In dogs, the duration of Trazodone effects depends on the reason for its use. If Trazodone is used to treat anxiety, it will last longer than if the drug is used to manage pain.
However, Trazodone is not recommended for treating dogs for an extended period because it is not known to be safe for long-term use.
What is Trazodone?
Trazodone, sold under many brand names,is an antidepressant medication. It is used to treat major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, and, with other medications, alcohol dependence.
It is taken by mouth.
Common side-effects include dry mouth, feeling faint, vomiting, and headache.
More serious side effects may include suicide, mania, irregular heart rate, and pathologically prolonged erections.
It is unclear if use during pregnancy or breastfeeding is safe. It is a phenylpiperazine compound of the serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARI) class.
Trazodone also has sedating effects.
Trazodone was approved for medical use in the United States in 1981. It is available as a generic medication.
In 2018, it was the 31st most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than 22 million prescriptions.
Trazodone Look Like
Trazodone tablet is typically supplied as a small white tablet, which is scored down the middle.
Less commonly, trazodone may be supplied as a capsule or as a liquid (suspension).
Veterinary Medicine - Trazodone
In 2008, Gruen and Sherman studied 56 dogs prescribed trazodone in combination with other primary behavior therapies and discovered that trazodone seemed to offer therapeutic benefit with relatively minimal adverse effects.
Since then, studies have investigated the benefit of trazodone in postorthopedic surgery treatment plans involving confinement to enhance calm behavior and reduce anxiety in hospitalized dogs. Trazodone has generally been shown to be beneficial and relatively safe.
Adverse events associated with trazodone can be divided into behavioral and systemic signs. Adverse events previously reported in the literature include drugged or “spacy” behavior, drowsiness, panting, anxiety/restlessness/agitation, vomiting/gagging, behavioral change (counter surfing and trash raiding), excitation, sedation, increased hunger, colitis, and aggression (growling).
In veterinary medicine, trazodone is generally dosed at 1.7 to 19.5 mg/kg/d on a daily or as-needed basis with immediate action (not extended-release) tablets and can be given with food.
When administered in combination with tricyclic antidepressants or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, it is recommended to begin dosing trazodone at 2 to 5 mg/kg and increase as needed to a maximum dose of 14 mg/kg/d.1 Trazodone should be administered about an hour before potential anxiety-inducing stimuli, as its onset of action is approximately 30 to 60 minutes.1,5 Gruen and colleagues reported owner-observed duration of effect lasting 4 hours or more.5 The parent compound has an elimination half-life of approximately 7 hours in immediate-release tablets.
Trazodone undergoes extensive metabolism in the liver and is predominantly excreted via the kidneys.1,4
The main objective of Trazodone administration is to minimize anxiety in short-term situations, as needed, or for generalized anxiety, administered daily.
It’s also used for keeping patients calm during vet visits or while confined after orthopedic surgery.
It can be given to pets who are afraid of thunderstorms or fireworks.
Trazodone is also given for separation anxiety-based behavior disorder with behavior modification training and it can be combined with certain other medications at your vet’s discretion to help relieve anxiety-based behaviors.
It’s best to give Trazodone before the trigger happens so that your dog is already calm when it begins to work. For example, if your dog is noise-averse and it’s 5 pm on July 4th, it’s a good time to start administering the Trazodone before the fireworks start instead of after the first boom.
Another example is before a vet visit: if your dog is usually fearful at the vet, a dose of Trazodone before you get ready to go will allow the medication to work in time for the car ride.
The time of onset and how long it lasts does vary from dog to dog, so it will be informative to do a practice test a day or two before a potentially fearful event, so you can optimize the timing. Trazodone is given every 8 hours and as needed based on the dog’s weight and response.
Side effects of Trazodone
In a recent study, Trazodone was found to be well-tolerated with minimal side effects in dogs.
Possible side effects include sedation, lethargy, gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting and/or diarrhea), ataxia, priapism (prolonged erections), increased anxiety, and aggression. However, these symptoms are uncommon.
