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Tramadol is a painkiller used to manage acute and chronic pain in dogs and other animals. Tramadol is sometimes prescribed to humans but is also safe to give to animals when prescribed by a veterinarian. Tramadol is a synthetic drug that’s part of the opioid family. Not only does tramadol relieve pain, but it also aids in the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, which can increase happiness and euphoria.

Tramadol treats a number of ailments, including cancer, post-operative discomfort, osteoarthritis, and other general pains. While tramadol is safe to use when following vet guidelines, complications can occur due to allergic reactions, overdoses, and interactions with other drugs. Read on to find out more about the effects of tramadol on your dog.

Dosage

Dosages of tramadol can differ greatly depending on the size of your dog and what is being treated. Tramadol cannot be bought over-the-counter as it's a Class 4 controlled substance. 

When giving your dog tramadol, make sure you follow your veterinarian's instructions carefully. Tramadol is administered orally in liquid, tablet, or capsule form. You can give your dog tramadol with or without food. Tramadol has a distinct bitter taste, so you may find it tough to give your dog this medication without hiding it in food. Tramadol is known to occasionally make dogs vomit when taken on an empty stomach. If you find your dog gets sick, give them their medication with food.

Efficacy

Tramadol is very effective at managing chronic and severe pain caused by an array of illnesses and injuries. Tramadol is fast-acting, and you should see an improvement in dogs with minor pain within a few hours. However, if your dog has a chronic injury or ailment, it can take several weeks for the drug to take full effect.

Side effects

Tramadol is an opioid that can cause a range of side effects. Common side effects include: 

While most of these side effects are common and mild, you should contact your vet if any of these symptoms occur.

Considerations

Drug interactions

Tramadol is a synthetic opioid and does not act in the same way as normal nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Tramadol does not cause the same anti-inflammatory effects as similar drugs and is less likely to cause adverse drug interactions. That being said, you should use tramadol cautiously if your dog is taking any of the following: 

  • Antifungal medications

  • MAO inhibitors (l-deprenyl)

  • Opioids

  • Antidepressants 

  • Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (fluvoxamine, fluoxetine, sertraline, paroxetine)

  • Heart medications (digoxin, quinidine)

  • Antihistamines (cimetidine, cyproheptadine)

  • Anesthetics (ketamine, sevoflurane)

  • Anticoagulants (warfarin)

  • Metoclopramide

  • Ondansetron

  • Yohimbine

  • SAMe

You should also let your vet know if your dog is taking any supplements or vitamins, which may affect your dog's treatment. 

Allergic reactions and sensitivity

Your dog can be allergic to tramadol and other opioids. If you notice your dog is having an allergic reaction, contact your vet immediately. You should also speak to your vet if your dog has any of the following conditions: 

You also avoid giving your dog tramadol if they are elderly, pregnant, or lactating. 

Frequently asked questions

Is tramadol safe for cats?

Tramadol is safe for cats when prescribed by a vet. However, Ultracet®, a tramadol brand given to humans containing acetaminophen, is toxic to cats. Acetaminophen could cause acetaminophen toxicity in cats, which is potentially fatal. 

What should I do if I forget to give my dog a dose of tramadol?

You should try to keep a regular schedule when giving your dog tramadol. If you do happen to miss giving your dog a dose, give it to them as soon as possible. However, if it's close to your dog’s next dosage, skip the one you missed. You should not give your dog two doses to catch up, as this could cause an overdose.

Can I give my dog tramadol prescribed for humans?

Tramadol should only be given to your dog when prescribed by a vet — do not give your dog tramadol prescribed to humans. The dosage required for dogs and humans is vastly different, and giving your dog tramadol medication prescribed to humans is very dangerous. 

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Tramadol Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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