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What does trazodone do for dogs?

Trazodone for Dogs

Trazodone for dogs is a common pet anxiety medication. It’s considered to be quite safe. Click to learn more about common side effects, uses & dosage.

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Trazodone for dogs? It may sound unbelievable, but we assure you it has surprising benefits. Today we are going to explore treating anxiety in our furry friends. You might be surprised by what you learn when it comes to your four-legged family member.

You love your dog and want to see it living a peaceful and happy life. However, some dogs are just born with more triggers than others. Maybe you have noticed your dog growing restless due to separation anxiety. Perhaps your dog is overly nervous on car rides, at vet visits, during thunderstorms, or even when they hear another dog barking on TV.

While these events can be stressful and scary for your dog, they can also start to take a toll on you, the owner. Perhaps your canine’s anxiety manifests in the destruction of your property or annoying behavior when you want to relax. To the benefit of you and your dog, there are some steps you can take to address these behavioral issues.

Along with proper training, there is a medication that might help. Commonly prescribed to humans, Trazadone may help to treat anxiety disorders in pups. Veterinarians have started using trazodone to treat distressed doggies due to its anti-anxiety and sedative effects, but is it safe? Read on and find out more about this drug and what it can potentially do for your dog.

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What Is Trazodone and How Is It Used for Dogs?

Trazodone was one of the first antidepressants of its kind. Doctors prescribed it to humans to treat depression, insomnia, and PTSD. Because this medication was proven to be relatively safe, vets started using it for anxious cats and dogs. However, there are still precautions to be taken, which we will discuss below.

Trazodone is in a family of medications known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs. MAOIs block monoamine oxidase enzymes. These enzymes break down neurotransmitters such as serotonin, leading to depression or anxiety. When they are blocked, the brain can increase the neurotransmitters necessary to bring relief. This drug helps maintain a healthy amount of serotonin in your dog’s brain.

Trazodone has yet to be approved by the FDA for use in pets. However, vets often prescribe it as an anti-anxiety medication for dogs. The effects of trazodone in a dog’s brain are similar to those in humans. Dogs that are often anxious can take trazodone regularly. If a dog has particular triggers, trazodone can be given to them before a known stressful event occurs.

How Is Trazodone Administered to Dogs?

Trazodone comes in tablet form and is given orally. Dogs may take the medication with food, or they may take it before eating. If your dog becomes sick or vomits after taking trazodone, you should give them their next dose with food or treats.

How Long Does It Take Trazodone to Work?

That depends on your dog, but generally, trazodone starts to take effect rapidly, in as little as one to two hours. It is best if you can anticipate an event that will be anxiety-inducing for your dog. That way, you can be sure to administer the medication before they are stressed rather than afterward.

How long does trazodone last? That also depends on the size and weight of your dog. While it is safe to give a dose of trazodone to most dogs every eight hours as needed, you should consult with your vet to get a more exact idea of the proper dosage. On average, the clinical signs of trazodone last from eight to twelve hours, so owners should be cautious about how often they administer it.

Trazodone Dosage for Dogs

Trazodone is usually taken by dogs with chronic anxiety two or three times a day. On the other hand, many dogs only take it as they need it, like before a car ride or a visit to the vet. The exact trazodone dosage for your dog will depend primarily on its weight, along with some other factors. The general rule is that larger dogs will need a larger dose of trazodone than smaller dogs.

However, even if you have a Great Dane, vets usually start with smaller doses and increase them as they see fit. Generally, most dogs can receive a daily dose of around 2.5 mg to 3.5 mg per pound. If you think your canine might benefit from trazodone, you should consult with your veterinarian. If approved, your vet will provide you with a dosage chart for dogs.

Trazodone for Dogs: Side Effects & Precautions

Recent studies have found that trazodone has minimal side effects in animals. That is not to say that all dogs will not experience side effects. Each animal is different and, depending on other factors such as other medications being taken, outcomes can vary. It is always important to be aware of possible side effects and other precautions to take.

To store trazodone, make sure it is out of reach of your dog and children. It should be stored at room temperature and in a place that will not become overheated. It is also important that you do not give expired trazodone to your dog.

Possible Side Effects

Possible side effects of trazodone include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, increased anxiety, and aggressive behavior. Luckily, these symptoms are uncommon. When taken alongside other serotonin-boosting medications, another dangerous side effect can occur.

While unlikely, these drug interactions could cause something known as serotonin syndrome. This scary side effect presents itself in several ways, including shivering and shaking, dilated pupils, and respiratory difficulty. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, you should contact your vet right away.

Also unlikely but very unfortunate is an overdose of trazodone. Of course, you should always make sure you keep the medication in a safe place that isn’t easily accessible to your dog. If your dog does overdose, look out for the following symptoms and contact your vet right away if you notice:

Other Precautions to Take

If your dog has any allergies to other medications, it is probably wise not to give them trazodone. This drug has also caused allergic reactions in some pups. Your dog should avoid this medicine if they are already taking other MAOIs. In general, you shouldn’t give your dog trazodone if they are on any of the following medications:

In addition, if your dog has kidney disease, heart disease, or decreased liver function, you should be cautious about giving them trazodone. It is vital to review your dog’s medical history with your vet before trying this drug.


As loving pet owners, we want our furry friends to be as happy and relaxed as possible. We would do anything to rid our canine companions of fear and anxiety. Fortunately, there is a medication that can help reduce stress with little to no side effects. It will give you and your pet some peace of mind.

