Trazodone For Dogs: Everything you Need To Know

Trazodone for dogs

A recent study conducted on pet dogs in Finland found that nearly three-quarters of the 13,700 dogs observed had behavioral issues. These issues, if left untreated, can impact the canines’ quality of life and lead them to abandonment or euthanization in severe cases. 

Therefore, in light of the growing prevalence of behavioral issues observed in dogs, the use of veterinary medicines has risen significantly. One such med is trazodone, a serotonin antagonist-reuptake inhibitor (SARI), primarily designed for humans but is increasingly administered to dogs to manage various behavioral problems. 

Trazodone for dogs is either used as a daily treatment or on an as-needed basis. This flexibility in administration supports dog owners in managing their pets’ behaviors during specific stress-inducing situations, such as thunderstorms, firework displays, or visits to the vet. 

But even though the promised benefits of trazodone for dogs are many, it’s not without risks, and you must understand them before proceeding. Therefore, this blog aims to provide dog owners like yourself with an in-depth understanding of trazodone by offering crucial information on its usage, dosage, side effects, and interactions with other drugs.

So, if you want to safely manage your dog’s behavioral issues and don’t want anything unexpected to happen while your bud is on this med, read on! 

Table of Contents

What Is Trazodone?

Trazodone is a medication primarily recognized for its application in human medicine to manage depressive disorders. The drug was developed in the 1960s to provide relief for individuals dealing with depression, offering a means to restore mental balance and enhance mood. As an antidepressant, trazodone belongs to the class of serotonin antagonists and reuptake inhibitors (SARIs) that collectively modulate serotonin levels in the brain, which is crucial for regulating mood.

The mechanism of action of trazodone is dual-faceted. Firstly, it inhibits the serotonin reuptake by the brain’s nerve cells, allowing for an increase in serotonin levels in the synaptic cleft – the space between nerve cells. This elevated presence of serotonin enhances the transmission of signals between nerve cells, eventually improving mood. 

Afterward, trazodone serves as a serotonin antagonist, meaning it obstructs the action of some serotonin receptors. The blockade results in an increase in the availability of serotonin in the system, contributing further to mood elevation and stabilization.

Over time, veterinary medicine has embraced trazodone for dogs due to its advantageous properties in managing behavioral concerns in dogs. The medication’s ability to moderate serotonin levels has proven beneficial for dogs experiencing anxiety and related behavioral disorders. 

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Why is Trazodone Prescribed for Dogs?

Trazodone for dogs is prescribed primarily to address various anxiety and behavioral issues. It is a valuable tool for pet owners seeking to improve their furry companions’ quality of life. The medication is widely utilized for its calming effects, aiding in managing diverse anxiety manifestations, including separation anxiety, noise phobias, and travel anxiety among dogs. 

Here are some reasons why you might get an online vet prescription of trazodone for dogs:

Anxiety Management

Trazodone is commonly used to alleviate anxiety in dogs, especially if they suffer from separation anxiety, noise phobias (like thunderstorms or fireworks), or anxiety associated with traveling. This medication helps calm the dog, making it easier to cope with stress-inducing situations, thereby improving their overall quality of life.

Post-Operative Recovery

For dogs that have recently undergone surgery, trazodone is a valuable aid in their recovery process. It helps mitigate post-operative anxiety and restlessness, allowing the pet to relax and heal more effectively. Administering trazodone post-surgery ensures a smoother recovery period, providing comfort and ease to the recuperating animal.

Behavioral Issues

Trazodone is a helpful medication for managing various behavioral issues in dogs, including aggression and hyperactivity. Trazodone offers a supportive solution for pets that exhibit difficulty in interacting positively with their environment or those that struggle with aggressive tendencies. It aids in moderating and controlling these behaviors, fostering a more harmonious living situation for the pet and their owners.

Combination Therapy

Sometimes, trazodone is combined with other behavioral modification techniques and therapies. When used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, it can effectively address and manage more severe or complicated behavioral problems in dogs. It’s essential to consult with a veterinarian to design an appropriate and effective combination therapy plan tailored to your dog’s specific needs.

Pre-Veterinary Visit

Dogs often experience anxiety during visits to the veterinarian. Administering trazodone before vet appointments can help reduce their stress and make the experience more manageable for both the pet and the pet owner. It ensures the animal remains calm and cooperative during the check-up, facilitating a smoother and less stressful veterinary visit.

