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 five to 10 years.
Gabapentin for dogs can be prescribed to help with seizures, pain, and anxiety in dogs as it 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:
Gabapentin is beneficial for adjunctive therapy for dogs with refractory seizures due to its anticonvulsant properties. It’s also helpful for dogs whose current medication is no longer effective.
Gabapentin is an analgesic. This means it provides pain relief for chronic and neuropathic pain and is commonly used for pain associated with degenerative joint diseases. It also works well when combined with other medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories or opioids, for post-surgery pain.
Gabapentin for dogs is traditionally used for seizures and pain but lately, it has become useful as adjunctive therapy for dogs with anxiety.
A common question frequently asks if we can use gabapentin for dogs and trazodone together. Trazodone is an anti-anxiety medication. It’s not safe to take it with tramadol, however, it is safe to combine with gabapentin. Some pharmacies offer combined solutions for trazodone and gabapentin. This is usually prescribed for dog behavior disorders like anxiety.
Gabapentin for dogs is given through the mouth in the form of a capsule, tablet, or compounded liquid. It can be given with or without food. However, there are cases where a dog vomits after receiving this medicine on an empty stomach. If it does, try giving future doses with food or a treat.
The best time to give this medication is right before feeding and it’s important to carefully measure liquid formations of this medication. The effect of this medicine will set in about 1 to 2 hours and improvement should follow.
Do not give the oral liquid form made for humans to your dog. The one for humans contains xylitol, a substance that is toxic 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, especially for animals who have liver or kidney disease, as this medicine will take longer to metabolize.
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.
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 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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
The medical, nutritional, or behavioral advice we provide is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Our editorial content is not a substitute for formal or personalized medical advice from a veterinary professional. Only board-certified veterinary specialists who have examined your pet should diagnose medical conditions, provide personalized treatment, or prescribe appropriate medication. For questions regarding your pet’s health, or if your pet is exhibiting signs of illness, injury, or distress, contact your veterinarian immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site.