If you have ever been depressed your doctor might have prescribed you an antidepressant called Trazodone. What you may not know is that this antidepressant can also be used for cats and dogs. That’s right – the pills used to balances our moods and make us feel better can also be used by our pets (when veterinarian prescribed. Never give your pet any medication that has not been prescribed to them by a licensed vet.)
Trazodone, also known as Oleptro® and Desyrel® is used to treat behavior disorders in pets. There is a difference between a behavior problem and a behavior disorder. Trazodone is a medication used to treat disorders, not a solution to counteract behavior problems. Trazodone is categorized as a SARI which stands for Serotonin Antagonist Reuptake Inhibitor. What this means is that Trazodone regulates and increases the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is responsible for our pet’s mood, social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, and memory. Where your pets have an unbalanced level of serotonin, it can lead to irrational behavior such as lashing out and separation anxiety.
Anxiety Related Conditions that Trazodone Can Treat
- Noise phobia (fireworks, thunderstorms, etc.)
Situations in Which Trazodone is Commonly Used
- Veterinary visits
Trazodone is also commonly used on pets post surgery to keep them calm while healing.
Studieshave shown that the use of Trazodone leads to a faster healing process post operation. Trazodone takes effect within 2 hours of oral consumption; injection is not recommended for Trazodone. Trazodone should not be taken without the direct consent of your pet’s veterinarian, additionally, make sure to tell your pet’s vet every medication that your pet is currently taking.
Trazodone may also be used in addition to other medications such as fluoxetine. Currently, Trazodone is not available in veterinary formulations; it is only available in human formulations such as Oleptro® and Desyrel®. Trazodone can be used in both cats and dogs. However, there has been more research conducted on the effects of this drug on cats than on dogs.
Possible Side Effects Of Trazodone
Some side effects are to be expected such as drowsiness and fatigue. If your pet experiences more serious side effects such as seizures, pale gums, difficulty breathing, tremors, or trouble walking call your vet immediately.
If your pet has accidentally ingested too much Trazodone, you should call you vet immediately. If you require additional information or if your vet is unavailable, try calling the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 (each incident will be charged a $59 fee). Additionally, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center can be reached at (888) 426-4435 for a fee of $65 per session.
Possible Side Effects
- The loss of full control of the bodily movements
- GI effects
- Vomiting, Diarrhea, etc.
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Blurred vision
Research and Studies
If you would like further information regarding Trazodone and your pet, we recommend the following publications. Don’t be afraid to call your vet to inquire about Trazodone for your pet. Even if your pet hasn’t been prescribed Trazodone your vet will be more than happy to discuss this course of treatment with you. Also, check out our Trazodone information page for further info about all things Trazodone. Lastly, if you’re worried about your dog overdosing on Trazodone read our “What to Do if Your Dog Eats Trazodone® Medication?” blog. If your pet ingests Trazodone without a perscription or accidently ingests too much Trazodone call your vet immediately. Depending on your situation your vet may ask you to induce vomiting in your pet or will urge you to bring your pet in for treatments and care.
Stevens, B. J., Frantz, E. M., Orlando, J. M., Griffith, E., Harden, L. B., Gruen, M. E., & Sherman, B. L. (2016). Efficacy of a single dose of trazodone hydrochloride given to cats prior to veterinary visits to reduce signs of transport- and examination-related anxiety. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 249(2), 202-207. doi:10.2460/javma.249.2.202