Is Tramadol Safe for Dogs?

Tramadol is becoming popular to treat pain, both in humans and pets. But you would ask, is tramadol safe for dogs? This DogAppy article will check out all the aspects of dosage and side effects of tramadol in dogs.
DogAppy Staff
Keep in Mind
Tramadol is not an FDA-approved veterinary drug, but can be used by acquiring a vet's prescription.
Tramadol is an analgesic that is used for pain relief in cases of acute or chronic pain, both in humans and pets. This drug is available by the brand name Ultram in the US, and by the name Ralivia or Dromodol in other countries. Tramadol is unique, in that, it can be administered as an alternative to Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS). It has the same effects as another pain reliever, morphine, but without its strong side effects, and is also non-addictive.
Tramadol can also be used for cats, where the use of NSAIDS may be dangerous. While the drug is safe to administer to pregnant and lactating animals, its long-term side effects have not been well studied. The drug has found use in veterinary medicine only recently, and some vets may not be aware of it.
Tramadol alleviates pain and discomfort by acting on the pain receptors in the brain, rather than at the site of injury, contrary to NSAIDS. More specifically, it is an opioid analgesic that blocks the µ-opioid pain receptors in the brain. It also works by inhibiting the reuptake of adrenalin and serotonin. Unlike other types of pain medications, it is relatively inexpensive, further increasing its popularity, both among vets and pet owners.
Uses

✔ To treat various levels of acute or chronic pain
✔ Used to relieve pain before. during, and post surgery
✔ Can help increase mobility in cases of arthritis
✔ As a cough suppressant
✔ Can be combined with NSAIDS for better pain relief 

Dosage

Tramadol is generally given to dogs in a tablet form with or without food. Though the dosage depends on the severity of the dog's condition, doses in the range of 0.5 - 1.8 mg per pound are routinely administered. It is given 2 - 3 times daily in intervals of 12 hours, but in cases of cancer, it may be given once every 6 hours at a dose of 1.5 mg per pound.

Side Effects
  • Central nervous system depression
  • Tiredness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Increased anxiety and panting
  • Upset stomach
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Blurred vision
  • Decreased appetite
  • Constipation
  • Pupil constriction
  • Suppresses coughing

Contact a Vet if You See
  • Increase in the side effects
  • Peeling rashes
  • Swelling of the face, throat, lips, or tongue
  • Convulsions
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Trouble breathing
  • Increased agitation
  • Changes in behavior
  • Slowing of heart rate
Precautions
  • The dosage should always be decided by a vet. Never give your dog tramadol as per human dosage just because the drug is used by both humans and pets.
  • Tramadol cannot be used for animals with hypersensitivity to opioids.
  • Contact your vet if your dog has a previous medical history of seizures.
  • Tramadol should never be given along with drugs like deprynyl, serotonin reuptake inhibitors, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, and tricyclic antidepressants.
  • Consult the vet if the dog has previous kidney or liver problems, or is old or debilitated. Such dogs typically need lower doses of this drug.
In hindsight, tramadol is a very safe drug that can be given to dogs, but the dosage and frequency should always be decided by a vet. Even mistakenly don't give your pet Ultracet, which contains acetaminophen along with tramadol, as it is dangerous for them. Also, administering an overdose should be avoided at all costs, as it can be dangerous.
Disclaimer: This DogAppy article is for informative purposes only. Consult your vet for case-specific advice.