Ultram etc. (tramadol) is an atypical opioid analgesic used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain. Approved in the U.S. for humans in 1995, studies have shown that tramadol causes fewer side effects like constipation and respiratory depression than conventional opioids and has a low potential for abuse or addiction. Tramadol has a short half-life which necessitates dosing of immediate-release formulations every 4 to 6 hours.
Veterinarian reviews of Ultram etc. (tramadol) for different dog conditions
Limited efficacy for pain control in dogs
I am not a big fan of tramadol for pain control in dogs osteoarthritis. Tramadol is an opioid medication often prescribed for post-surgical pain or for arthritis. It is often used as a 2nd medication when pain is not sufficiently controlled by traditional anti-inflammatory arthritis medications.
I have found that tramadol is just not that effective for pain in dogs. It can make them sleepy so they may appear more relaxed, but most studies show it doesn't do much for pain itself. Occasionally I have a patient who seems a little better when tramadol is added to their regimen, but more often than not it doesn't make a noticeable difference There are many other medications and supplements available for multimodal arthritis therapy that I rarely prescribe tramadol anymore.
By M Teiber DVM
Illinois, United States
Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD)
Tramadol is an average pain medication
An opioid pain medication can be effective for some patients, but not every patient has adequate pain control with tramadol. I do not use this medication alone. It is always used in conjunction with other pain medications or anti-inflammatories. This medication can taste bitter for some patients but is overall easy to administer.
Burlington, Wisconsin, United States
Verterbral Disc Inflammation (Discospondylitis)
Only if better opioids are unavailable
Tramadol is still a controversial medication for dogs, despite dogs not producing as much of m1 metabolite as other species (humans, cats), which actually affects opioids receptors and provides opioid analgesia, it still produces an analgesic effect, because it affects other receptors too. it's still debated among the experts whether it produces opioid level analgesia or not, how often it has to be dosed etc. Despite these disagreements, there is a consensus that it does produce at least moderate level analgesia at an oral dose of 10mg/kg at 6h intervals in dogs. Injectable form seems to provide much better analgesia then oral one in dogs. Efficacy seems to improve with long-term use since most studies found that it produces maximum analgesia in dogs with chronic osteoarthritis after 14 days of treatment.
By Vuk Ignjic DVM
Wound and Surgery Recovery
Helpful in combination with other therapies
Tramadol is a mild pain medication. I have found it to be helpful in managing post surgical pain and in chronic pain, though recent research studies question its efficacy. I generally only use it alone for mild short term pain such as after a dog neuter. For more significant pain or chronic disease it is best combined with and NSAID and neutraceuticals such as omega fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin(see review on how to properly select a product).
Tramadol is a controlled substance and should be kept in a safe location in the home and can only be purchased by adults with a prescription. The primary side effects are drowsiness and rarely constipation.
By Jennifer Peters DVM DABVP canine and feline
Grass Valley, California, United States