Dogs can experience anxiety and stress, just like people do. In some cases, medication may be necessary to help dogs cope with these conditions. One such medication is trazodone. Trazodone for dogs has been shown to be effective in relieving anxiety and stress, as well as assisting with other behavioral issues. If your dog is struggling with anxiety or stress, talking to your veterinarian about the possibility of prescribing trazodone may be a good option.

Trazodone, a powerful anti-depressant, is commonly used in dogs to help manage behavioral issues related to stress and anxiety. Acting as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI), trazodone increases serotonin levels in the brain. Trazodone is particularly effective for dogs by alleviating stress and anxiety caused by loud noises like fireworks or thunder, separation anxiety, and stress linked to grooming or vet visits and travel.

💊 Vet's Insights

  • Trazodone is often the go-to medication veterinarians recommend for managing stress and anxiety in dogs.
  • It is effective for treating a variety of behavioral issues in dogs, including stress, anxiety, and phobias.
  • It is also helpful for keeping dogs calm and relaxed after surgery while they recover.
  • For best results, it is often combined with other medications and behavioral modification and training.
  • When it comes to dosing, there's no one-size-fits-all approach; your veterinarian will tailor the dosage to your pet's needs, often starting with a lower dose and adjusting as needed and to effect.

How Does Trazodone Work and What are its Benefits for Dogs?

Trazodone works as a serotonin modulator with both antagonistic and inhibitory actions at the serotonin receptors. It technically is considered a serotonin reuptake inhibitor and the result is increased levels of serotonin in the brain, which can help to improve mood and relieve anxiety. It is one of the most common anxiety medications used in dogs.

Trazodone has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of conditions in dogs, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Separation anxiety
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Noise Phobias
  • Barking and howling
  • Aggression

Trazodone can be an effective way to help your dog feel more relaxed and calm. As trazodone in dogs has sedation and anxiolytic effects, it can be a good option for dogs that are fearful when coming to the vet or during thunderstorms and fireworks.

It is important to note that trazodone is rarely used as a sole treatment for aggression, as this may actually worsen the problem. However, trazodone can be used in conjunction with other medications and behavior modification training to help reduce aggression in dogs.

trazodone for dogs
Trazodone can help scared or anxious dogs

What are the Main Uses of Trazodone for Dogs?

Trazodone is most commonly used to treat anxiety and stress in dogs. It can also be used to help with other behavioral issues, such as separation anxiety, compulsive behaviors, barking and howling, and aggression.

The key benefit of trazodone is its ability to help your dog remain more relaxed and composed in situations that typically cause them stress. By alleviating their anxiety, trazodone supports your pet in feeling more comfortable and at ease, making stressful times a bit easier to handle.

Furthermore, it can also be used to help with other behavioral issues, such as separation anxiety, compulsive behaviors, barking and howling, and aggression.

Trazodone is also commonly prescribed to sedate dogs that have anxiety, fear, or stress at the groomer or at the veterinary hospital.

Trazodone is also used in some dogs prior to veterinary visits as dogs that are fearful or aggressive at the vet can benefit from trazodone. This medication can be given before the appointment to help your dog stay calm and relaxed during the exam.

Trazodone is also very beneficial for dogs after surgery when rest and reduced activity are preferred. This is especially important after a spay or other abdominal surgery when limited activity and excitement are preferred. The best way to achieve this is to combine trazodone with tramadol or gabapentin, which are pain medications. A study published in the AVMA determined that 90% of dog owners reported moderate or extremely positive results when trazodone was used post-operatively.

There are also situations where you require a safe, yet effective medication for your dog for travelling purposes. Trazodone for dogs can be used to help relieve anxiety during car rides, plane rides, or any other type of travel.

What is Important to Know When Giving Your Dog Trazodone?

Trazodone should be given with food, as this increases its effectiveness. Trazodone is available in tablet and liquid form. The usual dose of trazodone for dogs is around 5mg per kilogram of body weight, given two to three times daily but follow your veterinarian's recommendation when giving this medication to your dog as the dose will vary depending on the needs of your dog.

It is important to start with a low dose of trazodone and slowly increase the dose as needed, as trazodone can have sedative effects.

What is the Trazodone Dosage for Dogs?

The dose of trazodone will vary depending on its use and expected outcomes. If used as an adjective therapy with other medications such as fluoxetine, clomipramine, benzodiazepines, etc.), your veterinarian will need to balance out the dosing of each medication to be effective yet reduce the chances of side effects.

