Dealing with Canine Ingestion of Trazodone®
Dogs commonly eat things they shouldn’t, especially the stray tablet or capsule from the medicine cabinet that may ultimately fall on the floor. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, almost half of their calls are about pets ingesting human medications such as Trazodone. Many of these drugs can be toxic due to a dog’s smaller size and differences in human and canine metabolism and toxicities.
Today, we’ll look at what happens to your dog if it accidentally ingests Trazodone®, and what you should do.
What is Trazodone®?
Oleptro, Desyrel®, Desyrel Dividose, also known by the generic name “Trazodone”, is a drug commonly used for the treatment of human depression, anxiety disorders, and insomnia. Other uses in humans include for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive symptoms, post-traumatic stress disorders, panic disorders, control of nightmares, fibromyalgia, alcohol and cocaine withdrawal, migraine prevention, schizophrenia, and erectile dysfunction. Trazodone was extremely popular as an antidepressant in the 1980s and 1990s but is less commonly used due to the common side effect of sedation associated with Trazodone.
Trazodone is categorized as a serotonin antagonist reuptake inhibitor (SARI). It works by altering chemicals (serotonin) in the brain that may become unbalanced.
Trazodone is available as both brand name and generic formulations. Common tablets sizes include 50mg, 100 mg, 150 mg, and 300 mg.
Is Trazodone® Routinely Prescribed to Dogs?
Trazodone® is prescribed to dogs and cats for a variety of behavioral problems including aggression, fears, anxieties, urine marking and compulsive disorders. For more information on the therapeutic use of Trazodone in dogs and cats, go to the pet drug library: Using Trazodone in Dogs.
The therapeutic dose used in dogs is as follows:
In dogs, there is a range of doses. A lower dose is generally started and gradually tapered up to minimize side effects. The dosage range goes from approximately 2.5 mg per pound per day to 15 mg per pound per day. The average dose is approximately 3.5 mg per pound per day. Lower doses are used when combined with other behavioral modification medications.
Currently, trazodone is not widely used in cats but appears to be safe and well tolerated. Doses generally used are 50 mg to 100 mg per cat for anxiety.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Trazodone®
In general, Trazodone® is considered toxic to dogs if enough drug is ingested. The toxicity depends on the amount ingested relative to your dog’s body weight.
The most common side effects include agitation, aggression, incoordination, excessive drooling, panting, hyperactivity, vocalization such as barking or howling, tremors, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, dilated pupils and/or sedation. Some dogs will experience elevated blood pressure, heart rates and body temperature.
The amount of drug that can cause problems in a dog varies with each individual dog. Some depression and sedation have been documented when a dog ingests 3 mg of Trazodone per pound of body weight. Most dogs will experience neurologic abnormalities including drooling, trouble walking, incoordination, tremors and seizures at higher doses. Neurologic side effects can be more severe in dogs with a history of seizures or epilepsy. Doses over 250 mg per pound can be fatal. Some dogs can be much more sensitive to Trazodone than other dogs and lower doses can cause severe side effects in death in some dogs.
If your dog ingests Trazodone®, call your veterinarian for recommendations. Some veterinarians may recommend that you induce vomiting in your dog if toxic doses were ingested within the past few hours. For more information, go to How to Make a Dog Vomit. For Trazodone® the best time to induce vomiting to prevent drug absorption is within 15 minutes of ingestion. Induction of vomiting is NOT recommended if your dog is showing any neurological abnormalities.
Monitor your dog carefully and ensure they are behaving normally. Monitor for tremors, seizures, sedation, hyperactivity, trouble walking, vomiting, or lack of appetite.
When Should You Call Your Veterinarian?
Call your vet immediately if your dog ingests Trazodone® and get his or her advice.
Call your vet if you see any abnormalities or concerns with your dog. If you notice vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, pale gums, difficulty breathing, lack of appetite, tremors, seizures, hyperactivity, trouble walking or any other signs, call your veterinarian as soon as possible.
How is Trazodone® Toxicity in Dogs Treated?
There is no specific antidote for Trazodone toxicity in dogs. Treatment will be determined on the amount your dog ate, the size of your dog, concurrent medical problems, when the toxic dose was ingested, and the symptoms your dog is displaying. If your dog ingests Trazodone®, call your veterinarian for recommendations.