Tramadol For Dogs

Tramadol sounds a bit intimidating, doesn't it? You'd think that tramadol for dogs was something a lot more serious than it is. But this veterinary medicine treats everyday pain in dogs and people!  Tramadol is one of the few human relievers that's safe to give to dogs but only under the guidance of a trusted veterinarian. Make sure to follow dosing requirements carefully, especially when it comes to giving it to dogs. Or any animals for that matter.

Keep reading to find out the who's, the what's, and everything in between about dog tramadol! 

What Is Tramadol For Dogs

As mentioned above, tramadol provides relief for both dogs and humans! Scientifically speaking, tramadol is a part of the opioid family. This means it alters the transmission and perception of pain in humans and animals. Tramadol also inhibits the reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin in your dog's brain. This increases the level of chemicals in the bloodstream, prompting uplifting bouts of euphoria and well-being that humans sometimes experience. 

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, Tramadol is recommended to treat "acute and chronic pain of moderate to severe intensity." This could mean anything, from helping your dog recover from surgery to helping them manage aches associated with osteoarthritis. 

Your veterinarian may prescribe tramadol for your dog if they are experiencing severe pain caused by: 

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Nonsurgical intervertebral disc disease
  • Lameness
  • Post-operative stiffness
  • General discomfort from an injury or another condition


It is important to note that tramadol does not have any anti-inflammatory properties associated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It does not treat the underlying cause of pain, just the symptoms that follow. Tramadol alters the way the body perceives discomfort, allowing the patient to feel some relief. It is often implemented alongside carprofen (Rimadyl) or an additional pain management strategy for chronic conditions. 

Related Post: Can Dogs Take Tylenol?


Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in dogs. Also categorized as a degenerative joint disease (DJD), forms of arthritis cause progressive and permanent deterioration of a dog's joints. This process breaks down the cartilage that cushions joints. This causes your dog's bones to rub against each other, exposing your dog's small nerves causing stiffness, discomfort, and lameness.  

Dogs are more likely to develop osteoarthritis as they get older and have decreased mobility. While there aren't any known causes currently, underlying issues like hip or elbow dysplasia, trauma, cruciate ligament injury, or dislocation of the knee cap or shoulder may leave dogs more vulnerable to developing arthritis. 

Intervertebral Disc Disease

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a degenerative disease that may affect your dog's spinal cord and cause a range of mobility issues. IVDD is a ruptured, slipped, bulging, or herniated disc. This condition is most common in beagles, dachshunds, pekingese, shih tzus, basset hounds, or American cocker spaniels. While it is common in these breeds, this may occur in any dog breed. 

IVDD is an age-related, gradual degenerative process that affects the dog's spinal cord over as they age. No matter how prompt you are with veterinary visits, your vet may not detect any signs of IVDD until your dog's hardened disc or discs become ruptured and their symptoms begin to show.

Dosage Of Tramadol For Dogs

Tramadol requires a prescription from a trusted veterinarian. It is considered a class 4 controlled substance. Schedule 4 drugs, substances, or chemicals are drugs with low potential for abuse and risk of dependence. 

Dosages for dogs differ greatly from those for humans. Giving tramadol to your dog outside of your vet's guidance can result in a tramadol overdose. The following is a guideline and should not replace your vet's advice for your pet. 

Tramadol dosages vary depending on weight. The usual dosage of tramadol is 0.45 to 1.8 mg per pound of body weight, every 8 to 12 hours. Tramadol comes in 50mg tablets that you should not crush! Ensure your dog has access to plenty of fresh water, but you can give tramadol with or without food. 


Tramadol must be given to your dog under the strict guidelines prescribed to you by your vet. An overdose on this medication can be fatal. Sometimes dogs themselves get into things that they shouldn't! That's why we're the ones with the opposable thumbs, and they aren't! Here are symptoms of a tramadol overdose that you should be aware of:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Tremors
  • Sleepiness
  • Seizures
  • Excessive drooling
  • Sedation
  • Agitation
  • Dilated pupils
  • Ataxia (uncontrollable movement)
  • Loss of consciousness

If you notice any of these symptoms, stop giving tramadol to your dog and call your veterinarian immediately. Time is of the essence in situations like these!

Missed Dose

If you happen to miss a dose, just give it when you remember. If it is close to the time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and give it at the next scheduled time. Never give your dog two doses at once or give extra doses. Remember, only give the prescribed dose given to you by your dog's veterinarian. If you have any questions, make sure to reach out to them as soon as possible. 

