About Tramadol For Dogs

January 22, 2015, Dr. B. Thompson

Tramadol (the generic name for Ultram) is a pain relief medication intended for treating moderate to severe levels of pain. It is not approved by the FDA but its use in veterinary practice is widespread and common.

How Can It Help Pets?

There are plenty of painkillers out there, in fact, your medicine cabinet is probably crammed full of hundreds of aspirin and ibuprofen tablets. However, pain relief in dogs isn’t quite as straightforward as it is for us. You see, dogs tend to react very poorly to a number of common pain relief medication. For example, aspirin can cause stomach ulcers and ibuprofen can be deadly.

Tramadol is much safer than certain OTC drugs like ibuprofen, and can provide stronger relief than veterinary analgesic formulations such as Rimadyl.

What Dose Is Best For My Dog?

A question like this is impossible to answer without a veterinary consultation. Some dogs will require only 1mg per pound while others may need almost double this amount. Because using the wrong dose of tramadol can have serious consequences we don’t recommend that owners try to treat their dog without expert guidance from a trained veterinarian.

Will It Cure My Dog’s Arthritis?

No, tramadol will not cure the underlying condition causing your dog’s symptoms. However, it can give them a second chance to live a completely normal life and can help them stay active during their old age when arthritis and joint pain begins posing an issue by blocking associated pain. If you want to treat the condition itself you should supplement your pet with Dasuquin. Dasuquin contains both glucosamine and chondroitin, two natural supplements thought to aid in the repair of damaged joint cartilage. It can also be used in high doses following bone trauma to aid in recovery.

How To Help Treatment

While your dog is taking tramadol there are some steps you can take as an owner to help ease the process. Firstly you can provide your dog with gentle exercise in the form of beach walks or swimming. This will help to bring some joy back into your dog’s life and show them that being active doesn’t have to mean agony! Secondly you can be aware of the side effects your dog might experience.

Possible tramadol side effects:

1) Rapid breathing
2) Nausea
3) Diarrhea
4) Vomiting

If side effects occur please do not hesitate to contact your vet for advice. In overdose cases life threatening issues are likely typically noticeable by breathing irregularities and heart rate abnormalities. There are several animal A&E clinics you can visit but the most important thing to remember in these times is to act fast and get help immediately. Never try to counteract an overdose by inducing vomiting unless instructed to do so by a poison control specialist or vet.


There are many other pages on the web about tramadol for dogs. This site can help you learn the basics but continuing your research is important if you want to give your dog the best chance at beating pain for good.

Aside from the resource linked above, you should also check out the 2ndchance page about pain relief for dogs using tramadol.

Life After Tramadol…

Remember, arthritis and DJD tend to get worse over time. During treatment with tramadol continue to supplement your dog with glucosamine or all-in-one solutions like Dasuquin to maintain joint health and stop degeneration in it’s tracks.

Dr. B. Thompson
San Jose, California