What is trazodone for dogs? This is a question many guardians ask is if their dogs have anxiety.
We all want our dogs to be content, right? So whenever we are home or go to work, our dogs should have a positive experience. That peace translates into calm when we have to leave the house.
Are you having behavioral issues with your dog? If yes, then you need to read this article.
You can use calming supplements and prescribed medications for dogs to treat many different forms of anxiety in dogs. And, if you’ve ever looked into anti-anxiety medication for a dog, the chances are that you’ve come across trazodone.
But, what is trazodone? What are the health benefits and risks associated with your dog taking trazodone? And, is it safe for your dog to use for support through this year’s Fourth of July fireworks show?
In this well-researched guide, you will learn everything you need to know to understand trazodone for dogs. Keep reading so you can support your beloved four-legged friend.
What Is Trazodone?
“What is Trazodone?” is a question that most dog owners will ask when they receive a prescription of this medicine for their beloved four-legged friend.
Trazodone is a popular antidepressant among many experts because it promotes calmness and relaxation in dogs. However, it is also prescribed to dogs for various conditions, from travel anxiety to thunderstorm phobia.
Trazodone works as anxiety treatment for dogs because it alters serotonin levels in the brain, which in turn elevates mood and induces sleep. It is commonly prescribed to humans as an antidepressant, but experts have recently started using it off-label to treat anxiety in dogs. And, unlike other anti-anxiety medications, trazodone has a low risk of addiction and side effects.
Trazodone is a generic drug that doesn’t have a manufacturer brand. It’s available as both a tablet and as an extended-release tablet. The regular tablet is taken one to three times a day with food. The extended-release tablet is taken once daily, usually at bedtime, with or without food. It can take up to four weeks for trazodone to start working.
When it comes to trazodone for dogs, it’s a medication sometimes prescribed as a sleep aid for dogs suffering from anxiety or noise phobias. In addition, the drug can also be used to treat aggression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in dogs (as long as it has not manifested as a result of abuse or medical issues).
Often, trazodone is given to dogs with separation anxiety and older dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) since it can help them feel calmer without affecting their mental faculties. In addition, trazodone is also sometimes used to reduce chronic itching, which is one of the most common causes of anxiety among dogs.
Trazodone works best when combined with other methods of treatment. Therefore, it is not recommended to use trazodone alone to treat anxiety in dogs. Instead, it is most effective when used in conjunction with behavior modification.
How Does Trazodone for Dogs Work?
Your adorable dog is experiencing some severe anxiety. Luckily, there’s trazodone a drug explicitly invented to address anxiety relief.
You might think from its name that Trazodone is a tranquilizer or a sedative, but it is actually an antidepressant. Initially approved by the FDA as an antidepressant for humans, many animal experts have found that Trazodone can be useful for treating behavioral disorders in pets (like anxiety and, more severely, separation anxiety).
Trazodone is an antidepressant medication, but you can receive a prescription to help treat behavioral issues for your furry friend (at lower doses than what humans take). Some dogs will receive Trazodone to provide support after surgery, and it is also often used as a supplemental therapy in pups that don’t respond to conventional treatments.
Trazodone can also help with situational anxiety such as nervousness before visits to see experts, traveling in the car or on planes, during thunderstorms, or even if your pup is scared of large groups.
So, how does trazodone for dogs work?
Trazodone works by changing the chemical balance of neurotransmitters in the dog’s brain. It works by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood and behavior.
Its effect on serotonin results in a happier pet and reduces anxiety and behavioral disorders symptoms.
So, in short, trazodone helps to balance serotonin in your dog’s mind. But why does this matter? Serotonin is essential for mood regulation and to help your dog feel happy and content.
The use of the drug to treat behavioral disorders in pets is off-label, which means that you need to follow the instructions you receive from an expert if you want it to work. Why? The dosage may vary depending on your dog’s anxiety condition and severity.
