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Petal Smart

Dr. Petal Smart is a veterinarian who, after a brief stint in clinical practice, has been a medical, veterinary, and science editor for the past four years. She has edited hundreds of research studies that have been published in various academic journals, and more recently, she has been editing blog articles on pet health. She holds a DVM (Hons) from the University of the West Indies - St. Augustine. Her pets in the past have included dogs, fish, birds, and a turtle. At times, she also likes to think of herself as a horse whisperer. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Posts by Petal Smart

Cat Eye Discharge: A Comprehensive Guide

Cat Eye Discharge: A Comprehensive Guide

As a doting cat owner, you've likely cleaned some "gunk" out from your beloved feline's eyes at one point or another. Like people, cats can experience eye discharge that may affect them in varying ways.

Typically, a small amount of eye discharge from time to time isn't something to be terribly concerned about. However, if the discharge is long-lasting or chronic, it can be a sign of disease or infection that you'll need to address in a timely manner.

In this article, we'll cover the reasons for your cat's eye discharge, what it could potentially mean, and what to do next. Let's begin!

cat eye discharge

What is Cat Eye Discharge

Generally, eye discharge is not a disease itself, but rather a sign of an underlying condition. Many diseases for which eye discharge may be a sign can progress to blindness and/or systemic infection.

Therefore, if the discharge is chronic, experts recommend that you let your veterinarian take a more thorough look into exactly what may be causing it.

Simply speaking, cat eye discharge originates from the tears that the body constantly produces throughout the day.

Usually, the tears drain at the corner of the eye without spilling over. However, when something irritates the eyes, the body produces more tears than normal. This results in a  discharge from the eye that is much more pronounced than usual.

Furthermore, while eye discharge may not have a highly negative effect on many people, it can cause your cat a great deal of discomfort.

From constant scratching to milder itchy sensations to overall eye pain, if your cat is experiencing chronic eye discharge, you'll want to get to the bottom of it.

Signs of Eye Discharge in Cats

The physical signs of eye discharge in cats are comparable to the symptoms that you may experience yourself.

Cat eye discharge can vary in how often it occurs, its consistency, and how badly it irritates your four-legged friend.

Watery Discharge

First, you'll likely find a watery discharge around your cat's eyes. If you feel the surrounding fur, you'll be able to feel the wetness.

The moisture can range from being thin to thick in consistency.

Eye Boogers | Eye Mucus

Also, you may find sticky clumps around your cat's eyes. Many pet owners refer to these as eye boogers.

The substance typically has a thick mucus-like consistency, but the amount of discharge will often vary based on the severity of the infection or illness that’s affecting your cat.

Crusty Eyes

You'll also commonly find crust formation around your cat's eyes. This indicates dried eye discharge. A small amount of crust from time to time is usually normal.

However, if you notice large amounts of crusty matter, then you can assume there was a large amount of discharge or mucus, which typically indicates the presence of eye problems.

Red, Swollen, Squinting Eyes

Watery eyes are often accompanied by physical signs such as redness and swelling. This is a clear indicator of some form of infection or ailment, and is definitely abnormal.

You'll also find that cats with red, swollen eyes constantly rub their faces on anything from the couch to your pants, all in an attempt to relieve the itch and irritation.

Causes of Cat Eye Discharge

While an occasional eye discharge is usually not something to worry about, chronic discharge certainly is. Again, cat eye discharge in itself is not a disease, but rather a sign of a condition that may need professional treatment.

Several of the ailments that we are about to discuss can result in blindness. Furthermore, it is entirely possible for an eye infection to spread and affect other parts of the body.

It is imperative that as a cat owner, you remain aware of the normal amount of eye discharge, so in cases of abnormalities, you are able to act accordingly.

Feline Upper Respiratory Infections

One potential cause of excessive eye discharge is an upper respiratory infection. This includes infections caused by:

  • Feline calicivirus
  • Rhinotracheitis (herpesvirus)
  • Other contagious respiratory conditions
  • Pneumonitis
  • Bacteria
  • Protozoa

You may not think that your cat has an upper respiratory infection because signs can start off very mildly and remain that way for an extended period of time before they quickly worsen and become quite severe.

Eye discharge associated with an upper respiratory infection is often sticky and resembles pus. Upper respiratory infections will also show signs such as nasal discharge and sneezing.

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

When you trace the vast majority of ailments back to their root, you'll find that they often have one major thing in common: inflammation. Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, refers to inflammation of the light pink lining around the eye.

Conjunctivitis will cause your cat's eyes (either one or both) to appear swollen and red. In such cases, your cat will commonly be sensitive to light, and the discharge can be clear and watery, or a thick mucus around the affected eye(s).

Most cases of conjunctivitis can be resolved in a timely manner without permanent damage to the eyes. However, in some cases, conjunctivitis is accompanied by diarrhea, fever, and trouble breathing, and this may be indicative of a more serious condition, feline infectious peritonitis, which can be fatal. If you notice any of these signs, please ensure your cat sees the vet ASAP.

Corneal Disorders

Excessive eye discharge in cats could also be due to a corneal disorder. The cornea is the rounded surface that covers and helps to protect the front of the eye.

Unfortunately, the cornea can become injured, inflamed, or ulcerated more easily than you may think.

As a result, the body automatically produces more tears, which can cause excessive blinking, cloudiness, inflammation and irritation, and eye discharge.  

Cat Eye Infections

Eye problems that are linked to an infectious agent, such as bacteria or a virus, are fairly common in cats.

Eye infections can also be extremely contagious and quickly pass from one cat to another. Therefore, if you believe your cat might have an eye infection, proper treatment in a timely manner is imperative.

In younger cats and kittens, Chlamydia and Mycoplasma are two bacteria that are most often responsible for eye infections. The viral infections are typically caused by feline herpesvirus type 1 and feline calicivirus.

Young cats typically have weaker immune systems and their bodies are not yet equipped to fight off the bacteria or virus, thus making them more prone to an infection.

Furthermore, young cats that are exposed to environments with a high population of other cats, such as at shelters, are also at a much higher risk of contracting an eye infection.

In older cats living in controlled environments (i.e., not strays or older cats in shelters), eye infection may be considered a secondary ailment to a pre-existing condition.  

Autoimmune disease, eye trauma, cancer, and systemic viral infections like feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV) could also lead to the development of an eye infection.

Regardless of age, all cats with a bacterial or viral infection of the eye must be treated appropriately. These infections can be highly contagious and are difficult to control in crowded environments.

Bacterial infections will often need antibiotics. Therefore, the sooner you are able to receive a proper diagnosis, the sooner you can begin treatment and prevent the spread of the infection to any other pets.

cat eye discharge can be caused by bacterial infectiond

Epiphora (Watery, Tearing Eyes) 

The term epiphora is defined as excessive tear production. You may hear your vet refer to your cat's eye discharge as such, however, it is important to determine exactly what is causing the excessive tearing.

Tearing, watery eyes can also be the result of conditions like:

Blocked Tear Ducts 

Often, an upper respiratory infection can lead to blocked tear ducts, which can often lead to an excessive amount of discharge, as the body naturally attempts to clear the blockage.

An Overproduction of Tears

This is often the result of an injury or infection. Again, the body is naturally trying to rid the eye of any foreign object or infectious agent.

Cat Allergies

Like people, cats are also prone to allergies, which often result in signs like teary eyes, a runny nose, and irritation of the respiratory system.

Allergic reactions can occur from a multitude of sources, including pet food, medications, environmental allergens, household plants, and chemicals like herbicides and pesticides.

If your cat is having an allergic reaction, they may also exhibit signs like vomiting and diarrhea.

Each of these conditions can lead to epiphora, and will necessitate different, specific treatment, all which we will discuss momentarily.

watery cat eye discharge

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (Dry Eye) 

While epiphora is the overproduction of tears, keratoconjunctivitis sicca is the underproduction of tears.

If the eye(s) experience chronic or long-lasting dryness, the result is almost always inflammation of the cornea, redness, and considerable irritation and pain.

If left untreated, keratoconjunctivitis sicca can result in blindness. Cats experiencing chronic dry eyes will often have a yellow, sticky discharge.

Eye drops, other medications, and sometimes surgery are necessary to help stimulate tear production and to restore the tear film.

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is an eye condition that should not be ignored, as it can have horrific, irreversible side effects.


Uveitis refers to inflammation of the uvea, or internal structures of the eye. A number of conditions can lead to this condition, including physical trauma, various eye cancers, problems with the immune system, and various infections.

