Will Trazodone Kill A Dog? (You Need To Know This)

will trazodone kill a dog

Anxiety and stress are part and parcel of our lives. Some might say that the only time you won’t feel stressed is when you’re dead.

Not only are humans subjected to these emotions but our dogs can feel the same way too but for different reasons. Dogs with generalized anxiety and behavioral issues can be treated with Trazodone.

Will Trazodone be deadly for dogs if given incorrectly?

Trazodone can be deadly to dogs if ingested in large amounts. A dosage over 250mg can be fatal to dogs. It would be best to just stick to the recommended dosage given by the vet to prevent any health complications and side effects.

In this article, let us take a closer look at what Trazodone is and if your dog needs to be put on such a medication.

What Is Trazodone For Dogs?

Trazodone is categorized as an antidepressant drug that is used to treat a variety of issues in dogs and cats.

These issues can be linked to two main triggers, canine anxiety disorders and phobias.

Dogs with these behavioral problems can have separation anxiety, OCD, afraid of loud noises, being terrified of vet visits or anything that can cause them to act out strangely.

What Does Trazodone Make Dogs Feel Like?

What Does Trazodone Make Dogs Feel Like

The main aim of Trazodone is to mildly sedate an overly anxious dog to calm it down. Trazodone works by normalizing the serotonin levels in the dog’s brain.

Serotonin is a very crucial hormone and neurotransmitter for humans and dogs. It helps regulate many important functions like sleep, moods, digestion, together with overall physical and mental health

A dog whose serotonin levels are out of wack can experience physical and mental issues.

Trazodone helps to stabilize the serotonin levels in the dog which helps to treat anxiety and correct certain behavioral problems.

How Long Does Trazodone Last In Dogs?

The effects of Trazodone can last about 4 hours after it is taken. It has a half-life of about 7 hours which means it should clear out of the dog’s body naturally by 24 hours.

How Is Trazodone Given To Dogs?

Trazodone comes in tablet form and can be fed directly to the dog. If your dog isn’t a fan of being pilled, you can always give the Trazodone pills together with some food or a favorite treat.

Dogs that have sensitive stomachs or don’t handle medication well should be fed Trazodone with some food.

After feeding your dog Trazodone, this medication is fast reacting, taking only 1-2 hours to start working in dogs. But for a longer time impact, your dog will need to be on Trazodone for at least a few weeks.

Trazodone can also be given together with acepromazine which is used as a chemical restraint for dogs. Many dog owners feel that using acepromazine alone does more harm than good and can even be fatal if used incorrectly.

What Should I Do If I Missed A Dose?

It is common for many dog owners to forget to give their dogs their required daily medications from time to time.

When this happens, do not double the dosage of the medication on the next feeding. It can be very dangerous for your dog and unnecessary.

If you forgot to feed your dog for just a few hours, it is fine to do it there and then. But more sure to not feed the next dose too soon. At least allow for 8-10 hours between doses.

How To Properly Pill A Dog?

Most pet owners will agree that trying to feed medicine to your dog or cat can be a very intense experience.

In general, dogs are easier to handle compared to the murderous feline but some dogs can be very difficult to medicate.

If your dog doesn’t even want to take the pill even with food, you will have to manually pill your dog.

Here is how you do it.

  • Ensure that your dog is in a calm mood and comfortable position
  • Get someone to hold your dog firmly if possible
  • Hold the pill between your index finger and thumb in one hand and with the other hand, gently grip your dog’s muzzle
  • Tilt and lift your dog’s head upwards towards the ceiling
  • Use the other hand to apply downward pressure to the dog’s lower jaw
  • Place the pill as far back into your dog’s mouth as possible (beyond the hump of the tongue)
  • Close your dog’s mouth and rub its throat to encourage it to swallow
  • Give your dog lots of praise and some treats as positive reinforcement

The best time to start pilling your dog is when it is a puppy. The younger they are, the easier it will be to train them.

How Much Trazodone Is Too Much For My Dog?

The correct dosage of Trazodone to give your dog depends largely on:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Severity of anxiety
  • Existing health issues (liver disease, kidney disease, etc)

Most of the time, the vet will base the dosage on your dog’s weight. The vet will start off your dog on the lower end of the dosage scale at 1-3mg/lb.

Tradozone tablets come in dosages of 50mg-300mg in increments of 50mg.

An introductory dosage is a good way to see how your dog reacts to Trazodone and more importantly to make sure there aren’t any adverse reactions.

The dosage can go up to 15mg per pound on large dogs but on average, most dogs will do ok on 3.5mg per pound a day.

It is very possible for your dog to suffer from a Trazodone overdose is you give the incorrect dosage or your dog accidentally got to the bottle.

Anything more than 250mg a day can cause serious adverse reactions.

