Trazodone is a prescription antidepressant drug that affects and balances the levels of serotonin in the brain. It can also be used for many off-label purposes, including treatment for insomnia, agitation, anxiety, and a variety of other conditions.

Trazodone isn’t just for humans, however. It’s also commonly used in veterinary medicine, particularly when treating dogs. Below is an overview of the recommended trazodone dosage for dogs, side effects, and other related information.

Article at a Glance:

  • Trazodone can be used as a treatment for anxiety and behavioral issues in dogs.
  • It can be prescribed by veterinarians, although it’s only officially approved by the FDA for use in humans.
  • Veterinarians will typically start dogs on the lowest possible dosage of trazodone and then increase it as needed to reduce the likelihood of side effects.

Trazodone Dosage for Dogs

Trazodone is available in generic and brand name options, and the most common dosages include 50, 100, 150 and 300 mg. The dosage for dogs varies, but a general guideline is a daily dose of around 2.5 mg to 3.5 mg per pound. In some cases, dogs may be given up to 15 mg per pound every 24 hours. In a cat, the trazodone dosage may range from 50 to 100 mg.

Usually, a veterinarian will start an animal on the lowest possible dosage of trazodone to make sure side effects are minimized. The dosage for dogs may be increased after three to five days until the objectives are reached. How long a dog or cat takes trazodone depends on what the condition is being treated, as well as whether there are adverse side effects.

Trazodone is considered safe and effective in animals when it is prescribed by a vet and used properly. It’s important that trazodone is stored safely away from pets and that dosage instructions are followed exactly. If a pet takes too much, it can cause a variety of negative side effects, including seizures and coma.

Why Do Vets Prescribe Trazodone?

Trazodone is a generic drug that comes in brand names such as Oleptro and Desyrel. It can be used to treat behavioral problems in dogs, as well as cats. According to veterinarians, behavioral problems are one of the biggest reasons why animals are euthanized, especially if the behavior is dangerous. Trazodone may help to prevent this behavior.

Recently, veterinarians and animal behavioral specialists have been putting a lot of emphasis on the idea of using training and medication to help animals with behavioral problems.

Trazodone, an antidepressant, is one type of medication being used to treat behavioral problems. Classified as a serotonin antagonist reuptake inhibitor (SARI), the drug helps to balance serotonin levels in the brain. It’s not officially approved by the FDA for use in animals, but it can be prescribed legally by vets for these extra-label purposes.

In dogs and other animals, it is used to help treat issues like separation anxiety and other anxiety-related conditions. It can also be used to ensure animals rest properly after surgery. Trazodone is not used very often in cats, but it may be used for cats that are anxious about traveling to the vet, for example.

Possible Side Effects in Dogs

Trazodone dosages start out small to reduce side effects in dogs, but some of the possible effects can include:

  • Agitation
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperactivity
  • Lethargy
  • Panting
  • Restlessness
  • Sedation
  • Shaking
  • Vomiting

For the most part, side effects in dogs subside or get better over time, so vets recommend waiting for at least a few days before making a determination on side effects.

Along with the above side effects, trazodone can interact with other medicines. It’s important to let your vet know if your dog takes any other medicines, particularly substances like monoamine oxidase inhibitors, benzodiazepines or buspirone. There can also be interactions with antifungal medications.

Is Trazodone Effective for Treating Anxiety in Dogs?

Trazodone for anxiety in dogs tends to be pretty effective, despite the fact that it’s considered an off-label use of the drug. It changes how messages are sent to brain cells, and it increases activity at certain serotonin receptor sites. Trazodone can be given to dogs as needed or as part of a daily schedule.

For the treatment of anxiety, it’s usually given as a daily medication. However, when trazodone is used to treat anxiety from a certain trigger, such as during storms, it can be given on an as-needed basis.

  • Sources

    RxList. “Trazodone.” (n.d.). Accessed May 28, 2020.

    Gollakner, Rania. “Trazodone.” VCA Hospitals, 2019. Accessed May 28, 2020.