Trazodone (brand name Desyrel®, Oleptro®) is a serotonin antagonist/reuptake inhibitor (SARI) antidepressant that is used to treat behavioral disorders, especially anxiety- or phobia-related in dogs (e.g., separation anxiety, noise phobia such as fireworks or thunderstorms, veterinary visits, hospitalization, and travel). It is frequently used as a supplemental therapy in pets that do not respond to conventional therapies.

Its use in cats and dogs to treat behavioral disorders is ‘off label’ or ‘extra-label’. Many drugs are commonly prescribed for off label use in veterinary medicine. In these instances, follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions very carefully as their directions may be significantly different from those on the label.


Trazodone is a drug that is widely used in veterinary medicine, for both its sedative and anti-anxiety effects. Although this drug was first developed over fifty years ago for use in humans, it is only in the last ten years that veterinarians began to use this drug for dogs. Some dogs are prescribed trazodone for the management of underlying behavioral or anxiety disorders. In this scenario, trazodone is often combined with other psychotropic medications, although it may also be used alone. Trazodone may be administered on a regular, consistent basis or used as an “event drug” before stressful events.

Trazodone is also prescribed by many veterinarians to decrease stress associated with veterinary visits. Administering trazodone to fearful dogs can not only decrease anxiety for those dogs, but can also increase the chances that the veterinarian is able to perform a comprehensive exam, obtain an accurate diagnosis, and provide appropriate treatment. 

Features of Trazodone For Dogs

Though trazodone has generally been shown to be beneficial and relatively safe for dogs, being aware of signs associated with serotonin syndrome is important as this can be a serious and potentially life-threatening condition to manage. Treatment of trazodone overdose generally consists of symptomatic and supportive care. Trazodone is a serotonin 2A antagonist and reuptake inhibitor that has been used in human medicine as a prescription therapy for depression, aggression, sleeplessness, and anxiety since 1981. It is available in 50-, 100-, 150-, and 300-mg tablets as well as 150- and 300-mg extended-release tablets. No products are labeled for veterinary use.

Trazodone selectively blocks serotonin reuptake, which enhances serotonin’s effects. It is an antagonist of 5-HT2A, H1-histaminic, and α1-adrenergic receptors at low to oderate doses, resulting in various levels of sedation. It can have hypotensive effects. At higher doses, trazodone acts as a serotonin agonist, and serotonin syndrome can develop. Trazodone also has anxiolytic properties, but the exact mechanism of action is unknown

Trazodone Dosage for Dogs

Trazodone is available in generic and brand name options, and the most common dosages include 50, 100, 150 and 300 mg. The dosage for dogs varies, but a general guideline is a daily dose of around 2.5 mg to 3.5 mg per pound. In some cases, dogs may be given up to 15 mg per pound every 24 hours. In a cat, the trazodone dosage may range from 50 to 100 mg.

Usually, a veterinarian will start an animal on the lowest possible dosage of trazodone to make sure side effects are minimized. The dosage for dogs may be increased after three to five days until the objectives are reached. How long a dog or cat takes trazodone depends on what the condition is being treated, as well as whether there are adverse side effects. Trazodone is considered safe and effective in animals when it is prescribed by a vet and used properly. It’s important that trazodone is stored safely away from pets and that dosage instructions are followed exactly. If a pet takes too much, it can cause a variety of negative side effects, including seizures and coma.

Side Effects in Dogs

Trazodone dosages start out small to reduce side effects in dogs, but some of the possible effects can include:

  • Agitation
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperactivity
  • Lethargy
  • Panting
  • Restlessness
  • Sedation
  • Shaking
  • Vomiting

Prices of Trazodone For Dogs

$14.99 – $18.99

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