Feline uveitis is a common and painful ocular disease that will require appropriate veterinary treatment. If left untreated, this condition can result in blindness.

Foreign Object in the Eye

Cat eye discharge could also be caused by a foreign object in the eye. This will often result in the natural overproduction of tears in an attempt to get rid of whatever is causing the irritation.

In many cases, the excessive production of tears could successfully get rid of the foreign body. However, if the foreign object is lodged in the eye, a veterinarian will have to step in.

If your cat enjoys playing outdoors, or is particularly curious and suddenly seems to have eye problems, a foreign object might be trapped in the eye. Please visit the vet if you suspect that might be the case.

Eye Injury

Additionally, outdoor cats and those that love to explore are at a higher risk of eye injuries. The eye can be very fragile and is not designed to withstand the trauma of harmful branches or the claws of another animal.

If you have an outdoor cat, it is important to take note of their eye health. Certain eye injuries can become worse over time and lead to infection if left untreated or if the injury is severe.

Breed Predisposition

Certain breeds are at a higher risk of developing eye problems and thus, excessive eye discharge due to the shape of their faces.

Breeds such as Persians, Himalayans and other brachycephalic cat breeds (those with relatively large eyes and short noses) are more prone to excessive tear production.

With these breeds, it is important to know your cat's "normal." This will ensure that you are able to recognize when something isn't normal and act accordingly.

When to Go to the Vet

We want to reiterate that while a relatively small amount of discharge from you cat’s eyes can be considered normal from time to time, no amount of excessive discharge should be considered normal, regardless of the color or consistency. However, there are certain cases for which a trip to the vet is imperative.

If you notice a yellow or green discharge, make an appointment straight away, as it is a telling sign of infection. Additionally, if there is enough discharge that needs to be wiped away one or two times daily, we highly recommend that you see your vet.

Finally, if the eyes are red and swollen, or if your cat is excessively rubbing the eyes, make an appointment with the vet. The vet would advise you regarding the best treatment for your pet. In some cases, you may need to administer a few eye drops on a regular schedule.

However, in other cases, the eye discharge may lead your vet to find another underlying condition that needs to be addressed.

Your cat's eyes are incredibly fragile and important. Trust your gut. If you think there may be something wrong, we highly recommend seeking a professional, veterinary medical opinion.  

when to take your cat to the vet for cat eye discharge

Diagnosing Discharge in Cat Eyes

At the vet, you should expect a series of tests. During the initial exam, it is important to provide as much information as possible, so that your vet can make an accurate diagnosis.

Your vet will likely perform a complete physical exam, check your cat's temperature, and may request a blood test to rule out certain diseases.

These tests will also help to determine if your cat is suffering from seasonal allergies, or if there is potentially an infection elsewhere in the body.

Additionally, your veterinarian will use a tool called an ophthalmoscope. If you've had an eye exam you'll recognize the tool, as it’s also used in humans.

The ophthalmoscope allows the vet to see a magnified image of the eye. If a diagnosis is still unclear or inconclusive, the vet will likely administer specific eye drops and perform a test called the fluorescein eye stain test.

The vet will once again examine the eye with an ophthalmoscope and check for any injury or ulcers.

Treating Cat Eye Discharge

The appropriate treatment of cat eye discharge will vary based on the underlying cause.

Before we get into specifics, we want to remind you to never reuse eye medication from a previous ailment, even if you believe your cat is having a recurrence.

You can inadvertently cause considerable injury or worsen the condition by using the wrong medication for your cat's current eye problem.

Treatment for Conjunctivitis in Cats 

Treating conjunctivitis in cats will vary, based on the cause. It is always best to get the advice of your vet on the most effective treatment for your cat’s specific condition. Conjunctivitis caused by pollen, weeds, dust, and other environmental irritants may be alleviated by a steroid ointment. However, steroid ointments should be avoided if viral infections are detected or suspected, as they can make the condition worse. 

Antibiotic ointments are generally prescribed for feline conjunctivitis caused by a bacterial infection.

Treating Feline Upper Respiratory Infection

Treatment of an upper respiratory infection will vary based on the severity of the infection, the cause, and the other signs that are present.

The vet would commonly prescribe specific eye medications, antibiotics, fluids, and decongestants to relieve the signs and treat the infection.

Treating Corneal Disorders

Treatment of a corneal disorder will often depend on the severity of the condition. Treatment will also vary based on the specific cause of the inflammation.

One of the most important ways to care for a corneal disorder is to ensure the eye is kept clean. Additional treatment options often include an antibiotic eye ointment or antibiotic eye drops, as well as eye drops that promote healing.

In some cases, removing loose corneal tissue, cauterization, or surgery is necessary to relieve the inflammation and prevent further damage.

Treatment for Watery, Tearing Eyes 

If your cat has blocked tear ducts, a procedure performed under general anesthesia may be necessary.

The procedure will allow your vet to flush out the blockage. If an infection is present, the vet will likely prescribe antibiotic eye drops.

Treating Uveitis

An appropriate treatment plan for uveitis can be difficult as it should be based on the underlying cause of the inflammation.

However, the culprit can be difficult to determine, and at times impossible to pinpoint. In order to relieve the pain and irritation, vets often recommend an eye ointment or drops.

Treating Cat Eye Infections

Bacterial infections and viral infections have the potential to cause a lot more damage that may not be limited to the eye.

For instance, secondary bacterial infections can lead to pneumonia or other severe ailments. It is imperative that any cat with an eye infection is examined, properly diagnosed, and treated by a veterinary professional.

Treatment may include antibiotics, medications to control the clinical or physical signs, and supportive care.

Dry Eye Treatment

While the focus of this article is primarily the overproduction of tears, it is also important to be aware that some conditions may cause dry eyes, which can be equally severe and may also produce a thick abnormal discharge.

Treating chronic dry eye often involves eye drops or ointments, antibiotics, artificial tears, and/or immune-suppressing drugs.

Again, a chronic lack of tear production can lead to blindness and should be taken very seriously. Therefore, seek veterinary medical attention for your pet.

Preventing Cat Eye Discharge

Thankfully, there are a few ways that you can prevent the development of eye disorders and therefore prevent an abnormal eye discharge. Again, the discharge is merely a sign, you'll want to focus on preventing the underlying cause.

First, do your best to avoid environments that are overcrowded with cats. Eye infections are transmitted extremely easily. The more cats around, the higher the risk.

Next, it is important to keep the area around the eyes clean. Don't allow the discharge to buildup. Cat owners can use a wet cotton ball to gently wipe away the excess fluid and keep their feline's eyes bright and clear.

Be sure to use a different, clean cotton swab for each eye, particularly, if for any reason you feel that there may be an infection.

Additionally, be sure to stay away from any over-the-counter washes or drops, unless your vet has specifically prescribed them.

Remember, never reuse drops or medications from a previous ailment. Administering the wrong medication to your cat's fragile eyes can have irreversible consequences.

Finally, stay alert. As we previously mentioned, it is so important to know your cat's "normal" behavior and physical state. Only then will you be able to pick up on when something is "off" early on.

When it comes to the eyes, the sooner you can figure out what's wrong, the better the chances that your cat will recover without any permanent damage.

happy healthy cat recovered from cat eye discharge

Cat Eye Discharge: The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, we know that you want the very best for your beloved feline friend. Don’t be tempted to brush off unusual discharges from your cat’s eyes as no big deal.

We hope this article has convinced you that excessive discharge can be a telltale sign that something could be very wrong.

Again, trust your instincts. If something seems wrong with your fur baby, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Your cat's eyes are an extremely important part of their well being and something you, as a responsible pet parent, should not overlook.


Petal Smart, DVM

Petal Smart is a veterinarian who, after a brief stint in clinical practice, has been a medical, veterinary, and science editor for the past four years. She has edited hundreds of research studies that have been published in various academic journals, and more recently, she has been editing blog articles on pet health. She holds a DVM (Hons) from the University of the West Indies - St. Augustine. Her pets in the past have included dogs, fish, birds, and a turtle. At times, she also likes to think of herself as a horse whisperer. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

*This article has been edited and updated for publication by Petal Smart, DVM.

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Brain Tumor in Dogs: Everything You Need To Know

Brain Tumor in Dogs: Everything You Need To Know

Perhaps the most horrifying news that any pet owner can receive is that their beloved four-legged companion has a brain tumor. As individuals with a plethora of information at the tips of our fingers, we know all too well just how destructive brain tumors can be. Knowing that our furry companion is going through such pain and discomfort can be incredibly hard and leave pet parents not knowing how to proceed.

