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PICO question

In dogs with osteoarthritis how effective is treatment with tramadol in reducing the severity of the clinical signs associated with pain when compared to no treatment?


Clinical bottom line

Category of research question


The number and type of study designs reviewed

Two papers were critically reviewed. There was one randomised crossover controlled trial and one non-randomised controlled trial

Strength of evidence


Outcomes reported

Budsberg et al. (2018) found no significant differences in the objective gait analyses (vertical ground reaction forces, and peak vertical force) between baseline and end of treatment, between tramadol and placebo. Similarly, there was no significant difference in the proportion of dogs with positive response based on the subjective Canine Brief Pain Inventory questionnaire (CBPI) between tramadol and placebo. The positive control of carprofen yielded significant differences to both placebo and tramadol in all outcomes measured.

Malek et al. (2012) found no significant differences in the objective outcomes measured (gait analyses, and total daily activity) between tramadol and placebo. There were significant improvements in the subjective CBPI (total score, pain severity and pain interference score) between the baseline and end of treatment, within the tramadol group. However, there was no significant difference in the percentage change of the total score, pain severity or pain interference score between all treatment groups including tramadol and placebo


In dogs with osteoarthritis, the use of tramadol alone did not demonstrate any significant analgesic effects


How to apply this evidence in practice

The application of evidence into practice should take into account multiple factors, not limited to: individual clinical expertise, patient’s circumstances and owners’ values, country, location or clinic where you work, the individual case in front of you, the availability of therapies and resources.

Knowledge Summaries are a resource to help reinforce or inform decision making. They do not override the responsibility or judgement of the practitioner to do what is best for the animal in their care.


Open Access Peer Reviewed