Can Dogs Take Cyclobenzaprine? Yes but with Caution

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Wondering if it’s safe for your dog to take Flexeril or cyclobenzaprine? The short answer is yes, read on to find out why and other alternatives. 

three bottles of pills one that has been spilled

It is true that veterinarians often prescribed dogs muscle relaxers for various health reasons. But as a dog owner, you shouldn’t do this alone. Some people may have extras laying around the house, while others think it may be a cheaper prescription than one from the actual vet.

But it’s important to note that Flexeril (aka cyclobenzaprine) is not FDA approved for animals, which is another reason to be really cautious.

If your vet does decide to prescribe this medication for your pup, be sure to follow the protocol they suggest. Same goes for when they are feeling under the weather and you want to give them other meds such as Mucinex.

Let’s dive deeper into how the drug works, the side effects for dogs, what happens if they overdose or take it by accident, and natural ways you can help manage muscle spasms.

What is Cyclobenzaprine?

Cyclobenzaprine is a medication given to manage acute muscle spasms in humans and dogs. It’s offered through the prescription model only, and it usually goes alongside other types of treatment such as physical therapy or provision for adequate rest–which means this drug isn’t meant to be used long-term.

Is Flexeril and Cyclobenzaprine the Same Medicine? 

Yes. Flexeril is a brand name and cyclobenzaprine is the generic version that is distributed by many different companies and is usually cheaper.

How Does Flexeril Work?

When a dog has a muscle spasm, sensations (pain) or nerve impulses send signals to the brain. This is when your pup starts to react, just as a human would. Muscle relaxers like Flexeril block those signals, resulting in temporary relief. There are usually underlying medical issues that are the root of the cause.

How Long Does It Take For A Muscle Relaxer To Work On A Dog?

Most muscle relaxers will usually start to work after 1 hour of consumption. Cyclobenzaprine peaks at 3-8 hours. You may notice that the dog doesn’t seem as alert, may have trouble walking, or seems a little under the weather.

Side Effects of Flexeril in Dogs 

Canines are most affected by two major side effects that include depression and ataxia. Muscle relaxers are meant to suppress the central nervous system, which is an obvious reason depression occurs. 

Ataxia is an umbrella term related to being uncoordinated which can refer to the gait, motor skills, and body language.

The good news is normally these side effects go away as the drug begins to wear off

Other possible side effects that may be seen are upset stomach, drowsiness, irregular heartbeat and seizures.

sick dog laying under a gray and white blanket

Dog Overdose Symptoms 

According to Merck, “The most common signs of toxicosis are vocalization, salivation, vomiting, ataxia, weakness, tremors, shaking, coma, seizures, bradycardia, hypothermia, and blood pressure abnormalities.” 

If you suspect that your dog has overdosed on cyclobenzaprine, consult your veterinarian immediately or call the animal poison helpline in your state. Most of the time, they suggest inducing vomiting. 

Overdoses are also more likely in small dogs and puppies, versus larger dogs. However, it doesn’t mean that it can’t happen. Especially when you are unsure of the dosage the dog ingested. 

Natural Alternatives to Cyclobenzaprine

There are several natural and perfectly safe ways you can help your dog calm down (or help with pain management) without the use of medication

Herbs and essential oils

Herbs like Chamomile have a cooling and calming effect on your dog’s nervous system and body. Before you give your dog any sort of herb or oil, inquire from your vet about the possible side effects, especially if they have other health conditions or take other medications.


Yes, acupuncture therapy can also be done on dogs! It helps them relax their muscles and if done right, it can offer a more permanent solution to this problem than medication would. Discuss this option with your vet so they can make local recommendations.

Light Therapy

Light therapy or laser treatments would also be a great alternative to using muscle relaxing medication. They are safe and can work great to stimulate even the deep tissues. This technology is relatively new, but has success with helping dogs with multiple conditions.

Is Flexeril Safe for Dogs: The Short Version 

Yes as long as the dosage comes from your veterinarian.

Certified veterinarians may prescribe cyclobenzaprine for dogs in pain or muscle spasms. Dog owners should never administer this drug to their dog without being advised by their vet. Overdose is possible, especially when there are other medications and medical conditions present. Even though Flexeril isn’t FDA-approved for pets, there are other muscle relaxers that are and could be substituted. 

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