Tramadol for amputation recovery is a drug that’s been used for decades. But as many members here have witnessed, it doesn’t always work. So what’s the deal with Tramadol? Let’s turn to veterinary pain management experts to find out.
Is Tramadol for Amputation Recovery Helpful or Not?
Most pets come home with Tramadol for amputation recovery. This opioid analgesic drug has always been a go-to drug for all sorts of acute and chronic pain situations. It is a known fact that dogs and cats don’t metabolize Tramadol very well, yet many vets keep prescribing it. Perhaps a recent study will help change that.
The groundbreaking 2018 Tramadol study from the University of Georgia looked at the effectiveness of Tramadol in dogs with osteoarthritis pain. The conclusion? Tramadol is not an effective drug for alleviating osteoarthritis pain.
CONCLUSION: 10 days of treatment with tramadol as administered (5 mg/kg, PO, q 8 h) provided no clinical benefit for dogs with osteoarthritis of the elbow or stifle joint.
Many veterinarians are not surprised by the findings, like friend of Tripawds Dr. Mike Petty, DVM, CVPP, CVMA, CCRT, CAAPM, owner of Arbor Pointe Veterinary Hospital and Animal Pain Center in Canton, Michigan.
Whether a vet is trying to address chronic pain associated with osteoarthritis, or acute pain after amputation recovery, Dr. Petty says Tramadol is not the best pain relief for pets. Better alternatives exist, and he suggests that veterinarians avoid Tramadol altogether.
” . . . those of us with pain practices have suspected for several years that tramadol doesn’t work for chronic pain either,” — Dr. Petty told DVM 360.
Some studies show that Tramadol for cats works a little better than it does in dogs. But just as the case with dogs, Tramadol only seems to be effective when used in combination with another drug.
One veterinary pain management expert who thinks we shouldn’t completely discard Tramadol for post amputation pain in cats and dogs is Dr. Ralph Harvey, DVM, MS, DACVAA, associate professor of anesthesiology at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Harvey told DVM 360 he believes Tramadol may have some value in alleviating the emotional aspect of pain in dogs and cats.
The problem, he proposes, lies in thinking of tramadol as an analgesic. “We do better to think of it as an emotion-modifying drug—at least in those animals that produce the right metabolite,” he says. “Dogs are extremely variable in their ability to produce that mu-receptor-binding metabolite. Some dogs do; others don’t.” — “Study shows tramadol has no effect on osteoarthritis pain scores,” DVM360.com
Across the globe in New Zealand, Dr. Alex Avery of Our Pets Health explains his knowledge about the pros and cons of Tramadol.
Dr. Avery’s findings also show Tramadol’s effectiveness is sporadic. But he too doesn’t think we should totally disregard it. In his article “Can You Give Tramadol for Dog Pain,” he writes:
I have found that some dogs really seem to improve well and become more comfortable after taking tramadol. Other patients though did not seem to get much benefit at all. More often than not I would also use tramadol as an addition to a pain killing strategy, using it at the same time as another pain killing medication. — Dr. Alex Avery, Our Pets Health
Don’t Settle for Tramadol as a Stand-Alone Pain Relief Medication
Whether it really works or not, the fact is, newer, proven pain relif drugs exist. Unfortunately many old-school vets are not practicing the most current veterinary pain management protocols, and prescribing it to patients as the only pain relief for acute and chronic pain.
Don’t settle for Tramadol as a stand-alone medication if that’s all your pet is prescribed. Veterinary pain management experts all agree that if Tramadol works at all, it is not the most effective drug on its own.
Stand up for your pet! Show your vet the AAHA Pain Management Guidelines. Advocate for the best pain relief you can get wherever you live. Your pet deserves to enjoy a pain-free life.