Can Dogs Take Tramadol?

By MarĂ­a Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. September 17, 2020
Can Dogs Take Tramadol?

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Tramadol is an opioid analgesic, meaning it is used to treat pain. As an opioid, it is used for severe pain and is not an over-the-counter drug. When humans are prescribed tramadol, it is usually for severe injury or recovery from surgical operations. Since it is not over-the-counter and is also a highly addictive substance, it will only be prescribed by a doctor.

As we need to be very careful with human usage of the drug, but can dogs take tramadol? In this AnimalWised article, we explain the possible usage, dosage, side effects, interactions and more of tramadol for dogs.

Can dogs be given tramadol?

Tramadol is the common name for tramadol hydrochloride. It is a synthetic opioid (an updated term for opiate-type drugs) and acts as an analgesic, i.e. painkiller. It also has an antitussive effect, meaning it can be used to suppress coughing. It is always used with a prescription from a physician.

Tramadol can be given to dogs, although it is not always a common practice in veterinary surgeries. It is growing in usage and it is likely we will see it being used more and more in the future. In the US, it is sometimes commonly sold under the brand names:

  • Ultram
  • ConZip
  • Rybix ODT
  • Ryzolt

There are many painkillers on the market used to fight pain. For this reason, we need to know which is suitable for our dog and their given medical problem. We cannot determine this on our own and require a veterinarian to prescribe the medication. Tramadol can be used for pain related to conditions such as osteoarthritis in dogs, but it can be dangerous over prolonged periods.

How is tramadol for dongs administered?

This drug is marketed in different presentations, dependent on its administration and dosage. Tramadol can be sold in:

  • Capsules
  • Tablets
  • Slow-release tablets
  • Suppositories
  • Effervescent tablets
  • Sterile solution for injection
  • Liquids for sublingual administration

Although tramadol can be sold under many forms, for larger dogs it will most likely be given in tablet form. It is relatively easy to be administered and can be given with or without food. Tramadol injections will not likely be prescribed for home usage, although it may be used in veterinary surgeries and clinics.

For smaller size dogs, it is more common they will be given tramadol in liquid form. This is usually administered sublingually, i.e. dropped under the tongue and swallowed. This is often due to the fact tablets are too large for smaller dogs to ingest easily. Again, veterinarians will only likely resort to tramadol injections in serious circumstances. This will be administered as a shot under the dog's skin.

Can Dogs Take Tramadol? - How is tramadol for dongs administered?

Tramadol dosage for dogs

You may wonder how much tramadol can be given to a dog. Doses of tramadol for dogs can only be prescribed by the veterinarian. The amount of drug to be administered depends on various factors such as the condition and size of the dog, the desired effect or the administration schedule. It is important to respect the veterinarian's instructions because an excessive dose could be harmful to the animal.

Side effects of tramadol for dogs

Like all medications, tramadol may cause adverse reactions in some dogs. This is especially the case if they have an allergy to either the active ingredient tramadol or anything else present in the version of the medication. In these cases, they can go into anaphylactic shock. However, it is generally thought to be well tolerated by dogs.

The first administration of the drug may be given in the veterinary clinic or surgery to see if any adverse reactions occur. However, if they are to be given at home, then it is up to the caregiver to carefully monitor the dog for any adverse side effects. We must immediately inform the veterinarian who will be able to advise. They may change dosage, type of medication or even bring them in in case of an emergency.

Since tramadol affects the central nervous system, side effects can also affect the same system. Side effects of tramadol in dogs include:

  • Sedation
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

In the case in which the administered dose was too high, it would cause intoxication. This can lead to respiratory failure, convulsions, heart failure and even death. It is an emergency, so immediate veterinary attention is required to start supportive treatment and administer drugs to control the negative symptoms.

Contraindications of tramadol in dogs

As with any drug, you cannot administer tramadol to dogs that have presented some type of hypersensitivity. Likewise, it is not a suitable drug for pregnant or lactating dogs or for those with the following characteristics:

  • Tramadol is not recommended in epileptic dogs as it can increase the number of seizures. For these cases, we advise you to review our article on epilepsy in dogs to understand more about its treatment and effects.
  • The use of tramadol is also not advised in dogs with severe respiratory problems.
  • Caution must also be taken when administering this drug if the dog suffers from kidney or liver disease, is very weak or is very old. The drugs can have a detrimental effect on their organs, weakening them further than the effects of disease or old age.
Can Dogs Take Tramadol? - Contraindications of tramadol in dogs

Tramadol interactions for dogs

Sometimes, our veterinarian will consider it appropriate to use more than one drug to treat the same clinical problem. An example of a combination is meloxicam and tramadol for recently operated on dogs. This has been shown to be useful in managing pain in these situations[1].

However, we should not give the dog another dug without authorization from the veterinarian. Not only could there be adverse interactions, but we could cause an overdose. Drug combinations can only be prescribed by a vetrinary professional. Medicating on our own could make the active ingredients lose their effect or even make it harmful when tramadol interacts with other drugs.

You should already have told your veterinarian if the dog is taking any other medication. This includes any herbal or supportive remedies. Drugs which are known to interact with tramadol in dogs include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Azole antifungals
  • Cyproheptadine
  • Ketamine
  • MAO inhibitors
  • Metoclopramide
  • Quinidine
  • Warfarin
  • Other opioid drugs

Although mild in humans, we need to be careful not to give the dog tramadol prepared with paracetamol. It is toxic to dogs and can be fatal depending on the size and health of the dog as well as the amount taken. For this reason, a veterinarian will not prescribe a type of tramadol prepared with paracetamol. To learn more, take a look at our article on whether you can give your dog paracetamol.

Veterinarians will only give a dog tramadol if they are in pain. There are other signs of sickness in dogs we also need to be careful of, something we can learn about in the video below:

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Can Dogs Take Tramadol?, we recommend you visit our Medicine category.

  1. Staropoli, M. F. T., Zizman, M., & Strancar, M. (2002). Use of the tramadol-meloxicam combination for the treatment of postsurgical pain in canines. Small Animals, 41(Nov-Dec), 44-48.

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