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  • Author or Editor: Elizabeth A. Stelow x
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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.


20 dogs and their owners.


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.


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.


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.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


OBJECTIVE To determine the effects of oral gabapentin administration prior to veterinary examination on signs of stress in cats.

DESIGN Randomized, blinded, crossover clinical trial.

ANIMALS 20 healthy pet cats with a history of fractious behavior or signs of stress during veterinary examination.

PROCEDURES Cats were scheduled for 2 veterinary visits 1 week apart and randomly assigned to receive a capsule containing 100 mg of gabapentin (13.0 to 29.4 mg/kg [5.9 to 13.4 mg/lb]) or placebo (lactose powder) prior to the first visit and the opposite treatment prior to the second visit. Owners were instructed to administer the assigned capsule orally 90 minutes prior to placing the cat into a carrier and transporting it to the veterinary hospital. Standardized physical examinations and blood pressure readings were performed. Owners assigned a cat stress score during transportation and examination, and the veterinarian assigned a compliance score at the visit. Scores were compared between treatments, controlling for various factors.

RESULTS Owner-assessed cat stress scores during transportation and veterinary examination and veterinarian-assessed compliance scores were significantly lower when cats received gabapentin than when they received the placebo. Sedation was a common effect of gabapentin administration, and ataxia, hypersalivation, and vomiting were also reported. All effects resolved within 8 hours after gabapentin administration.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Owners' perception of stress in their cats is a primary reason for failing to seek veterinary care. Results of this study suggested that gabapentin is a safe and effective treatment for cats to help reduce stress and aggression and increase compliance for transportation and veterinary examination.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association