Can Wellbutrin kill a dog? (+3 effects)

In this article, we will discuss whether Wellbutrin may kill a dog. Wellbutrin is an atypical antidepressant that is used in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder, adult depression, and smoking cessation.

Can Wellbutrin kill a dog?

Wellbutrin may or may not kill a dog. The minimum toxic dose of Wellbutrin is 10 mg/kg. A small dose of Wellbutrin can cause lethargy and sedation in dogs. Overdose of Wellbutrin will begin to show side effects or adverse effects including death if the dose is above 500 mg/kg. 

If your dog has consumed a toxic amount, drolling, ataxia, agitation, seizures and tremors will occur. If your dog is simply sleepy, you can keep him confined and away from stairs and furniture so he does not fall and injure himself.

Wellbutrin is rapidly absorbed in dogs, reaching peak plasma concentration in 26 to 32 minutes. Wellbutrin’s half-life in dogs is relatively short, at 1.73 hours. Tremors and seizures can appear one to four hours after an overdose.

At what dose Wellbutrin is lethal for a dog?

The LD50 (lethal dose that causes death in 50% of the subjects) for Wellbutrin is substantially above 500 mg/kg. If the dog (60 pounds) has ingested one pill of 150 mg, the pet has been exposed to approximately 5 mg/kg. 

Clinical symptoms could begin to occur at 10 mg/kg. Clinical indication of Wellbutrin overdose can develop as soon as 30 minutes after intake, and if the dog is not treated, death can occur within one or two hours of ingestion.

How to estimate milligrams of Wellbutrin consumed by a dog?

Here, an example is given to estimate how much dose a dog has consumed.

  • 1 kg of weight is equivalent to 2.2 pounds.
  • If the dog weighs 50 pounds, then the weight in kilograms = 50/2.2 = 22.72 kg.
  • If the dog consumed four tablets of Wellbutrin (150 mg each), then the total dose = 150*4 = 600 mg.
  • Now according to the weight, the dog consumed = 600/22.72 = 26.41 mg/kg of Wellbutrin.

Therefore, it means the dog will begin to experience clinical symptoms of Wellbutrin because the consumption is more than 10 mg/kg. In this case, the veterinary doctor should be consulted immediately.

How does Wellbutrin overdose cause death in dogs?

Wellbutrin works by preventing dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake. It also inhibits acetylcholine binding to nicotinic receptors. Wellbutrin penetrates the blood-brain barrier and is metabolized in the liver, creating three primary active metabolites. These metabolites include:

  • hydroxybupropion,
  • erthrohydrobupripoin, and
  • threohydrobupropoin.

These metabolites are present in higher amounts in the plasma as compared to the parent compound. The delayed seizures, coma and death are caused by a high concentration of active metabolites and their tendency to cross the blood-brain barrier (1).

What are the side effects of high-dose Wellbutrin in a dog?

The potential side effects of high-dose Wellbutrin in dogs might include:

  • Tachycardia,
  • vomiting,
  • vasodilation,
  • mydriasis,
  • vocalizing dyspnea,
  • hypotension,
  • cardiac arrhythmias,
  • tremors, seizures, convulsions,
  • coma,
  • low blood pressure,
  • idiosyncratic activity, and
  • death.

What actions to take if a dog ingests Wellbutrin?

In the case of ingestion of Wellbutrin by dogs, the following steps can be taken to lessen the side effects and prevent toxicity:

  • Emesis: induce emesis in dogs if an overdose occurs. Because of the increased risk of aspiration, emesis is not indicated if clinical symptoms are present. 
  • Activated charcoal: because they may disrupt enterohepatic recirculation, repeated doses of activated charcoal with a cathartic are advised.
  • Avoid magnesium salts: because Wellbutrin promotes slower peristalsis, it can result in greater magnesium absorption. Therefore magnesium salts should be avoided cathartics.
  • Administer Sodium bicarbonate: if the dog is acidotic or hypotensive, or if arrhythmias are present, sodium bicarbonate is advised intravenously. Maintaining alkalosis (pH>7.5) in overdosed dogs reduces the chances of death (2).
  • Supportive care: depending on the severity of overdosing, the dog will most likely need to be hospitalized for at least 24 hours for observation. Fluids and other supportive care will be given to the dog as needed to help him recover.

Wellbutrin poisoning: Protect your dog

As a pet owner myself, I always keep medicine and poisonous items out of the reach of my dogs. Even expired Wellbutrin can cause side effects in dogs.

Consuming another antidepressant might have different effects than those associated with Wellbutrin. You should immediately consult a veterinary doctor if you doubt that your dog has overdosed on any of the drugs.

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Golden RN, DeVane CL, Laizure SC, Rudorfer MV, Sherer MA, Potter WZ. Bupropion in depression: II. The role of metabolites in clinical outcome. Archives of general psychiatry. 1988 Feb 1;45(2):145-9.


Wismer TA. Antidepressant drug overdoses in dogs. Veterinary Medicine. 2000 Jul 1;95:520-5.

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