When it comes to seizures and pain management in dogs, vets often prescribe a medicine called “gabapentin.”
While this medication was originally developed for humans, it is now mostly used by vets. It is an anti-seizure medicine approved by the FDA for humans.
Vets use it to manage seizures and chronic pain in dogs as it is highly effective. Even pet insurance plans cover the cost of this medicine.
However, before giving this medicine to your dog, it is important to learn the basic information about it.
Table of Contents
- What is Gabapentin?
- Uses of Gabapentin for Dogs
- When to Give Gabapentin to Dogs?
- How Long Does It Take for Gabapentin for a Dog to Start Working?
- Is Gabapentin Safe for Dogs?
- Gabapentin Side Effects
- Factors that Can Trigger Gabapentin Side Effects in the Dogs
- Gabapentin for Dogs Dosage
- Things to Know Before Giving Gabapentin to Dogs
- Alternatives of Gabapentin for Dogs
In this article, we are going to discuss gabapentin for dogs, its uses, dosage and side effects.
What is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant & analgesic drug that vets prescribe for pain and anxiety management in dogs.
This medicine is sold under the brand name “Neurontin” and is developed to treat neuropathic pain and partial seizures in humans.
It is only approved by the FDA for human use and not for dogs. However, many vets use it as an off-label veterinary medicine for the treatment of seizures, neurological pain and anxiety.
Gabapentin works by mimicking GABA neurotransmitters and changes the way our body senses pain. It calms the nerve activity, thereby helping with pain and seizures.
Gabapentin is available under the following brand names:
Uses of Gabapentin for Dogs
The primary use of the drug is for pain relief for dogs. It blocks the calcium channel, which will then block the neurons stimulated by the pain. It is really a very useful medicine for chronic joint pain and other persistent pain types.
The most common use of gabapentin is for relieving pain but is also widely used for anxiety management in dogs. A lot of vets advise taking gabapentin to reduce anxiety in dogs. Gabapentin slows down the anxiety-related neurotransmitters.
As we said, gabapentin belongs to the group of medicines called anticonvulsants. They are useful for preventing seizures.
When to Give Gabapentin to Dogs?
As gabapentin is not approved for dogs, you should never give it to your furry friend without consulting a vet. Before you use this medicine, it is best to visit your vet and discuss whether it is suitable for your dog.
As discussed above, you can give this medicine to dogs for pain management, to relieve anxiety and to manage the episodes of seizures. You can use it for joint pain or any other type of chronic pain.
Gabapentin may sometimes cause side effects and may not be suitable for your dog. In this case, the vet will recommend an alternate drug.
Here’s when you should not give gabapentin to dogs:
- If your dog is pregnant or lactating.
- If your dog is allergic to the drug.
- If your dog is on any other medicine that may interact with gabapentin.
- If your dog is suffering from liver or kidney disease.
- Liquid gabapentin medicine for humans contains xylitol, which is toxic to dogs, so avoid giving it to your dog.
How Long Does It Take for Gabapentin for a Dog to Start Working?
Unlike other canine medicine, gabapentin is a fast-acting drug and works very quickly. The medicine will be in full effect after 1 to 2 hours of administration. Your dog might start feeling better just after 60 to 90 minutes of taking this drug.
However, it is a short-acting drug, and the effects won’t last long. It will leave your dog’s system in just 24 hours. But if your dog has a liver or renal impairment, it may last longer in their body.
Is Gabapentin Safe for Dogs?
Gabapentin is safe for dogs when you use it as directed by the vet. It is generally safe for treating specific health conditions when used in proper dosage.
While there are few common side effects, they are not life-threatening. However, it is advisable to follow caution and only give it to your dog in the right dosage and at the right time.
Gabapentin Side Effects
Gabapentin is a well-tolerated medicine, but it has some side effects. However, these side effects can be solved by discontinuing the medicine.
It can also make your dog quite sleepy and uncoordinated. Gabapentin dogs can’t walk is often the most common problem reported by pet owners. This happens because of the sedative effect, which makes their leg wobbly.
