Is Tramadol Safe for Dogs?

If you’ve ever taken tramadol, then you know how effective it is at treating pain. Whether you’ve had a minor surgery or you suffer from migraines, tramadol is very effective at getting rid of the pain quickly. No matter what you’ve been prescribed tramadol for, you might be tempted to use it for your dog if they’re suffering from some kind of pain.


Can I Give My Dog Tramadol?

Tramadol is safe for dogs and commonly prescribed after surgery or for treating both long- and short-term pain.

Is Tramadol Safe for Dogs?

Tramadol is safe to use in most dogs and some studies have indicated it’s safer than NSAIDs, like Rimadyl (carprofen), in some dogs. It does interact poorly with certain medications that many dogs are commonly taking, like MAOIs, opioids, or SSRIs. Because of this, you should never give your dog a dose of tramadol unless you’ve talked to your vet and they know what drugs your dog is currently on.

Tramadol should never be given to dogs with kidney disease, a poorly functioning liver, a history of seizures, or poor lung function. Pregnant dogs should never take tramadol, either.

Does Tramadol Have Any Side Effects?

Tramadol’s side effects are mild unless the drug has been given in excess. The most common side effect is drowsiness. You might also notice nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, anxiety, and panting. More infrequent side effects include diarrhea, itching, rashes, rapid heart rate, seizures, fainting, and dizziness. Itching, diarrhea, and rashes indicate a potential allergic reaction, so if you notice a series of side effects occurring at once, discontinue the medication and call your vet immediately.

Overdose symptoms include a depressed respiration rate or difficulty breathing, excessive drowsiness, vomiting, seizures, incoordination, coma, and death. If you think your dog is experiencing an overdose, you should call your veterinarian immediately and take your dog in right away. The sooner you get your dog treated, the more likely it is they’ll survive the overdose.

How Much Tramadol Can I Give My Dog?

Dosing a dog can be tricky and you should always consult with your veterinarian for optimal dosing. While there is a maximum dose for dogs, your dog will rarely need that large of a dose unless they’re in excruciating pain. In that case, they’ll require further evaluation from their vet to see if alternative drugs should be used. As stated above, an overdose can be fatal to your dog. Deciding how much your dog needs without consulting with your veterinarian first can be a life or death decision for your dog.

The typical dog dosage of tramadol for dogs begins at 0.5mg/lb and goes all the way up to 1.8 mg/lb every 8 to 12 hours. The dosage will depend on what type of pain is being treated (surgical pain versus pain from a minor injury). More severe pain will require a higher dose, while some dogs may require a higher dose just because their body doesn’t react very well to a lower dose.

Tramadol comes in two formulations: regular and extended release. The extended release tablets are made for humans and aren’t very good for a dog’s digestive tract because it takes so long to break them down. These tablets are often passed undigested, meaning your dog won’t get any relief from their pain.

What Can I Give My Dog for Pain?

Pain should never be treated with human medications. Tylenol, Advil, and Aleve are all toxic to dogs and could damage their liver and kidneys or even kill them. If your dog has pain due to an injury, arthritis, or after a surgery, your vet might offer you a different prescription medication like Rimadyl, Deramaxx, or Metacam. These belong to the NSAID family and work very well to relieve a variety of pain. They can affect the liver and kidneys, so your vet may require bloodwork if your dog is going to be on them long-term to ensure those organs are strong enough to handle it.

If your dog is suffering from joint problems, you can try joint supplements like chondroitin and glucosamine. Some people have reported success in treating their dog’s minor joint pain with fatty acids like fish oil.


Tramadol is only available through your veterinarian, so it’s unlikely you’ll come across an instance where you have the option to give your dog a dose without your vet’s input. Your vet is the best source for doing the right things for your dog’s health, so never be afraid to ask them for help.