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How much tramadol should I give my dog?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on Jan 20, 2023.

Official answer


Tramadol is a common medication prescribed by Veterinarians to treat pain in dogs. It is one of the few human painkillers that is safe to give dogs.

How much tramadol you give your dog depends on the size of your dog. Smaller dogs do not need as much tramadol as larger dogs need to relieve pain. If you give too much tramadol your dog is likely to have more severe side effects.

Tramadol is not FDA-approved for use in dogs, but it is regularly prescribed off-label. Never give tramadol prescribed for you to your dog. Some human tramadol also contains acetaminophen which can be fatal for dogs.

What is tramadol used for in dogs?

Tramadol is a synthetic (man-made) opioid that acts in the brain and spinal cord of dogs to alter the transmission of pain signals and change how your dog’s brain perceives pain, offering relief from pain. It also inhibits the reuptake of two neurotransmitters, norepinephrine, and serotonin, in the brain which can create feelings of euphoria and a good mood.

Tramadol is used to treat moderate to severe pain and it is commonly used to treat pain that occurs as a result of:

  • Cancer
  • Coughing
  • General pain from an injury, trauma, or another condition
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Lameness
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Surgery.

Tramadol may also be used for some conditions not related to pain such as:

  • Anxiety (tramadol has some mild anti-anxiety effects)
  • Canine degenerative myelopathy (a progressive disease of the spinal cord)
  • Coughing (tramadol has some ability to reduce coughing).

Tramadol is not an anti-inflammatory and it will not remove the underlying cause of pain. It is often used together with an NSAID anti-inflammatory such as carprofen (Rimadyl) or meloxicam (Metacam).

What are the side effects of tramadol in dogs?

Most dogs tolerate tramadol well, as long as dosage instructions given to you by your vet are followed. The most common side effects experienced by dogs include:

  • Anxiety
  • Bizarre behavior
  • Constipation
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Panting
  • Poor appetite
  • Pupil dilation
  • Sedation
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Vomiting.

Talk to your veterinarian about how to manage side effects in your dog and contact them immediately if you are concerned about your dog.

Related Questions

Tramadol dosage chart

The dosage of tramadol for dogs varies depending on their weight and the severity of the pain.

The tramadol dosage for dogs is usually between 0.45 to 1.8 mg per pound of body weight (1mg to 5 mg/kg). The frequency varies depending on what you are giving it for. For general pain, it is given every 8 to 12 hours, but for cancer-related pain, it can be administered every 6 hours.

Higher dosages may be prescribed occasionally by your vet.

Tramadol Dosage Chart For Dogs
Dog weight Low dose (0.45mg/lb) High dose (1.8mg/lb)
4lb (1.8kg) 1.8mg 7.2mg
6lb (2.7kg) 2.7mg 10.8mg
10lb (4.5kg) 4.5mg 18mg
15lb (6.8kg) 6.75mg 27mg
25lb (11.3kg) 11.25mg 45mg
40lb (18.1kg) 18mg 72mg

Tramadol is fast acting and generally works within1 to 2 hours of administration.

  • Burke A. Tramadol for Dogs: Uses and Side Effects. American Kennel Club.
  • Tramadol. Mar Vista Animal Center.,may%20be%20a%20side%20effect.
  • Son Katelyn. Nov 28, 2022. Your Guide to Tramadol for Dogs.

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