We wish more than anything that we had a magical solution to eliminate your dog's pain and reverse the heart-wrenching diagnosis. In time, with future advancements in science, we hope that this can one day be a reality. Until then, we hope to be able to inform you, our readers, about everything you need to know about brain tumors in dogs. We truly believe that the more you know, the better equipped you will be to handle any situation that comes your way.

Let's start with the basics.

brain tumor in dogs

What is a Brain Tumor in Dogs

The term tumor refers to any type of abnormal cell growth. Therefore, a brain tumor is an intracranial tumor that originates from the abnormal growth of cells and irregular cellular division within the brain. Brain tumors in dogs are typically found within the brain itself (gray matter). However, it is also possible for the tumors to develop within the skull, the cranial nerves, the meninges (the envelopes that surround the brain), or the pineal and pituitary gland.

Canine brain tumors are diagnosed more often in older dogs. Additionally, studies have found that certain breeds are at a higher risk of developing brain tumors. With that being said, it is entirely possible for a dog of any age and any breed to develop a brain tumor.

There are two types of brain tumors, primary and secondary, and treatment may vary depending on which tumor type is found and how far along the tumor has progressed.

Types of Brain Tumors

Primary Brain Tumors

A primary tumor is one in which the cancer originated in the brain’s cells and its membranes. Extensive research has found that certain types of primary brain tumors affect specific breeds of dogs more than others. This is another example of how knowledge is power. Being aware of the specific ailments that your canine might be prone to is an important first step in catching the disease early on. The sooner any disease is discovered, the better the prognosis for recovery.

The most common primary brain tumors include:

  • Meningiomas
  • Gliomas
  • Choroid plexus papilloma
  • Pituitary adenoma
  • Adenocarcinoma

Secondary Brain Tumors

Secondary brain tumors differ from primary brain tumors because they originate from cancer cells in another area of the body. These cancer cells then spread to the brain through a process referred to as metastasis. Additionally, a secondary brain tumor may develop from adjacent non-nervous tissue that extends into the brain tissue. For example, cancer of the nasal cavity, which extends to the brain.

The most common secondary brain tumors are:

  • Hemangiosarcoma
  • Mammary carcinoma
  • Melanoma

Because secondary brain tumors are the result of metastasis or spread throughout the body, by the time they are diagnosed, the cancer is usually advanced. Therefore, unfortunately, the prognosis for secondary brain tumors is usually not very positive.

Symptoms of a Brain Tumor

As with all diseases, the sooner your vet gives you a brain tumor diagnosis, the greater the chances of effective treatment and recovery. Unfortunately, many early clinical signs of brain tumors appear as what is known as non-specific signs. Non-specific signs are those which could be signs of a multitude of ailments and are not specific to brain tumors alone. Therefore, it can be challenging for pet owners to pinpoint exactly what is going on. However, brain tumors can grow rapidly and aggressively, leaving little time to wait it out and see if the signs go away.

If you notice any of the following changes in your canine, no matter how small, it is imperative that you see a veterinarian for a check-up. An early diagnosis can ultimately be the difference between life and death for a canine with a brain tumor.

Warning Signs of a Brain Tumor

The following is a list of warning signs that are typically associated with a brain tumor in dogs:

  • Seizures (seizures are the most common early clinical sign of a brain tumor in dogs)
  • Depression
  • Head tilting
  • Loss of balance/ “drunken” walk or gait
  • Decreased vision or loss of vision
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Voice change (being more vocal or hoarseness)
  • Overall weakness and lethargy
  • Strange behaviors (mood changes and increased aggression)
  • Gain or loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Dogs can be quite stoic and are notorious for hiding pain and acting like everything is normal. Knowing your dog's typical day-to-day behavior is imperative when it comes to recognizing when something isn't right.

symptoms of brain tumor in dogs

Symptoms of a Brain Tumor in Late Stages

The following are signs of brain tumors in the later stages. Again, if you notice any of these signs, it is paramount that you seek veterinary medical intervention immediately.

  • A continuation of persistent early-stage signs
  • Reclusive or solitary behavior
  • Pacing
  • Walking in circles
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Pressing against a hard surface
  • Worsening weakness leading to an inability to stand
  • Worsening seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Coma

Symptoms of Critical-Stage Brain Cancer

Dogs with brain cancer in the critical stages will commonly have the following signs:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Continued worsening seizures (seizures will be increased in duration and frequency)
  • Uncontrollable diarrhea
  • Uncontrollable vomiting
  • Sudden collapse
  • Excessive bleeding (internal or external or both)
  • Crying and whining out of pain*

*Just to reiterate, dogs rarely show that they are in pain. Therefore, if your dog is crying out in pain, their discomfort has typically reached an extremely high level.  

What Causes Brain Tumors?

Even with extensive research on the topic, the specific cause(s) of brain tumors in dogs and cats are still relatively unknown. With that said, experts do have several hypotheses as to potential causes. These include:

  • Environmental toxins
  • Dietary factors
  • Chemical toxins
  • Hereditary predisposition
  • Weakened immune system

Studies have discovered links between environmental toxicity and many cancers found in humans. It is pretty safe to assume that if something can cause cancer in people like you and me, it may have similar detrimental results in our four-legged friends. Things like preservatives in our foods, and fertilizers in the soil are all being tied to various illnesses, including cancer.

Furthermore, many experts believe that over-vaccination can also lead to the development of canine cancer. This is a topic that has many concerned, confused, and frustrated. We encourage you, our readers, to do your homework before agreeing to a slew of yearly dog vaccinations. If your dog doesn't spend time at kennels, they likely don't need certain shots. If you live in certain parts of the country, you may be able to avoid other vaccines. Nevertheless, be aware of the conditions to which your dog is likely to be exposed, or prone to, and ensure adequate protection. Know what your dog is receiving and be aware of the potential adverse effects. Cancer is only one of the dozens of potential conditions that your dog may face from over-vaccination.

chemicals can cause brain tumor in dogs

Breeds at a Higher Risk for Brain Cancer

Certain breeds are at a higher risk of developing brain tumors. These breeds include:

  • Golden Retriever
  • Boxer
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Collie
  • Boston Terriers

Experts have even found that certain breeds of dogs are at a higher risk of developing certain types of brain tumors. For instance, brachycephalic breeds (those with short noses and flat faces, such as Boxers, English Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers) are at a higher risk of developing gliomas, or tumors of the interstitial tissue of the central nervous system). Conversely, dolichocephalic breeds of dogs (characterized by long heads and noses, such as Collies and Golden Retrievers) are at a higher risk of developing meningiomas, or tumors that develop in the membranes covering the brain.

This is why is it so important to understand the risks to which your dog may be genetically predisposed. By staying informed and being aware, you may prolong your dog's lifespan.

With that said, although certain breeds may be predisposed, any breed can potentially develop a brain tumor. Typically, brain tumors are diagnosed in dogs over the age of five years, but they can be diagnosed at any age.

Diagnosing a Brain Tumor in Dogs

A brain tumor will often be suspected if your dog does not have a history of neurological issues or other brain condition, and has a sudden onset of the aforementioned symptoms.

In order to make an accurate diagnosis, your veterinarian will perform an array of tests, usually beginning with blood work. The blood tests, including a complete blood count, will alert the vet of any abnormalities and symptoms of infection.

Your veterinarian may also have chest and abdominal x-rays performed. The x-rays and blood work will show whether or not the cancer or other tumors are also located elsewhere in the body.

Next, your vet may perform an imaging MRI (magnetic resonance imaging ) or CT scan (computerized tomography). Because soft tissue brain tumors are not easily detected on an x-ray of the skull, an MRI or CT scan is almost always necessary to make an accurate diagnosis.

An MRI or a CT scan may enable the vet to determine the type of brain tumor present. However, a sample of the tumor obtained by surgery (a surgical biopsy) will be necessary to make a definitive diagnosis. The biopsy will also inform the vet of the malignancy of the brain tumour.

diagnosing brain tumor in dogs

Treating Brain Cancer in Dogs

Treatment for the brain tumor is determined by whether it is a primary or secondary tumor and its location. Typically, surgical removal, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are the most common methods of treatment for both dogs and cats.

