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Trazodone for Dogs: What You Need to Know


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Trazodone for Dogs

Humans are prescribed the antidepressant Trazodone. But is it safe for dogs too?

In this post, we’ll cover what Trazodone is, what it’s used for and if it’s safe.


What is Trazodone?

Trazodone is a pharmaceutical medication prescribed to treat depression, anxiety disorders and alcohol dependence in humans. However, sometimes it can be prescribed to dogs for anxiety and behavioral problems. It’s sold under the brand names Oleptro® and Desyrel®.

If your dog is suffering from anxiety or fearfulness, it may be because the chemicals in his brain are unbalanced. Trazodone for dogs helps to increase the serotonin levels and alter his mood.

Trazodone must be prescribed by a veterinarian. If you think your dog may benefit from the medication, talk to your vet.


Trazodone for Dogs: Uses

There are two main conditions Trazodone is prescribed for in dogs: Behavior and anxiety.

Behavior Problems

Although Trazodone can be prescribed to improve a dog’s behavior, it’s not always a suitable option. Training your dog to modify his behavior is the first go-to solution for long-term improvement. However, if a dog is aggressive and has become a threat to others, a combination of medication and training from a behavioral specialist may work best.

Anxiety Problems

Many dogs suffer from anxiety problems. This may include separation anxiety whenever you leave for work in the morning. Anxiety can also come in the form of fear of the vet or of meeting other people or dogs. In many cases, a dog’s anxiety can be managed and improves over time. However, if your dog is in distress and it doesn’t improve, your vet may recommend medication.

A vet may also prescribe Trazodone if your dog needs to rest after surgery but has a hard time calming down because he’s naturally very physically active. In the same way, the medication may be helpful if you’re travelling in a confined space with a hyper dog.


Trazodone Side Effects: Is it Safe?

We should note that although Trazodone is approved by the FDA, it’s not approved specifically for use in animals or dogs. This means that it is prescribed off-label.

With that being said, there has been some research on how Trazodone affects dogs. One 2014 study followed dogs who were given the medication after surgery to decrease their hyperactivity level. Researchers found that Trazodone was well-tolerated and that no dogs had severe adverse reactions. They concluded that it was safe and effective for dogs. Since there’s more studies on Trazodone and humans, more research needs to be done to confirm its positive results in dogs.

Not every dog reacts the same way to medication. If you give your dog Trazodone or any medication for the first time, he should be supervised and you should watch for any of the following side effects:

  • Lethargy/sedation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Increased anxiety
  • Priapism
  • Ataxia

If your dog has a severe reaction, contact your vet immediately.



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