tramadol alternatives for dogs

Is your pet in pain from surgery, cancer, or arthritis?

If so, your vet has likely talked to you about Tramadol, a powerful opioid painkiller.

But after hearing about its side effects and risks of causing addiction, chances are you’re wondering whether there’s a better, safer way to treat your pet’s pain.

Well, there is.

Read on to learn about CBD and why it’s the best pain reliever for dogs, cats, and other pets.

What is Tramadol?

tramadol pills for dogsTramadol, often sold under brand names like Ultram and Conzip, is a strong analgesic used to treat moderate and severe pain.

It is a narcotic, meaning it binds to opioid receptors in the brain to alter our perception of pain.

Tramadol works differently to other opioid painkillers and researchers still don’t completely understand it’s mode of action once it enters the body.

Tramadol has been shown to temporarily increase the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, which is believed to help block pain signals as well as create a sense of euphoria.

By acting on opioid receptors, Tramadol has also been shown to decrease the transmission of pain signals through the body, ultimately leading a person or animal to experience less pain.

Acting on these receptors, however, also has a downside:

Tramadol can be addictive, and users can experience significant withdrawal symptoms once they stop taking the drug.

That leads us to a very important and confronting question:

Is Tramadol Safe for Dogs?

safety first signTramadol, besides being used to treat pain in humans, can also be used to treat pain in dogs, cats, and other mammals.

It is most commonly used to treat pain associated with surgery, osteoarthritis, and cancer, but your vet might prescribe it for other types of pain, too.

Now, whether Tramadol is safe is debatable.

Like most other prescription medications, Tramadol can cause side effects.

Compared to other drugs, these side effects are relatively mild.

Unlike NSAIDs, for example, Tramadol does not cause internal bleeding or stomach ulcers.

Nonetheless, it can cause sedation, nausea, anxiety, vomiting, and other adverse effects (more info below).

Tramadol can also cause fatal overdoses, and some dogs may experience serious withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop giving them Tramadol or don’t wean them off the drug properly.

In general, however, Tramadol is considered safe and has become the painkiller of choice among many vets.

What are the Side Effects of Tramadol for Dogs?

Just like other prescription medications, Tramadol can cause side effects in dogs.

The most common side effect of Tramadol is sedation.

However, it can cause other adverse effects too, including:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite
  • Anxiety and behavioral changes
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Stomach upsets
  • Tremors and seizures
  • Dizziness and lack of coordination

Tramadol Can Cause Serious Allergic Reactions

dog scratching himself from allergiesAllergic drug reactions can be life-threatening for a dog.

Like other prescription drugs, Tramadol has been shown to cause allergic reactions in some dogs.

Should your pet suffer from a Tramadol allergy, emergency veterinary attention is vital.

In severe cases, an allergic reaction can cause anaphylaxis, a whole-body allergic reaction that can be life-threatening.

While there is nothing you can do to minimize your dog’s chances of having an allergic reaction to Tramadol, there are some symptoms you can look out for to spot an allergic reaction early.

These include:

  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Swelling
  • Difficult, strained breathing
  • Hives or rashes

When your pet first starts their treatment, make sure to monitor them closely.

Look out for the side effects I mentioned earlier as well as the signs of an allergic reaction and make sure to keep your vet informed about your dog’s response to the medication.

Tramadol Overdoses Can be Fatal for Dogs

Dosage is really important when using opioids with your dog.

In high doses, opioids can basically cause the body to shut down.

That’s because they depress the central nervous system, which is involved in managing blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, and more.

Large doses of Tramadol can depress the central nervous system to the point where the drug causes the body to shut down.

dog with stomach painWithout immediate medical attention, dogs that suffer from a Tramadol overdose can die.

Now, it’s important to note that Tramadol overdoses are rare.

If your vet prescribes this drug, he/she will know how to administer it safely and will show you exactly how much Tramadol your dog needs.

By controlling the size and frequency of doses, you’ll basically ensure that there’s enough time for your dog’s body to metabolize the drug while still allowing it to offer relief.

However, accidents happen, and tramadol overdoses in dogs are far from unheard of.

No matter how careful you are, make sure you know the signs of an overdose.

These include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Slow breathing and a slow heart rate
  • Extreme weakness and fainting
  • Coma

If you notice any of these symptoms, seek emergency veterinary attention immediately.

What’s the Average Dose of Tramadol for Dogs?

Tramadol is generally taken orally, with average doses ranging between 0.45 and 1.8 mg per pound of body weight every 6-8 hours.

Remember to always give your pet his/her medicine exactly as prescribed by your vet.

It’s likely your vet has specialized your pet’s dose based on the severity of their pain, their medical history, and their response to the drug.

If you’re unsure about how to dose Tramadol for your dog, always contact your vet.

The numbers above are just averages and should not be used to determine your pet’s dose of Tramadol.

Tips for Using Tramadol With Dogs

If your vet prescribes Tramadol to help your pet manage pain, there’s a number of things you can do to make the treatment as smooth as possible.

