as advised by the veterinarian.

How Tramadol Works

The exact mechanism of tramadol is not yet clear, but it works in the same way as morphine. It is a pain management medication that can be used by humans and dogs.

Tramadol is an opioid that improves the perception of pain by the user. This occurs when tramadol blocks the opioid receptors of the brain that are accountable for transferring all these painful sensations to different areas of the body. It also protects the brain of the dog from reabsorbing norepinephrine and serotonin, creating euphoric feelings for the user.

While there have been human cases of tramadol addiction, dogs generally don’t get affected by the drug this way. However, some dogs may go through withdrawal symptoms once the medication ends.

Tramadol usually comes from tramadol hydrochloride in 50 mg capsules. Tablets, powder, epidural solutions and IV injection solutions are other types. Some of its brand names are Ultram, Ultracet, Tramacet, Conzip, and Tramal

When is Tramadol Prescribed?

Veterinarians usually prescribe tramadol to help dogs cope with mild to moderate pain rates. The vet may prescribe tramadol along with other opioids when the dog is in serious pain. Typically, this medication plan is taken when your pooch has just had surgery or other invasive treatment methods.

The following are some specific reasons why tramadol is prescribed:


Tramadol aims to treat the symptoms of canine osteoarthritis. You must consider, however, that tramadol doesn’t directly cure osteoarthritis. It is only a means of helping your dog manage the pain.


It is also a pain relief means for dogs with hip dysplasia and other joint-related illnesses. Again, tramadol merely acts as a temporary relief from all the pain and stress that the true underlying condition causes.

Post-Surgery Pains

When your pooch just had surgery, veterinarians will prescribe tramadol to help minimize any pains. Because post-surgery can be a very sensitive time for your dog, make sure that you look after him as advised by your vet.

While tramadol may provide relief from pain, euphoric feelings may also force dogs to become more active before they are physically prepared. It may take your dog much longer to cure from his surgery if you are not cautious.

Cancer Pains

Dealing with cancer is certainly not easy for your dog, both mentally and physically. Worse, cancer treatments are often painful before all the discomfort subsides. Tramadol can help increase the serotonin of your dog and make him feel a bit happier despite his circumstances.

Non-Surgical Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

Spinal cord illnesses like IVDD may also require tramadol to ease the pain during treatment. These diseases generally involve intense pains, partial paralysis, and nerve damage. Combined with therapy, tramadol can help reduce back pains.

Other Tramadol Uses

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Respiratory issues or coughs
  • Physical injuries
  • Canine degenerative myelopathy

Tramadol Dosage for Dogs

Since tramadol is categorized as a Class IV Controlled Substance by the FDA, it can be acquired from the veterinarian only through a prescription. The dosage is generally between 0.45 and 1.8 milligrams of tramadol per pound of body weight anywhere.

The medication is usually given thrice or twice a day, or every 8 to 12 hours. Dogs with cancer, on the other hand, may need to take the meds every 6 hours.

Given this information, you should still NOT attempt to use a tramadol treatment plan on your own. While you may attempt to calculate the appropriate dosage based on the weight of your dog, you will not be able to work out a proper plan as you do not have the expertise to diagnose the true cause of the pain of your pet.

Remember, your vet will also have to take into account other aspects of your dog’s health. He or she will have to go over your pet’s vet records to ensure that tramadol is safe to prescribe in the first place.

Tramadol 50mg for Dogs

Since tramadol usually comes in 50 mg tablets or capsules, it is worth noting that before you give it to your dog, you should never crush the tablet. Your veterinarian will inform you how to administer the right dosage.

Make sure that your dog stays hydrated while he’s on tramadol. Depending on the vet’s instructions, you can give tramadol to your dog whether he’s fed or not.

What to Do About Missed Doses

Give your pooch the missed tramadol dosage as quickly as possible. If the time for the next dose approaches, simply continue as usual to the next dose. Never double the dose of your pet to make up for the missed one.

Tramadol Overdose

Unfortunately, overdoses may happen without really meaning to. This could lead to general weakness, anemia, pale gums, and stomach ulcers. Other common symptoms of tramadol overdose include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Compulsive behaviors (excessive pacing, licking, tail and shadow chasing, food fixation, hoarding)
  • Dilated pupils
  • Drowsiness
  • Excessive drooling
  • Fainting
  • Lethargy
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Coma

If your dog shows any of the above symptoms, stop the tramadol medications of your dog right now and immediately tell your veterinarian about the condition. Tramadol overdoses can be deadly at its worst.

Also, watch out for withdrawal symptoms when you stop giving tramadol. This includes anxiety, breathing issues, chills, diarrhea, and nausea.

Perhaps this still has to be said, but never offer your dog tramadol meant for humans. Human tramadol dosages differ significantly from doggy tablets, and it can easily result in an unwanted overdose if you give one without any expert advice.