Side Effects Of Tramadol For Dogs

Most medications come with a laundry list of side effects. We know you know from personal experience. If you're anything like us, we're very neurotic about any medications we take. Researching side effects, possible interactions, etc. 

Though tramadol is one of the few painkillers that work well for dogs and humans, there are some potential side effects. These may range from mild to serious and, in some cases, lethal.

Here are a few symptoms to look out for:

  • Queasiness, upset stomach
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea 
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors

Risk Factors

Tramadol and many other medications can, at times, cause more harm than good. Medication isn't a one size fits all situation. Just like humans, some dogs may also not respond well to tramadol. It is important to discuss any preexisting conditions your dog may suffer from with your veterinarian and be as informational as possible. 

Dogs taking serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) should not be taking tramadol. The same goes for dogs with a history of seizures, pregnant or nursing, and dogs with kidney and liver disease. 

Learn More About Dogs and Medications Here

Lab Tests

Tramadol is not detected on all standard drug tests, but it can be detected on some advanced screening panels. Urine, hair, saliva, and blood tests are the most common forms of drug tests. Urine tests may detect trace amounts of tramadol from 1 to 4 days after last consumption. 

This may be a concern if your pet is undergoing lab tests for any reason. Again, it is important to convey to your dog's vet a very detailed image of all medications that your dog is taking before undergoing any testing. This also ensures that there is no room for drug interactions. 

Cost Of Tramadol

The average cost for tramadol for dogs is likely $0.35 to $1.30 per tablet. As mentioned previously, these tablets are usually found at 50mg each. Depending on your vet's recommendation, you may need to cut up the pill or serve more than one. 

Tramadol is the generic version of this drug and is probably the most cost-effective for this compound. Brand names for tramadol include Ultram, ConZip, Durell, Tridural, and Zytram, among others. These brand names may be a bit more costly when purchasing, which is why you can always ask your vet to prescribe tramadol, the generic version of those drugs.  

Interaction With Other Drugs

There is usually a laundry list of other drugs that can potentially interact with any medication. It is important to know what drugs your dog is currently on and let your vet know so they can screen for any possible drug interactions. Here are a few medications  with caution when administering tramadol.

  • Antidepressants
  • Azole antifungals
  • Cimetidine 
  • Cyproheptadine
  • Metoclopramide
  • Opioids
  • Warfarin
  • Tricyclic antidepressants 

This list should by no means be used as an exhaustive list of all medications that may cause interactions with tramadol. It is important not to guess whether certain medications will interact with tramadol and consult your veterinarian! 

Ingredients in Tramadol

The active ingredient in tramadol is tramadol hydrochloride. The other ingredients include cellulose, microcrystalline, silica colloidal anhydrous, sodium starch glycolate, and magnesium stearate. We know, we know. Lots and lots of science! Remember, these ingredients are the same ingredients found in both human and dog tablets. 

If and when you suspect that your dog may be having an adverse reaction to tramadol, it is important not to wait to see if these reactions will fade on their own. It is always better to be safe than sorry in situations where these reactions can signify an overdose or an allergic reaction. 


Tramadol Alternatives 

In the case of most drugs and prescribed medications, there is usually an alternative you can opt for. However, there are times when the alternative doesn't necessarily perform all the functions a prescribed drug will. As for tramadol, because it relieves discomfort in dogs suffering from osteoarthritis or post-operative pain, a few alternatives offer similar relief.

CBD Oil 

CBD oil for dogs and cats is hemp-derived and makes a great addition to any pet's everyday routine. All animals, including dogs, have endocannabinoid systems. Your dog's ECS is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in its body and regulating, pain, appetite, sleep, anxiety, and much more! 

While CBD oil may not be a direct alternative to tramadol, it can help and aid your dog while they are recovering from either surgery, going through osteoarthritis, times of stress, or eating/digestive issues. 


The best known and most widely implemented medicinal herb that may help treat pain and inflammation is turmeric. Do you feel like we built this up to let you down? Turmeric deserved that drum roll of an introduction! Turmeric may help with mobility issues caused by, you guessed it! Osteoarthritis! 

Turmeric not only helps with discomfort and swelling related to pain symptoms from surgery or degenerative diseases, but it can also boost your dog's immune system and improve their skin and coat! The suggested dosage of turmeric is 15 to 20 mg per pound of body weight in dogs. Again, we'd like to remind you once more that if you seek turmeric to manage any pain being caused to your dog, you seek the guidance and advice of a trusted vet. 

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