But, don’t be scared. Off-label means that they are using it in a way not explicitly approved by the FDA. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t safe—in fact, it’s just the opposite: most of these approvals take many years, involve millions of dollars, and require a lot of research. But sometimes, experts can see something in a case and have an immediate thought about how to treat it with a drug, even if they aren’t sure if this specific usage has been approved or not. And this is the same case with trazodone for dogs.
Trazodone for Dogs: Health Benefits
So, is your dog a bit nervous about the 4th of July fireworks? Is the rainy season coming, full of thunderstorms that will scare your four-legged friend?
It’s no fun watching your furry friend freak out whenever there’s thunder or firework noise, so if you notice your pup is having a hard time coping with scary sounds, it’s best to act fast.
Trazodone is a medication that treats anxiety in dogs (and other mammals) by limiting activity in the central nervous system. A responsible guardian can give it to pets afraid of thunderstorms or fireworks.
And while trazodone is prescribed for dogs to assist in managing their separation anxiety and generalized anxiety, it’s also used to keep your dog calm when visiting a health expert. It can even provide calming support to dogs after surgeries (like orthopedic surgery or one that requires stitches to heal).
Most people are familiar with trazodone as an antidepressant, but it is also used as a tranquilizer and sleep aid.
Before the triggering event begins, whether it is a fireworks display or a long drive to visit someone, you want to make sure that you’ve given your dog their trazodone with enough time for the medication to kick in before the event has begun.
And, if you’re concerned at all about how the medications may affect your dog, you can always do a trial run with the recommended dosage to see how your dog reacts. We know that there aren’t too many products you can use on pets, but this one is awesome! It works better than you might think.
But, say you’re in the middle of a thunderstorm, and your pet is shaking and whining. What can you do to support your beloved pup?
You can try trazodone to see if the medication will kick in in time to provide support. However, even if it takes time to kick in, the medication will eventually provide relief and aid in your pup’s sleep to reduce anxiety after the triggering situation.
But, while trazodone can be extremely supportive for many dogs and dog owners, there are a handful of essential things you should know related to the risks associated with your dog taking trazodone. Keep reading to learn more about these risks and side effects.
Trazodone for Dogs: Health Risks and Side Effects
Trazodone acts as a serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor, meaning it helps prevent the absorption of the neurotransmitter serotonin by nerve cells after it has been released. This support helps prolong the mood-lightening effect of any released serotonin.
Trazodone can be safely prescribed for dogs, but extra care is needed when used in combination with other drugs. And while it is generally considered safe and has a low risk of side effects, there are some risks. Like many medications, trazodone can have side effects in dogs, though they are not well documented.
Short-acting drugs like trazodone remain in the system only for a short time after administration. For example, the half-life of trazodone is about three hours in dogs, which means that half of the drug will clear from the body after three hours.
This drug is typically given once daily to help manage anxiety or twice daily to treat noise phobias; however, some pets may have longer-lasting effects if they have liver or kidney disease.
The most common side effect of trazodone is sedation and lethargy. Other potential side effects are generally mild if present and include “dilated pupils, sedation, lethargy, vomiting or gagging, colitis (inflammation of the colon), ataxia (loss of muscle control), priapism (persistent and painful erection of the penis), arrhythmias, increased anxiety, increased appetite, and aggression,” according to VCA Hospitals.
It is important to remember that trazodone should be used with caution in dogs with liver or kidney disease. It can also interact with several other medications, so it is essential to tell your expert about any other drugs your dog may be taking before starting trazodone.
Trazodone is not a cure for anxiety and must be used alongside other therapies to help relieve the symptoms. The drug has also been used to manage pain in dogs with arthritis. But, there may always be side effects. Trazodone side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, and low blood pressure. It can also cause drowsiness, so you should keep your dog away from stairs or other areas where he might fall until the drug has worn off.