Your veterinarian would determine how best to treat the tumor. One option is total removal of the mass. If total removal is possible, your vet will likely perform surgery as soon as possible. After the surgery is complete, your vet may recommend additional radiation treatments to prevent any regrowth of the tumor.

However, in some cases, it's considered an inoperable brain tumor. Tumors can develop in locations that are inoperable. In these cases, radiation therapy and chemotherapy can be used to shrink the tumor.

Typically, radiation therapy is the preferred means of treatment over chemotherapy. Chemotherapy drugs have blood-brain barrier limitations that greatly limit their effectiveness.

As you may imagine, treatment options for the brain tumor doesn't come without its share of side effects. Your veterinarian may prescribe drugs such as anti-seizure medications and other medications to relieve pain and intracranial pressure, and reduce nausea during and after treatment.

After Treatment

During and after treatment, it is imperative for dogs with brain tumors to have regular health evaluations by their veterinarian. Additional CT scans or MRIs may be necessary to confirm whether the treatment and recovery plan is going as expected, or if there are any signs of regrowth.

Additionally, as we previously mentioned, seizures in dogs may be directly associated with brain tumors. Pet parents will need to closely monitor their dog after treatment and make sure there is not increased seizure activity.

Furthermore, brain tumors can lead to weakened swallowing reflexes. This may arise from an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the skull cavity. The weakened swallowing reflexes can lead to the development of aspiration pneumonia (in which food and water that should be swallowed and continue down the esophagus to the stomach, may instead go down the trachea to the lungs). It is very important to be on high alert for any changes in your dog's health, as the immune system is usually in a fragile state post-treatment.  

Prognosis for Dogs with Brain Tumors

The prognosis for dogs with brain tumors is guarded to fair. Ultimately, the prognosis depends greatly on how quickly the cancer was diagnosed, or how far along it has progressed, and the means of treatment. Therefore, the median survival time can vary.  

Approximate survival time is as follows:

  • 24 months with supportive care alone
  • 612 months with surgery alone
  • 724 months with radiation therapy alone
  • 6 months to 3 years with surgery combined with radiation therapy
  • 711 months with chemotherapy alone

Again, all dogs are different and may react differently to treatment.

preventing brain tumor in dogs

Preventing Brain Tumors

Of course, as a pet parent, you are likely wondering how to prevent your pup from experiencing this horrific condition. Unfortunately, because the definite cause of brain tumors remains unknown, there are no specific means of prevention. However, many studies are continuing to link toxins to various forms of cancers. Toxins are found almost everywhere and there's no real way to completely eliminate them. However, by limiting vaccinations to only those that are necessary, providing your dog with a species-appropriate, nutritionally balanced diet, and avoiding environmental toxins such as pesticides, you can help to prevent the development of a slew of ailments, including cancer.

Your pets mean the world to you. Trust us, as dog owners and dog lovers, we completely understand the enormous amount of love you have for your fur children. There is no right thing to say that can reverse the diagnosis of a brain tumor. However, there is hope and you can do all that you can to keep the disease at bay and maintain their quality of life.

Knowledge is power. It is so important to know as much as possible about your dog's specific breed. If your dog is at a higher risk of developing a brain tumor, it is imperative to be aware of the early symptoms so that you are able to act in a timely and appropriate manner.

Finally, understand your dog's "normal." All dogs are different. Some are born couch potatoes, while others are constantly full of energy. Some are picky eaters, while others will devour anything in sight. By knowing your dog's normal behavior you'll be able to quickly identify when something is off. If and when this occurs, act straight away. Don't delay or hope that Fido will soon return to "normal." A timely diagnosis for any disease, particularly a brain tumor, can truly make a world of difference for your beloved furry companion.


Petal Smart, DVM

Petal Smart is a veterinarian who, after a brief stint in clinical practice, has been a medical, veterinary, and science editor for the past four years. She has edited hundreds of research studies that have been published in various academic journals, and more recently, she has been editing blog articles on pet health. She holds a DVM (Hons) from the University of the West Indies - St. Augustine. Her pets in the past have included dogs, fish, birds, and a turtle. At times, she also likes to think of herself as a horse whisperer. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

*This article has been edited and updated for publication by Petal Smart, DVM.

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Cerenia: Know The Side Effects

Cerenia: Know The Side Effects

You know the feeling...that queasy discomfort in the pit of your stomach...and whatever the cause, we don't have to tell you how awful it feels. Dry heaving. Stomach pains. Being sick is no fun for anyone, including your furry friends... And just like people, dogs and cats can experience nausea and vomiting for a number of reasons.

Luckily, experts in the veterinary field have realized that dogs and cats shouldn't have to face the unpleasant realities of acute vomiting any more than we should; thus, they have developed the drug, Cerenia® (Maropitant citrate). In this article, we'll cover all the important facts about the medication and how it may be able to help your pet through their bout of distress. We will also discuss the potential side effects, as well as alternatives you may want to consider. Let's get to it!

cerenia for dogs

What is Cerenia (Maropitant citrate)

Cerenia is the first (and only) FDA-approved medication that veterinarians prescribe to treat vomiting in dogs and cats. Cerenia is also prescribed to prevent vomiting in dogs, resulting from motion sickness.

We will first discuss the ways in which Cerenia can help your dog and then move on to how your feline may also benefit from Cerenia. Although Cerenia serves as a treatment for vomiting in both dogs and cats, there are a few important differences that pet owners should understand.

Why is Cerenia Used in Dogs

When it comes to your canine, there are a few ways in which Cerenia can help to alleviate vomiting and nausea, as well as prevent the uneasiness even before it starts.

Cerenia for Motion Sickness 

Many dog owners cannot bear the thought of leaving Fido behind as they travel the world. We understand, at Honest Paws, we are also dog owners and love taking our four-legged companions on every road trip possible. Unfortunately, some dogs don't necessarily love to travel as much as we might. In fact, studies show that an estimated one in five dogs suffers from motion sickness. In these cases, your veterinarian may prescribe Cerenia to ease the associated symptoms that may arise from traveling. 

Signs of Motion Sickness in Dogs

Dogs aren't necessarily going to warn you before they throw up all over the back seat of the car. Furthermore, dogs are notorious for hiding pain and distress, which makes it even more difficult to foresee the messy event. With that being said, it is important to be aware of a few tell-tale signs of motion sickness in dogs.


Of course, the most obvious sign of motion sickness is vomiting. Many pet owners feel that if they withhold food (water should not be withheld) before a car ride, they can eliminate the possibility of vomiting. However, vomiting can occur even on an empty stomach.

Furthermore, vomiting is certainly not the only sign of motion sickness.

Excessive Drooling

If you notice that your dog is drooling excessively, they are likely experiencing motion sickness. Additionally, dogs are highly sensitive animals and can show signs prior to the onset of active motion sickness. In some cases, the drooling may begin even before the car is moving, especially if the dog could anticipate what's in store.

drooling from cerenia

Dry Heaving

Your dog may also begin dry heaving and/or panting once in the car. Again, this is a sign that can occur prematurely if your dog equates a car trip with feeling ill.


Many dogs will also show general signs of uneasiness, as well as a fear of cars. If your dog is whining, pacing, or showing that they are scared of what is to come, they are likely among the one in five dogs that experience the unfortunate signs of motion sickness.

Which Dogs Are Affected By Motion Sickness?

As we previously stated, studies show that one in five dogs experience motion sickness, yet many pet owners wonder whether or not their dog may be more prone to it. Unfortunately, there are no real ways to determine whether or not your dog may be more likely to experience motion sickness other than taking them for a car ride and finding out. All breeds are susceptible, as well as all ages and sizes.  

Luckily, Cerenia has shown to effectively alleviate, as well as prevent nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness in dogs.

Acute Vomiting in Dogs

Veterinarians also prescribe Cerenia to alleviate acute vomiting in dogs. Acute or short-term vomiting can occur for a number of reasons (which we will discuss momentarily) and can alarm many pet owners. One reason veterinarians may prescribe Cerenia is to put a stop to the vomiting so that they are able to get to the bottom of whatever is causing it. Persistent vomiting can lead to dehydration and further gastrointestinal upset. Cerenia can help to alleviate the distress and prevent additional issues from arising, as well as provide comfort for your dog and peace of mind for you, the dog owner.

