Undertake-a-Pet.com Weblog What Trazodone Does For Shelter Canine


A trazodone a day retains the scaries away… possibly
By Jennifer Abrams LVT, ACAAB and Sarah Byosiere PhD
shelter dog stress
Cierra Voelkl / Unsplash

Gone are the times of Disney’s Woman and the Tramp, when canine catchers rounded up strays and took them to canine kilos to sit down in cages. Animal shelters are more and more staffed by caring and dedicated animal lovers, have welfare conferences, veterinary shelter drugs specializations, and plenty of even have enrichment programs.

But, even with these enhancements, animal shelters — particularly giant, open-admission, municipal shelters — are inherently stressful places the place even well-adjusted pets can shut down bodily and behaviorally. 

So what may be achieved to assist these anxious pets? In 2018, the Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC), New York Metropolis’s solely open-admission animal shelter system, started a trial of utilizing low-dose trazodone to ease their canines’ transition into the shelter surroundings.

What’s trazodone?

Trazodone is an antidepressant usually prescribed for generalized anxiety problems and particular phobias (for instance, these triggered by loud noises, reminiscent of thunderstorms) in canines. The transition right into a shelter might operate as an identical stressor; every thing a canine was as soon as snug with, and in command of, is jarringly eliminated, and novelty turns into the norm.

How can trazodone assist enhance shelter pets’ well being? 

Along with the environmental stress, shelter-housed pets get sick simply because of publicity to novel germs, a excessive viral load within the surroundings, stress-weakened immune techniques, or a mixture of all three. What’s extra, the speed of contagious sickness could also be linked to immunosuppression brought on by excessive ranges of stress.

Step one in combating that is for shelters to fulfill their pets’ fundamental veterinary and behavioral care wants and put enrichment insurance policies into place to attenuate stress. However as soon as that’s been achieved, may trazodone assist pets much more? One study means that such a step may very well be the reply. 

To seek out out, we labored with the ACC, which has full veterinary and habits groups in every shelter to offer for his or her animals’ bodily and psychological wants, in addition to an intensive enrichment program and one of many highest placement charges within the nation for a big metropolis municipal facility. Regardless of these measures, nevertheless, charges of contagious respiratory sickness stay excessive at ACC, significantly canine infectious respiratory illness complicated (CIRDC) or kennel cough.

How did we take a look at the idea?

To check whether or not trazodone may assist cut back the variety of instances of CIRDC, we in contrast two teams in several time durations: canines who obtained the drug and a bunch previously who didn’t. In November and December 2018, all canines obtained an applicable dose of trazodone upon coming into the shelter. Within the management group — canines who entered the shelter in November and December 2016 and 2017 — no canines obtained trazodone.

What did we discover?

We studied a complete of 1,766 instances and in contrast the variety of sick canines within the No Trazodone and Trazodone teams, figuring out a major change in sickness charges.

  • Fewer canines within the Trazodone group (29.1%) have been sick in comparison with the No Trazodone group (41.2%).
  • Canine within the Trazodone group had a statistically vital shorter size of keep (common of 9.23 days) within the shelter than canines within the No Trazodone group (common of 10.47 days).
  • Canine within the Trazodone group had a better charge of adoption (42.1%) in comparison with the No Trazodone group (30.4%).

What do these findings imply?

These findings recommend that there could also be a brand new sensible use for trazodone. Early intervention in a shelter is essential for a pet’s success, and trazodone could also be a helpful approach to cut back pets’ stress within the shelter and enhance their high quality of life by not directly affecting their immune suppression, and presumably bettering their resistance to extremely contagious diseases like CIRDC. 

Nonetheless, care ought to be taken when deciphering these outcomes. At first, to forestall the medicine from being labeled as a sedative, a comparatively low dose ought to be administered inside a brief however essential time interval. The purpose is to not masks stress or behaviors, however fairly to facilitate a smoother transition.

Furthermore, trazodone ought to be utilized in tandem with different non-pharmacological protocols. It’s crucial that different enrichment and stress-mitigating procedures are used throughout the shelter (e.g., conspecific playgroups, particular person socialization periods, music, quiet lights-out time in a single day, scent enrichment, meals puzzles).

In different phrases, this methodology is considered one of many in an arsenal of methods that can be utilized — collectively and when all different potentialities have been exhausted — to arrange a canine for achievement in a irritating surroundings.


A pre-print of the complete research may be accessed here. Please be at liberty to contact the authors through e-mail or ResearchGate.

Jennifer Abrams is a Habits Advisor with Habits Vets of NYC. She beforehand served because the Director of Animal Welfare at Animal Care Facilities of NYC. She is a licensed veterinary technician and Affiliate Licensed Utilized Animal Behaviorist, with a grasp’s diploma in Animal Habits and Conservation from Hunter Faculty. She is keen about representing the shelter-animal inhabitants within the scientific literature on welfare and well-being.

Sarah Byosiere, PhD, is director of Considering Canine Heart at CUNY Hunter Faculty, the place she focuses on learning the habits and cognition of home canines and different canids. Her analysis evaluates a broad spectrum of points, together with, however not restricted to, the operate of the play bow, canines’ susceptibility to visible illusions, optimum strategies in canine coaching, and bettering the lives of shelter canines.

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