Tools of the trade: Trazodone

anti-anxiety drug for pets

by Carly Hatchman VN, Beach and Bay Vet, Empire Bay, NSW

Trazodone is an anti-anxiety drug that can be used in many situations. It works very well in taking the edge off anxious patients. Trazodone used to be only available in a capsule but now it’s also available as a chewable tablet.

What’s good about it

If we have a patient we know dislikes coming to the vet, we’ll dispense it prior so the owner can give it to their pet before coming to visit. It definitely makes them less anxious. 

We’ll also use it for anxious patients coming in for a procedure or surgery. Once again, we’ll give the owner tablets to take home and administer to their pet a couple of hours before coming in. This also means we can use less pre-anaesthetic drugs prior to the procedure. 

It’s also very useful in patients post-orthopaedic or other surgery. After the procedure, it’s important for the animal to stay settled and calm while they heal. We’ll dispense it to the owner to take home for extended use.

It can also be used with dogs suffering from behavioural issues such as storm phobia. I have a dog at home that’s terrified of storms. If there is going to be a storm that day, I give him a tablet in the morning and it lasts for six to eight hours.

What’s not so good

It has quite a broad dose range and I find that sometimes it doesn’t touch the sides. When the dose is ineffectual, it can be because it’s towards the lower end or the patient may be quite a boisterous animal. Side effects can include sedation, lethargy and ataxia among other things, and there is also a risk of seratonin syndrome if used with other seratonergic drugs.

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