Gabapentin for Dogs - Dosage, Uses and Side Effects

Laura García Ortiz
By Laura García Ortiz, Veterinarian specialized in feline medicine. September 26, 2022
Gabapentin for Dogs - Dosage, Uses and Side Effects

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Gabapentin, sold under the brand name Neurontin® and others, is an anticonvulsant used primarily to treat partial seizures and neuropathic pain. It is usually used as an antiepileptic in dogs when conventional treatment does not produce the expected results, as well as to improve the treatment of cancer, neuropathic or postoperative pain, sometimes associated with other medications.

In the following article, AnimalWised explains what gabapentin is for dogs, how it works, what it is used for, and its side effects and contraindications.

  1. What is gabapentin for dogs?
  2. Uses of gabapentin in dogs
  3. How is gabapentin administered to dogs?
  4. Side effects of gabapentin for dogs
  5. Contraindications to gabapentin in dogs

What is gabapentin for dogs?

Gabapentin belongs to a class of drugs called anticonvulsants. A drug class is a group of drugs that act similarly, and such drugs are often used to treat similar conditions. Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant and analgesic medication that is frequently prescribed by veterinarians to treat seizures, pain, and anxiety in dogs.

It is a human drug and is used off-label in veterinary medicine, meaning it is not FDA approved for pets.

Gabapentin's mode of action is not fully understood. However, it is thought to inhibit the release of excitatory neurotransmitters. In dogs suffering from epilepsy, gabapentin is thought to stop seizures by reducing abnormal electrical activity in the brain. In nerve pain, it is said to block pain by affecting pain messages traveling through the brain and spine.

It is a drug with a good bioavailability of about 80% when taken orally and is excreted mainly through the urine.

Continue reading this other article if you want to learn more about seizures in dogs, the causes, and treatment.

Uses of gabapentin in dogs

As mentioned earlier, gabapentin is a drug prescribed for the treatment of partial, generalized, and refractory seizures in dogs, as well as for the treatment of chronic pain and even anxiety.

For seizures, it is a drug that is usually prescribed when other first-line agents such as phenobarbital do not have the expected effect.

Gabapentin is also an analgesic, meaning it provides pain relief for chronic pain and neuropathic pain. It is most commonly used for chronic pain associated with degenerative joint disease and cancer. Therefore, gabapentin is also commonly used in dogs with osteoarthritis and even herniated disks.

It is also commonly prescribed to relieve post-surgical pain in dogs. It has also been shown to be beneficial when used in combination with other pain medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or opioids.

Gabapentin, while traditionally used to treat seizures and pain, is increasingly being used as an adjunct therapy for anxiety in dogs.

Continue reading this other article if you want to learn more about anxiety in dogs, how it works, what causes it, and what you can do to relieve its symptoms.

How is gabapentin administered to dogs?

The dosage range for gabapentin varies widely depending on what it is being used to treat, the severity of the problem, and the individual characteristics of the dog. However, veterinarians usually recommend between 5 and 30 mg per kilogram of body weight, every 8 or 12 hours.

You should never administer gabapentin to your dog without first consulting your veterinarian, as only he or she can tell you the best dose to treat the issue in question after a thorough examination of the case. Giving gabapentin to your dog for anxiety or to treat an illness may make the illness worse and cause other serious health problems.

Gabapentin is available in various human dosage forms, usually as capsules and tablets of 100, 300, and 400 mg.

There is also an oral solution in a dosage of 250 mg/5 ml. However, this solution is sometimes formulated with xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Sometimes a dog is too small to use the human formulations. Normally, if a veterinarian desires a specific form and dosage, a compounding pharmacy can prepare it.

In dogs, gabapentin can be given with or without food. However, if your pet vomits after receiving this medication on an empty stomach, try giving future doses with food or a treat. The best time to administer this medication is right before feeding.

Gabapentin acts quickly, in about 1 to 2 hours, and improvement in clinical signs should follow.

If you miss a dose, give the next dose to your dog as soon as you remember. When the time for the next dose approaches, skip the missed dose and give it at the next scheduled time and return to the regular dosing schedule. Never give your pet two doses at once or an extra dose.

Side effects of gabapentin for dogs

Gabapentin, like any other drug, may cause some side effects. In the case of gabapentin, the most common side effects are sedation (drowsiness) and incoordination. However, in some cases it may also cause ataxia, vomiting, diarrhea, and mild digestive problems, which are usually more pronounced at the beginning of treatment.

To reduce possible side effects, you can start treatment with the lowest dose and gradually increase it. The drug should not be stopped abruptly, as this may lead to further seizures and worsen the condition being treated.

Serious side effects include cases of systemic hypersensitivity such as skin rashes, fever, swelling of the lymph nodes, mouth, tongue, and throat, and hypotension.

The effects of this short-acting drug should stop within 24 hours, although they may last longer in pets with liver or kidney disease.

Contraindications to gabapentin in dogs

Gabapentin is a contraindicated drug for dogs with hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug or any of its excipients.

It should also be used with caution in dogs with liver or kidney failure or disease.

Like all agents, gabapentin can interact with other medications. The following medications should be used with caution when taking gabapentin: Antacids, hydrocodone, or morphine.

Also, do not use gabapentin if your dog is being treated with tramadol or cannabidiol for pain and inflammation. These medications may increase the risk of sedation and altered states of consciousness.

It is also not a good idea to take it with antacids until at least two hours have passed, as they can reduce bioavailability by up to 20%.

Be sure to inform your veterinarian of any medications (including vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) your pet is taking.

If you suspect that your dog has ingested a higher dose of this or any other medication, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible and, if possible, note the symptoms you observe. Also, do not miss this other article on poisoning in dogs to learn how to handle such situations.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Gabapentin for Dogs - Dosage, Uses and Side Effects, we recommend you visit our Medicine category.

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Gabapentin for Dogs - Dosage, Uses and Side Effects