Tramadol Side Effects in Dogs

Tramadol may have undesirable side effects, like any other drug that doesn’t mean any harm. Most dogs will react well to tramadol as long as you follow your vet’s instructions to the letter. In any case, here are the side effects you will notice when your dog is under tramadol:

  • Anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting

You should also watch out for any allergic reactions on your pet, as this may lead to anaphylaxis, which can be fatal to your dog. Signs of allergy include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Coughing
  • Hives
  • Rashes
  • Sneezing
  • Swollen face, tongue, lips, or throat

Tramadol side effects may also occur when other pain relief medications, blood-thinning medications, antidepressants, herbal products, or muscle relaxants are also administered. Risk of seizure increases when your dog has had epilepsy or metabolic illness recently.

Tramadol Contraindications

Certain drugs won’t react well with tramadol when they are taken together. Tramadol may not be the right pain medication for your dog if he matches with any of the following items:

  • Dogs taking MAOIs, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (e.g. selegiline)
  • Dogs taking SRRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (e.g. fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, sertraline)
  • Dogs taking antidepressants (e.g. amitriptyline, acepromazine, clomipramine)
  • Dogs taking digoxin, ketoconazole, warfarin
  • Dogs taking medications for allergies or colds
  • Dogs that are wearing tick and flea collars
  • Dog who have had seizures lately
  • Dogs with kidney disease, liver disease, or stomach disease
  • Pregnant or lactating dogs

These are the drugs and health conditions that you must consider when tramadol is prescribed to your pet. While this may not be a full list, make sure you tell them all the medications your dog is presently taking when you visit your vet. This will help them determine whether prescribing tramadol is the right course of action, or whether other pain-relieving drugs are better prescribed.

Tramadol Availability

As tramadol is a widely used prescription medication, finding one nearby shouldn’t be that difficult. In fact, it may even be available right at your veterinarian’s clinic, since most of them also have in-house pharmacies, or they are affiliated with a trusted one.

A tramadol tablet generally costs $1.00 per piece. If you have to give your dog tramadol for quite a while, you wouldn’t have to spend too much at least. Ordering tramadol online could be even cheaper, so be sure to ask your vet for an online prescription.

How Long Does It Take for Tramadol to Work?

Most of the time, tramadol begins to work within 24 hours of administration. Now, just because your pet seems to get better that fast, it doesn’t mean that you can stop giving tramadol on a whim.

For best results, the prescribed medication plan of the vet must be completed. As stated previously, if you do not follow the advice of your vet, your pet may experience severe symptoms of withdrawal. This will make your dog’s pain symptoms much difficult to overcome.

Generally, tramadol is only used as a temporary relief for the pain. Once the treatment begins, your veterinarian will need to determine another treatment plan that will address the root cause of the pain of your dog. This solution should be permanent in order to eliminate what causes the pain of your dog lastly.

How Safe is Tramadol for Dogs?

When administered the right way, tramadol is mostly safe for dogs. Just take note of the contraindications, and don’t forget to tell your vet about your dog’s other health conditions. This kind of transparency should help you keep your dog safe.

It’s also worth noting that tramadol has a high toxicity threshold in canines. However, this doesn’t mean that you can be careless about your dog’s dosages. Make sure that you’re only giving the amount that you’re supposed to.

Tramadol Abuse and Scandal

Since both dogs and humans can take tramadol, there is an enormous tendency for addicts to abuse it. As an opioid, tramadol increases the dopamine concentrations of the body, resulting in a euphoric state for consumers. Addicts tend to use tramadol recreationally, often buying it through illegal channels as it is a prescription drug.

It also doesn’t help that tramadol isn’t expensive at all. While that can be a good thing for legitimate purposes, it certainly isn’t the case for addicts who have the means to obtain tramadol. With these people, you can never fully expect what they’re willing to do in exchange for feeling high.

Perhaps the worst thing about this is that some addicts are even hurting their pets just to get tramadol for themselves. Because such scandals have become so common, the needed measures have been taken by veterinarians and police officers to make it harder to get tramadol. This is to deter substance abusers from using dogs as a means to fuel their addiction.

Tramadol Alternatives

You may want to consider other pain-relieving measures, especially if you’re trying to keep tramadol away from someone with substance abuse problems, depending on the cause of the pain of your pooch. Here are a few techniques worth trying out:

  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic treatments
  • Herbal medications (e.g. CBD oil)
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Pet massage
  • Physical therapy

Conclusion: Manage Pain with Tramadol

As a dog parent, nothing would probably make you happier than seeing your dog get over his suffering. Tramadol is one of the medications that can help him manage his pains.

If you are wondering if tramadol could be a helpful solution for the present situation of your dog, set up an immediate meeting with your veterinarian, what is essential is that your pooch gets a timely treatment plan for precisely what he is dealing with.

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