Tramadol for Dogs: The Do’s and Don’ts

Tramadol for Dogs: The Do’s and Don’ts

  • Kirsten Thornhill - 08.04.2020

One of the worst feelings for a dog owner is knowing that your four-legged best friend is in pain, but not being quite sure on what to exactly do for them. Whether your pup is experiencing pain from aging bones and joints or recovering from surgery, your vet will very likely prescribe conventional pain medication.


Things may get worrisome a bit below. Here’s a quick glance into potential adverse reactions associated with nearly every medication could terrify most dog owners. From kidney damage to liver failure to death, the number of things that could potentially go worrying is scary. Yet, what can you do? You don’t want your doggo to be in pain, but is there another way?



In today's article, we’ll cover the do’s and don’ts of commonly prescribed pain medication called Tramadol. It is recommended to only use this medication based on the guidance and advice of your vet, and it is essential for you to also know the associated risks of this medication. 


Additionally, we will cover holistic alternatives that prove to be effective and safe.


Let’s dive in!

Tramadol for Dogs


Tramadol is a prescribed medication that many vets recommend for your dog’s pain management. You might recognize the name, as it’s also prescribed by many physicians to treat pain in us humans. 


In fact, tramadol is one of the few human painkillers that vets deem safe to give to pups, under vet supervision of course! A tramadol prescription however, should never be shared between owners and pets. 




Each case is different and should be monitored closely by your vet (in your case, your physician, depending on who prescribed you the drug).

How Tramadol Works


Tramadol is a member of the opioid fam. Its job is to inhibit the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. This increases levels of these substances in the bloodstream and alters pain perception in both humans and dogs.


Furthermore, the increased levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the bloodstream helps to initiate sensations of wellbeing and euphoria, allowing your pup to be pain-free, mentally calm, and physically relaxed. 


As you’ve heard, opioids can be addictive in humans, the drugs don’t affect our dogs in the same, dangerous manner though. Some dogs, however, may experience withdrawal symptoms once treatment has stopped. 


What is Tramadol Used For


Tramadol is primarily used to manage general, acute, and chronic pain in doggos. However, in this mini section, we’ll break down specific reasons why tramadol may be prescribed for your dog.


1) Osteoarthritis


One of the main reasons for tramadol prescriptions is the treatment of the osteoarthritic signs in dogs. It is important to note that tramadol alleviates signs and is not at all a cure for underlying causes of the condition. 


As your dog begins to age, their bones and joints begin to wear and tare from years of constant use.



This wear and tare creates inflammation and pain that can cause your four-legged pooch to become lethargic, depressed, and sometimes even shy away from physical attention for fear of being handled or touched in a way that may result in more pain.


In these cases, your vet may prescribe tramadol for your pup. Help is on the way doggo!


2) Treating Postoperative Pain


Vets prescribe tramadol to manage pain resulting from recent surgeries too. It is important to note if you are using tramadol to manage post-op pain, making sure to keep a close eye on your dog, making sure he or she isn’t overexerting themselves. 


The medication will help relieve their pain, which can lead to an increase in their activity, even possibly leading to insufficient rest, and unfortunately, an inability to fully heal from the recent surgery. 


3) Managing Cancer


Your vet may prescribe tramadol to ease symptoms associated with cancer in addition to traditional cancer treatment.


If your pup is fighting cancer, the last thing you want is for them to be in even more pain than need be. Tramadol may be an effective way to reduce their distress and even increase their serotonin levels.


4) Treating Hip Dysplasia


Tramadol is also prescribed to help pain and discomfort associated with hip dysplasia and other joint disorders. 


Again, tramadol doesn’t work to cure the foundational cause of these disorders, but merely helping manage the associated pain and discomfort your dog may be facing.


In addition, in less common situations, your vet may prescribe tramadol to relieve anxiety and coughing.


Potential Side Effects of Tramadol


Like all traditional medications, tramadol can have its fair share of potential side effects. Studies have shown that most dogs tend to tolerate tramadol well.


However, the following side effects may still occur in dogs with varying degrees of pain:




Loss of appetite

Lethargy and drowsiness


Excessive nausea & vomiting

Lack of coordination






    How to Avoid Tramadol Adverse Effects


    The only way to completely avoid the side effects of using tramadol is to use an alternative treatment method. 


