HEALTH & CARE

How Much Tramadol Can I Give My Dog: Learn How to Alleviate Your Dog’s Pain Correctly

Image showing a dog laying on the vet table
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

When something happens with your precious dog, and you see that he is in pain, you’ll start searching for any possible solution to help alleviate the pain immediately. The most common treatment recommended for a dog in pain is tramadol. However, since tramadol overdose can cause dangerous side-effects such as dysphoria and even gastric bleeding, you’ll want to be extra careful. Knowing the answer to the question: “how much tramadol can I give my dog?” can be a lifesaver in emergency situations.

The right amount of tramadol will reduce your dog’s brain capacity to recognize pain. The painless state will allow your dog to rest properly so his body will have the energy required to mend itself and recover. Giving your dog the right amount of tramadol becomes even more important if you plan to do something that might cause him more pain even as you try to alleviate it. If you give him too little, he’s going to feel that pain, and we know that’s something you want to avoid, so we are going to help you do just that.

Dog with cone laying in veterinarian clinic lobby

We are here to answer as many of your questions as possible. While you go through this article, you will immediately understand when you should use tramadol and most importantly, what is the recommended dosage for your dog. Moreover, we will give you more information on what possible side effects may occur and what solutions you can implement to help your dog go through the treatment.

What Is Tramadol?

Tramadol is a medication recommended by the veterinarian to reduce pain. You most probably already know this medicine as it can also be prescribed for humans. Tramadol is one of the few painkillers that can be used for humans and animals alike with efficient results.

If we were to go a bit deeper in the medical terminology, tramadol is part of the opioid family. This means that it can interfere in the way your dog feels the pain and help him rest better.

Image showing a woman holding a pill and a dog in the background

Below you can find some situations where tramadol can help your dog feel less pain:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Nonsurgical intervertebral disc disease
  • Cancer
  • Lameness
  • Post-operative pain
  • Whenever your dog experiences pain from an injury or any other situation
  • Anxiety, which may be a problem when you take your dog to a new place or during traveling. Whenever something changes in your dog’s normal routine, tramadol will be of great help to calm him down. However, tramadol would not often be a vet’s first choice to solve this problem as there are other safer alternatives on the market and with fewer side effects.
  • Coughing—tramadol can be of great help in severe situations. Although, it is always better to take your pooch to the vet and determine what the cause of his coughing is.
  • Canine degenerative myelopathy

Tramadol usually can only be purchased through prescription, but in some places, it is considered an over the counter drug. However, you should keep one important thing in mind. Even though tramadol can greatly influence the way your dog’s body perceives the pain, it does not have any anti-inflammatory properties.

Image showing a dog and a couple of pills next to him

This means that it only treats the symptom—in this case, the pain—and not the root of the issue. Therefore, if you haven’t already, you should still take your dog to the vet even if it looks like he is doing better after you’ve given him tramadol. Do not be surprised if your veterinarian prescribes it together with an NSAID carprofen to treat the cause as well.

How to Give Your Dog Tramadol

As aforementioned, tramadol is a prescription drug, so you should already have a rough estimation of how much tramadol you should give your dog based on your vet’s suggestion. Despite that, you can never be too careful with things concerning your beloved pooch, so we are going to give you a better idea about that here.

Dosage

Let’s start with the dosage. Basically, the amount of tramadol you should give your dog depends on his weight:

  • Usually, the starting dosage would be 0.5 mg for every pound of your dog’s weight. This is the lowest possible dosage that a vet can prescribe. This dosage can increase up to 1.8 mg per pound of weight.
  • Tramadol should be administrated every 8 to 12 hours depending on how severe the pain is and what the vet recommends to you. In case your dog is dealing with chronic cancer pain, your vet will recommend a dosage between 0.45-1.8 mg/lbs of your dog’s weight every 6 hours.
  • If you miss one tablet of tramadol, you can give it to your dog as soon as you remember it. However, if you remember about it close to the next dose, then you should not double the dose. Give your dog the scheduled dose and skip the one you missed.
  • Do not replace the missed dose with any other medicine. Stick to the schedule your vet established for your dog and avoid missing any other doses.
  • Once the treatment period has ended, it is not recommended that you stop tramadol suddenly. Talk to your veterinarian before stopping it as he will let you know how to avoid any possible symptoms like nausea, tremors, breathing problems or chills that might appear.

Feeding Method

Even though dogs are humans’ best friends, giving medicine to your pooch may sometimes be a challenge for you. Dogs are extremely intelligent, and most of the time they will discover very fast that you are about to do something they don’t like.

