Gabapentin is a drug that can be used as a treatment for seizures or chronic pain in dogs. Some know this medication by the brand name Neurontin.
It’s not FDA-approved for canine use; however veterinarians commonly prescribe it and find it safe for dogs, so long as dog owners obtain veterinary approval and follow instructions.
Always take your dog to the vet and discuss treatment for any medical conditions they may have before you give your pet any medication, including gabapentin. Here’s what you should know about the uses, proper dosage, and the side effects of gabapentin for dogs.
Uses Of Gabapentin For Dogs
Gabapentin is often used as a treatment for chronic pain in dogs, though it’s usually not used by itself. Vets typically combine it with other medications such as opioids or NSAIDs. It amplifies the effects of these drugs.
Though we don’t fully understand the mechanisms, vets think gabapentin inhibits the neurotransmitter glutamate by affecting calcium channels in the nervous system. In doing so, it reduces a dog’s ability to perceive pain.
Some painful conditions that vets might treat with gabapentin include chronic arthritis, pain associated with cancer, hyperalagesia, which is a heightened sensitivity to pain, or allodynia, which is a sensation of pain to normally non-painful stimuli.
Vets can also use gabapentin to treat seizures, anxiety, and idiopathic epilepsy in dogs. Because it affects the nervous system, it can prove particularly useful for pain associated with neuropathic disorders.
Some vets may prescribe it to calm anxious behavior before a vet visit.
In the case of seizures, the medication mimics the neurotransmitter GABA, which helps calm excessive electrical activity in the nerves of the brain.
Dosage Of Gabapentin For Dogs
Dosage of gabapentin for dogs depends on whether the drug is being prescribed to treat chronic pain or a condition such as seizures.
Always ask your vet before giving your dog any medication, and follow their instructions closely. You can seriously harm your dog if you attempt treatment without professional advice.
For chronic pain, the typical dosage is 1.4 to 5 mg of medication per pound of weight. Your vet may adjust the dosage based on its effectiveness in your dog, as well as your dog’s reaction to the medication.
Over longer periods of time, a dog may build a tolerance to the medication, and dosage may be increased. Vets usually recommend owners give this dose once every 24 hours to treat pain.
As a treatment for seizures in dogs, the dosage of gabapentin is typically higher. This usually ranges from 4.5 to 13.6 mg per pound of weight, and vets recommend administering it every eight to twelve hours.
The medication is available in 100 mg and 300 mg capsules, so measure carefully and follow your veterinarian’s guidelines strictly.
Side Effects And Risks Of Gabapentin In Dogs
You must read the label for any liquid version of gabapentin for your dog because it often contains xylitol, which is toxic for dogs. Always stick to your vet’s advice for choosing the correct form of the drug.
Owners of dogs with liver or kidney disease, dogs who are pregnant or nursing, and dogs who are on other medications including antacids, morphine, and hydrocodone should notify and consult their vet before exposing their dogs to gabapentin.
Gabapentin can also cause deficiencies in calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B1, and folate, some of which are integral in nerve repair. This can slow down recovery time, and your vet may recommend supplements to make up for these deficiencies.
Gabapentin is generally safe for dogs as long as dog owners follow guidelines and veterinary instructions.
Typical side effects include the following:
- Lethargy or sedation
Less common, serious side effects may occur. You should contact your vet if you notice the following symptoms:
- Bulging eyes
- Loss of coordination
Typically overdose is not life-threatening, though it may cause these symptoms to appear more frequently and severely.
You should not discontinue use of gabapentin abruptly, as this can cause your dog to experience seizures and other withdrawal symptoms. Instead, your vet should wean your dog off the drug gradually.
Has your vet ever prescribed gabapentin for your dog? Did you see results? Let us know in the comments below!