Many people often wonder if dogs also think or suffer from any emotional struggles. Well, dogs are like humans. They have emotions, and like humans, they suffer stress and anxiety sometimes. Similarly, dogs also do not love the idea of dealing with fears and tension and may run into depression if you don’t check on your pup’s issue the soonest you notice that it needs help. As a result, it pays to help your dog deal with its fears and anxiety as soon as you can.
You may start with activities such as wearing tight-fitting clothes or building cave-like pup-mansions using one of today’s best dog crates to ease the anxiety and make them feel good. However, the techniques may not work in some situations, depending on the nature and cause of your pup’s anxiety and depression. In that case, it may be essential to explore the medication world and see what works effectively. Some medications, such as trazodone, have proven to be efficient in several instances. This article answers your questions about how you can tell your dog needs help and how trazodone can help. Similarly, you’ll also learn about the precautions you need to take to insure your furry friend stays safe during and after the treatment.
What is Trazodone?
Trazodone is an anti-depressant and anxiety-relieving medication that was first developed for humans and approved by FDA in 1981 (1). First, trazodone drew so much attention from veterinarians, who experimented with it with pets in 2008.
It was then considered safe for use in dogs since all the pets in the experimentation came out with positive results. Vets then started prescribing trazodone to dogs struggling with anxiety and stress. However, the FDA doesn’t approve its use on dogs and cats, but vets can legally prescribe the medication under “extra-label,” also known as “off-label provisions.”
Trazodone technically referred to as trazodone HCl, is marketed under the brand and generic names Desyrel and Oleptro. It’s only available under prescription, so you can only find it through your veterinarian. Similarly, it’s essential to note that there’s no pet formulation of trazodone in the market currently. As a result, the vets only prescribe the form designed for humans to help dogs fight anxiety.
What Does Trazodone Use to Treat in Dogs?
Trazodone for dogs is used to treat various types of anxiety in dogs. These include:
- Separation anxiety– Associated with the fear of separating from the owner and being lonely
- Charging to people– Resulting from fearing unknown individuals
- Noise phobias– Caused by fear of sudden or strange noise like thunderstorms, fireworks, and other noisy phenomena.
- Vet-induced anxiety- Often comes after a surgical operation or any situation that forces your pup to stay in its crate for a long duration.
- Resource Guarding- Caused by fearing to lose a valued item
- Dog-to-dog aggressiveness- fearing other dogs
- Generalized anxiety- Happens with no particular threat or cause
Similarly, studies indicate that trazodone is efficient in inducing calming and confinement for dogs after undergoing orthopedic surgery (2). Pups often need to stay in their crates for some time after surgery until they recover. However, the lack of movement often makes dogs uncomfortable, and most of them usually start whining and straining.
However, studies conducted on different dogs indicated that the oral trazodone medication is safe and effective in boosting behavioral calmness in dogs during the acute recovery time that follows orthopedic surgery.
How to Determine Anxiety in Dogs
Understanding the nature of anxiety or depression in your dog is your first stab at finding a befitting solution for the situation. Your dog may not be able to express contempt or shame, but it can show you when happy, sad, frustrated, relieved, or fear.
Thus, watching your dog closely will give you a clue if it has any behavioral disorder. Consider calling your veterinarian if you notice any unusual behavior. Otherwise, avoid medicating your dog without a specialist’s supervision.
Dogs typically communicate through body language, either by wagging their tails or bared teeth. When anxious, you may notice that your dog show behaviors like:
- Poor/ lack of responsiveness.
The cause of your dog’s anxiety will also determine how it behaves. For instance, a dog that fears strange people will attempt to hide or escape in the presence of a stranger. Similarly, anxiety may cause your dog to show prolonged periods of fear with no specific objects of threat. Some of the signs to look out for in a frightened dog include:
- Attempts to hide
- Panting/ pacing
- Too distracted
- Attempts to escape
- Less body language
Trazodone Dosage for Dogs
Trazodone dosage for dogs and administration regimen depends on the condition of your pup and the nature of anxiety it’s suffering from. For example, dogs suffering from ongoing anxiety may need daily dosages, while those with acute stress (like a response to fireworks) may use a one-off prescription.
Thus, your vet will advise you whether you need to give trazodone for dogs regularly or only when your dog requires it.
However, vets recommend a dosage between 12mg and 15mg for every pound of dog weight within 24 hours. For example, a dog that weighs 20 pounds will need 50-300mg of trazodone per day.
Vets typically administer trazodone in the lowest effective dosage possible to reduce the chances of your dog suffering the side effects. The treatment often starts at a relatively low dosage and slowly upsurges the amount of trazodone administered over time.
The medication may subject your dog to mild, and in rare cases, severe side effects. Similarly, dogs using trazodone also sometimes suffer withdrawal signs at the end of the treatment. As a result, your vet will advise you to wean off your dog gradually rather than stopping the dosage abruptly to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
As a result, you must stick with your vet’s instructions on trazodone dosage and administration.
How Does Trazodone Work?
Trazodone is a type of medication known as a serotonin 2a antagonist/reuptake inhibitor (SARI). As such, it works by raising serotonin levels in the brain. High serotonin levels boost the efficiency of messages communicated in the brain, minimizing the symptoms resulting from anxiety and depression.
What Happens After Administering Trazodone?
Trazodone for dogs’ dosages for short-term use often begins showing results after about an hour, with its effects going up to around four hours. However, the medication may take a bit longer to manifest impacts, and its effects may last a bit longer for prolonged anxiety since, in this case, serotonin builds up in the brain gradually.
