Tramadol for Dogs - Uses, Dosage and Side Effects

María Besteiros
By María Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. July 5, 2022
Tramadol for Dogs - Uses, Dosage and Side Effects

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Tramadol is a drug commonly prescribed by veterinarians to treat pain in dogs. This drug is also commonly prescribed to treat pain in humans. It is one of the few pain medications for humans that can be safely administered to dogs under the guidance of a veterinarian. But as always, there are some considerations you must take into account before administering it.

In the following AnimalWised article, you'll learn everything you need to know about Tramadol for dogs, including indications for use, dosages, contraindications, and side effects.

  1. What is tramadol?
  2. Uses of tramadol in dogs
  3. Dosage of tramadol for dogs
  4. Contraindications of tramadol for dogs
  5. Side effects of tramadol for dogs

What is tramadol?

Tramadol, sold under the brand name Ultram and others, is an opioid with a potent analgesic effect. It is used for moderate or severe pain, such as surgery or chronic inflammation. Note that unlike other analgesics, it does not have anti-inflammatory or antipyretic effects. For this reason, it is used in combination with other medications in certain circumstances to enhance its effect.

Tramadol has about one-tenth the potency of morphine and is virtually equal in potency to pethidine and codeine. For moderately severe pain, its action at low doses is equal to that of codeine and at very high doses to that of hydrocodone; for severe pain, it is less potent than morphine.

If you want to know more about pain in dogs. Read this other article where we explain how to tell if your dog is in pain and what signs to look for.

Tramadol for Dogs - Uses, Dosage and Side Effects - What is tramadol?

Uses of tramadol in dogs

Like most opioids, tramadol is used to treat pain. Specifically, for acute and chronic pain of moderate to severe intensity. For example, it can help your dog recover from surgery or treat pain associated with painful chronic conditions. The most common cases in which tramadol is prescribed are the following.

  • Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • General pain after injury
  • Post-operative pain
  • Cancer

Unlike anti-inflammatories, which can cause side effects when taken for long periods of time, tramadol can be useful in treating chronic conditions. It is important to note that tramadol does not treat the underlying cause of pain. Instead, it changes the way the body perceives pain and provides some relief to the patient.

If you want to learn more about osteoarthritis in dogs, read this other article where we explain the symptoms and treatment of osteoarthritis in dogs, the joint disease that older pets suffer from most often.

Tramadol for Dogs - Uses, Dosage and Side Effects - Uses of tramadol in dogs

Dosage of tramadol for dogs

There are 2 dosage forms of tramadol for use in dogs, tablets and injections. The oral dosage form is usually for chronic cases and is administered by the owner at home. The injectable form is for clinical use and urgent cases.

Because individual response to tramadol is variable and depends in part on the patient, particularly factors such as age, individual differences in pain sensitivity, and general condition, dosage should be determined by a veterinarian.

Under no circumstances should you give your dog this powerful pain reliever without first consulting your veterinarian. In spite of how tempting it might seem to give your dog a tramadol pill from a human prescription, remember that dog dosages are very different from human dosages. Giving tramadol to your pet without a veterinarian's advice may result in an overdose.

Contraindications of tramadol for dogs

Most medications have contraindications, interactions, and safety limitations. Although tramadol is relatively safe, there are some exceptions.

  • Pregnant or lactating dogs: Tramadol is known to be an agent that can cross the blood-brain barrier and the placental barrier. Its presence has also been detected in breast milk, albeit at very low levels. Therefore, this drug is not recommended in pregnant or lactating bitches to avoid changes in the development of the fetus.

  • Dogs with epilepsy: it should not be used in animals with epilepsy as it may aggravate symptoms and cause severe epileptic symptoms. Tramadol may induce seizures and increase the effect of drugs that lower the epileptic threshold.

  • Dogs with renal or hepatic insufficiency: In dogs with hepatic insufficiency, metabolism of tramadol to its active metabolites may be decreased, which may decrease the effectiveness of the product. One of the active metabolites of tramadol is excreted by the kidneys, so it may be necessary to adjust the dosing regimen in dogs with renal insufficiency.

Finally, the drug should not be administered if the dog has shown an allergic reaction to the active ingredient. Because compatibility studies are not available, tramadol should not be mixed with other veterinary drugs.

If you want to know more about the most common liver diseases in dogs, read this other article where we explain liver diseases in dogs, including their causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

Tramadol for Dogs - Uses, Dosage and Side Effects - Contraindications of tramadol for dogs

Side effects of tramadol for dogs

Although dogs generally tolerate it well, and it has been shown to be safe when administered correctly, tramadol, like any other drug, can cause side effects. When they do occur, the symptoms associated with ingestion are usually:

  • Anxiety
  • Hypersalivation -
  • Sedation
  • Agitation
  • Tremors
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

In rare cases (more than 1 but less than 10 animals per 10,000 animals treated), hypersensitivity may occur. In cases of hypersensitivity reactions, treatment should be discontinued.

If any of these signs occur after treatment, the veterinarian must be informed to consider the possibility of interrupting or modifying the treatment.

In case of overdose, the clinical picture becomes more serious and includes respiratory problems, convulsions, heart failure and eventually death. In case of poisoning with tramadol, the dog must be treated immediately by a veterinarian.

If you want to know more about poisoning your dog with a drug, continue reading this other article, where we explain what to do in case of dog poisoning and how to help your dog.

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 Tramadol for Dogs - Uses, Dosage and Side Effects, we recommend you visit our Medicine category.

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Tramadol for Dogs - Uses, Dosage and Side Effects