Here’s What You Need To Know About Giving Trazodone To Your Dog

The medication can help dogs with anxiety.

Trazodone For Dogs

Many pet parents have been there: Your dog's having anxiety issues, and you hate to see him so upset. Maybe it's anxiety over fireworks or from travel, or maybe he’s a recent rescue who's nervous in general, even when relaxing at home in your arms.

Antidepressants can help to ease human anxiety, but can they work for pets, too? The antidepressant trazodone, for example, is used to treat behavioral disorders like anxiety and stress, and is widely considered safe by veterinarians. But is it the right medication for your pup?

To find out why you might give trazodone to your pup, the recommended dosage and possible side effects, we spoke to Jamie Fischer, a veterinary nurse with DodoVet.

What is trazodone for dogs?

First prescribed as a medication for depression in humans, through much research, safety and efficacy studies, veterinary medicine found that trazodone is an effective and safe antidepressant for dogs. The antidepressant is known as “off-label” (which means the medication is being prescribed for something other than what it was intended for).

“Trazodone is used to treat behavioral disorders like anxiety or phobias like fireworks, thunderstorms, traveling, vet visits and more,” Fischer told The Dodo. “It’s also often used after surgery to help keep patients calm so they can rest and heal.”

Trazodone side effects

While trazodone is generally very safe when used appropriately, side effects are still a possibility. According to Fischer, trazodone side effects include:

  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Dilated pupils
  • Lethargy
  • Ataxia (a lack of coordination caused by an issue in your dog's nervous system)
  • Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)

Unfortunately, in some rare cases, trazodone can produce the opposite of the desired effect and cause increased anxiety or aggression.

Trazodone dosage amounts

Trazodone has a very wide dose range, and dosing ranges depend on your dog’s weight and the condition it’s being used to treat.

“It’s typically recommended to be given at the lowest effective dose,” Fischer said. “It’s recommended to consult with your dog’s veterinarian to determine the starting dose for your dog as an individual and come up with a dosing plan if adjustments are needed.”

If you feel that your dog suffers from anxiety and stress, or if he has a surgery coming up he’ll need to recover from, talk to your vet about trazodone for dogs. Here’s to him feeling safe and comfortable very soon!

Want access to a vet 24/7? With DodoVet, you can connect via video chat, phone or text with an empathetic veterinary expert who can help you be the best pet parent you can be. Say goodbye to Dr. Google and have all your pet parent questions answered anytime, anywhere. Learn more here.