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What is tramadol? Tramadol for dogs is an opioid pain medication and is classified as an IV controlled substance. This medication may be administered to humans and animals. This analgesic drug relieves pain by interfering with the chemicals (adrenaline, norepinephrine, serotonin) and receptors in the brain that contribute to the perception of pain. This medication can create a sensation of euphoria (similar to the effect of morphine).


What is tramadol used for? Tramadol pills for dogs can be used preoperatively, peri-operatively, or for chronic pain (for conditions such as osteoarthritis). As a side benefit, this drug may also have ease anxiety. 

Compared to other opioids, tramadol brings about less sedation and with fewer undesirable side effects. It can be taken in addition to or instead of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Tramadol Side Effects

Adverse effects may occur while taking this pain killer. Please observe dogs in your care for tramadol side effects listed below. 

Common Side Effects:

  • Weakness, sedation, drowsiness, or ataxia.
  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Behavioral changes that indicate anxiety, irritability, excitement, agitation, or insomnia.
  • Seizures
  • Blurred vision
  • Decreased appetite
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Panting

Less Common Side Effects:

There is some risk of allergic reactions that may lead to anaphylaxis which is a serious and potentially fatal condition. Signs that your dog is having an allergic reaction are coughing, sneezing, hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, etc. 

If you think your dog may be having an allergic reaction to this medication, contact your vet right away.

Tramadol Precautions

Tramadol for dogs may not be suitable for all canines. Use with caution or seek an alternative pain medication for animals with any of the following issues:

  • Sensitivity to opioids
  • Prone to seizures 
  • Geriatric or debilitated animals
  • Hepatic dysfunction
  • Renal impairment

Tell your veterinarian about any and all medications your dog is taking or start taking while receiving tramadol. It may interact with the medications below.

  • Cyproheptadine
  • Ondansetron
  • Yohimbine
  • Sevoflurane
  • Digoxin
  • Quinidine
  • MAO Inhibitors
  • SSRI antidepressants
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Warfarin
  • Some vitamins or supplements such as sAMe

Tramadol for dogs should also be used with caution if also taking drugs that are known to cause CNS or respiratory depression. Service animals may not be able to perform their duties as the medication affects behavior and alertness.

Overdosing could be fatal to dogs, so be careful to give the precise amount at the right times. Extended-release tablets are not ideal for dogs as they could be toxic when the tablets are broken or chewed.


Tramadol for dogs is available in capsules, transdermal gels, and oral suspensions. Doses must be given exactly as directed by the veterinarian as an overdose could be fatal.

Contact your veterinarian immediately if you see signs of an overdose or allergic reaction.

Signs of Overdose

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Dilated pupils
  • Tremors
  • Disorientated
  • Lethargy
  • Ataxia (wobbly gait)
  • Vomiting
  • Vocalization

Signs of Allergic Reaction

  • Hives 
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Other Adverse Reactions

Cease administering tramadol and call your veterinarian right away if you notice any of the following:

  • Seizure
  • Red, blistering, or peeling skin rash.
  • Shallow breathing

Symptoms of Withdrawal

Because tramadol is an opioid, withdrawal to the medication could be difficult. Discuss withdrawal management with your veterinarian. Stopping the medication abruptly could cause withdrawal problems.

  • Tremors 
  • Chills
  • Breathing problems
  • Anxiety 
  • Nausea 
  • Diarrhea 

Special Instructions

  • Never give two doses at once or give doses too close together. Instead, give the dose when you remember or skip the dose if it’s almost time for the next dose. Resume the normal schedule.
  • Tablets can be given orally with or without food. 
  • Do not crush the tablet.
  • Do not cease doses abruptly.
  • Provide plenty of water for the dog to drink after receiving a dose.

Tramadol for Dogs Dosage 

Tramadol dosage for dogs is determined by the patient’s weight. Again, it is very important that the dog not get more medication than is directed per dose and that the doses be spaced out appropriately. Label directions and instructions from your veterinarian should be followed exactly if different from the amounts listed below.

It may be dispensed in one of two ways: 

  • For pain relief: 0.45-1.8 mg per pound of the dog’s body weight every 8-12 hours.

For chronic pain: 0.45-1.8 mg per pound of the dog’s body weight every 6 hours.


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