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Effects of trazodone on behavioral and physiological signs of stress in dogs during veterinary visits: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled crossover clinical trial

Sun-A KimClinical Animal Behavior Service, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju, Korea

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Michelle R. BorchardtWilliam R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA

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Kyuyoung LeeDepartment of Veterinary Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA

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Elizabeth A. StelowWilliam R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA

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Melissa J. BainDepartment of Veterinary Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To determine whether a single dose of trazodone administered to dogs before a veterinary visit reduced their behavioral and physiologic signs of stress and owners’ stress during veterinary visits.

SAMPLE

20 dogs and their owners.

PROCEDURES

In this randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled crossover clinical trial, dogs with a history of anxiety during veterinary visits were scheduled for 2 veterinary visits 1 week apart and randomly assigned to receive a single oral dose of either trazodone (9 to 12 mg/kg) or a placebo 90 minutes before transport to the veterinary clinic for alternate visits between September 21 and November 3, 2019. For each visit, we collected and assessed owner-completed surveys of dog stress score (DSS) and owner stress score; various investigator-reported scores, including from video-recorded behavior analyses; and patient-related physiologic data.

RESULTS

Dogs treated with trazodone versus placebo had lower mean DSSs, assessed by owners for physical examination and assessed by video analysis for time spent in the examination room; lower mean SD of normal-to-normal intervals, root mean square of successive heartbeat interval difference, and respiratory rate; and higher mean heart rate. No meaningful differences were observed in other behavioral or physiologic outcomes, including serum cortisol concentrations.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

A single dose of trazodone before transport reduced signs of stress during veterinary visits for dogs in the present study and may be useful as an anti-anxiety medication for similarly affected dogs, potentially resulting in higher-quality clinical examinations and improved patient welfare.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To determine whether a single dose of trazodone administered to dogs before a veterinary visit reduced their behavioral and physiologic signs of stress and owners’ stress during veterinary visits.

SAMPLE

20 dogs and their owners.

PROCEDURES

In this randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled crossover clinical trial, dogs with a history of anxiety during veterinary visits were scheduled for 2 veterinary visits 1 week apart and randomly assigned to receive a single oral dose of either trazodone (9 to 12 mg/kg) or a placebo 90 minutes before transport to the veterinary clinic for alternate visits between September 21 and November 3, 2019. For each visit, we collected and assessed owner-completed surveys of dog stress score (DSS) and owner stress score; various investigator-reported scores, including from video-recorded behavior analyses; and patient-related physiologic data.

RESULTS

Dogs treated with trazodone versus placebo had lower mean DSSs, assessed by owners for physical examination and assessed by video analysis for time spent in the examination room; lower mean SD of normal-to-normal intervals, root mean square of successive heartbeat interval difference, and respiratory rate; and higher mean heart rate. No meaningful differences were observed in other behavioral or physiologic outcomes, including serum cortisol concentrations.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

A single dose of trazodone before transport reduced signs of stress during veterinary visits for dogs in the present study and may be useful as an anti-anxiety medication for similarly affected dogs, potentially resulting in higher-quality clinical examinations and improved patient welfare.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Appendix S1 (PDF 115 KB)
    • Supplementary Appendix S2 (PDF 140 KB)
    • Supplementary Appendix S3 (PDF 76 KB)
    • Supplementary Appendix S4 (PDF 179 KB)

Contributor Notes

Corresponding author: Dr. Kim (sunkim.dvm@gmail.com)