If you are interested in helping your dog to conquer their anxiety, talk with your vet about the option of prescribing trazodone. In addition, seek out therapeutic training to help your dog develop better coping mechanisms and help your beloved dog start a new chapter in its life.

Before you bring them to the vet, have you considered protecting your dog with pet insurance? Our team of pet insurance advisors at Fursure are here to help you find the best insurance policy to get your furry friend covered. Buy a pet insurance policy and get your best friend protected today!

Trazodone uses in dogs – Everything you need to know

Trazodone in dogs

If your dog suffers from anxiety or stress in certain situations, it can be challenging to manage. Some dogs feel anxious around other dogs, while others hate being left alone. Understandably, dogs might find grooming or veterinary appointments stressful too. If you’re trying to cope with an anxious dog and you mention it to your veterinarian, they might suggest trying a medication called trazodone. But what is trazodone? What is it used for? And is it safe? Let’s find out.

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What is trazodone?

Trazodone is from a group of drugs known as Serotonin Antagonist and Reuptake Inhibitors (SARI). It reduces the reuptake of serotonin released into the brain, meaning that the serotonin is active for longer. Serotonin is a chemical released by nerves, especially in the central nervous system. Among many functions, it helps to control and balance our mood, creating a feeling of well-being and calmness.

Trazodone is licensed for use in human medicine as an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication. It is also a mild sedative. Its trade names include Desyrel and Oleptro. Although not licensed for use in dogs, veterinarians can prescribe it for ‘off label’ use. This means that veterinarians have safely used the medication on dogs for a long time, but it does not yet have a license. Trazodone prescribed for dogs is usually in tablet form. However, trazodone capsules and liquids do exist.

Trazodone prescribed for dogs is usually in tablet form. However, trazodone capsules and liquids do exist.

What is trazodone used for in dogs?

The use of trazodone in dogs is very similar to that in humans in that it improves anxiety. It’s commonly used with another drug, called gabapentin, and you can find out more information about this drug here. Some circumstances where a dog might benefit from trazodone include:

  • Separation anxiety
  • Stress causes by travel or being in the car
  • Noise phobias
  • Fear or stress related to vet appointments or procedures
  • Fear or stress related to grooming (if your dog struggles with getting their nails clipped, you can get some tips here)
  • To help calm dogs who need to rest while recovering from surgery

It’s important to remember that dog behavior is complex. While trazodone might help and alleviate symptoms, specialist behavioral advice might be a better long-term solution.

The use of trazodone in dogs is very similar to that in humans in that it improves anxiety.

Are there any side effects of trazodone?

Any medication has the potential to cause side effects in individual animals. However, side effects have to be reported, and all drugs are monitored closely to ensure that they are safe. The potential adverse effects of any medication can vary from mild symptoms like lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea to more severe signs like the risk of an allergic reaction. Thankfully, trazodone is a short-acting drug, meaning that the side effects are usually mild and quick to improve. If your dog shows any signs of being unwell while taking trazodone, you should speak to your veterinarian.

Possible side effects of trazodone include:

  • Sedation or drowsiness
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Increased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea (sometimes with mucus or spots of blood)
  • Dilated pupils
  • Incoordination
  • Priapism (erection of the penis)
  • Heart rhythm disturbances
  • Aggression
  • Increased anxiety

Thankfully, trazodone is a short-acting drug, meaning that the side effects are usually mild and quick to improve.

Is trazodone safe to give if your dog takes other medications?

Not all medications are safe to give with trazodone, so you should always ensure your veterinarian knows your dog’s full medical history, even supplements you might be giving them at home.

It’s especially important to speak to your veterinarian about whether trazodone is suitable for your dog if they are taking any of the following medication types:

  • Anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication
  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-fungal treatment
  • Aspirin
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Diuretics
  • Heart medications
  • Metoclopramide
  • Pain relief medications

Not all medications are safe to give with trazodone, so you should always ensure your veterinarian knows your dog’s full medical history, even supplements you might be giving them at home.

What is Serotonin Syndrome?

Serotonin Syndrome can develop if your dog takes trazodone alongside other types of serotonin-promoting medications. Too much serotonin can have serious consequences, so you must speak to your veterinarian if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Dribbling
  • Dilation of the pupils
  • Skin sensitivity
  • High temperature
  • Vocalization
  • Blindness
  • Breathing distress
  • Incoordination
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Coma

Too much serotonin can have serious consequences, so you must speak to your veterinarian if you notice any symptoms of serotonin syndrome.

Are there any other situations where trazodone isn’t suitable for a dog?

Aside from dogs who are on certain medications, there are a few other reasons why trazodone might not be suitable for your dog. Firstly, it should be used with caution in dogs with liver, kidney, or heart problems. It’s also best avoided in dogs who have or are predisposed to the eye condition glaucoma. It’s not proven to be safe in pregnant or lactating dogs, so it’s worth checking with your veterinarian if you’re considering breeding from your dog.


Trazodone can be really useful for reducing anxiety in your canine companion, and it’s generally a very safe medication. However, it doesn’t suit every dog or every circumstance, and there are a few specific side effects that you should keep an eye out for. With the guidance of your veterinarian, trazodone might make that trip to the groomers or ride in the car a lot less stressful for you and your furry family member!

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