One very simple solution would be to put the tablet in his food. If you use wet food, it will be very easy to hide the tablet inside. Furthermore, you can put it in his favorite treat. If your dog likes food in general, he will most probably eat his treats without even noticing that you added the pill inside.

Homemade Dog Pill Pockets

In case the above solution does not work, you can try several other things. You can gently open his mouth and place the tablet as far back as possible on his tongue. When you try this solution, you have to be very fast, and as soon as you placed the tablet, you have to close his jaw immediately. While you keep his mouth closed, try to point his head towards the ceiling and stroke his throat to make him swallow the pill.

Our recommendation would be to make this entire experience as pleasant as possible. You should avoid making him feel afraid of the moment when you are going to give him the pill. Keep in mind that you have to give him tramadol for several weeks, so if your dog gets scared every time you have to give him the tablet will turn into an all-out battle.

Other Tips

Other than the dosage and the way to feed it to your dog, when giving tramadol to your dog, there are some other things you’ll want to pay attention to:

  • You should make sure that your dog will always have plenty of water to drink during the treatment period.
  • You can give tramadol either together with food or without it.
  • Do not crush the tablet.
  • You should avoid combining tramadol with other medicines like cold or allergy medications, muscle relaxants, or medicine for seizures or anxiety. These combinations can make your dog even drowsier. Furthermore, your dog could have a seizure if you combine tramadol with MAO inhibitor or antidepressant.

Another very important thing to know when you give tramadol to your dog is that an overdose can be fatal for him.

Image showing a dog drinking water from a source water

This is why we reinforce the idea that in case you missed one dose, you should not double it when you administrate the following scheduled dose. An overdose of tramadol can provoke many issues. We will discuss more about this in the section below.

Can Tramadol Cause Side Effects?

Like any other medicine, this one also has its own list of side effects. Why is it important to know the side effects before administering it? In case your dog experiences one of those side effects, you have to be prepared to help him. The lighter symptoms include loss of appetite and anxiety. The less common symptoms that you’ll have to be careful of would be:

Nausea

If you give this medicine on an empty stomach, it may cause nausea. In case your dog vomits after every dose, you should immediately call the vet because he can quickly get dehydrated.

a dog having nausea

If your dog will still drink water, dehydration should be avoidable, but if he won’t, you’ll need the vet to attach him to an IV vein.

Drowsiness

This is a common side effect. As long as your dog drinks water and eats while he is awake, you should not be too concerned. If you feel that your buddy sleeps too much though, you can discuss with your vet and lower the dosage. Therefore, it would be recommended to keep an eye on your pet and take care to follow the vet’s instructions.

Dizziness

When you see your dog fall over, stumble, or struggle to walk, it means that tramadol gets him dizzy. There are also cases when your dog will simply refuse to move. The first thing you should do in this situation is to try to calm your dog.

Image showing a dog with dizzines laying down

You can scratch behind his ears or do everything you can to make him feel comfortable. Moreover, you can help him drink a bit of water and use some ginger to alleviate the dizziness. For a dog that is over 35 pounds, you can administrate ¾ of a teaspoon of ginger. If you do not have ginger powder, you can finely mince some real ginger.

Constipation

This is one side effect that appears very often. In many cases, it will appear together with bloating. The good news here is that there are plenty of things you can do to help your dog.

Image showing a dog feeling sick laying down

For example, you can include more fibers in your dog’s diet. Moreover, you can include more wet food than dry food and make sure that he drinks plenty of water. Another efficient option would be to give your dog one teaspoon of mineral oil per every 10 pounds of weight. In case you go for this option, do not try to spoon-feed your dog. Just put in his food.

The severity of these side effects could vary. If you are unsure about how to help your dog in case things get serious, it is always better to call your vet and give him details about the symptoms.

Wrap Up

The moment you become a pup parent, it will immediately be difficult to see how your life could continue without your pooch. That’s why, when you find out that you have to give medicine to your dog, there may be many contradictory thoughts that cross your mind.

While you know that tramadol is going to help your dog get better, many things may concern you as well. What if your dog does not react well to the treatment? Is tramadol going to make him addicted to it? How is tramadol going to affect your dog in the long term?

We hope we managed to answer all of those questions properly in this article. All in all, as long as you stick to the schedule and do not miss any dose, your dog will get better very fast.

Image showing some pills on the table

Also, it is also very important to observe how your dog feels during the treatment and take action whenever you notice something odd. In case of any doubt, it is always best to listen to your vet’s recommendation. Remember, tramadol is just a pain medication. If the cause of the pain is not treated, it will not go away. Tramadol is only good for providing a short relief in these cases.

Was this article useful for you? Do you have any experience of your own giving your dog tramadol? Tell us any tips or stories involving tramadol by leaving a comment on this page.

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.

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