Tramadol for Dogs: Uses and Side Effects

The field of veterinary pharmacology is very broad. One of the most used for its powerful action is tramadol. Join us and find out why.
Tramadol for Dogs: Uses and Side Effects

Last update: 29 June, 2021

What all owners seek for their pets is for them to be absent of pain. Sometimes, their bodies can cope with pain and needs the extra support that pharmacology can provide. Tramadol for dogs is an excellent ally in this regard.

Have you ever heard about this drug? In this article, we’ll look at many of the uses of tramadol for dogs, as well as the recommended dosages and the main side effects that it may have. Read on to find out more.

What is tramadol in dogs for?

Also known as tramadol hydrochloride and Tralieve® in the veterinary pharmaceutical industry, this medicine is part of the opioid family, whose main function is analgesia. When tramadol is administered to dogs, the transmission and perception of pain in the animal’s body is modified.

With an effect of well-being and a feeling of euphoria —similar to that produced by morphine— your pet won’t only be free of discomfort, but will also be calmer and more relaxed. Although this state of relief means that your dog will be happier, its use only alters the way in which their body perceives pain.

In addition to being a powerful analgesic, this drug has been shown to have an antitussive effect in patients. However, tramadol for dogs doesn’t have anti-inflammatory properties, and so it’s very common to administer it in conjunction with other medications.

Tramadol in dogs is used for many reasons.

Tramadol: uses for dogs

Here are the main situations in which the use of tramadol is recommended.

Postoperative pain

Dogs that have undergone surgery will surely have pain resulting from tissue manipulation. The controlled and dosed administration of tramadol will help alleviate the general discomfort of the patient, allowing them to rest without discomfort and help them to recover.


The use of tramadol for dogs with osteoarthritis is very common, as it’s the condition most frequently treated with this powerful opioid. It’s common to find geriatric dogs with advanced bone and joint wear due to age, and the pain this produces can be very severe.

If your pet has osteoarthritis, you may find them to be depressed, lethargic, and reluctant to move. Once your vet has evaluated them, they may prescribe a treatment based on tramadol to reduce the pain.

Dogs with cancer

The use of tramadol for dogs with this disease, regardless of the type of cancer that afflicts it, will favor pain relief. Additionally, tramadol hydrochloride has the ability to increase serotonin levels, which helps reduce their distress.

Intervertebral disc problems

Both intervertebral disc disease and any pathology or situation in which the spinal cord is affected will cause a lot of pain. Administering tramadol in dogs will be an excellent analgesic measure to reduce discomfort in these conditions.

Tramadol for dogs with lameness

Some breeds have a genetic predisposition to suffer from bone problems, as well as some joint disorders. Although using tramadol for dogs with these disorders won’t solve the problem as such, it will reduce the discomfort and improve their quality of life.

Tramadol dosage for dogs

There are several factors to consider when dosing tramadol for dogs. Your dog’s condition, its weight, the reason why it needs this analgesic, and the route by which it should be administered will be taken into account to decide on the exact pharmacological dose.

The veterinarian will make a general assessment of your dog’s health and will determine the ideal dosage for them. Never self-medicate your dog, as doses for human use can be lethal to other animals.

Presentations of tramadol for dogs

Market demand for drugs has produced a wide variety of formats. In the case of tramadol for dogs, we have tablets, which are excellent to administer to large dogs, because of their ease of ingestion. Tramadol drops are also available, and these are ideal for small dogs.

There’ll be circumstances that warrant the administration of tramadol with an injection. The appropriate route will be determined by the veterinarian. Lastly, avoid administering tramadol for human use to your pet. The concentrations may not be suitable and may affect their health.

Side effects and contraindications

Like all drugs, the use of tramadol for dogs can bring with it a number of side effects that you should pay close attention to. Some of them are the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Agitation and mood changes

Although not very common, hypersensitivity to this drug may occur. At soon as you see an adverse reaction, it’s best to suspend the treatment. In very high doses of tramadol, your pet could suffer intoxication and suffer seizures, respiratory problems, and even heart failure – which could be life-threatening.

The use of tramadol in dogs is contraindicated in some geriatric dogs, epileptics, and pregnant and lactating dogs, as well as in dogs suffering from serious respiratory problems. If your pet has kidney or liver disease, it’s best to look for different alternatives in its treatment.

A woman gives a pill to a dog.

Even though tramadol for dogs is an excellent drug, don’t risk administering it on your own. A professional medical opinion is essential when starting a new treatment. Listen to the experts and you’ll see how quickly your pet will show an improvement.

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