What Happens If I Give My Dog Too Much Trazodone? Find Out Here

May 16, 2021

Trazodone for dogs is an antidepressant medication used to treat depression and anxiety. While it’s a common medication for combating these problems, a lot of information about this drug isn’t well known. Here’s a look at what trazodone is, what it’s used for, and the side effects it can cause.

What is Trazodone?

Trazodone is a prescription antidepressant drug that affects and balances the levels of serotonin in the brain. It can also be used for many off-label purposes, including treatment for insomnia, agitation, anxiety, and a variety of other conditions.

Trazodone isn’t just for humans, however. It’s also commonly used in veterinary medicine, particularly when treating dogs. Below is an overview of the recommended trazodone dosage for dogs, side effects, and other related information.

Dosage Of Trazodone For Dogs

Trazodone is available in generic and brand name options, and the most common dosages include 50, 100, 150 and 300 mg. The dosage for dogs varies, but a general guideline is a daily dose of around 2.5 mg to 3.5 mg per pound. In some cases, dogs may be given up to 15 mg per pound every 24 hours. In a cat, the trazodone dosage may range from 50 to 100 mg.

Usually, a veterinarian will start an animal on the lowest possible dosage of trazodone to make sure side effects are minimized.

The dosage for dogs may be increased after three to five days until the objectives are reached. How long a dog or cat takes trazodone depends on what the condition is being treated, as well as whether there are adverse side effects.

Trazodone is considered safe and effective in animals when it is prescribed by a vet and used properly. It’s important that trazodone is stored safely away from pets and that dosage instructions are followed exactly.

If a pet takes too much, it can cause a variety of negative side effects, including seizures and coma.

Why Is Trazodone Being Prescribed For Dogs By Vets?

Trazodone is a generic drug that comes in brand names such as Oleptro and Desyrel. It can be used to treat behavioral problems in dogs, as well as cats.

According to veterinarians, behavioral problems are one of the biggest reasons why animals are euthanized, especially if the behavior is dangerous. Trazodone may help to prevent this behavior.

Recently, veterinarians and animal behavioral specialists have been putting a lot of emphasis on the idea of using training and medication to help animals with behavioral problems.

Trazodone, an antidepressant, is one type of medication being used to treat behavioral problems. Classified as a serotonin antagonist reuptake inhibitor (SARI), the drug helps to balance serotonin levels in the brain.

It’s not officially approved by the FDA for use in animals, but it can be prescribed legally by vets for these extra-label purposes.

In dogs and other animals, it is used to help treat issues like separation anxiety and other anxiety-related conditions. It can also be used to ensure animals rest properly after surgery.

Trazodone is not used very often in cats, but it may be used for cats that are anxious about traveling to the vet, for example.

Dosage, Side Effects, and Alternatives Of Trazodone For Dogs

You’ve desperately tried everything from Googling do-it-yourself training to spending hundreds of dollars on professional dog trainers, but nothing seems to help ease your dog’s fear & anxiety.

Whether it’s vet visits, loud noises (like thunderstorms & fireworks), or just leaving him alone for 10 minutes, your pooch becomes nothing less than a nervous wreck.

Finally, your vet suggests prescribing him Trazodone or other doggie downers (prescription anti anxiety medications).

“Wait, as in Trazodone for humans? Is that safe to give my dog?”


Vets can prescribe Trazodone for dogs (and sometimes cats), but this drug is only FDA approved for humans.

This drug is commonly available in 50mg, 100mg, 150mg, and 300mg tablets. Your vet can determine the proper dosage for your dog. 

When trazodone is given to dogs for instant release or daily use, vets will prescribe anywhere from 3mg per pound per day, all the way up to 40mg per pound per day. 

When trazodone for dogs is used in combination with other drugs such as antidepressants, they will generally advise on a dose between 4mg per pound per day and 30mg per pound per day. 


This drug should not be given to dogs with hypersensitivity to Trazodone as it can cause an allergic reaction.

While side effects of Trazodone are uncommon, the following symptoms can occur: 

  • Ataxia
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased Aggression
  • Increased Anxiety
  • Lethargy
  • Priapism (prolonged erections)
  • Sedation
  • Vomiting

In some cases, your dog can develop a condition called “Serotonin Syndrome” – the most severe potential side effect of Trazodone and can be life-threatening.