While there may be a slew of reasons why Fido may be vomiting, we want to cover a few of the most common. The more information you are able to provide your veterinarian, the quicker they will be able to accurately diagnose and treat the underlying reason for the acute vomiting.

cerenia is used to stop vomiting 

Environmental Toxins

Environmental toxicity and poisoning are among the most common reasons for sudden bouts of vomiting. Many dogs are known to be quite mischievous and get into things that can ultimately cause them harm. They are also equal opportunity eaters and are known to feast on just about anything. One of the first signs that your dog may have ingested something that they shouldn't have is sudden, acute vomiting.

While Cerenia may help reduce the bouts of vomiting, additional treatment will likely be necessary to rid the body of the poisonous toxin.

Drug Interactions

Additionally, if a new medication has been recently prescribed for your dog, acute vomiting may ensue as your dog's body adjusts. If this occurs, it is extremely important to make sure your veterinarian is aware of the reaction. Acute vomiting due to medications may also be a sign that your dog is having an allergic reaction or a negative interaction, in which case, administration of the drug should be stopped.


In many cases, vomiting is considered to be a non-specific sign of disease in dogs. Non-specific signs are those that may occur with many different underlying causes. For this reason, it is extremely important that your veterinarian rules out the possibility of disease to prevent additional issues from arising. While Cerenia can alleviate the signs of disease, it merely acts as a band-aid. It will not cure the disease.

Changes in Diet

While many dogs love to eat things they shouldn't, they can be very picky eaters when it comes to their own food. For this reason, dog owners find themselves constantly switching things up and adding variety to their pup's diet. However, if you find yourself doing this, it is imperative that you make the transition slowly! Switching up your dog's food too quickly can lead to acute vomiting that can be easily prevented.


Acute vomiting can also be a telltale sign of intestinal parasites. As you can see, while vomiting can be something that is a rather "easy fix," it can also be a major cause for concern. This is when Cerenia can help to alleviate the discomfort while your veterinarian uncovers the underlying issue at hand.  


Finally, acute vomiting may occur as a result of different forms of stress, including separation anxiety. For some dogs, the idea of their owner leaving the house for any length of time can mean a full-on panic attack. The sad reality can leave many pet owners not knowing how to proceed (let alone have any semblance of a social life!). Luckily, in such cases, Cerenia can help.

What Else Should You Look For

Again, the more information you are able to provide your vet, the sooner they will be able to make an accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.

If acute vomiting occurs, make sure you also look for whether the following additional signs are also present and let your vet know as soon as possible:

  • Diarrhea (with or without blood)
  • Blood in the vomit
  • Excessive lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in behavior
  • Changes in the urine or stool

Prevention of Vomiting Before Surgery

Cerenia also works to prevent vomiting prior to surgery in cases where opioids are used as a pre-anesthetic. In such cases, Cerenia is given prior to surgery and helps to prevent an adverse reaction to the opioids.

Cerenia Side Effects in Dogs

Like all conventional drugs, Cerenia does have potential adverse reactions that dog owners should be aware of.

While studies show that most dogs have no adverse reactions to the drug, the following side effects of Cerenia have been reported over the last 10 years:

  • Lethargy and drowsiness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Excessive drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain at the injection site (when it comes to the injectable form of Cerenia)

    decreased appetite in dogs from cerenia

    In terms of treating motion sickness in dogs, experts recommend giving the medication an appropriate "trial run" before committing to it for a long trip. The last thing that you want to do is rely on Cerenia to prevent vomiting, only to find that it causes other unpleasant side effects, such as diarrhea.  

    Additionally, Cerenia should not be administered to dogs under 16 weeks old or those who have pre-existing liver conditions. As always, it is extremely important to make sure that your veterinarian is aware of any allergies or pre-existing health issues before prescribing any new medication.

    Administering Cerenia to Dogs

    Cerenia can be administered to dogs in two forms: tablet and injectable form.

    Cerenia Tablets for Motion Sickness

    Unlike cats, dogs can take Cerenia tablets to prevent the associated symptoms of motion sickness. Experts recommend giving your dog the appropriate dosage of Cerenia 2 hours prior to getting into the car. Make sure to give the medication with a small amount of food to prevent an upset stomach. Dog owners can give Cerenia to their pup once a day for up to 2 days in a row for the prevention of motion sickness. As always, your veterinarian should be the one to tell you the exact dose that will suit your dog's individual needs.

    Cerenia Injectable

    Cerenia is also available in injection form for acute vomiting in both dogs and cats. The injection should only be administered by a trained veterinary professional.

    Cerenia for Cats

    Now, let's get into Cerenia for cats. While it can also be used to treat acute vomiting in cats, there are some notable differences from its administration in dogs.

    Acute Vomiting

    Like its major benefit for our canine friends, Cerenia is also the one and only FDA approved medication to treat acute vomiting in cats.

    Similar to dogs, vomiting in cats can be due to several reasons and can range in severity. It is very important to get to the bottom of what is causing your cat to have sudden, acute bouts of nausea and vomiting. While the underlying cause may be something mild, it could also be a sign of infection, disease, or parasites.

    Vomiting: What Else to Look For

    It is important for cat owners to give their veterinarian as much information as possible, in order to quickly diagnose and treat their cat's condition.

    Cat owners must also take note of whether the following symptoms are present:

    • Dehydration
    • Diarrhea or changes in the stool
    • Persistent vomiting
    • Weight loss
    • Lack of appetite
    • Decreased energy

      cerenia for cats

      How to Administer Cerenia for Cats: Cerenia Injectable

      Cerenia for cats is only available as an injectable solution. It is imperative that pet owners who have both cats and dogs do not mistakenly give both animals the same medication, even if they are both experiencing the same symptoms. The Cerenia injectable should only be administered by a trained veterinary professional.

      Cerenia Tablets = Not for Cats!

      According to Cerenia's website, the tablets should not be given to cats. Cerenia tablets have only been approved for dogs, whereas the injection can be used for both cats and dogs. With that said, there are veterinarians who may still prescribe Cerenia tablets for cats. We just want you to be aware of what the manufacturer recommends. At the end of the day, you need to take the necessary precautions for the well being of your cat.

      Cerenia Side Effects in Cats

      The side effects of Cerenia in cats are comparable to those in dogs. However, because the only form of Cerenia that is safe for cats is the injectable, the main side effect is pain at the injection site.

      Alternative Treatment Options for Dogs and Cats

      While Cerenia for dogs and cats can effectively treat and prevent nausea and vomiting, it is certainly not the only option available to pet owners.

      Preventing Motion Sickness in Dogs

      When it comes to treating our four-legged friends, we truly believe that prevention is the best medicine. Keeping all of the aforementioned information in mind, we have some good news. There are ways to help prevent motion sickness in dogs.

      Experts have found that the following approaches can do wonders for a dog prone to motion sickness.

      • First, make sure that your dog feels secure. We recommend purchasing a safety seat for your dog so that they aren't sliding across your back seat with every turn. Additionally, if your dog is going to be sitting in the front passenger seat, make sure that the seat is buckled in as far away from the dashboard as possible. You may also want to consider disabling the passenger side airbag as it can potentially cause a significant amount of harm to your dog.
      • Next, make sure that the car is kept cool during rides, regardless of the distance. Dogs can quickly become overheated (or hyperthermic)  on car trips, particularly if they are experiencing symptoms of motion sickness. It is important to keep your dog as cool and comfortable as possible.
      • Also, rolling down the windows a few inches will help to equalize both inside and outside air pressures.
      • Experts also recommend limiting the amount of food given just before a car trip. Of course, if you are administering Cerenia 2 hours before, then it should be given with food.
      • Next, treats and toys are key! You want to create positive associations with taking rides in the car. Many times, treats and your dog's favorite toy can make a great difference.
      • Speaking of positive associations, take your dog on trips to places they enjoy, like the dog park. If a car trip always results in going to the vet, it's no wonder they aren't jumping for joy at the thought of it.
      • Finally, start slowly. Ease your dog into the idea of a long car ride by starting off with short rides around the neighborhood that end up back home.

      Cerenia: Not A Cure for Acute Vomiting

      Again, we want to reiterate that using Cerenia to alleviate acute vomiting, would not cure the underlying condition at hand. Many pet owners want immediate relief for their pet's vomiting (which we totally understand); however, it is imperative that you treat the condition that is causing the vomiting to occur in the first place. Cerenia cannot cure something like intestinal parasites or renal disease. It is up to you and your veterinarian to get to the bottom of the bouts of acute sickness your dog or cat may be experiencing.

      cbd for pets is better than cerenia

      Cerenia: A Final Thought

      At the end of the day, we can all agree that nausea and vomiting are no fun for anyone, including our beloved fur babies. Cerenia has been proven to make a substantial difference in the lives of many cats and dogs who experience sudden episodes of vomiting. With that said, we want you, our readers, to understand that while medication can certainly be useful, there are alternative ways to not only treat vomiting but also prevent it from occurring in the first place. The more you know about your options, the better equipped you can be at ensuring you make the best decisions for the wellbeing of your pets.