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Can You Get an Online Vet Prescription for Trazodone for Dogs?

For dog owners considering trazodone as a medication option for their pets, securing an online vet prescription can be a convenient and accessible approach. In the US and Canada, several online pet clinics are authorized to prescribe trazodone for dogs. Here’s where you can get an online vet prescription for your canine’s behavioral issues: 

1. Vetster 

Vetster offers a platform connecting pet owners with licensed veterinary professionals for virtual appointments for residents in the US and Canada. The service allows for immediate access to expert advice and prescription services, including prescribing trazodone for dogs exhibiting anxiety and behavioral issues. 

2. PetMD

PetMD is a reliable online resource providing comprehensive information on pet health, offering insights pet owners need to better understand their dogs’ behavior. You can connect with a vet online via PetMD to have a prescription for your dog. Moreover, it serves as an invaluable guide for owners who want to learn more about trazodone and its applications to make informed decisions when consulting their vets for prescriptions.

3. Pawp

Pawp is an online platform offering 24/7 access to licensed veterinarians. Through this platform, pet owners can engage in virtual consultations with experienced vets to discuss their dogs’ behavioral issues and explore medication options, including trazodone. Besides an online vet prescription, dog owners can also receive expert advice without the need for a physical clinic visit on Pawp.

Trazodone Dosage and Administration

The administration and dosage of trazodone for dogs are primarily contingent upon the animal’s weight and the specific behavioral or health condition being addressed. 

Generally, the dosage ranges between a low and high limit, with the lower end at approximately 7.65 mg for a 10-pound dog. The dosage increases proportionately with the dog’s weight. For instance, a 100-pound dog may require a dose ranging from 77.18 mg to 431.3 mg, depending on the severity of the condition.

In most cases, the veterinarian would commence treatment with the lowest effective dose, gradually increasing it if required while continually observing the dog’s reaction.

However, these guidelines serve merely as a starting point, and the importance of a tailored approach under the guidance of a professional veterinarian cannot be overstated. 

Talking about the administration of trazodone for dogs, the med is administered orally, commonly in tablet form. The medication can be given with or without food. However, providing the tablet with a small amount of food may help prevent stomach upset, a potential side effect of the medication.

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Tips On Giving Trazodone to Dogs

Dog owners should adhere strictly to the veterinarian-prescribed dosage and administration guidelines and avoid making adjustments to the dosage without consulting the veterinarian first. Here are some tips to follow when you have an online vet prescription for trazodone for dogs:

With or Without Food

Trazodone can be given with or without food, but administering the medication with a small amount of food may help minimize potential gastrointestinal side effects like vomiting or diarrhea. 

Consistent Timing

Maintain consistent timing when administering trazodone to your dog to keep the levels of the medication stable in your dog’s system. If it is used to manage anxiety triggered by specific events, it should be given approximately one hour before the anxiety-inducing event is expected to occur.

Missed Doses

If you forget to administer a dose, give it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s nearly time for the next dose, skip the missed dose—never double up to make up for a missed dose, as this can lead to overdosing.

Monitor Your Dog

Observe your dog for any signs of side effects or adverse reactions after administration. If you notice anything unusual, consult with your veterinarian immediately.


Do not suddenly stop giving trazodone unless instructed by your veterinarian, as abrupt discontinuation can lead to withdrawal symptoms. Usually, if discontinuation is necessary, the veterinarian will advise on a gradual reduction in the dose to wean the dog off safely.


Potential Side Effects of Trazodone for dogs

Like any medicine, trazodone for dogs is also not without side effects, as your pet’s health and living conditions determine how it interacts with the drug. Here are some common and not-so-common side effects of trazodone for dogs:

Common Side Effects 


As trazodone for dogs exerts a calming and sedative effect, your furball may appear more lethargic or sleepy than usual.


Some dogs may experience dizziness after taking trazodone. Pet owners should be cautious and observant, providing a safe and comfortable space for their pets to prevent accidents or injuries resulting from dizziness or lack of coordination.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Trazodone may also lead to gastrointestinal disturbances in dogs, including vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite. Administering the medication with food may help mitigate these issues. 

Dry Mouth

Trazodone may induce dry mouth in dogs. Though it’s harder to identify this in pets, you may notice your dog drinking water more frequently than usual.

Serious Side Effects

Serotonin Syndrome

Serotonin syndrome occurs when there’s an excessive accumulation of serotonin in the dog’s brain. It results in symptoms like confusion, agitation, rapid heart rate, and high blood pressure. 

