Side Effects of Tramadol For Dogs & Alternatives
It can be flustering not to know what to do when your dog needs your help, especially when they’re down with pain. The most automatic response is to go to the vet and, without any question, buy whatever painkiller is in the prescription. Following the prescription strictly is not unwise. However, it’s better to think about your dog’s medication more extensively before settling with a painkiller. This is most important if your dog is suffering from chronic pain.
One of the painkillers you should think twice about is Tramadol. Though Tramadol can give your dog fast-acting and long-lasting relief, it isn’t formulated to be safe for long-term use. In the following post, you’ll learn all about Tramadol and why you should be cautious in giving them to your dogs.
What Is Tramadol for Dogs?
Tramadol is the generic name for a kind of opioid drug. It is medically used as a narcotic analgesic for relieving moderate to severe pain in both humans and dogs.
This kind of painkiller can be prescribed for dogs who are suffering from acute and chronic pain caused by any of the following conditions:
- Post-operative pain
- Physical injury
- Cancer symptoms
- Hip dysplasia
- Nonsurgical inter-vertebral disc disease
- Degenerative myelopathy
- Other joint and nerve diseases
Tramadol is sometimes also prescribed for relief of anxiety and even coughing.
Main Ingredient in Tramadol
Tramadol hydrochloride is the main active ingredient of Tramadol medications. It can be combined with other weaker or stronger analgesics to enhance the painkilling effect. Tramadol is like a mild version of morphine. It works by blocking chemicals in nerve pathways that signal the perception of pain. Norepinephrine and serotonin are the chemicals that stimulate feelings of happiness and well being. Tramadol blocks the reuptake of these two chemicals so that your dog will feel more of the happiness effect than the perception of pain.
This works only as a diversion that tricks your dog’s mind to perceive happiness rather than pain. Tramadol does not, however, help relieve any of the symptoms that cause the pain. Unlike NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), Tramadol does not help reduce swelling and pain in the affected parts. It does not provide assistance to the body’s compensatory and rehabilitative processes that help the body recover from the cause of pain.
Dosage and Cost of Tramadol for Dogs
The dosage for Tramadol depends on the dog’s weight and condition. There is no dosage guide for Tramadol that the public may follow. It is strictly dispensed and administered per prescription only to prevent overdose. As a class 4 controlled substance, Tramadol cannot be bought and dosed like any over-the-counter drug. Only a licensed vet can determine the right dosage for your dog.
Tramadol for dogs is available in 50 mg tablets at pet pharmacies. The cost per tablet depends on the prescribed brand and also your location.
Tramdol 50 mg can cost between $0.75 and $2.00 per tablet.
Side Effects of Tramadol
Tramadol is a narcotic analgesic that causes your dog to feel at ease and happy to mask the pain. But it may also cause certain unwanted side effects.
Some of the common side effects your dog may experience while on medication include:
- Changes in appetite
Aside from these side effects, you should also watch out for signs of overdose and adverse reactions that may cause serious problems in your dog:
- Breathing difficulty
- Decreased heart and pulse rate
- Weakness and sleepiness
- Excessive drooling
- Excessive vomiting
- Excessive tremors
- Loss of consciousness
These reactions can cause serious damage to your dog’s body. That is why Tramadol should be strictly given as prescribed.
In some cases though, even if you follow the vet’s directions religiously, it’s still possible for your dog to experience adverse reactions. This is because every dog is different. Many dogs can tolerate Tramadol well, but some dogs may not be able to put up with its effects.
Tramadol’s Interaction with Other Drugs
Tramadol is a strong painkiller that causes narcotic effects. These effects may interfere or counteract with the effects of other drugs. Tramadol should never be given to dogs who are also taking medications such as:
- Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
Drugs like sertraline and fluoxetine are SSRIs that inhibit the re-uptake of serotonin in the body. If used with Tramadol, the effects might lead to overdose reactions.
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
Selegiline is a MAOI that inhibits the break-down of serotonin and norepinephrine. Using this with Tramadol will also lead to overdose effects.
The risk of overdose and “addictiveness” to Tramadol is moderately high. That’s why many pet owners are advised to seek other safer options for their dog’s pain management.
Although it’s relatively safe to give Tramadol for acute pain, it isn’t the best medication for chronic pain. For dogs that need to take pain medications daily on a long-term basis, safer and more natural alternatives should be explored. One of the most popular alternatives to Tramadol is CBD oil.
CBD oil is a safe, naturally-derived supplement that can be given to your dog on a daily basis. It can be used an anti-inflammatory agent for pain management. You can also give CBD oil in different ways that your dog might enjoy.
CBD is an effective anti-inflammatory agent that helps the body to cope better and faster from pain and inflammation. It works by stimulating the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to control prostaglandin levels and establish chemical balance. This state of balance fights off inflammatory responses that cause pain and swelling in the affected parts.
Other safer alternatives also include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs are also chemical drugs like Tramadol, but they provide more beneficial effects and fewer side effects. NSAIDs benefit the body by regulating inflammatory responses to reduce swelling and pain. Unlike Tramadol, NSAIDs are better tolerated and are not addictive and mind-clouding.
- Physical therapy
Physical therapy will help your dog recover faster and manage pain better. The exercises in physical therapy will gradually build your dog’s physical vitality to restore normal functions and fight off inflammation.
Acupuncture is also becoming popular for dogs with chronic pain. This procedure works by regulating the body’s energy flow so that pain can become more manageable.
- Herbal therapy
There are some herbs than can be safely given to your dog for pain management like Turmeric. However, you must ask your vet first before giving any herbal medication because herbs work just like drugs. If you give the wrong herb for the wrong condition, it may cause bad reactions and worsen the problem.
It’s not bad to trust prescription drugs and to stick to them. There are prescriptions that cannot be alternated with anything else.
However, it’s every owner’s responsibility to look out and ahead for their dogs. If it’s possible to choose other safer options, you should always discuss them with your vet.