Tramadol Dosage for Dogs With Cancer

Tramadol is a mild opioid and non-NSAID analgesic with mu-opioid binding activity and serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibition effects. It is useful for moderate pain and is considered a good analgesic for moderate cancer pain in humans.

Tramadol is widely used in dogs for chronic pain, but solid efficacy studies are lacking. Tramadol’s active metabolite (M1) is necessary for its analgesic effect. Tramadol should not be used with SSRIs, tricyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors to avoid the risk of serotonin syndrome.

The recommended dose in dogs is 2.27 mg per pound of body weight every 6 – 8 hours, while in cats it is 0.45 – 0.9 mg per pound of body weight every 12 hours. Maximum analgesic effects may take 10-14 days to appear for chronic pain conditions.

Tramadol for dogs reviews


Effective pain relief for conditions such as osteoarthritis, chronic pain, and post-surgery pain.

Has a relatively low risk of adverse effects compared to other pain medications.

Can be administered orally, making it convenient for pet owners to give.

Available in both tablet and liquid form, making it easy to dose appropriately for dogs of different sizes.


Tramadol can cause side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite.

May interact with other medications, so it’s important to inform the veterinarian of all medications your pet is taking.

Some dogs may develop a tolerance to Tramadol over time, reducing its effectiveness.

Can cause seizures in dogs with a history of seizures or with liver or kidney disease.

Side Effects:

Common side effects of Tramadol in dogs include drowsiness, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

In rare cases, more serious side effects such as seizures and tremors may occur.


Tramadol is generally considered safe for dogs when used as directed. However, overdose can be toxic and can cause serious side effects, such as respiratory depression and coma.

Drug Interactions:

Tramadol can interact with other medications, such as anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs, so it is important to inform your veterinarian of any medications your dog is taking before starting treatment with Tramadol.


Tramadol should not be used in dogs with a history of seizures, as it may increase the risk of seizures.

It should also not be used in dogs with liver or kidney disease.

Research and Study:

There have been several studies conducted on the use of Tramadol in dogs, and the results have shown that it is effective in managing pain in dogs. However, further research is needed to fully understand the potential side effects and long-term use of Tramadol in dogs.


Other pain medications that may be used in dogs include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Rimadyl and Deramaxx, and opioids, such as fentanyl and morphine. Your veterinarian can help you determine the best pain management option for your dog.

How quickly does tramadol work in a dog?

Tramadol is a commonly prescribed pain medication for dogs that is known to provide quick relief from pain. It works by affecting the brain and blocking pain signals to provide relief from pain, inflammation, and discomfort. On average, tramadol begins to take effect within 30 minutes to an hour after being administered and its effects can last for 4 to 8 hours.

What are the side effects of tramadol for dogs?

Although it is generally safe, it can cause certain side effects, including:

  • Nausea and vomiting: This is one of the most common side effects of tramadol in dogs. It may be due to the irritation of the digestive system by the drug.
  • Drowsiness: Tramadol can cause sedation and drowsiness, which can impair a dog’s ability to perform normal activities.
  • Constipation: Tramadol can cause constipation by slowing down the movement of food through the digestive system.
  • Loss of appetite: Some dogs may experience a decrease in appetite after taking tramadol, which can lead to weight loss.
  • Tremors and twitching: Tramadol may cause muscle tremors and twitching, particularly in sensitive dogs.
  • Itching: Some dogs may experience itching or skin rashes as a side effect of tramadol.
  • Increased heart rate: Tramadol can cause an increase in heart rate, which can be dangerous for dogs with heart conditions.

Consult a veterinarian if you suspect your dog is experiencing any of these side effects. Your vet will be able to recommend the best course of action and adjust the dose of tramadol if necessary.

What happens if I give my dog too much tramadol?

Giving your dog too much tramadol can have serious consequences. Here are some of the most common side effects of an overdose:

  • Sedation: Tramadol is a central nervous system depressant, meaning it can cause drowsiness, fatigue, and decreased activity. If your dog has taken too much, they may be extremely lethargic and difficult to awaken.
  • Respiratory depression: Tramadol can also slow down breathing, which can be life-threatening if the overdose is severe enough.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea: Nausea and gastrointestinal distress are common side effects of tramadol, and can be exacerbated by an overdose.
  • Seizures: Tramadol can also cause seizures, which can be terrifying for both you and your dog.
  • Liver and kidney damage: Tramadol is metabolized by the liver and excreted by the kidneys, and an overdose can lead to damage to these organs.

Does tramadol make dogs sleepy?

One of the side effects of tramadol is drowsiness, which can be beneficial for dogs experiencing pain, but it can also cause concern for pet owners.

Tramadol works as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, meaning it slows down the brain’s activity. This effect, in turn, can lead to drowsiness and fatigue in dogs. While some dogs may experience drowsiness within a few hours of taking tramadol, others may not show any signs of drowsiness until several hours later.

The severity of drowsiness varies between dogs, and it’s crucial to monitor your pet closely after giving them tramadol. If you notice any signs of drowsiness, such as decreased energy levels, increased sleep, or decreased activity, you should contact your veterinarian.

In some cases, drowsiness from tramadol can be beneficial for dogs experiencing pain, as it may help them relax and sleep more easily. However, if the drowsiness becomes excessive or interferes with your dog’s normal behavior, you should talk to your veterinarian.

Consider other factors that can contribute to drowsiness in dogs, such as age, overall health, and other medications your pet is taking. These factors can affect the severity and duration of drowsiness caused by tramadol.

Gabapentin vs tramadol for dogs

Note that both Gabapentin and Tramadol can be effective for managing pain in dogs, but each drug has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. It is best to consult with a veterinarian before starting a new medication for your dog.

Purpose: Gabapentin is primarily used for neuropathic pain and seizures, while Tramadol is used for pain management.

Mechanism of action: Gabapentin works by modulating the release of neurotransmitters in the central nervous system, while Tramadol works by blocking the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine, and has weak opioid effects.

Side effects: Gabapentin can cause side effects such as drowsiness, loss of coordination, and vomiting, while Tramadol can cause side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, and sedation.

Interactions: Gabapentin can interact with other medications, such as anti-anxiety drugs, while Tramadol can interact with other medications, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

Duration of action: The effects of Gabapentin can last 4-6 hours, while the effects of Tramadol can last 4-6 hours.

Conclusion of tramadol for dogs with cancer

Tramadol is a central acting analgesic used to treat pain in dogs with cancer. Its mechanisms of action include acting as a mu-opioid receptor agonist and inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine, leading to stimulation of descending pain inhibitory pathways. Although efficacy studies are lacking in dogs, human studies have shown that its active metabolite, o-desmethyltramadol, is necessary for tramadol to be effective as an analgesic. While anecdotal evidence and pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic studies suggest tramadol may be safely and effectively used for various pain conditions in dogs, its efficacy should be carefully monitored as there is still limited research available.

Note that the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors concurrently with tramadol may increase the risk of a serotonin syndrome and decrease its efficacy. The current recommended dosing for dogs is 5mg/kg given every 6-8 hours, while for cats it is 1-2mg/kg given every 12 hours. Maximum analgesic effects may not occur immediately and may be delayed up to 10-14 days for chronic pain conditions. Tramadol can be administered with NSAIDs, gabapentin, and amantadine, but caution should be exercised when using tramadol in animals prone to seizures.

In conclusion, tramadol may be a viable option for treating pain in dogs with cancer, but further research is needed to fully understand its efficacy and potential side effects. Pet owners and veterinarians should closely monitor their pets and regularly reassess the need for tramadol use, as well as consider other pain management options.


Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to Top