Here are a few tips for using Tramadol with your pet:

  • Make sure your pet stays hydrated.
  • Do not crush Tramadol tablets. Give them whole to ensure your pet gets a full dose. You can give the tablets with or without food.
  • Always give your pet the entire Tramadol prescription, even if his/her symptoms seem to have subsided.
  • Never stop giving your pet Tramadol suddenly. This may cause withdrawal symptoms.
  • If your pet suffers from seizures, talk to your vet. Tramadol can worsen seizures in some dogs.
  • Don’t give Tramadol to dogs with kidney and liver problems or stomach disorders.
  • Make sure your vet knows about any other supplements or medications your dog is taking. Tramadol can react poorly with other drugs.

Beware of Tramadol Drug Interactions

Tramadol can react negatively with other drugs, especially antidepressants.

These include:

  • Anipryl
  • Mitaban
  • Clomicalm
  • Prozac
  • Acepromazine
  • Amitriptyline

If your pet is taking muscle relaxants or other pain medications, make sure to take this up with your vet, too.

Taken together with Tramadol, the side effects of these drugs may intensify.

The 5 Natural Alternatives to Tramadol for Dogs With Pain

weaning dogs off medications with CBD

While Tramadol is an effective analgesic, the fact that it has many side effects and can cause an overdose doesn’t really sell it to most pet owners.

Luckily, there are a variety of natural supplements out there that you can consider using instead of Tramadol, including:

5. Yucca Extract

Yucca extract is made from the Yucca plant, which is native to South and Central America.

It has long been used by the ancient cultures in these areas and is said to have anti-inflammatory properties.

4. Arnica

Arnica is a flowering European plant that belongs to the same family as sunflowers.

While it can be moderately toxic, some arnica extracts can be used to fight inflammation and pain.

3. Omega-3 (Fish Oil and Phytoplankton)

Omega-3 oils are essential for health and well-being.

Research also suggests they can help reduce inflammation and fight pain caused by inflammatory conditions.

2. Glucosamine and Chondroitin

Glucosamine and chondroitin are compounds found in healthy cartilage and the shell of shellfish.

They have been shown to help promote joint health and fight arthritis-related inflammation and pain.

1. Cannabidiol (CBD

CBD is one of nature’s best analgesic and Tramadol alternatives.

All of the supplements I mentioned above are believed to help fight different types of pain and inflammation.

However, there’s one supplement that trumps all of them and even beats some prescription painkillers at offering pain relief.

And that supplement is CBD, or cannabidiol.

You’ve probably already heard about CBD and its many health benefits.

Below is a quick overview of why I recommend CBD as the #1 painkiller for dogs:

Why CBD is the Best Painkiller for Dogs

black and white photo of man and his dogA few years ago, I got the worst news possible from my vet:

Rosie, our family dog, had developed an aggressive tumor.

My vet immediately started Rosie on chemotherapy and together we looked into every possible supplement and medication out there to help her fight the cancer.

However, my vet made it clear that Rosie’s cancer was very advanced and that the only thing we could do is maximize her quality of life in her remaining time with us.

As the cancer progressed, it really sucked the life out of Rosie.

Together with dysplasia in her hip (which she had all her life), Rosie went from a happy, active dog, to being depressed, lethargic, and thin.

She was in constant pain, and when she was at her worst, would spend entire days in her bed.

Luckily, I soon learned about CBD.

After days of research and chats with my vet, I decided to try CBD seeing that so many people and pet owners swore by its results.

And I’m so glad, because CBD changed Rosie’s life in a matter of days.

It was great at fighting both the pain from her cancer and the chronic inflammation from her dysplasia.

Plus, CBD also helped boost Rosie’s energy levels and mood, increased her appetite, and much more.

Ever since I saw what CBD did for Rosie, it’s become my go-to supplement when my pets get sick.

When it comes to pain, I almost exclusively use CBD.

holistapet cbd pet tinctureUnlike all the other pain medications, CBD is natural, 100% non-toxic, and produces no side effects.

Plus, studies show that cannabinoids are just as effective at relieving pain as NSAIDs and some other prescription medications.

Thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects, CBD can help your pet manage pain from surgery, arthritis, and many other conditions.

For more information on how CBD works, check out my previous article on CBD for dogs with pain.

Get Informed About CBD Today

Thanks to its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, CBD serves as an effective and safe alternative to prescription pain medications like Tramadol.

If your dog suffers from moderate to severe pain from surgery, cancer, or arthritis, I highly recommend looking into CBD pet supplements like oils, treats, capsules, and creams.

For more info, make sure to check out my website where I review specific CBD pet brands and help pet owners like you find the best products for their animals.

Finally, also make sure to download my full CBD checklist for more information about how CBD works and whether it’s the right option for your pet.

The report contains 35 pages of detailed information about CBD, its benefits, and everything you need to know about using it with pets.

Fill out the form below to download your free copy:


Blake Armstrong
Blake Armstrong

Hey I'm Blake, the founder of this website. Our family was fortunately to have discovered CBD products after our dog Rosie was diagnosed with a few common ailments. I truly believe they enhanced her last few years, and it's my passion to spread the word through this website. Thanks for visiting!