That means you may give your dog the medication for several days before seeing any notable results. As a result, your vet will likely recommend that you continue the drug for at least two weeks before throwing it away for being ineffective.
Side Effects of Trazodone
Vets consider trazodone relatively safe for pets. However, that doesn’t rule out the possibility of your dog suffering the side effects of trazodone. However, the side effects come around rarely, and some of the mild effects will disappear gradually as your dog’s system adjusts to the medication. Some of the symptoms that may show your dog is suffering from mild side effects include:
- Extensive sleepiness
- Intestinal distress
- Muscle tremors
However, don’t overlook the symptoms and wait for them to disappear. Consult your veterinarian to let him professionally advise you on the right course of action.
Sometimes your dog may face lethal side effects when using trazodone. One of the most common deadly side effects of using the drug is Serotonin Syndrome. It’s a dire medical complication caused by excess serotonin levels in your dog’s brain. It occurs on rare occasions but may lead to fatalities if you don’t attend to it in time. Some of its symptoms include:
- Altered mental state
- Rapid heartbeats
- Straining to walk
- Upsurge in body temperature
Inform your vet immediately you such signs, and follow his directives.
Unlike most medications that aren’t safe for particular dog breeds, trazodone is safe for all species. However, you should be cautious of a few medical conditions and discuss them with your vet before administering the medicine.
For example, trazodone for dogs may worsen various heart complications, like arrhythmias. As a result, you may want to ascertain that your dog is safe to use trazodone before administering it. Similarly, talk to your vet about any other treatments, supplements, or therapies that your dog currently has since trazodone may react and cause complications for dogs on taking MAOIs.
Also, discuss any of your dog’s underlying conditions with your vet to ensure that it’s fit health-wise to take the medication. For instance, trazodone isn’t recommended to dogs suffering from epilepsy or seizures.
Additionally, a small percentage of human males who took the medication also suffered priapism as a side effect. Thus, you should be cautious when administering the medicine to unaltered dogs scheduled for breeding trials.
Trazodone is increasingly populating the veterinary sector, with vets using it to treat anxiety and associated behavioral complications in dogs. Most pet owners now have trazodone at their homes’ medicine cabinets. As a result, more dogs are exposed to the medication and may accidentally consume it with no supervision.
Dogs show a height of tolerance with the medication and may not develop any significant complications. However, naïve dogs may show poisoning effects with doses of 5mg/kg of trazodone or even lower. Most may show minor signs of poisoning in dogs between 30-60 minutes after exposure. The mild signs then disappear between 10-12 hours, while others may take up to 24 hours or more.
It’s essential to call your vet if you suspect or are aware that your dog mistakenly took trazodone. He will advise you if you should apply the wait-and-see technique or your dog requires immediate medical attention.
If the case is severe, your vet may attempt to decontaminate your dog. The only challenge is that the clinical signs manifest too rapidly and may not allow room for activated charcoal or emesis. As a result, IV fluids are often the most effective treatment for trazodone toxicities.
The treatment process relies heavily on being supportive and handling the symptoms developing due to the toxicities. For example, diazepam is often recommended for dogs that develop seizures, while vets prefer Cyproheptadine for dogs that develop serotonin syndrome. Symptoms to look out for trazodone intoxication include:
- Hypertension or Hypotension
- Bradycardia or Tachycardia
- Urinary Incontinence
Studies conducted in Australia and the UK indicate that almost 80% of dogs struggle with behavioral disorders. Among the numbers, anxiety and phobia are the most dominant culprits. As a result, you’ll have to help your dog deal with its fears and anxiety, or even depression.
Apart from making your dog uncomfortable, behavioral disorders also impact how your pup relates to you and may make it more aggressive. That’s why learning about what to give your dog for anxiety and how to deal with depression in dogs is critical.
Trazodone for Dogs Guide: How it Works (Dosage and Side Effects)
Trazodone is effective and considerately safe for treating anxiety and depression in dogs. Vets recommend a dosage of between 2.5mg to 15mg per pound of a dog’s body weight. The correct dosage for each dog depends on the type of anxiety it’s suffering from, whether prolonged or acute.
While the medication is relatively safe, your dog may suffer mild side effects like lethargy, over sleepiness, panting, hyperactivity, restlessness, and more. On rare occasions, your dog may also experience fatal serotonin syndrome.
What Do You Need to Know About Trazodone for Dogs
Trazodone for dogs is a medication that helps in treating anxiety in dogs. It’s initially designed for human use, but veterinarians can legally prescribe it to dogs under “off-label” provisions after experimentations proved that it’s safe for pets.
Trazodone can treat various forms of anxiety, including ongoing, acute, and general anxiety. Its dosage and administration depend on the nature of the dog’s anxiety complications. For instance, a vet may prescribe a regular dosage for a prolonged condition or a one-off dose for acute anxiety.
Abnormal Stress and Anxiety in Dogs
Studies in the UK and Australia indicate that almost 80% of dogs struggle with behavioral disorders. The studies suggest that phobia and anxiety are the most significant cause for the dogs’ conditions, and the triggers for these complications are numerous. These include fireworks, fear of people, phobia for other dogs, separation anxiety, and other forms of sudden noise.
Abnormal stress and anxiety then cause dogs to be hyperactive, reactive and may also lack responsiveness. Similarly, stress and anxiety make your dog restless, cause it to be more aggressive, and negatively impact your relationship with your furred friend.