The following trazodone dosing chart for dogs can be used as a guideline if you are using it on an as-needed basis to address any form of canine anxiety (storm phobia, travel anxiety, separation anxiety, etc.).

Dog Weight (lbs)As-Needed Dosing (8 mg/kg/day)Maximum Daily Dose (20 mg/kg/day)
< 22Up to 80 mg/dayUp to 200 mg/day
22 - 4480–160 mg/day200–400 mg/day
44 - 66160–240 mg/day400–600 mg/day
66 - 88240–320 mg/day600–800 mg/day
>88320 mg/day800 mg/day

🚨 These dosing ranges are general guidelines and may vary based on the specific medical condition being treated and the individual needs of your dog. Always consult with your veterinarian for personalized medical advice before administering any medication to your pets.

What are the Side Effects of Trazodone in Dogs?

Trazodone is generally well tolerated by dogs. Sedation, increased hunger, behavioral disinhibition (when dogs do not think about the consequences of their actions), vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperactivity (paradoxical effect) are the most frequent adverse effects of trazodone in dogs. Trazodone has the potential to cause liver damage in rare instances.

The potential for side effects can be lessened when starting with a lower dose of trazodone and gradually increasing with time and to effect.

When combined and used with other serotonergic drugs, there is a risk of serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when there is an excess of serotonin in the body. Signs of serotonin syndrome in dogs can include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle tremors or twitching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Altered mentation and agitation

If you notice any of these symptoms while giving your dog trazodone, you should contact your veterinarian right away.

How Should Trazodone Be Used to Treat Generalized Anxiety in Dogs?

For long-term management of anxiety in dogs, most veterinarians will recommend combining trazodone with another medication to help augment the effects. Instead of using trazodone on an as-needed basis to control anxiety surrounding anxious events such as vet visits and noise phobias, trazodone is to be used on a regular daily basis. Examples of drugs that can be used with trazodone are fluoxetine, clomipramine, and benzodiazepines. Alternatively, using melatonin with trazodone can have favorable effects.

Commonly Asked Questions About Using Trazodone in Dogs

How fast does trazodone work in dogs?

The effects of trazodone can be seen within 30 minutes to an hour after administration. The peak effect of trazodone is usually between 3 to 12 hours after administration. It is also recommended to give with food to increase effectiveness although it will slow absorption.

When used on a regular basis to treat generalized anxiety, the full effects of trazodone may not be seen for 2 to 4 weeks.

What is the typical dosing schedule of trazodone for dogs?

The dosing of trazodone in dogs will depend on its use. When combined with other behavioral modifying medications, it is best to start at a low daily dose for the first 3-5 days, then increase to its target dose range based on the weight of the dog. For reference, a 10-20 kg dog would receive approximately 100mg of trazodone every 8-24 hours as recommended by your veterinarian.

Trazodone can also be used as a sole agent on an as-needed basis with dosing up to 10mg/kg every 8 hours. This is especially helpful for post-operative procedures where sedation is desired.

How long does trazodone last in dogs?

The elimination half-life of trazodone in dogs is 120-200 minutes (2 - 3 hours). This is the time in which half of the drug is cleared from the body. Therefore, trazodone would last for approximately 6-12 hours in dogs at therapeutic doses.

Can I give my dog trazodone every day?

Yes, trazodone is safe for daily use for the treatment of various anxiety disorders in dogs.


Trazodone is a medication that is used extra-label in dogs for the management of anxiety disorders. It can be used to help with other behavioral issues, such as separation anxiety, compulsive behaviors, barking and howling, and aggression. Trazodone is commonly used to sedate dogs that have anxiety or fear of the groomer or at the veterinary hospital. It is also used in some dogs before veterinary visits as dogs that are fearful or aggressive at the vet can benefit from trazodone. This medication can be given before the appointment to help your dog stay calm and relaxed during the exam. There are also situations where you require a safe, yet effective medication for your dog for travelling purposes. Trazodone for dogs can be used to help relieve anxiety during car rides, plane rides, or any other type of travel.

If you have any questions about using trazodone for your dog, please reach out to your veterinarian. If you have a dog in Kitchener-Waterloo and would like personalized, expert care, or have questions, please contact us here at Kingsdale Animal Hospital.