Written by Vet

Kratom For Dogs: What Is It And Is It Safe?

Margarita Boyd
Written by: Dr. Margarita Boyd, BVSc MRCVS
Kratom is a tropical herb that serves as a medicine drug such as morphine and codeine, which is often used to relieve pain. But can your dog benefit from kratom? Read on and discover how it can help your dog.

Kratom is a tropical tree from South East Asia, and the leaves have been used for hundreds of years in traditional Asian medicine.

Recently it has been gaining popularity in the Western world for use in humans and pets as a natural remedy to treat things such as chronic pain, anxiety and as an energy booster.

One search online and you can find lots of websites discussing the possible benefits of giving it to your dog. However, many doctors and veterinarians warn that Kratom might have some serious side effects and be addictive.

It is normal to wonder if this natural remedy really is safe for your dog?

In this article, we will take a detailed look at Kratom for dogs, including what it is and why owners might use it for their dogs.

We will check the latest research and discuss the possible benefits, as well as any potential side effects and risks in dogs. Therefore, you can make the best decision for the health and wellbeing of your pet.

What Is Kratom?

Kratom(Mitragyna speciosa) is a tropical tree naturally found in Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.

It is an evergreen tree that belongs to the coffee family of plants(1). For hundreds of years, the leaves of the Kratom tree have been used in traditional medicine in Asia.

Now it is being used throughout the world as a natural remedy for people and their pets, for various health conditions. There is some concern that it is now also being used as a recreational drug by some people.

How Is Kratom Traditionally Used?

The leaves are chewed whole or extracts are taken from them to make natural medicines.

Traditionally, Kratom was used as pain relief, energy or appetite stimulant, or to treat coughs, diarrhea or intestinal infections.

The extract has also been reportedly used in Asia to help heal wounds and as a local anesthetic (2).

The leaves have a very bitter taste so it is often combined with a sweetener to improve it’s taste, used in a tea, or made into pills.

How Does Kratom Work?

Kratom contains over 20 different active chemicals, and each one has a different effect on the body. The two most active substances are called mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine(3).

As there haven’t been many studies involving dogs, it is difficult to know for sure how it works in them.

Research studies have shown that Kratom can have both “stimulant” and “sedative” effects, depending on the dose taken.

As there haven’t been many studies involving dogs, it is difficult to know for sure how it works in them.

Research studies have shown that Kratom can have both “stimulant” and “sedative” effects, depending on the dose taken.

  • Some substances in Kratom have strong activity at the same receptors (“mu” receptor) as opioids such as morphine and oxycodone(4). This means Kratom may create a similar effect in the brain, and work in a similar way to these strong opioid drugs, producing effects like pain relief, sedation and pleasure.
  • It can also cause the release of the chemicals dopamine and serotonin to make people feel a sense of wellbeing, which would be expected to be the same in dogs.
  • Various research studies on animals, have shown that Kratom does have potent pain relief and anti-inflammatory activity in rats, mice, and dogs(5)(6)(7).
  • One study in mice, involving a swim test and tail suspension test, showed that Kratom also has anti-depressant activity. Mice that were given kratom also had anti-anxiety like activity, spending more time in an open arm of an elevated maze (8).

Kratom Use In Dogs

There are many positive reports online from dog owners who have used Kratom in the past for their dog following an injury or continue using it regularly for their pets with chronic issues.

Kratom has been used in dogs to help with:

There is limited research into the use of Kratom in dogs, therefore the uses and benefits of this drug for dogs have been collected from a combination of studies, people’s experiences and anecdotal reports.

Are There Any Side Effects For Dogs?

There are a wide range of side effects associated with Kratom use. Most of the reports are from humans, ranging from mild nausea, dry mouth, and constipation to severe issues such as liver damage, seizures or even death (9).

The most common side effects of Kratom include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Itching
  • Muscle tremors
  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Tachycardia (increased heart rate)
  • Seizures
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Death

Usually, the more severe side effects are associated with higher doses of this drug. As not many controlled studies have been carried out in dogs, all the possible side effects are not yet known or understood.

What Dose Of Kratom Is Used For Dogs?

There aren’t any official dosing guidelines for dogs. Many websites and sources state different doses.

Therefore, if you want to use Kratom for your dog, you will have to use trial and error, along with caution to figure out what dose is ok for your pet. The dose depends on the size of your dog, with large dogs requiring more than small dogs.

KratomGuides recommends 2 grams of kratom mixed with sugar-free peanut butter for your pooch.

