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December 10, 2020

Gabapentin for Dogs: Dosage, Side Effects & Warnings

Gabapentin for Dogs: Dosage, Side Effects, & Warnings

Key Points

  • Gabapentin is an anti-seizure and pain medication commonly prescribed to dogs by veterinarians.
  • Gabapentin for dogs may be helpful for treating chronic pain especially nerve pain that is secondary to neurological diseases such as slipped discs.
  • The most common side effects of gabapentin in dogs include sedation and dizziness.
  • Gabapentin should only be administered in the pill or tablet form as the human liquid version of gabapentin contains xylitol which can be deadly for dogs.

Gabapentin for Dogs

Gabapentin, also known as Neurontin, is a pain medication and anti-seizure medication commonly prescribed to dogs. Gabapentin belongs to the drug class of anticonvulsants and GABA analogues. It has been shown to help treat nerve pain and chronic pain. Gabapentin is most commonly used by veterinarians to treat pain associated with neurological diseases such as intervertebral disc disease which is a dangerous condition that causes back pain in dogs. This medication can also be used along with other seizure medications to help decrease seizure frequency. As this medication seems to be fairly effective at controlling pain, it has become more popular in use for dogs over the past 5 to 10 years.

What does gabapentin do for dogs?

Gabapentin for dogs may help treat chronic pain and neuropathic pain. According to Dr. Tamara Grubb, a board-certified veterinary anesthesiologist, gabapentin decreases the release of excitatory neurotransmitters which serves to decrease pain and seizures. It may be especially helpful when combined with other dog pain medications.


Here are the medical conditions that gabapentin might be useful for:

  • Chronic pain
  • Nerve pain
  • Chronic arthritis pain
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Acute pain especially secondary to neurological conditions
  • Seizures
  • Anxiety

Gabapentin Dosage for Dogs

The gabapentin for dogs dosage is variable depending on the condition that your veterinarian is treating. Before administering any medication to your pet, you should first consult with a veterinarian to ensure that the medication is safe to give. 

 

Veterinarians usually prescribe a gabapentin dosage for dogs of 2 to 5mg per pound by mouth every 12 hours. Your veterinarian will prescribe a lower dose if your pet has liver or kidney disease. Gabapentin should only be given in the tablet or capsule form because the human liquid version of gabapentin contains xylitol which is highly toxic to dogs and can cause liver toxicity and death! 

 

Before giving your dog gabapentin, you should mention to your veterinarian any other medications that your dog is currently taking. Some medications may harmfully interact with gabapentin. When discussing medications with your veterinarian, be sure to discuss if any natural supplements could benefit your dog. Joint supplements and fatty acids may be helpful in the treatment of pain caused by arthritis, so consider checking out Alpha Paw’s Omega Chews and Alpha Paw’s Hip & Joint Chews which both contain ingredients that may improve pain caused by arthritis.

How long does it take for gabapentin to work in dogs?

Gabapentin works fast. The highest levels of the drug occur approximately 2 hours post-administration so gabapentin usually works fairly quickly to relieve pain in dogs. Your dog should see some pain relief within a few hours after administering this medication.

Gabapentin Side Effects and Warnings

Gabapentin can cause side effects in dogs including lethargy and dizziness. In addition, there are some warnings that you should be aware of when using this medication.

What are the side effects of gabapentin in dogs?

Anytime you notice side effects from a medication, you should consult with your veterinarian. The most common side effects of gabapentin for dogs are dizziness and sleepiness. These symptoms are usually worse at higher doses. If these side effects are mild, often your veterinarian will recommend continuing the medication especially if it seems to be benefiting your dog.

 

If your dog has liver or kidney disease, this may make the medication difficult for the body to process so side effects may be worse. Veterinarians usually recommend much lower doses of gabapentin in dogs that have liver or kidney disease.

Warning!

Do not use the human liquid version of gabapentin! The human liquid version of gabapentin contains xylitol. Xylitol is extremely toxic for dogs and can cause liver toxicity and even death if left untreated. If your pet has ingested any of the human liquid version of gabapentin, you should visit a veterinarian immediately.

 

If using gabapentin for seizures, you should not discontinue it abruptly. Doing so may cause a rebound in seizure activity. Anytime you make changes to your dog’s medications, you should first consult with your veterinarian.

 

This medication should also be used with caution in pets that are pregnant or lactating.

 

Also, you should alert your veterinarian if your pet is on any of the following medications as they may interact with gabapentin:

  • Antacids
  • Hydrocodone
  • Morphine
  • Herbal therapies

Can dogs overdose on Gabapentin?

Dogs can overdose on gabapentin. If dogs accidentally ingest large quantities of gabapentin, they can become extremely ill. If your pet has eaten more than the prescribed amount of gabapentin, call Pet Poison Helpline or ASPCA Poison Control and get your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible.


Signs of gabapentin overdose in dogs include:

  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy
  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

 

If you are interested in learning more about common items that can cause toxicity in dogs, check out this article on Common Household Foods That Are Toxic For Your Dog.

Final Recommendations on Gabapentin for Dogs

If you are interested in starting your dog on gabapentin, you should consult with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will be able to determine if your dog will benefit from gabapentin. They will also be able to determine if the benefits of using the medication outweigh the risks and side effects. If your dog has liver disease or kidney disease, standard doses of gabapentin may not be safe, and your veterinarian may need to reduce the dose. If you notice that your dog is having side effects while on this medication, it is important to alert your veterinarian.

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