Prolonged Sedation

In some cases, dogs may experience extended periods of sedation after taking trazodone. While the medication is meant to induce calmness, prolonged sedation is abnormal and warrants urgent veterinary consultation.


Dogs may experience low blood pressure or hypotension, which could lead to weakness or fainting. Immediate veterinary attention is required if this occurs.

Cardiac Irregularities

Trazodone may cause irregularities in your dog’s heart rate or rhythm. Therefore, dog owners should monitor for any signs of cardiac distress.


Steps To Take If Adverse Reactions Are Observed

If your dog exhibits any adverse reactions to trazodone, you should take immediate action to ensure their safety and health. Here are some steps to help you: 

  • Closely monitor your pet for any discomfort or unusual behavior following medication administration. 
  • Should you observe any side effects from trazodone for dogs, whether common or severe, prompt consultation with your veterinarian is essential. They may adjust the dosage, suggest discontinuing the medication, or recommend alternative treatments. 
  • In the case of severe reactions like serotonin syndrome, seek emergency veterinary care without delay.


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Contraindications and Drug Interactions

It’s imperative to understand the contraindications and potential drug interactions associated with trazodone for dogs before considering it as a treatment option for your pup.


  • Dogs with hypersensitivity or allergy to trazodone should avoid this medication to prevent allergic reactions. 
  • Pregnant or lactating dogs should also not be given trazodone unless deemed necessary and monitored closely by a veterinarian, as the effects on unborn or nursing puppies are unknown.
  • If your dog suffers from severe liver or kidney disease, trazodone might not be a suitable choice due to the organs’ roles in metabolizing and excreting the drug. 
  • Dogs with a history of cardiac disease should be assessed carefully by a veterinarian before starting on trazodone due to its potential impacts on heart rate and rhythm.

Drug Interactions


Trazodone can interact negatively with several drugs and substances. That’s why you must disclose all medications and supplements your pet is currently taking to the vet. 

  • Tricyclic Antidepressants: Combining trazodone with tricyclic antidepressants can increase serotonin levels in the brain, resulting in a life-threatening condition of serotonin syndrome.
  • Dextromethorphan: Found in many over-the-counter cough medications, dextromethorphan, when combined with trazodone, can also elevate serotonin levels dangerously.
  • Buspirone: As an anti-anxiety medication, buspirone, when used concomitantly with trazodone, may increase the risk of serotonin syndrome due to their similar effects on serotonin levels.
  • Tryptophan and 5-HTP: These supplements influence serotonin production and can, therefore, interact negatively with trazodone, leading to dangerous increases in serotonin in the dog’s system.
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Special Considerations

Senior dogs often possess a heightened sensitivity to medications due to their aging bodies and decreased organ function. As kidney and liver function diminish with age, the metabolism and excretion of drugs like trazodone may be affected, potentially leading to an increased risk of adverse effects.

Older dogs may also have concurrent health issues, which might compound the risks associated with medication usage. Therefore, administering trazodone to senior dogs requires a cautious and tailored approach, often involving adjusted dosages and close monitoring to ensure safety and efficacy.

Dogs with Health Conditions

As explained earlier, careful consideration and veterinary consultation are imperative before introducing trazodone for dogs. If your pet is struggling with existing health conditions, particularly liver or kidney disease or cardiac disorders, you must be careful. 

These health conditions can influence how the body processes the medication. Therefore, it can lead to increased susceptibility to negative interactions with other drugs the pet might be taking.

Duration of Usage & Dependence

Trazodone is typically used as a short-term medication or on an as-needed basis to manage specific anxiety-triggering events in dogs. The duration of usage varies significantly based on the dog’s particular health profile and the conditions being treated. 

Although trazodone does not cause physical dependence, abrupt discontinuation after prolonged use can result in withdrawal-like symptoms or a resurgence of anxiety or behavioral issues. A gradual tapering process, supervised by a veterinarian, is advised when discontinuing the medication to prevent this situation.

Real-Life Testimonials

Here’s what pet owners have to say about trazodone for dogs:

Sarah from Texas says: “Our rescue pup, Bella, always had severe separation anxiety. The moment we’d leave the house, she’d become uncontrollable. Our vet recommended trying trazodone, and the change has been remarkable! Bella is now calm, and we can peacefully leave home knowing she’s comfortable and secure.

