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Efficacy of a single dose of trazodone hydrochloride given to cats prior to veterinary visits to reduce signs of transport- and examination-related anxiety

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  • 1 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27607.
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27607.
  • | 3 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27607.
  • | 4 Department of Statistics, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27607.
  • | 5 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27607.
  • | 6 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27607.
  • | 7 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27607.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To evaluate the efficacy of a single dose of trazodone for reducing anxiety in cats during transport to a veterinary hospital and facilitating handling during veterinary examination.

DESIGN Double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized crossover study.

ANIMALS 10 healthy client-owned cats (2 to 12 years of age) with a history of anxiety during transport or veterinary examination.

PROCEDURES Each cat was randomly assigned to first receive trazodone hydrochloride (50 mg) or a placebo PO. The assigned treatment was administered, and each cat was placed in a carrier and transported by car to a veterinary clinic, where it received a structured veterinary examination. Owners scored their cat's signs of anxiety before, during, and after transport and examination. The veterinarian also assessed signs of anxiety during examination. After a 1- to 3-week washout period, each cat received the opposite treatment and the protocol was repeated.

RESULTS Compared with placebo, trazodone resulted in a significant improvement in the cats’ signs of anxiety during transport. Veterinarian and owner scores for ease of handling during veterinary examination also improved with trazodone versus the placebo. No significant differences were identified between treatments in heart rate or other physiologic variables. The most common adverse event related to trazodone administration was signs of sleepiness.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Oral administration of a single dose of trazodone to cats prior to a veterinary visit resulted in fewer signs of transport- and examination-related anxiety than did a placebo and was generally well tolerated by most cats. Use of trazodone in this manner may promote veterinary visits and, consequently, enhance cat welfare.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Orlando's present address is VIP Petcare, 3117 Poplarwood Ct, Ste 120, Raleigh, NC 27604.

Address correspondence to Dr. Sherman (barbara_sherman@ncsu.edu).