Description: Serotonin 2A Antagonist/Reuptake Inhibitor; Anti-Anxiety Agent
Other Names for this Medication: Desyrel®
Common Dosage Forms: Veterinary: None. Human: 50 mg, 100 mg, 150 mg, & 300 mg tablets. Trazodone may be made (compounded)
into an oral liquid.

This information sheet does not contain all available information for this medication. It is to help answer commonly asked questions and help you give the medication safely and effectively to your animal. If you have other questions or need more information about this medication, contact your veterinarian or pharmacist.

Key Information

  • Used in dogs for anxiety-related conditions, including thunderstorm or fireworks phobias and activity restrictions (cage rest) after surgery. This medicine is commonly used in combination with other drugs to reduce anxiety.
  • Trazodone may be given with food or on an empty stomach. If your animal vomits or acts sick after getting it on an empty stomach, try giving with food or a small treat and see if this helps. If vomiting continues, contact your veterinarian.
  • May take up to 2 weeks to achieve its calming effect, especially when used alone.
  • Most common side effects are sleepiness and decreased activity.
  • Use with caution in working/service dogs as they may be unable to perform their duties while on this medication.

How is this medication useful?

Trazodone can be helpful in dogs to help treat a variety of anxiety-related conditions, such as thunderstorm or fireworks phobias and activity restrictions (cage rest) after surgery. Trazodone is often used as an additional medication for behavioral problems that do not adequately respond to just one medication. The FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration) has approved this drug for use in humans, but it is not officially approved for use in animals. The FDA allows veterinarians to prescribe and use human products containing this drug in animals in certain situations. You and your veterinarian can discuss why this drug is the most appropriate choice.

What should I tell my veterinarian to see if this medication can be safely given?

Many things might affect how well this drug will work in your animal. Be sure to discuss the following with your veterinarian so together you can make the best treatment decisions.

  • Other drugs can interact with trazodone, including other behavior drugs, so be sure to tell your veterinarian and pharmacist what medications (and vitamins, supplements, herbal therapies) you give your animal, including the amount and time you give each.
  • Tell your veterinarian if your animal has worn a tick collar or had a flea dip in the last two weeks and, if so, what kind. Preventic® or dips containing amitraz may seriously interact with trazodone.
  • Tell your veterinarian about any conditions or diseases your animal may have now or has had in the past.
  • If your animal has been treated for the same disease or condition in the past, tell your veterinarian about the treatment and how well it did or didn’t work.
  • If your animal is pregnant or nursing, talk to your veterinarian about the risks of using this drug.
  • Tell your veterinarian and pharmacist about any medication side effects (including allergic reactions, lack of appetite, diarrhea, itching, hair loss) your animal has developed in the past.

How long until I will know if this medication is working, and how long will the effects of this medication last?

When used for short-term relief of stressful situations this medication should help your animal feel better within 1 to 2 hours. Your animal’s clinical signs should improve after that time. If being used for management of chronic behavioral conditions, the medication’s full effects may not be evident until your animal has taken it consistently for several weeks, but you will see a gradual improvement of your animal’s clinical signs as the medication becomes fully effective. The effects of this medication are short-lived, meaning they will stop working within 24 hours, although the benefits may be prolonged if your animal has decreased kidney and/or liver function.

When should this medication not be used or be used very carefully?

No drug is 100% safe in all patients, but your veterinarian will discuss with you any specific concerns about using this drug in your animal.

This drug SHOULD NOT be used in patients:

  • That are allergic to it.
  • That are receiving MAO inhibitors. Be sure you tell your veterinarian about all drugs, flea or tick collars, or dips that your animal has had or worn in the last two weeks.

This drug should be used WITH CAUTION in patients:

  • With kidney or liver problems.
  • With severe heart disease.
  • That are pregnant or nursing.
  • That are working or service dogs, as they may become overly sedated (sleepy) and be unable to perform their duties while on this drug.

If your animal has any of these conditions, talk to your veterinarian about the potential risks versus benefits.

What are the side effects of this medication?

Common but not serious, side effects include:

  • Sleepiness, lack of energy, loss of coordination, diarrhea, vomiting, or gagging.
  • Agitation (anxious, nervous, upset, unable to relax), aggression (threatening behavior or actions), or other behavior changes.

You don’t have to be overly concerned if you see any of these signs unless they are severe, worsen, or continue to be a problem.

Contact your veterinarian if this happens.

Side effects that may be serious or indicate a serious problem:

Irregular heartbeat, severe aggression (threatening behavior or actions), loss of consciousness (passing out).

If you see any of these signs, contact your veterinarian immediately.

If my animal gets too much of this medication (an overdose), what should I do?

Overdoses of trazodone may be serious and cause excess sedation (sleepiness), restlessness, faster or irregular heartbeats, slower breathing, or coma. If you witness or suspect an overdose, contact your veterinarian or an animal poison control center for further advice. Animal poison control centers that are open 24 hours a day include: Pet Poison HELPLINE (855-764-7661) and ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435); a consultation fee is charged for these services.

How should this medication be given?

For this medication to work, give it exactly as your veterinarian has prescribed. It’s a good idea to always check the prescription label to be sure you are giving the drug correctly.

  • May be given with or without food. If your animal vomits or acts sick after receiving the drug on an empty stomach, try giving the next dose with food or a small treat. If vomiting continues, contact your veterinarian.
  • Compounded liquid forms of this medication must be measured carefully. Your veterinarian or pharmacist can help by providing special measuring spoons or syringes.
  • If you have difficulty getting your animal to take the medicine, contact your veterinarian or pharmacist for tips to help dosing and reducing the stress of medication time.
  • This medication can be given for various lengths of time. Be sure you understand how long your veterinarian wants you to continue giving this medication. Prescription refills may be necessary before the therapy will be complete. Before stopping this medication, talk to your veterinarian, as there may be important reasons to continue its use.

What should I do if I miss giving a dose of this medication?

If you miss a dose, wait and give the next dose when it is usually time to do so, or give it when you remember and then wait the regular time between doses recommended by your veterinarian before giving another dose. Do not double-up doses or give an extra dose.

How should I store this medication?

  • Store trazodone tablets in the original prescription bottle or an approved dosage reminder (ie, pill minder) container at room temperature and protected from moisture.
  • If your veterinarian or pharmacist has made (compounded) a special formulation for your animal, follow the storage recommendations and expiration date for the product.
  • Keep away from children and other animals.

Can handling this medication be hazardous to me, my family, or other animals?

There are no specific precautions required when handling this medication unless you are allergic to it. Wash your hands after handling any medication.

How should I dispose of this medication if I don’t use it all?

  • Do not flush this medication down the toilet or wash it down the sink. If a community drug “take-back” program is available, use this option. If there is no take-back program, mix the drug with coffee grounds or cat litter (to make it undesirable to children and animals and unrecognizable to people who might go through your trash), place the mixture in a sealable plastic bag to keep it from leaking out, and throw the bag out with the regular trash.
  • Do not save leftover medication for future use or give it to others to use.

What other information is important for this medication?

  • Like all behavioral treatments, trazodone usually works best in combination with behavior modification therapy.
  • It may take several weeks before you and your veterinarian can determine whether this drug is having the desired effect on your animal’s behavior.
  • Use of this drug may not be allowed in certain animal competitions. Check rules and regulations before entering your animal in a competition while this medication is being administered.

If you have any other questions about this medication, contact your veterinarian or pharmacist.