It is a good idea to start with a very low dose, watch for any side effects and slowly increase the dose over a few days if necessary. Giving your dog a high dose of Kratom could increase his risk of suffering from potentially dangerous side effects such as confusion, liver damage, problems breathing or seizures.

The onset of effects of Kratom occurs after 5-10 minutes and last around 2-5 hours(10). Therefore, a dog may need multiple doses throughout the day, depending on the condition he is being treated for.

Is It OK To Give Higher Doses To Your Dog?

All the answers are not yet known about this drug. However, the higher the dose your dog is given the higher his risk of having more side effects.

In humans, a moderate to heavy dose (5–15 g) of Kratom will produce stronger opioid‐like effects (11).

At this dose, the possible side effects are similar to other opioid drugs including nausea, vomiting, constipation, respiratory depression, itching, sweating, dry mouth, increased urination, anorexia, hallucinations and seizures, and agitation(12).

Severe toxicity is thought to be rare and is usually associated with very high doses (more than 15 g) or taking other medications or drugs along with kratom (13).

A study on rats showed that when kratom was given at high doses (1g/kg or 1000mg/kg) it caused mild kidney disease (nephrotoxicity) and severe liver disease (hepatotoxicity) (14).

If you want to give your dog Kratom, it is best to talk to your veterinarian first.

Kratom could interact with other medications your dog is on, or cause more health problems if your dog has any underlying medical issues.

Is Kratom Addictive For Dogs?

Studies have shown that Kratom can be addictive. Therefore, over time your dog could start to show signs of addiction, or withdrawal signs once you stop it. Dependence seems more likely if a dog is given kratom very regularly at a moderate to high dose.

Research on mice showed that after receiving kratom (mitragynine and 7‐α‐hydroxy mitragynine) for 5 days the mice did exhibit withdrawal signs(15).

The signs the mice showed were similar to the signs shown when they had withdrawal from morphine.

In humans withdrawal from kratom has been described as similar to other opioids too, and the symptoms may include: abdominal pain, diarrhea, sweating, and irritability(16).

A study involving mice, showed they do become tolerant to the pain relief effect of kratom over time.

This means that after a while higher doses are needed to keep having the same effects. This isn’t good news if a dog keeps needing higher doses of a drug to keep him comfortable then the risk of side effects also increases!

Is Kratom Legal In The US?

If Kratom is legal or not, depends on where you live. Some cities and states in the US have banned it. At the moment the FDA has not approved kratom for any medical use, and the DEA has listed it as a “drug of concern”.

Both administrations warn there is not enough research on kratom, and that it has is the potential for addiction and dependence.

Kratom can be found online and in some specialty stores. It is not controlled under the Federal Controlled Substances Act and is only regulated as an herbal product.

However, it can’t be legally advertised as a remedy for any medical conditions, in humans or pets, but most companies get around this by describing it as an herbal product for soap making or aromatherapy.

What Do Veterinarians Think About Kratom?

Veterinarians have different opinions on this emerging drug. Most agree that caution needs to be taken when giving this to dogs, as there just isn’t enough research completed to know what dose is safe and effective, and if there are any long term side effects.

Dr. Fox, a well known, holistic vet, states that “a natural herbal product, kratom, is gaining recognition as providing similar benefits for animals, especially those suffering from painful arthritis and spinal conditions, and other debilitating conditions like cancer… Kratom seems to be a safer alternative to conventional analgesics for humans and nonhumans alike”

My opinion? After looking at the animal studies already completed on Kratom, this drug has some possible benefits to relieve pain and anxiety in animals.

The reports are promising, but the results need to be analyzed carefully and with caution. Much more research is needed to know if this drug really is safe for our dogs.

If a dog owner wanted to use this drug on their dog, I would want them to be fully aware of all the possible risks and side effects.

Kratom For Dogs: What Is It And Is It Safe? Conclusion

Kratom is becoming increasingly popular throughout the western world, as people seek an alternative to prescription drugs or a more “natural” remedy to treat various conditions.

There appear to be millions of regular Kratom users, and an increasing amount of pets receiving this drug too. However, the FDA and DEA list it as a “drug of concern”, with no medical use.

Animal studies have shown it does have potent pain relief and anti-anxiety properties. However, much more research needs to be completed in dogs to know for sure if Kratom is safe and effective.

With no official recommended dose for dogs, so many possible side effects, and the potential concern of addiction and withdrawal signs, it is difficult to recommend this natural remedy.

Hopefully, more research will be completed on this promising remedy in the future, so that it can be safely used in dogs without the risk of causing any health problems.

If you want to use this herbal remedy on your dog, you should proceed with caution, seek advice from your vet and start on the lowest dose possible.