An unlikely but serious side effect called Serotonin Syndrome can occur when Trazodone is combined with other serotonin-enhancing drugs such as Fluoxetine and Clomipramine (anti-depressants). If you notice tremors/shivering, dilated pupils, or difficulty breathing, these can be signs of Serotonin Syndrome and you should take your dog to the vet immediately.
Trazodone has the advantage over other anti-anxiety medications of having the lowest seizure risk and fewer adverse effects.
Trazodone Effectivity For Treating Dogs Anxiety
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.
Dosage of Trazodone for Dogs
Trazodone dosage for dogs varies, based upon a number of factors. Like any other medication, the recommended dose of trazodone is based upon your dog’s weight. Big dogs receive larger doses than small dogs.
Trazodone has a relatively wide recommended dosing range. Veterinarians often start a dog’s treatment at the low end of the dosing range and then increase the dose if needed, in order to achieve the desired benefits while minimizing the risk of side effects. If you feel that your dog’s trazodone dose needs to be adjusted, contact your veterinarian.
What if My Dog Misses a Dose of Trazodone?
If you miss giving your dog a dose of trazodone, you can give the missed dose at your earliest convenience. You should always separate trazodone doses by at least 8 hours, so you may need to delay your dog’s next dose to get back on a consistent schedule.
Trazodone for Dogs - Cost
In general, you can expect to pay $1-$2 per dose for trazodone, depending on your dog’s size.
While some dogs receive this medication two to three times per day on an ongoing basis, many dogs only take trazodone intermittently, prior to high-stress events (such as a veterinary visit or travel).
ARE THERE ANY NATURAL ALTERNATIVES TO TRAZODONE?
As we have discussed, this drug can have severe side effects and many possible drug interactions, so you might want to explore natural alternatives to trazodone for dogs.
CBD works with your dog's endocannabinoid system, which is related to many bodily systems, including those which regulate anxiety.
CBD's calming effects on both humans and animals have been the focus of several scientific studies. One found that CBD reduced stress in rats, with no visible side effects, and another found encouraging results for people with a general anxiety disorder. While more research is needed, these early results are promising.
We make all-natural CBD oil for dogs and CBD chews for dogs from organically grown Colorado hemp. This hemp carefully refined at room temperature to create a safe and effective product, especially for dogs.
Our oils come in multiple strengths with a plastic pet-safe dropper to ensure that dogs of all sizes can get an effective dose. They are always lab tested and made right here in the USA from human-grade ingredients.
Are There Any Dogs Who Shouldn’t Take Trazodone?
Unlike some other medicines that are dangerous for specific breeds (such as ivermectin, which can be dangerous for collies and their close relatives), trazodone seems to be safe for all breeds. It also has a large safety margin, so it is generally considered safe.
However, there are a few medical conditions that you should be sure to discuss with your vet before administering trazodone to your pup.
For example, trazodone may exacerbate some heart problems – including, most notably, arrhythmias. Trazodone can also cause problems for dogs taking MAOIs or those who suffer from seizures or epilepsy.
Additionally, note that priapism has been noted as a side effect in a small percentage of human males who’ve taken the medication, so you may want to use caution when administering this to unaltered male dogs slated for breeding trials.
Trazodone Storage Instructions
Trazodone should be stored at room temperature in a light-resistant container. It does not require refrigeration or other special handling.
Warnings and precautions
Trazodone can cause an allergic reaction, so dogs who are potentially hypersensitive to it should not be given this medication.
If your dog is on any MAO (monoamine oxidase) inhibitors such as Selegiline or Amitraz (used for mange treatment and tick control), then they shouldn’t be given Trazodone. Also, if your dog has any kidney, liver, or heart problems, then you should discuss using Trazodone with your veterinarian.
Any medication you administer to your pet can serve as a tool to enhance their well-being. Using an adjunctive medical therapy such as Trazodone, with a behavioral modification program is recommended for results in behavior changes.
With active communication with your vet about dosing, reporting any side effects, and consistency in your training, you’ll increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.