      Petal Smart, DVM

      Petal Smart is a veterinarian who, after a brief stint in clinical practice, has been a medical, veterinary, and science editor for the past four years. She has edited hundreds of research studies that have been published in various academic journals, and more recently, she has been editing blog articles on pet health. She holds a DVM (Hons) from the University of the West Indies - St. Augustine. Her pets in the past have included dogs, fish, birds, and a turtle. At times, she also likes to think of herself as a horse whisperer. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

      *This article has been edited and updated for publication by Petal Smart, DVM.
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      Tramadol For Dogs: Pros & Cons

      Tramadol For Dogs: Pros & Cons

      One of the worst feelings for a pet owner is knowing that your beloved four-legged companion is in pain but not knowing exactly what to do for them.

      Whether your dog is recovering from surgery or experiencing pain associated with aging bones and joints, your vet will likely prescribe conventional pain medication.

      Here's where things may get worrisome. A quick glance at the laundry list of potential adverse reactions associated with nearly every single conventional medication could terrify most any dog owner.

      From kidney damage to liver failure to potential death, the number of things that could go wrong is horrifying. Yet, what else can you do? You don't want your precious pup to be in pain, but is there any other way?

      In this article, we'll cover the pros and cons of a commonly prescribed pain medication called Tramadol. You should only use the medication based on the advice of your vet, and it is imperative for you to also know the associated risks.

      Additionally, we will cover holistic alternatives that continue to prove to be effective and safe. Let's begin!

      tramadol for dogs

      What is Tramadol for Dogs

      Tramadol is a prescription medication that many vets recommend for managing pain in dogs. You may recognize the name, as it is also prescribed by many physicians to treat pain in humans.

      In fact, tramadol is one of the few human painkillers that veterinarians deem safe to give to Fido, under veterinary supervision of course. A tramadol prescription however, should never be transferred between pets or from owner to pet.

      Each case is different and should be closely monitored by your vet (or your physician, depending on who has prescribed the drug).

      Understanding How Tramadol for Dogs Works

      Understanding How Tramadol for Dogs Works

      Tramadol is a member of the opioid family. It inhibits the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, and thereby increases the levels of these substances in the bloodstream and alters the perception of pain in both dogs and humans.

      Additionally, the increased levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the bloodstream helps to create sensations of euphoria and wellbeing, allowing your dog to not only be pain-free, but also mentally calm and physically relaxed.

      Although opioids can be addictive in humans, the drugs do not usually affect our dogs in the same, destructive manner (some dogs however, may experience withdrawal symptoms when treatment is stopped)

      What is Tramadol Used For

      Tramadol is primarily used to manage general, chronic pain, and acute pain in dogs. However, in this section, we'll break down the more specific reasons why tramadol may be prescribed.

      Tramadol for Osteoarthritis

      One of the primary reasons for tramadol prescriptions is the treatment of the signs of osteoarthritis in dogs. It is important to note that tramadol merely alleviates the signs and is not a cure for the underlying cause of the condition.

      As your dog gets older, their bones and joints begin to wear from years of constant use.

      The wear creates inflammation and associated pain that can cause your dog to become lethargic, depressed, and even shy away from physical attention for fear of being touched or handled in a way that may result in even more pain.

      In these cases, your veterinarian may prescribe tramadol.

      osteoarthritis in dogs

      Treating Post-Operative Pain

      Vets may also prescribe tramadol to manage pain resulting from recent surgery. It is important to note that if you are using tramadol to manage post-operative pain, you'll need to keep a close eye on your dog to make sure they aren't overexerting themselves.

      The medication will relieve their pain, which can lead to increased activity, possibly insufficient rest, and an inability to fully heal from the recent surgery.

      Managing Cancer Symptoms

      Additionally, your veterinarian may prescribe tramadol to ease symptoms associated with cancer in addition to conventional cancer treatment.

      If your pup is battling cancer, the last thing that you want for them is to experience even more pain. Tramadol may be an effective way to increase their serotonin levels and reduce distress.

      Treating Lameness

      Tramadol is also prescribed to alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with hip dysplasia and a number of other joint disorders.

      Again, tramadol does not work to cure the underlying cause of these disorders. It merely manages the associated pain and distress that the dog may be facing.

      Nonsurgical Intervertebral Disc Disease

      Additionally, tramadol may be prescribed to treat diseases that affect the spinal cord. Conditions such as intervertebral disc disease can cause an immense amount of pain, nerve damage, and potential paralysis.

      Tramadol may provide relief. It is important that pet parents monitor these conditions closely and know to recognize whether a painkiller is providing enough relief or maybe showing side effects.

      Additionally, in less common situations, your veterinarian may prescribe tramadol to relieve:

      Tramadol Side Effects

      Like all conventional medications, tramadol can have its fair share of side effects. Studies show that most dogs tend to tolerate the medication relatively well.

      However, the following side effects may still occur in dogs with varying degrees of severity:

      dog vomiting from tramadol

      Avoiding Tramadol Side Effects

      The only real way to completely avoid the side effects of tramadol is to simply use an alternative treatment.

      However, we understand that for some, a conventional painkiller may be what they find necessary. In such cases, there are a few ways to avoid or limit the severity of several associated side effects.

      First, ensure that your veterinarian has a complete, accurate, and detailed account of your dog's medical history.

      Your veterinarian should be aware of any allergies, as well as any previous adverse reactions to a medication. Additionally, your vet should be informed of any other medications that your dog may be presently taking.

      Tramadol should not be used in conjunction with certain drugs and can cause irreversible effects if used incorrectly.

      Also, it is important for dog owners to make sure that they are following the prescribed medication exactly as directed.

      If you stop the medication too soon, this can cause the symptoms being treated to reappear, often with greater severity than before.

      Additionally, increasing the dose of tramadol without consulting with your veterinarian can be extremely harmful.

      Accidentally missing a dose of tramadol can also worsen your dog’s discomfort.

      Signs of Tramadol Overdose

      Adverse reactions aren't the only thing that pet owners must be aware of when it comes to tramadol. Overdoses also occur and can cause severe, irreversible damage.

      If you do not see immediate signs of relief, please seek proper veterinary re-evaluation, before opting to increase the dosage.

      Tramadol overdoses may also occur if the dog gets into the medicine cabinet and consumes too much of the medication.

      It is imperative that pet owners recognize the signs of overdose and seek immediate veterinary intervention.  

      • Excessive, severe vomiting
      • Lethargy and possible sedation
      • Decreased heart rate
      • Respiratory depression
      • Excessive, uncontrollable tremors
      • Seizures
      • Uncontrollable drooling
      • Agitation
      • Uncontrolled movement (Ataxia)
      • Dilated pupils
      • Loss of consciousness
      • Coma

      If you see any of these signs, call your veterinarian straight away.

      Tramadol Dosage

      It is important for pet owners to understand that tramadol is a class 4 controlled substance that requires a prescription from your veterinarian.

      As we previously mentioned, never give your dogs the tramadol dose that was intended for humans, as the dosages for dogs can vary significantly, and is typically based on the dog’s weight.

      Tramadol 50 mg Tablets

      Tramadol is available in 50 mg pills. Only your veterinarian should advise you regarding the exact dose for your dog's specific needs.

      For example, a dog experiencing chronic pain is often given a different dosage of tramadol than a dog experiencing acute pain, even if they are both the same weight.

      Additional Precautions

      We previously mentioned the importance of informing your veterinarian about all of your dog's current medications and preexisting health conditions.

      This is because tramadol may also interact with a number of medications, or potentially cause harm to dogs with certain health issues.

      Health Conditions

      Dogs with the following preexisting health conditions should not take tramadol:

      • Liver disease or liver damage
      • Kidney disease and associated damage
      • Pregnant dogs
      • Nursing dogs
      • Dogs with a history of seizures

      If your dog has had stomach or gastrointestinal issues in the past, please let your vet know.