Mike from California shares: “Thunderstorms were a nightmare for our Bernese Mountain Dog, Max. He’d shake, hide, and couldn’t relax. Since we started using trazodone, stormy nights are no longer a stressor for him or us. It’s like night and day!

Alice from Florida notes: “Trazodone has been a game-changer for our little Dachshund, Oliver, who used to be aggressive towards other dogs during walks. Now, he’s much more relaxed and sociable. It’s such a relief seeing him enjoy his walks instead of being tense and fearful.


Veterinary Insights on Trazodone For Dogs

In an email to Forbes, Dr. Jason Labes, D.V.M. and medical director at Veterinary Emergency Group in Newtown Massachusetts, says:  “When given at appropriately prescribed doses and intervals, and under the direction of a veterinarian, trazodone is safe to give to dogs.”

Although Trazodone is not FDA approved like many other drugs for animals, in another email to Forbes, Dr Caroline George D.V.M and veterinarian at Aliso Beach Animal Clinic in Laguna Beach California notes “It has been used extensively enough to prove that it is efficacious and relatively safe at prescribed dosages”

Tips for Managing Dog Anxiety Without Medication

Managing dog anxiety without relying on medications is entirely feasible if you don’t want to use trazodone for dogs, with various techniques and tools available to assist pet owners. Here are some practical tips for alleviating your dog’s anxiety:

Behavior Modification Techniques



Desensitization involves gradually exposing your dog to the source of their anxiety in controlled, low-stress settings. This process aims to reduce their anxiety response over time. For instance, if your dog has noise anxiety, you might play the troubling noise at a low volume, gradually increasing the volume as your dog becomes accustomed to the sound without exhibiting stress.


Counterconditioning works by changing your dog’s emotional response to the stimuli that cause anxiety. Through this technique, the anxiety-inducing stimulus is associated with positive experiences, like treats or playtime, thereby transforming a previously fearful situation into a positive one.

Positive Reinforcement

Consistent positive reinforcement, such as treats, praise, or playtime, encourages your dog to repeat these behaviors. These rewards foster a sense of security and confidence.

Environmental Changes

Creating a safe and comfortable environment for your dog significantly aids in reducing anxiety. Providing a quiet, secluded space where your dog can retreat when feeling stressed is crucial. Implementing calming elements, like pheromone diffusers, can also create a more relaxing atmosphere for your anxious pet.


Anxiety-Reducing Toys & Tools


Interactive Toys

Interactive toys engage your dog’s mind and help divert their attention from anxiety-inducing stimuli. Toys that give treats while playing can work well for your canine. 

Pressure Wraps

Pressure wraps, or anxiety vests, exert gentle pressure on your dog’s body, providing a calming effect, much like swaddling does for infants. These can be particularly useful during thunderstorms or fireworks.

Calming Beds

Investing in a high-quality, comfortable, calming bed can give your dog a secure and cozy retreat, offering a sense of safety and tranquility.

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Final Thoughts

Understanding the effects and appropriate use of trazodone can help dog owners manage their pet’s anxiety and behavioral issues. Trazodone for dogs can be a valuable tool, relieving pets in distressing situations. 

But be noted that this med demands careful, informed usage to ensure it provides the intended benefits without causing harm.

Knowledge of the medication’s potential side effects, interactions with other drugs, and special considerations for various dogs, including seniors and those with health conditions, is essential. 

Most importantly, the guidance and supervision of a qualified veterinarian are indispensable in any decision related to an online vet prescription. 

A veterinarian’s expert advice provides the foundation for safe and effective medication management, ensuring that trazodone, if deemed suitable, is administered responsibly, with the dog’s best interests at the forefront. 

By engaging actively with your veterinarian, you can understand the challenges of trazodone usage and provide your beloved pet with a calmer and happier life.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How sleepy does Trazodone make dogs?

When administered, many dogs will experience drowsiness or a calm state, which aids in reducing anxiety or hyperactivity. The level of sedation can vary depending on the dog’s size, age, overall health, and the dosage given.

How much Trazodone can you give a dog?

The dosage of trazodone for dogs varies based on the animal’s size, age, health, and the specific condition being treated. Typically, veterinarians prescribe trazodone at a dosage of 2.5 to 3.5 mg per pound (5 to 7 mg/kg) given once daily, but the dose can be adjusted based on the dog’s response and specific needs. Always consult with your online or local vet when it comes to dosage for your dog.

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