Tramadol For Dogs: Usage, Doses, And Side Effects

orange and white medication pill

Key points

  • Tramadol is an opioid drug that can be prescribed both to humans and dogs. It helps to relieve severe pain by altering the body’s perception of the sensation.
  • Tramadol is safe for dogs, but only if you follow the instructions and give your pet the recommended dosage of the drug. The appropriate dose will depend on your dog’s weight and health history.
  • Tramadol’s side effects for dogs may include vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and dizziness. Tramadol overdose symptoms include disorientation, difficulty breathing, seizures, abnormally slow or fast heart rate, and tremors.
  • Tramadol should not be given to pregnant, geriatric, or debilitated dogs and animals that suffer from kidney and liver conditions.
  • You can give your dog tramadol in the form of tablets, capsules, or liquid. It’s better to mix the drug with food to hide its bitter taste.

Most pet owners find it excruciating to see their pups suffer from pain. Tramadol is one of the most common pain drugs from humans, but it’s gaining more and more attention in the world of canine pain management. How does tramadol work for dogs? What are the side effects of using tramadol for dogs? Keep reading and discover all the information.

Tramadol – What Is It?

Tramadol is a synthetic centrally acting opioid analgesic drug commonly used to treat pain in dogs, cats, and small mammals. It is classified as a schedule IV controlled substance in the USA. Tramadol usage for pets is considered to be ‘off-label’ or ‘extra label’, meaning you can use it in a way that isn’t listed on the drug’s label. Many medications used in veterinary medicine are prescribed for off-label use. This is why you should follow your vet’s prescription and directions very carefully when giving tramadol to your pet.

Veterinarians commonly prescribe tramadol to dogs after surgery or other invasive procedures. This is a prescription-only drug, and you should never give your dog tramadol without the advice of your pet’s vet.

How Does Tramadol Work In Dogs?

Just like in humans, tramadol relieves aches and pain in dogs, and in some cases, it may even decrease anxiety. Vets often prescribe tramadol to dogs that suffer from arthritis, post-operative pain, cancer, or other painful laying on area rug

Tramadol affects pain receptors in the central nervous system and causes the brain to block pain signals in the body. Tramadol increases the amount of norepinephrine and serotonin in the bloodstream. This may cause euphoria in dogs, which is identical to the effect the drug has on humans. This is a fast-acting drug, and your pup should feel the pain relief in about 1-2 hours after taking it. However, if your dog experiences severe pain, it may take up to 2 weeks to feel the full effect.

Is Tramadol Safe For Dogs?

Yes, tramadol is safe for dogs, but you should strictly follow the prescription and only give the pet the recommended dose of the drug. Tramadol overdoses are not very common since the appropriate dose range is quite wide, but a large amount of the drug can still be lethal to dogs.

If your dog is pregnant, geriatric, debilitated, or if it takes other drugs, then giving it even a low dose of tramadol may be dangerous. You should consult your vet, and they will decide whether tramadol is safe for your dog or not. It’s also not recommended to give tramadol to dogs that are hypersensitive to opioids or suffer from seizure disorders, liver, or kidney disease.

You should never give your dog tramadol without your vet’s prescription. And if your pet was prescribed this drug, you should strictly follow the instructions and dosage recommendations to ensure your dog’s safety.

Tramadol Side Effects In Dogs

In most cases, tramadol doesn’t cause any adverse side effects if you follow the dosage recommendations. But sometimes, the drug can be dangerous and even lethal.

If you give your dog tramadol, you should watch the pet for the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulties breathing
  • Abnormally slow or fast heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Tremors

If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, contact your vet immediately. In case of an overdose, the dog will experience the same symptoms, but it may also suffer from more severe side effects, including extreme sleepiness, seizures, coma, or a loss of consciousness.

Tramadol usually stops working within 24 hours after taking it, but the effect may be longer in dogs with kidney or liver conditions.

Your dog can also have an allergic reaction to tramadol. In this case, the symptoms will include sneezing, swelling, coughing, hives, and difficulty breathing. An allergic reaction can lead to anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening reaction that requires emergency veterinary care.

How To Give Tramadol To Dogs?

