Mental conditions are of different kind; they include disorders due to panic, anxieties, being depressed and / or post-traumatic stress related disorders. Conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD) and restlessness are also treated as mental ailments which need proper care. Many forms of drugs – under the genre of antidepressants – are available to treat such disorders. Some of these meds may also be used to treat pets such as dogs. Of this genre, trazodone is considered a very potent and widely prescribed med. But, can you use it to treat anxieties of your pets? It becomes essential to know more on this prior to starting a treatment plan for your pet.

Caregivers mostly use antidepressant meds belonging to either the selective serotonin reuptake inhibiting genre (SSRIs) or serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibiting meds (SNRIs). Trazodone belongs to neither of these genres; it is labelled under a class called serotonin receptor antagonist and reuptake inhibiting med. Though it belongs to a class of its own, it has properties that are very similar to SSRI meds. Owing to its efficacy, trazodone is a popular antidepressant med – used among both humans as well as pets.

Trazodone helps treat severe episodes of depression, restlessness, anxieties and sleeplessness. This drug works to maintain an optimal balance of neuro substances like norepinephrine, serotonin, etc. This drug’s actions focus on serotonin – and not much on other chemicals; serotonin is regarded as a key neuro-transmitter. Inadequate level of serotonin is often linked to depressive conditions and the onset of sleep-related disorders. On the other hand, maintaining a fine balance of this substance is essential to stay relaxed and calm. A balance is known to enhance your mood, restore appetite and overall mental wellbeing.

Can you give trazodone to your pet without a prescription from vets?

This med – though is mainly prescribed for humans – can also be offered to pets. Pets with increased levels of anxieties and restlessness – mainly those caused by rides in cars or loud noises are prescribed to take trazodone to lessen their fears. This truly can be more efficient if you give it to your pet before a fearsome or an unpleasant thing happens. For instance – if your pet is afraid of loud noises, give it in the evening of 4th July. Strength of doses of trazodone can vary from one pet to another. Dosages depend upon your pet’s age, weight and existence of prior ailments, if any. You also need to know that many pets may turn restless prior to a visit to the vet. It is considered a good practice to administer this med once every 8 hours, in the event of an unpleasant event coming up.


Trazodone may be combined and co-administered along with other drugs if your pet has other clinical problems. This drug is mostly taken through the oral route. To manage varying levels of anxieties, this drug is available in multiple strengths. The higher the dose, the larger is the presence of serotonin in your pet’s brain and central nervous system. Higher levels of serotonin may lead to a toxic condition known as serotonin toxicity. When you observe symptoms such as an excessive dilation of your pet’s pupils, breathing difficulties (gasping for breath, irregular or erratic respiratory cycles and wheezing), tremors, shakes, increase in body temperature / tiredness, etc., these may be indicative of an excessive presence of serotonin in your system.

This drug is likely to trigger a few undesired discomforts in your pet. However, pets are quite tolerant to the side effects trazodone may trigger. Common among such discomforts and side effects include tiredness, lethargy, abdominal problems such as nausea or vomiting. Some pets may experience cramping of abdominal muscles as well as getting wearisome soon after a little exercise. Most of these discomforts and side effects are likely to disappear as your pet’s system gets used to the key ingredients of this med. The heartening thing about this drug is – it may not cause epileptic seizures or fits in your pet. However, presence of persistent discomforts such as diarrhea or reduced appetite levels may require faster attention and needful medical treatment.

So, how important is your vet’s prescription?

Trazodone was cleared by the food and drug administration (FDA) for human consumption in the early 80s. But, it is only from early 2000s, this drug is being used on pets. This med is widely used to calm your pets – especially, your dogs. Cats can turn hypersensitive to this drug and are more likely to witness serotonin toxicity. This drug must never be administered without having a prescription from a qualified veterinarian. Pet owners who gave trazodone without consulting their vet can endanger the lives of their pets.

You may need to remember that doses given to two pets – both living with restlessness – may not be the same. Each pet is unique, and hence dosages do not remain similar. As a rule of thumb, one-tenth of the dosage offered to adults (humans) is offered to pets weighing 10 to 20 kg of bodyweight. You need to remember that this drug is known to work well for dogs; your furry friends can calm down their nerves – especially during thunderstorms, anxieties arising from travel / rides, crackers or other such loud noises.

Trazodone also plays a role in stabilizing the level of norepinephrine; this brain chemical is largely associated with stress and anxieties. Owing to a finer balance of such chemicals, your pet is unlikely to witness fits or convulsions. Pet owners who administered trazodone without a vet’s guidance saw their pets develop acute spells of hypotension (a severe drop in blood pressure level). Also, pet owners having pets with other clinical problems – such as cardiac ailments, liver related disorders, etc. – must know of the likely interactions of trazodone with co-administered drugs. For example, monoamine oxidase inhibiting meds (MAO inhibitors) must never be taken together with trazodone. In this milieu, taking the advice of your vet becomes extremely important.

In sum, trazodone is widely used for calming down pets. Owners of pets who administered trazodone on their own (through over the counter route) are likely to cause bigger harm to their pets. This med must not be given without consulting a qualified veterinarian. Also, if you observe signs such as diarrhea or loss of appetite, you are advised to offer needful clinical attention on an emergency mode.

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