Trazodone for Dogs: Dosages
Trazodone is typically supplied in the form of a small white tablet, and, less commonly, it might be provided as a liquid or a capsule. The amount depends on your dog’s size and condition, but it usually starts at a low dose and increases over time until the appropriate quantity is reached. Most dogs will respond within a few days, although it may take several weeks to get an optimal dose.
While some canines receive this drug 2-3 times a day on an ongoing basis, many dogs only take it intermittently, i.e., before highly stressful events.
The dosage for dogs will vary depending on several factors, one of the most important being the dog’s weight. In general, smaller dogs receive smaller doses than larger dogs.
In addition, the dosage is typically adjusted for each dog to find the best dose that works safely and effectively. For example, if a dog is not responding to the initial dosage well, your expert might adjust it. Likewise, if a dog shows side effects with the drug at a specific dose, he will be given a lower amount to eliminate those side effects.
The dosage range is typically between 0.5 and 3 mg per pound of body weight per day. Still, experts will often use lower initial doses that gradually increase until the desired effect is achieved.
Trazodone is given orally, with food, or on an empty stomach. If your dog acts sick or vomits after taking the drug on an empty stomach, try giving the next dose with food.
Dogs receiving trazodone for anxiety, such as separation anxiety, will typically be given a smaller dose than dogs being treated for a behavior problem or helping with sleep.
It’s important not to stop giving trazodone suddenly. Doing so may cause increased anxiety and possibly even seizures in some dogs. However, slowly removing trazodone from your dog’s regiment is essential in keeping them healthy.
Trazodone and Other Drugs for Dogs
Trazodone is prescribed to dogs as a low-cost, off-label alternative to other antidepressants. It is effective at treating behavioral problems in dogs such as separation anxiety, excessive barking, and fear of loud noises.
Trazodone has relatively few side effects and can be given safely along with other medications, including NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), heart medications, steroids, antibiotics, and chemotherapy agents.
Certain drugs can cause a condition called serotonin syndrome. This severe and potentially life-threatening problem can occur when two or more drugs that affect the body’s level of serotonin are taken together.
At its core, serotonin syndrome is when your dog’s body has too much of a chemical called serotonin. And while serotonin is good for boosting your dog’s mood, too much of it can be detrimental for your dog.
It is essential to mention this because some other drugs like fluoxetine and clomipramine are also known to increase serotonin levels in the brain. When these drugs are combined with trazodone, it can create a dangerous situation for your dog.
The most common symptoms are tremoring/shivering, dilated pupils, and difficulty breathing. If your dog develops any of these symptoms while on trazodone, these can be signs of Serotonin Syndrome, and they need to get support right away.
Please be sure you have gone over any medications your dog is taking, including supplements and vitamins, with an expert before starting your dog on trazodone.
Trazodone is safe to use with most other medications, though some exceptions. Remember, trazodone is an antidepressant of the serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARI) class. It works by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. Therefore, do not give trazodone with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Likewise, do not give with other sedatives unless directed.
And while there are risks associated with your dog being on trazodone and other medications, luckily, trazodone can be supportive and safe when taken alone.
Trazodone for Dogs: Everything Else You Need To Know Before You Give Your Dog Medication
The first question that is often asked when your dog takes trazodone is whether a dog guardian will need to monitor their dog closely, and the answer is simple. No, you do not need to closely monitor your pet while he’s on trazodone (unless there are pre-existing conditions that require you to do so). But, after reading everything in this guide, you are well informed on the vital signs that mean your dog may need additional support.
When it comes to storing this medication for your dog safely, you must understand precisely what to do so it can support your pup whenever it’s in need. As long as the drug is never stored in a place that goes over 86 degrees Fahrenheit and below 77 degrees Fahrenheit, your meds should be safe!
And finally, are you unsure of what to do in case of an emergency? If you notice that your dog is showing signs of serotonin syndrome or anything else that is causing you concern, it’s essential to contact an expert and get support. Because trazodone is a prescription medication, it’s critical to note critical side effects and get help if you have any bit of concern!