Major Uses

Tramadol is an opiate-like agonist that is primarily used as a treatment for post-operative or chronic pain or cough. Its usefulness can be enhanced when it is combined with a NSAID or another analgesic drug. When administered epidurally, it may also be a good analgesic for horses.

Common Precautions

Caution should be exercised when using tramadol with other drugs that have the potential for causing CNS or respiratory depression. It should also be used cautiously in patients with a preexisting seizure disorder, or who are taking another drug that may cause seizures, as the risk could be heightened. Geriatric or severely debilitated animals, as well as patients with impaired renal or hepatic function, should also be prescribed tramadol cautiously.

Some of the more common negative side effects of tramadol include excessive sedation, agitation, anxiety, tremors, dizziness, inappetence, constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting. Some negative effects experienced specifically in cats include dysphoria, mydriasis, and unpalatabilty.

Tramadol should not be used in animals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to the drug. A veterinarian should be contacted immediately if an overdose is suspected, the symptoms of which can be CNS depression or serotonin syndrome. Lethargy, ataxia, vomiting, mydriasis, agitation, somnolence, and seizures may also occur during an overdose.


Tramadol should be kept at room temperature and stored in a light resistant, childproof container. It should be kept in a place where it cannot be reached by children or pets. When using the tablet form, pills should not be damaged in any way, as toxicity may occur.


When treating dogs, a common dose of tramadol is 2-5 mg/kg every 6-8 hours. For cats, a typical dose is 1-4 mg/kg 2-3 times a day. A normal dose for horses is 5 mg/kg twice daily for up to 7 days. If a scheduled dose is missed, it should be administered as soon as possible. Should the next scheduled dose be near, the missed dose should be skipped and the regular administration schedule should resume. Two doses should not be administered at the same time, as an overdose may occur.

Doses may vary in different species, when the drug is given by a different route or concurrently with other medications, and with regards to a patient's age, breed, and health status. A veterinarian's dosing instructions and/or those printed on the medication label should be followed closely.

This information is for general reference only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition of your pet. It's intended as a general reference, this information may not include all possible uses, precautions, directions, reactions (including allergic), drug interactions, or withdrawal times. Always consult your local veterinarian and have your pet examined for any advice concerning the diagnosis and treatment of your pet, including which products and doses are most appropriate. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners. VetDepot is not a pharmacy. All prescription products are dispensed by our Pharmacy Partner. Article last updated 2/2014.