    However, we understand that a conventional painkiller may be necessary. In such cases, there are multiple ways to avoid or lessen the severity of associated side effects of this medication.


    First and foremost, ensure that your vet has a complete, accurate, and detailed record of your pup’s full medical history.


    Your vet should be aware of any and all allergies, as well as any previous side effects to medication. Your vet should be informed of any medications that your dogs is currently on.


    Tramadol should not be used with certain drugs and may cause irreversible side effects if used incorrectly.


    It’s important for dog owners to make sure that they are following the prescribed medication directions exactly as the vet has recommended.


    If you stop the medication sooner than you’re supposed to, symptoms may reappear, and sadly they may be worse than before. 


    An accidental miss of a dose can also worsen your pup’s pain.


    Tramadol Overdose: What to Look For


    Adverse reactions aren’t the only thing you should worry about when it comes to tramadol. Overdoses can occur too and cause severe, undoable damage.


    If you do not see immediate relief, please see your vet for a re-evaluation before opting to stop or increase the dosage of the medication.


    Tramadol overdoses can occur is the dog gets into the cabinet and consumes too much of the medication (sounds silly, but you know just how capable your dog really is in the kitchen).


    Signs of an overdose need to be recognized & immediately informed to your vet:



    • Excessive vomiting
    • Lethargic
    • Slowed heart rate
    • Uncontrolled tremors
    • Respiratory depression
    • Seizures
    • Agitated easily
    • Dilated pupils
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Coma 


    What Dose do I Give my Dog


    It’s important to note that tramadol is a class 4 controlled substance that requires a prescription from your vet. As we mentioned above, never give your pup the tramadol dose intended for humans. The dosage for dogs can vary significantly, and is typically based on the dog’s weight and size. 


    50 MG Tablets of Tramadol


    Tramadol is available in a 50 mg pill. Only your vet should advise you on the exact dose for your dog’s specialized needs.


    For instance, a dog experiencing chronic pain is often given a different dosage than a dog experiencing acute pain, even if they are both of the same weight.


    Avoid Tramadol with These Health Conditions


    • Liver disease or liver damage
    • Kidney disease and associated damage
    • Nursing dogs
    • Pregnant dogs
    • History of seizures


    How Long Does Tramadol Take to Work


    In most cases, pet owners find that tramadol kicks in within the first day of giving it to your dog. However, the course of medication recommended by your vet must be completely exactly to how he or she prescribes it.


    Once your doggo shows signs of relief, if possible, it is crucial to find a more permanent solution that addresses the underlying cause of their pain. 


    Natural Alternatives to Help Your Dog’s Pain


    Considering all the adverse effects associated with conventional pain medication, many pet parents find themselves wondering if there are any natural alternatives for their four-legged friends. 


    Are there ways to truly provide pain relief safely? We’re here to tell you yes, oh yes there are! And many have been proven to be even more effective than your typically prescription drugs.


    CBD Oil


    If you keep up with the latest and greatest holistic wellness trends, then you’ve likely heard about cannabidiol (CBD).


    Derived from the hemp plant, CBD is making heads turn in terms of how we can support healthy bone and joint function in humans (and dogs too!).


    Also, hemp contains no more than 0.3% THC, thus, your precious pup won’t get “high” or feel “out of it”.


    CBD Supports Bone and Joint Health 


    If your dog is presently suffering from joint issues or stiffness due to everyday movement, we recommend our Pet Hemp CBD Dog Treats.



    Our soft chew CBD dog treats are packed with the highest quality of CBD.


     These beef flavored soft chews aim to: 


    • Help ease discomfort
    • Help maintain a normal inflammatory response
    • Enhance normal repair of joints and connective tissue
    • Supports your pup with joint tenderness


    Tramadol for Dogs: Final Thoughts


    At the end of the day, we know you want only the very best for your furry friend. There are times when the conventional drug, like tramadol, is necessary. We certainly don’t want to take away from the incredible importance and benefits of today’s modern medicine.


    However, that being said, we firmly stand by pet parents fully understanding the associated risks involved before beginning treatment with conventional drugs. Furthermore, knowing that there are all-natural alternatives to help treat and prevent injuries/illnesses is something we can all stand behind, powerfully.


    We encourage you to know your options and ask questions as they come up. I mean, knowledge is power, right? We hope your doggo feels better soon!

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