What Is Tramadol? Tramadol For Dogs Explained

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When it comes to fast-acting pain relief, there are few products that are as effective as Tramadol. We’ve all experienced pain before and know how much of a hassle it can be to go about your daily rituals with a throbbing headache or a general bodily pain. Unfortunately, our four-legged friends aren’t as lucky as us when it comes to pain relief. Many dogs suffer from both chronic and acute pain simply because we can’t understand that they are even in pain.

Because of this, it pays to have a painkiller on-hand that’s effective at treating most forms of pain quickly and with minimal side-effects. It might sound strange to try giving your dog a human painkiller, but Tramadol is quite popular among veterinarians for relieving pain in animals and will, therefore, be very popular with your dog!

What Is Tramadol?

Tramadol for dogs is basically just a dog-friendly dosage of the drug. Tramadol is a synthetic opioid that works as a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, which means that it suppresses pain by working on the opioid receptors in our brain. By increasing your brain’s norepinephrine levels, you actively reduce any levels of pain that you may be feeling as it’s (norepinephrine) a chemical ‘coping mechanism’ released by our brain when in stress.

By effectively blocking these receptors, Tramadol helps to relieve pain quickly and efficiently and has even been known to help treat issues like depression, as many of these opioid receptors are known for contributing to the proliferation of sadness and anxiety.

However, the exact mechanism of Tramadol is still unknown to us and research is largely carried out based on the results that the drug produces. Because the drug is considered highly potent, it is generally only used in dogs to cure severe or chronic pain, such as that caused by cancer or for postoperative pain relief.

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Tramadol For Dogs Dosages: What Will Work For Your Dog?

Using Tramadol for either humans or dogs can be a tricky procedure and if you plan on using the drug at all, it’s highly recommended that you stick to the plan laid out by your veterinarian. Like most drugs of this nature, Tramadol can be highly addictive and can have negative side-effects if used in the wrong dosage or if discontinued abruptly. It can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as depression, headaches, heart palpitations, anxiety, convulsions, loss of memory, fever, and nausea to name but a few.

Because dogs are unable to express their symptoms they may be experiencing, diagnosing the issue can be a little more of a challenge. Therefore, it’s imperative you stick to the directions offered by your veterinarian carefully lest you end up worsening your dog’s health further. With regards to dogs, their weight or breed isn’t usually a factor to consider when prescribing the drug.

The general dose for safe and effective results is usually around 0.45mg -- 1.8 mg per pound and should be administered once every 8-12 hours. However, your vet may give you a different set of guidelines to follow based on a case by case basis. If so, be sure to stick to these directions and never deviate, or else the ramifications could wind up worsening your dog’s health and costing you big time.

What Are The Side-Effects Caused By Tramadol?

Here are just some of the most common side-effects caused by Tramadol:

  • Change in walking and balance
  • Difficult urination
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness when getting up from a lying or sitting position
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of memory
  • Numbness and tingling of the face, fingers, or toes
  • Severe redness, swelling, and itching of the skin
  • Sweats
  • Trouble performing routine tasks
  • Weak or absent pulses in the legs
  • Yellow eyes or skin

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Natural Alternatives To Tramadol For Dogs

There are a few techniques or ingredients you can try when it comes to natural pain relief that will be effective, but certainly not as powerful as drugs like Tramadol or paracetamol. However, it’s important that you discuss these natural alternatives with your vet beforehand to ensure that they’re safe for your dog to use. If you do start using them, be sure to monitor your dog closely to ensure they don’t have any adverse effects or allergic reactions.

The first two are some of my personal favorites for mild pain relief. I generally rely on these before moving on to any stronger doses of medication if I don’t have success with either. These are turmeric and ginger, which can be used in recipes, drinks, or on their own to help relieve the symptoms of pain.

These are tasty and easy to use, plus they can be added to your dog’s food if they don’t like the taste of the raw herbs. They’ve also been known to help relieve the pain associated with headaches and joint pain and can even help treat nausea. I definitely recommend investigating them as either an addition to your dog’s medication or as a treatment on its own.

Flowers growing.

Valerian Plant.

The next two common pain relief alternative medications are a little more tricky to administer and will most likely need to be given to your dog orally. They are valerian and eucommia, both of which are substances that can tremendously aid with pain relief and will help to flush toxins out of your dog’s body at the same time, allowing them to focus more on the healing process. They’re best served in a liquid form much like a cold tea and are mostly considered safe to use in doses of twice a day in amounts varying from large to small.

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Pricing And Availability Of Tramadol

Because Tramadol is a widely used drug amongst humans, finding it shouldn’t be a problem and most vets will have some or will be able to give you a prescription for the drug which you can definitely buy at your local pharmacist. In general,  it costs around $1 a pill -- so you won’t have to break the bank to treat your pooch. Try asking your vet to order them online or give you an online prescription as they’re a lot cheaper this way.


To conclude, Tramadol is a highly effective pain reliever that can be helpful at easing any pain or suffering your dog may be experiencing. However, it’s important to note that it’s a highly potent drug and should be treated with the utmost care to ensure that there aren’t any unnecessary side-effects or health complications. I would also recommend that you monitor your dog closely after giving them the drug and don’t leave them at home for extended periods of time unsupervised.

Every dog is different and may react differently to the drug under the right circumstances. Be sure to give them lots of water and love as they’re probably going through a lot more than they can express.