      Medication Interactions

      Additionally, the following medications are known to have negative reactions when used with tramadol:

      • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as selegiline
      • Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) including fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline and fluvoxamine

      When Will Tramadol Start Working

      In most cases, pet owners find that tramadol begins to work within the first day of administration. However, the course of medication recommended by your vet must be completed in its entirety.

      As we previously mentioned, stopping the medication too quickly can cause adverse effects or recurrence of the signs of pain and discomfort. In the vast majority of cases, tramadol should not be used as a long-term solution.

      Once your dog shows signs of relief, if possible, it is imperative to find a more permanent solution that addresses the underlying cause of the pain.

      Other Pain Medication for Dogs

      Although this article pertains specifically to tramadol for dogs, we want to briefly mention other commonly prescribed medications for pain management known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

      What are NSAIDs

      Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly prescribed for pain relief in dogs and humans alike.

      Tramadol is not an NSAID, which some dog owners may consider an advantage, as NSAIDs are commonly associated with stomach ulcers and internal bleeding.

      what can i give my dog for pain

      What is Amantadine

      Another medication, amantadine, is often prescribed to treat chronic pain in dogs. Amantadine also has its fair share of side effects.

      Regardless of the medication that your vet prescribes, it is extremely important to be well aware of the risks involved.

      Is My Dog in Pain?

      Pet owners must understand that dogs are notorious for hiding pain. Therefore, if and when your dog begins to show signs of pain, it is imperative that you take it seriously and act accordingly.

      If your dog is limping, crying out, or struggling to perform basic activities, it's likely they are in considerable pain.

      What Can I Give My Dog for Pain?

      Considering all of the adverse effects associated with conventional pain medication, many pet parents find themselves wondering if there are any alternatives available for dogs.

      Are there any ways to truly provide pain relief in a safe way? We are happy to be able to tell you that there are! And many prove to be even more effective than prescription drugs.

      Even better - the holistic, all-natural alternatives that we are about to discuss come without any of the aforementioned side effects associated with conventional pain meds.

      CBD for Dogs

      If you're one to stay up to date with the latest and greatest in holistic wellness (which we highly recommend doing), then you've likely heard of cannabidiol (CBD).

      Derived from the hemp plant, CBD is making substantial headway in terms of how we can support healthy joint and bone function in humans and dogs alike. 

      Also, because hemp contains no more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), your dog won't feel "high" or out of it.

      CBD Helps to Maintain a Normal Inflammatory Response

      CBD oil supports a healthy inflammatory response. When you trace the vast majority of ailments and diseases back to their root, you'll usually find that they all have one major thing in common: inflammation.

      Even if your dog is not presently affected by any aches or pains, we highly recommend implementing CBD oil into their diet, as it may prevent future issues.

      Joint Support CBD Soft Chews

      If your dog is presently suffering from joint pain due to advancing age or injury, we recommend the Joint Support CBD Soft Chews.

      The soft chews are packed with the highest quality CBD along with 500 mg of glucosamine.

      The soft chews:

      • May help to ease aches and discomfort 
      • May help to maintain a normal inflammatory response
      • Enhance the body’s normal repair of connective tissues and joints
      • Supports animals with joint tenderness due to everyday activity

      Relief CBD Dog Treats

      We also recommend trying the turmeric-flavored Relief CBD Dog Treats to support a healthy inflammatory response.

      The treats may help to relieve any discomfort associated with normal daily exercise and activity. At Honest Paws, we believe that life is far too short to live in pain.

      Let the Relief CBD Dog Treats help. 

      Acupuncture & Massage Therapy

      Additionally, many pet parents have found that acupuncture and different massage therapies have made a world of difference for their four-legged friends.

      Both acupuncture and massage therapy work best with consistency, which may be neither ideal nor possible for some dog owners, as it proves to be a bit of a commitment.

      However, it is comforting to know that there are all-natural alternatives for pain relief in dogs that are proving to be both effective and safe.

      dog acupuncture

      Turmeric for Inflammation

      Another wonderful dietary supplement that we recommend adding to Fido's diet is turmeric. Turmeric is an all-natural anti-inflammatory from which both humans and animals can derive considerable benefits.

      As we previously mentioned, inflammation is a leading cause of a slew of conditions including:

      • Cancer
      • Arthritis
      • Joint disorders
      • Allergies
      • Kidney disease
      • Dental disease
      • Digestive disease
      • Among many others

      All of these conditions can lead to your dog experiencing an immense amount of pain and distress if the disease is not diagnosed and treated promptly. Adding turmeric to your pup's diet can serve as a way to ease and prevent inflammation.


      If you've been following along with our other articles, you know that we always stress how absolutely imperative it is to feed your dog a well-balanced diet.

      Diet can truly be a game changer in terms of your dog's health and well-being, As a pet owner, you must make sure to do all that you can to support the health of your four-legged friends through proper nutrition.

      Many experts recommend implementing a raw food diet as a means to ensure that your dog is receiving all the nutrients they need. We recommend consulting your holistic veterinarian to determine any dietary changes from which your dog may benefit.


      Additionally, we highly recommend researching the incredible benefits of glucosamine for dogs. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound that promotes the growth and repair of cartilage and synovial fluid, which both protect the joints.

      Using a glucosamine supplement provides additional support for overall joint health. Or you can check out our CBD and Glucosamine joint support chews for a double whammy!

      glucosamine for dogs


      Finally, exercise! We understand that exercise may seem like the last thing you want to implement if your dog is in pain.

      However, light movement and physical activity are necessary to build muscle and maintain overall health. Depending on your dog's level of pain, the "exercise" may start off as basic as standing up and lying down.

      Don't overdo it in the beginning. We recommend talking to your veterinarian regarding the appropriate amount of movement that will help to maintain and restore joint health.

      Tramadol for Dogs: A Final Thought

      At the end of the day, we know that you want the very best for your beloved four-legged friend. At Honest Paws, we are all pet lovers and dog owners. Therefore, we empathize with the heart-wrenching experience of knowing that your best friend is suffering.

      There are times when conventional drugs such as tramadol are necessary, and we certainly do not want to take away from the incredible importance and benefits of modern-day medicine.

      However, with that being said, we firmly believe that pet parents must understand the associated risks involved before beginning treatment with conventional drugs. Furthermore, knowing that there are all-natural alternatives to not only treat, but also prevent ailments is something that we can all stand behind.

      When all is said and done, we encourage you to know your options and ask questions as they arise. Knowledge is power! We sincerely hope that your dog feels better soon.


      Petal Smart, DVM

      Petal Smart is a veterinarian who, after a brief stint in clinical practice, has been a medical, veterinary, and science editor for the past four years. She has edited hundreds of research studies that have been published in various academic journals, and more recently, she has been editing blog articles on pet health. She holds a DVM (Hons) from the University of the West Indies - St. Augustine. Her pets in the past have included dogs, fish, birds, and a turtle. At times, she also likes to think of herself as a horse whisperer. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

      *This article has been edited and updated for publication by Petal Smart, DVM.

      Read More
      Zyrtec for Dogs: A Word of Warning

      Zyrtec for Dogs: A Word of Warning

      Let’s face it, allergies are no fun, and we all have to deal with them to some degree. It may surprise some pet owners to learn that the itchy-eyes, irritated skin, and sneezing that are associated with allergies do not only affect humans but our furry companions as well.

      While they often manifest in different ways, allergies can affect our dogs just as much as they can affect us. However, our dogs aren’t exactly able to communicate with us about what’s going on.

      So as a dog owner, what do you do?

      Zyrtec for Dogs

      What is Zyrtec? 

      If you’re prone to seasonal allergies, you've likely heard of the over-the-counter antihistamine, Zyrtec®.

      The conventional medication is one of the second-generation antihistamines that is often prescribed for human use in coping with environmental changes that often leave us with stuffy noses and red, itchy eyes.

      One of Zyrtec's most appealing features is that it does not cause drowsiness like other antihistamines such as Benadryl.

      Although the FDA has not yet approved its use in animals, more and more vets are prescribing the drug for dogs to reduce itching and other clinical signs of allergic reactions.

      What is Cetirizine 

      Cetirizine is an antihistamine and the active ingredient in Zyrtec and several other allergy medications, including Zyrtec Allergy, Children's Zyrtec Allergy, Children's Zyrtec Hives Relief, PediaCare Children's 24-Hour Allergy, Aller-Tec, and Wal-Zyr.

      Cetirizine works by blocking a specific natural substance (histamine) that your body produces when you experience an allergic reaction.

