Trazodone for Dogs: Use, Dosage, Side Effects and Alternatives

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Trazodone for dogs can be helpful in situations that cause anxiety or if your dog suffers from anxiety generally. Isn’t it every dog owner’s worst nightmare when their dog is in pain or scared? Pain can be managed with painkillers, but what about the fear and anxieties?

If you want to know more about anti-anxiety meds for dogs, take a read below. Here you can also learn of possible side effects of Trazodone to look out for and much more!

a veterinary nurse administering Trazodone for Dogs

When is Trazodone Prescribed?

A lot of dogs suffer from anxiety. Sometimes it’s related to specific situations like when fireworks go off or when they are going to the vet. Other times it’s more generalized anxiety. For example like when the dog is home alone for any given length of time. Whichever one it is, it can be extremely uncomfortable for the dog. In the worst cases, Trazodone can be prescribed to manage anxiety and fear.

Trazodone for humans is an antidepressant. But, clinical studies in animals show that it has a good effect on dogs as well. Trazodone is a serotonin antagonist. This means it keeps the serotonin in the brain’s synaptic space for longer. Serotonin is the “feel-good” neurotransmitter of the body. When the dog’s brain is missing serotonin it can cause increased anxiety.

Chemical formula of serotonin - I Love Veterinary

By keeping serotonin for longer in the synaptic space it gives the dog a sense of well-being. It can also help the dog become less aggressive, which sometimes can be an issue when they are scared. Increasing well-being and diminishing aggressiveness are both great steps towards minimizing anxiety. 

Trazodone is often given in combination with other medications. As well as for behavioral training of the dog. Each dog is unique and the treatment, therefore, has to be tailored to each individual dog. 

How is Trazodone for Dogs Given and What is the Dosage?

Tradozone gets administered as tablets. These need to be stored at room temperature and away from light. Most often it is given with food to minimize the risk of causing nausea. The recommended dosage for dogs is: 

– 1.7 – 19.5 mg/kg/day

Either given daily against general anxiety, or when needed for triggering situations. Most dogs experience anxiety relief within 2 hours of administration. If you miss a dose, do not double the next dosage. Give the regular dosage next time and keep following the regime as instructed by your vet.

Trazodone in Dogs, dosage of the tablets - I Love Veterinary

If Trazodone is given against specific stimuli – like fireworks – it is recommended to administer the medication before the trigger. Often up to two hours before, so the medication has ample time to take effect. The dosage is thereafter repeated every eight hours until the trigger stimuli have passed. 

The time of onset and the effect will vary from dog to dog. It is thus important to always consult a veterinary professional before giving your dog any kind of medication. Your vet will also be able to recommend alternatives and helpful additions to the treatment. Like exercises, medications, and other mechanisms to deal with anxiety.

What are the Possible Side Effects of Trazodone for Dogs?

In recent studies, Trazodone was found to have minimal side effects in most dogs. Almost 80% of dogs experienced no side effects at all. But, it should never be given to a dog who is hypersensitive as it can cause allergic reactions.

But, as with all medication, some adverse effects are seen from time to time. Some of the side effects seen in dogs are:

  • Lethargy
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting
  • Changes in behavior
  • Depression
Dog breading difficultly, possible side effect of Trazodone - I Love Veterinary

One of the most serious potential side effects of Trazodone is serotonin syndrome. A syndrome that happens when brain levels of serotonin get too high. It is very rare in dogs, but can be fatal which is why it’s important to know the symptoms. Which are:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tremors/shivering
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dilated pupils

If a dog is showing any of the above symptoms is important to seek emergency veterinary care. The medication Cyproheptadine reduces the concentration of serotonin in the brain. This is given to minimize the symptoms and manage the risks of serotonin syndrome. 

Generally speaking though, Trazodone is a safe drug. It has the advantage over other anti-anxiety drugs to have fewer adverse effects. As well as a lower risk of causing seizures.

Chemical formula for Fluoxetine - I Love Veterinary

Are There any Drug Interactions you Should Beware of When it Comes to Trazodone for Dogs?

Trazodone interacts with quite a few different drugs. It is thus important to always consult your veterinary professional before administering Trazodone.

As already mentioned: The most dangerous side effect of Trazodone use, is serotonin syndrome. Extreme care should, therefore, be taken when it is given along with other serotonin-enhancing drugs. Examples of these are:

Care should also be taken when given along with MAO inhibitors and tramadol. This can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome as well. NSAIDs given in conjunction with Trazodone can also increase the risk of bleeding tendency.

It is important to be forthcoming with any information concerning your dog’s health. As well as any possible side effects your dog may be experiencing. This is to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your dog.

CBD oil can be alternatives to Trazodone - I Love Veterinary

Are There any Alternatives to Trazodone for Dogs?

There are a few alternatives to Trazodone.

  • CBD oil: A natural alternative to medication is CBD oil. This acts on the brain’s endocannabinoid system to ease anxiety.
  • Behavioral modification training: one of the best alternatives to medication is training. Either do it yourself or contact a professional dog trainer. Teaching your dog to remain calm in stressful situations can be very hard work. But, it can also be a great long-term solution for your dog. Often Trazodone in combination with behavioral therapy can have a great effect.
  • Other medication: Other types of anti-anxiety medication can be tried. Either alone or in combination with Trazodone. It is important to always consult your veterinary professional before combining medication.


It is always horrible to see your beloved pet in discomfort or even fear. In cases where everything seemed to have been tried without success, Trazodone can provide much welcome relief for your dog’s anxieties. With the help of your vet, some training at home, and love and care. Hopefully, your dog can live a long, happy, and fear-free life.