If your dog is having a trazodone overdose, there are some of the symptoms:

  • Rapid fluctuations in blood pressure
  • Big decrease in heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Change in mood

Given that Trazodone only takes about 2 hours to have an effect, your dog will be experiencing the overdose symptoms very quickly.

These symptoms can last up to 12 hours and even 24 hours in more severe cases.

You need to get your dog to the vet immediately if there’s a Trazodone overdose accident. Call the vet in advance so that they can prepare the room for your dog.

Most vets will flush your dog’s system with IV fluid to eliminate the excess Trazodone as quickly as possible. Inducing vomiting and giving activated charcoal are also ways to prevent too much Trazodone from getting into your dog’s system.

Trazodone For Dogs Side Effects

Even if you are feeding your dog the correct dosage, your dog can still experience some side effects in the initial stage. It will start showing better tolerance to the medication over time.

Here are some of the known side effects:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased appetite
  • Colitis
  • Restlessness
  • Lethargy

Some dogs who are more sensitive to Trazodone can get serotonin syndrome. These symptoms include:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Dilated pupils
  • Paralysis
  • Blindness
  • Difficulty breathing

Serotonin syndrome can cause the dog to fall into a coma and can even be fatal in some cases. This is a medical emergency and any dog with serotonin syndrome needs immediate medical attention.

Is Trazodone For Dogs The Same As For Humans?

The FDA has approved Trazodone to be used in humans to treat depression. It has been used in humans since 1891 and is one of the more commonly prescribed medications in the United States.

Veterinarians prescribe Trazodone as an ‘off-label’ drug to treat fearful and anxious behavior in dogs.

There has been some trepidation about giving dogs human pills but Trazodone has so far been an effective method to treat anxiety in dogs.

Uses Of Trazodone

As mentioned earlier, Trazodone works well for dogs with generalized anxiety and phobias. Here are some common uses.

Noise Phobias

Some dogs are terrified of loud noises. This could be due to PTSD or just a general phobia for loud sounds. Given that dogs have such sensitive hearing, loud sounds like fireworks, thunderstorms or the lawn mover can be hard on their ears.

There have been reports of dogs dying from fright due to the loud sounds of fireworks.

Such a tragedy.

Separation Anxiety

This is a very common form of anxiety that many dogs suffer from. Some dog breeds like the Labradors, Chihuahuas, German Shepherds and Cocker Spaniels tend to suffer more from separation anxiety.

Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety can’t be away from their owners for too long. Otherwise, they can start to engage in destructive behavior like tearing up your furniture and messing up the house.

By medicating your dogs correctly with Trazodone, it can help provide mild sedation to the dog and keep it calm.

Post Surgery Confinement

dog wearing collar in post surgery confinement

Trazodone works great for dogs that are recovering after surgery. It does enough to sedate the dog to prevent it from moving around too much, especially puppies.

This is important as too much movement can hamper the recovery process and even mess up the stitching of the incision area.

Overall Stress Management

If you have a dog that gets easily stressed out then Trazodone can help manage its anxieties. Some dogs can get stressed out by strangers, other dogs, cars, etc. The list can be endless and without a specific trigger.

These dogs can exhibit strange and aggressive behavior if left untreated.

Being able to reduce their stress levels and keep them calm will help improve their overall well-being.

Better Sleep Quality

Dogs with sleeping disorders or who are too stressed to sleep well are often prescribed Trazodone to help improve their sleep quality.

Trazodone can put them in a sleep state which encourages better sleep quality and rest. A study has also shown Trazodone to help improve breathing disorders while sleeping in dogs.

Alternatives To Trazodone

As a pet owner, I can understand the reluctance of some owners to give their dogs such an antidepressant drug to treat the dogs’ behavioral issues.

Even with humans, there has been a long and ongoing debate about such drugs in treating mental patients.

The next best course of treatment would be to see a pet behavioral therapist. Such a method can work over time but the effects won’t be immediate like medication.

It can also be more expensive in the long run as each session can be pricey. There’s a high probability that your dog will need a couple of sessions.

Many dog owners will end up combining both forms of treatment. The dog will be put on as low a dosage as possible while attending pet therapy.

The aim is to stop the medication once the dog is able to get better with therapy sessions alone.

Do Not Self-Medicate Your Dog

With the surge of people taking antidepressant drugs these days, these forms of medications can be easily found in most homes.

Please do not feed your dog any form of an antidepressant without your vet’s approval. Some of these medications can be fatal to dogs right off the bat.

There are some antidepressant herbs that you can buy at the pharmacy or over the counter. Please do not feed your dog any of these as well.


So can Trazodone be fatal for a dog if used incorrectly?

Most definitely and this applies to almost any drug that can influence your dog’s hormonal levels.

When you are giving your dog Trazodone, always make sure to be mindful and careful of the dosage.

If you do happen to give your dog a much larger dosage than prescribed, please get it to the vet right away for an examination.