Dogs can also get addicted to the effects of the drug, so it should only be used for a short time. If your dog becomes addicted to this medicine, complete elimination may require slowly tapering the use over a period of time or else there will be withdrawal symptoms.
Here are some common side effects of gabapentin for dogs:
- Lethargy & Weakness
- Increase in appetite
- Loss of coordination
- Increase in sleep
- Lightheadedness and shaking
It is better to talk to a vet before you start the gabapentin medicine for your dog. There are also chances of your dog catching an allergy because of the gabapentin.
Factors that Can Trigger Gabapentin Side Effects in the Dogs
Here are some of the factors that can trigger the side effects of gabapentin in dogs:
Nature of the Drug
Before you give drugs to your dogs, you should consult a good vet to ensure you are doing the right job and not your dog is not at risk. Gabapentin is given in the form of tablets and capsules. You should avoid giving the drug in syrup form as it contains xylitol, which may harm the dogs.
This drug is useful for humans as well as dogs. However, giving the same dosage to dogs as humans will be completely wrong. It becomes very important to consult a vet to know the correct dosage for the dogs.
You must consider some things before giving the gabapentin to the dogs. It is important to consider the ailment’s nature and the dog’s size. The smaller dogs will need less dose amount compared to the larger ones.
Some conditions must be checked to ensure your dog can take gabapentin. If your dog is facing some underlying health conditions, it might not be safe to give gabapentin to your dog. More care should be taken if the dog is facing liver & kidney-related diseases.
Gabapentin for Dogs Dosage
The dosage of gabapentin depends on various factors, like the weight and age of your dog and why the medicine is used.
Here’s gabapentin for dogs dosage by weight:
- 5 mg/ kg or 2 mg/ lb (every 12 hours)
However, in some cases, the gabapentin dose for dogs can also go up to 30 to 60 mg/ kg (twice a day).
The vet may prescribe the following gabapentin dosage for dogs:
- 100 mg (capsules & tablets)
- 300 mg (capsules & tablets)
- 400 mg (capsules & tablets)
- 800 mg (capsules & tablets)
The vet may prescribe gabapentin for dogs once in 8 hours by mouth. You can give it with or without the food. Do make sure to follow the instructions provided by the vet while giving the gabapentin medication.
Things to Know Before Giving Gabapentin to Dogs
Here are certain things that one must be considerate of before giving gabapentin to dogs:
- In case you miss the dose of gabapentin to the dogs, administer the next dose as soon as you remember, and don’t wait for any particular time. However, do not give them the double dose.
- You can administer the empty stomach as well as with food.
- Gabapentin may not be right for all dogs, especially the ones with kidney or liver disease.
- Do not just abruptly discontinue gabapentin. Let the vet will decide the dosage of the gabapentin.
- Do remember that gabapentin may show false positive readings on urinary protein tests.
Alternatives of Gabapentin for Dogs
While gabapentin is generally safe for dogs, it is not suitable for all canines, especially dogs with underlying liver or kidney problems. If this is the case with your dog, the vet will prescribe alternative medicines. Here are some common alternatives of gabapentin for dogs:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Yes, gabapentin is a strong painkiller for dogs and is often prescribed by vets to manage chronic pain.
Vets prescribe gabapentin for the treatment and management of pain, anxiety and seizures.
Yes, this medication works as a pain killer and can make your dog sleepy.
The main gabapentin side effects for dogs include unsteadiness, dizziness and sleepiness.
Turmeric or CBD oil is considered a good natural alternative to gabapentin for dogs.
Gabapentin for dogs is a safe, useful and effective medicine for treating chronic pain, anxiety symptoms and seizures. The majority of vets use this medicine as an off-label drug to treat common conditions in dogs. In this guide, we have discussed the uses, side effects as well and the right dosage of gabapentin for dogs. If you are using this medicine, make sure you follow proper instructions to avoid any side effects. It is best to consult a vet before you start giving gabapentin for dogs.