Serotonin syndrome occurs when Trazodone is taken in high doses, taken with other medications, or has a poor reaction with certain foods.

Signs of serotonin syndrome may include rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, dilated pupils, or tremors/shivering. If your dog is showing these symptoms, you should contact your vet immediately.


Trazodone is available as generic and brand names (Desyrel and Leptro).

According to drug.com, the average cost for 50mg of Trazodone is $10 for seven tablets.
Prices will also vary depending on the pharmacy you visit.


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.

How Is trazodone Given To Dogs?

Trazodone is given orally (by mouth) in the form of a tablet. It may be given with food or on an empty stomach.

If your pet vomits or acts sick after receiving the medication on an empty stomach, try giving the next dose with food or a small treat.

This medication will take effect quickly, in about 1 to 2 hours, when used for short-term stress relief, but for long-term treatment, this medication can take a few weeks before full effects are observed.

What Happens If You Miss Giving Your Dogs Medication?

If you miss a dose, give it when you remember, but if it is close to the time for the next dose, skip the dose you missed and give it at the next scheduled time, and return to the regular dosing schedule.

Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.

Side Effects Of Trazodone

Trazodone is a short-acting drug. Side effects in dogs are not well documented but are generally mild if present. Possible side effects include dilated pupils, sedation, lethargy, vomiting or gagging, colitis (inflammation of the colon), ataxia (loss of muscle control), priapism (persistent and painful erection of the penis), arrhythmias, increased anxiety, increased appetite, and aggression.

When trazodone is used with other serotonergic drugs, serotonin syndrome is possible. This includes signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), sensitivity of the skin, depression, dilation of pupils, vocalization, blindness, excessive salivation, difficulty breathing, loss of control of movements, paralysis, disorientation, coma, and death.

This short-acting medication should stop working within 24 hours, although effects can be longer in pets with liver or kidney disease.

Risk Factors Of Trazodone

Trazodone is not recommended in pets hypersensitive to it or those using MAO inhibitors. This medication should be used with caution in pets with severe heart disease or liver or kidney impairment. Pets with angle-closure glaucoma should not use this medication.

Animal studies have shown an adverse effect on the developing fetus at very high doses, so the risks of using this medication in pregnant pets versus the benefits will be considered carefully by your veterinarian.

Awareness Of Drug Interactions

The following drugs should be used with caution when given with trazodone: antihypertensive drugs, aspirin, azole antifungals, cisapride, CNS depressants, digoxin, diuretics, fluoroquinolones, macrolide antibiotics, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, metoclopramide, NSAIDs, ondansetron, phenothiazines, SSRI antidepressants, and tramadol.

Be sure to tell your veterinarian about any medications (including vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) that your pet is taking.

Monitor Your Dogs When Taking Trazodone

There is no specific monitoring that needs to be done while your pet is taking this medication. Your veterinarian may monitor your pet to be sure that the medication is working.

What To Do In Case Of Emergency?

If you see signs of serotonin syndrome call your veterinary office. If you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately.

If they are not available, follow their directions in contacting an emergency facility.

Is Surrendering My Dog a Better Option Than Giving Them Too Much Trazodone?

If your dog is experiencing behavioral issues, surrender your dog here may seem like a solution. However, giving them too much Trazodone can have serious consequences. It’s important to seek professional advice and explore all options before making any decisions about your pet’s well-being.

Take Note Of This: 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.

Even though dogs are a lot smaller than humans, that doesn’t mean that they can’t accidentally overdose on their medication. If your dog accidentally eats a few too many of her anxiety pills, you should know what to do. (If you think your dog has eaten a non-accidental amount of Trazodone, go to the emergency vet right away.)

(Please Let Me Know Your Thoughts In The Comment Section Below)

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Hey yaa! Im Ashly and I love pets. Growing up in a house with 2 dogs, a cat, a parrot and many furry rodents; it was natural for me to have a profound affection for them. I created GenerallyPets.com to create useful guides and articles on looking after your furry friends. The advice given on this site is our views and expertise, please consult a VET prior to testing anything. Hope my site helps you :)

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