      Because it blocks histamine, cetirizine is included among a class of medications referred to as antihistamines.

      Zyrtec for Dogs 

      If Fido is affected by various allergic reactions, your veterinarian may recommend Zyrtec.

      These allergic reactions are typically associated with allergic contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis.

      Both contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis will trigger allergic reactions such as inflammation, hives, itching, and swelling.

      Signs of Allergies in Dogs 

      Just like in humans, dogs can also be allergic to nearly anything you can think of. Also similar to humans, certain allergens can have a greater effect on dogs than others.

      What Causes Dog Allergies 

      Common allergies seen in dogs include those triggered by fleas (particularly the saliva from fleas and flea bites), environmental allergens such as weeds, grass, pollen, and dust mites, as well as food allergies (including the food itself, but more specifically, food additives).

      Signs of Allergies in Dogs 

      While we may think of allergies in terms of a runny nose and watery eyes, dogs may also show allergy symptoms in those ways as well as others.

      If your pup is prone to allergies and/or is having an allergic reaction, you'll likely notice the following symptoms:

      • Skin redness
      • Skin irritation
      • Swelling
      • Excessive itching
      • Rubbing of the face and muzzle repeatedly
      • Biting of the paws or legs

        Zyrtec for Dogs

        If dog allergies are left untreated, hair loss and skin infections, including bacterial infections and yeast infections, as well as hot spots may develop.

        Additionally, if your dog has a severe allergic reaction, this can lead to hives and in extreme cases, can cause anaphylactic shock.

        Signs of anaphylactic shock can include excessive drooling, the sudden onset of diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, coma, and even death. If you’re able to check your dog’s gums, they may appear paler than normal, instead of a healthy pink. Instead of the normal warmth in their limbs, their legs and paws may also feel cold. Your vet will also be able to detect any abnormalities in your dog’s heart rate and pulse. If you believe that your dog is showing signs of anaphylactic shock, it is imperative that you seek veterinary intervention straight away, as anaphylactic shock can be life-threatening.

        Zyrtec Dosage for Dogs 

        Generally, a typical dose of Zyrtec for dogs is determined by their size. Your veterinarian will likely prescribe Zyrtec to be given once a day, orally.

        However, this is a general rule of thumb and not an exact science. For this reason, it is vital that you see your vet to determine an accurate dosage for your pet.

        Furthermore, the dosage of Zyrtec will also vary, based on what you are treating. For instance, the dosage to treat itchy skin will be different from the dose to treat an allergic reaction such as a bee sting.

        Zyrtec-D Warnings: What Pet Owners Should Know

        Perhaps the most important thing for pet owners to know if choosing to use Zyrtec is to never, ever use Zyrtec-D.

        Zyrtec-D contains the active ingredient pseudoephedrine, which can be incredibly harmful to dogs and can cause high blood pressure, seizures, and even death.

        Standard Zyrtec and generic Zyrtec contain the active ingredient cetirizine, which veterinarians deem safe when administered appropriately.

        Zyrtec for Dogs

        Zyrtec Side Effects

        Typically, Zyrtec doesn’t present many adverse side effects that are too troublesome for pet owners, especially if you are familiar with the potential side effects of other conventional medications.

        However, there is still some concern associated with the use of Zyrtec in dogs. Research shows that antihistamines only work in approximately 30% of dogs (sometimes less!). The worrisome part is that up to 25% of those dogs may experience adverse reactions.

        Additionally, antihistamines are not a cure, but more like a band-aid’, which only provides relief. While antihistamines will treat the signs, they will not cure the underlying problem, which may be something more severe than a simple seasonal allergy.

        The most common side effect of Zyrtec is sleepiness.

        However, other side effects include:

          Zyrtec for Dogs

          Furthermore, even scarier is the fact that Zyrtec can cause additional issues for dogs with kidney problems and liver problems.

          While your dog may no longer show any signs of allergies, it is entirely possible that Zyrtec may exacerbate other issues that may be much worse than itchy skin.

          Zyrtec Precautions

          As mentioned above, one of the potential side effects of Zyrtec in dogs is urine retention. Urine retention can present serious problems in a dog with kidney problems, as administration of the drug can make the pre-existing conditions much worse.

          The same potential harm exists for dogs with liver issues. Zyrtec can lead to further liver conditions and make the current situation worse than before.

          Furthermore, there haven’t been enough studies to determine whether or not the drug is safe for pregnant dogs. For that reason, we advise pet owners to steer clear from Zyrtec if your dog is pregnant.

          Additionally, nursing dogs should not be given Zyrtec, as the medication can be passed onto puppies through the mother's milk. Nursing puppies are far too young to be given conventional drugs such as Zyrtec.

          Lastly, your vet should always be aware of any other medications being given to your dog. This applies when prescribing a drug like Zyrtec or any other medication.

          It’s important for your veterinarian to be informed of everything that your dog is being given so that they can prescribe a drug that is less likely to have adverse effects when mixed with their current medical treatment.

          Dog Allergy Home Remedies 

          Thankfully, as a pet owner, you have options! There are some extremely effective and safe alternatives to Zyrtec that may support skin health and other ailments.

          In fact, the options we are about to list come with virtually no side effects.

          Take a look!

          Oatmeal Bath

          Interestingly enough, oatmeal can serve as a soothing home remedy for irritated, itchy skin.

          All you need to do is add water to the oatmeal and apply to irritated skin. Or you can fill a tub and pour the oatmeal into the water.

           Allow your pup to soak in the mixture for up to 10 minutes to relieve irritated skin.

          Coconut Oil

          You can give coconut oil to your dog to soothe irritation and even prevent some parasites. Look for coconut oil that is high in lauric acid, which makes it more effective. To use it, apply a small amount directly to your dog’s coat or simply feed it to them.

          If you choose to feed your dog coconut oil, start by feeding a small amount (¼ teaspoon for small dogs and 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon for large dogs) 1 – 2 times per day with meals.

          Because skin irritation is so common in our fur-babies, we created CBD-infused coconut oil for dogs and cats!

          Talk about a double whammy! Our coconut oil is definitely a fan-favorite. Check out what one customer had to say below.

          Colie Andux says...

          "...thanks to HonestPaws CBD-infused coconut oil she is a lot calmer and more at ease with being alone! ... She also suffers from awful skin allergies, she has since she was a little pup, and scratches her ears almost until they bleed. I rub the coconut oil directly on her ears and I can immediately sense it brings her relief. The coconut oil is such a good price and value I don’t think we will ever be without it!"

          CBD Oil

          You can also use pure, full-spectrum CBD oil. Studies suggest that CBD oil supports skin health, particularly in animals with sensitive skin.

          Honest Paws full-spectrum CBD oil is all-natural, soy-free, non-GMO, and lab-tested. We offer three different levels of CBD oil, based on your dog's weight.

          CBD oil can be squirted straight into your pup's mouth, mixed into their food, or - if you're a fan of baking - baked into their favorite homemade treats. 

          Restore CBD Dog Treats

          If you're not a top chef who makes homemade dog treats (no judgment here), we recommend our coconut flavored Restore CBD dog treats. These strain-specific treats include a terpene (a class of organic compounds produced by plants) profile that supports healthy skin and a healthy coat. 

          These melt-in-the-mouth morsels are definitely a fan favorite.Don't Use Zyrtec for Dogs

          Zyrtec for Dogs: The Bottom Line

          At the end of the day, we know you want what’s best for your dog. They are an important, furry member of your family. So when Fido isn’t feeling quite right, it can cause some grief for you, the pet owner.

          Zyrtec may be safe for dogs at the appropriate dose. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry. As a pet owner, you should always consult your vet before giving your dog a new medication. You should also learn all that you can about the medication you’re giving to your dog and its potential side effects.

          At the end of the day, allergies are no fun. However, it’s comforting to know that there are other options available, besides the conventional medications. Be informed, consult your vet, and always choose the best option for your pet.

          We hope your dog feels better soon!




          Petal Smart, DVM

          Petal Smart is a veterinarian who, after a brief stint in clinical practice, has been a medical, veterinary, and science editor for the past four years. She has edited hundreds of research studies that have been published in various academic journals, and more recently, she has been editing blog articles on pet health. She holds a DVM (Hons) from the University of the West Indies - St. Augustine. Her pets in the past have included dogs, fish, birds, and a turtle. At times, she also likes to think of herself as a horse whisperer. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

          *This article has been edited and updated for publication by Petal Smart, DVM.

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