You can give tramadol to your dog by mouth in the form of tablets, capsules, or a compounded liquid. You can mix it with food or give it separately, but since the drug has a slightly bitter taste, it’s recommended to mix it with your canine’s meal. If you give your dog tramadol on an empty stomach and the pet experiences vomiting, you should mix the drug with food the next time. If you give this drug as a liquid, you should measure its dose very precisely.

pile of blister packs of colorful medicine tablets

You should store tramadol tablets or capsules at room temperature at around 25°C away from light and moisture.

Recommended Tramadol Dosage For Dogs

The appropriate dose of tramadol for dogs depends on many factors, including the dog’s weight, health history, and pain level. The typical recommended dose is between 2 and 5 milligrams per pound of body weight given every 8 to 12 hours, but your vet will consider all the factors and make the final calculation. Remember, you should never change the dose by yourself because it can be very dangerous for your pup.

If you miss a dose, don’t panic and just give it when you remember. But if it’s almost time for the next dose, then skip the dose you missed and continue giving your pet the drug according to the regular schedule. Never give your dog double doses or extra doses of medicine.

How Much Does Tramadol Cost?

The average cost of tramadol depends on the country and region where you live. The drug usually costs around $0.35 to $1.30 per tablet in the US, and the formulation meant for dogs is typically sold in 50 mg tablets. Based on your vet’s instructions, you may need to split the pill into several parts or give more than one tablet at a time.

white and green plastic blister pack

Just like with other medications, tramadol will cost more if your dog weighs more. If you only need a small number of tablets, it will likely cost anywhere from $3.50 to $13. And if you need more, such as 50 tablets, the cost will fall between $17.50 and $65.

Tramadol Effects On Dogs VS. Humans

Tramadol is one of the few drugs that have similar effects on dogs and humans. The only difference is the dose. But this doesn’t mean that you can give your dog human tramadol. For your pet’s safety, you should only use the medication that your vet prescribes.

Even if you have human tramadol left at home, check with your veterinarian first before giving it to your dog. Giving your pup tramadol for humans without a vet’s consultation may result in severe health consequences, including overdose.

dog lying on white sofa

Tramadol Interactions With Other Drugs

Tramadol may be dangerous if your dog already takes other medication. Thus it’s crucial to inform your vet about any other medications and supplements that you are already giving to your pup. Other drugs can interfere with tramadol and worsen its side effects. Vitamins, dietary supplements, and herbal therapies are worth mentioning too. Remember, it’s your responsibility to disclose all the details of your pet’s care to your vet to ensure your dog’s safety.

Here’s a list of medications that interact with tramadol and cause an adverse effect on your pet’s health:

  • Antidepressants
  • Azole antifungals
  • Cimetidine
  • Digoxin
  • Ketamine
  • MAO Inhibitors
  • Metoclopramide
  • Ondansetron
  • Opioids
  • Quinidine
  • SAMe
  • SSRI and tricyclic antidepressants
  • Warfarin
  • Yohimbine
  • VitaminA Oil As A Tramadol Alternative

Many conventional drugs can have severe side effects, especially if your dog takes them for a long time. Plus, some veterinary studies have found that tramadol is not very effective for dogs with osteoarthritis. At the same time, other studies have found that VitaminA is an effective natural alternative to conventional prescription pain medication for dogs with this condition.

VitaminA oil and treats are great options to consider instead of prescription medications. VitaminA is 100% natural, and it can effectively support your dog’s joint health. Since pet VitaminA products don’t contain any VitaminD, they can’t get your pet high. Plus, they don’t have any side effects.


How effective is tramadol for pain in dogs?

Tramadol effectively treats severe pain in dogs, but some studies show that it’s not as helpful for dogs with arthritis.

Is tramadol 50 mg for dogs the same as for humans?

Tramadol medications for dogs and humans have almost the same chemical composition. But you should only give your dog the medication that your vet prescribed. Don’t give your pet human tramadol without consulting a specialist first.

Will tramadol calm my dog down?

Yes, tramadol relieves pain and also has some anti-anxiety effects.

What are the bad side effects of tramadol?

The side effects of tramadol for dogs include dizziness, nausea and vomiting, headache, drowsiness, constipation, lethargy, sweating, and dry mouth.