Gabapentin and dogs: Uses, Dosage, Side Effects, Warnings

Written by Austin S.
Published: May 26, 2022
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Veterinarians prescribe Gabapentin a lot for dogs, sometimes with other medications. Gabapentin is used for pain management in dogs. Humans understand all too well how uncomfortable the sensation of pain is, and the same can be said for dogs as well. 

Pain can do a lot of damage to dogs if it isn’t well managed and controlled. Like how pain affects humans physically, emotionally, and psychologically, dogs and other animals experience these when they go through pain, and it becomes worse when it isn’t handled well. 

Traumatic behaviors and aggression begin to set in with time due to prolonged unbearable pain. Therefore, Gabapentin is a direct effort of veterinarians to provide a solution to pain in animals like dogs, cats, etc.

In this post, you will be walked through the main things you need to know about Gabapentin use, dosage, side effects, and warnings in dogs. 

What is Gabapentin? 

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant or an anti-seizure medication, usually prescribed by veterinarians in combination with other medications to treat neuropathic pains and for seizure management in dogs and other pets. It is usually used with medications like opioids, and Gabapentin also manages epilepsy and pain after primary operations. 

Seizures are a result of abnormal electrical activity in the brain, and Gabapentin usually helps to control this abnormal electrical activity through its neurotransmitter that works to calm the activities of the brain. 

Uses of Gabapentin in Dogs 

Gabapentin is rarely prescribed alone when used to manage neuropathic and chronic pain in dogs. In the real sense, most veterinarians usually prescribe Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) first for pain management. 

But when it is noticed that the NSAIDs aren’t managing the pain optimally, Gabapentin is then brought into the picture. Gabapentin is very safe for dogs, and it is used in conjunction with any pain management drug (not only NSAIDs). 

Recent studies show that Gabapentin works better when used in synergy with another drug. The overall effect of both drugs is improved. When Gabapentin is administered to a dog, the changes you will see in the dog might come in stages. Hence, you have to be patient to see the results.

Below are some of the popular uses of Gabapentin. 

Post-Operative Pain Management

Pains stemming from neuropathic origins are usually treated with Gabapentin. When dogs undergo operations, just like humans, pain management measures must be put in place for the post-operative pain that will come up. It is also used in treating nerve injuries and joint pains. Gabapentin is also helpful in treating arthritis in older and aging pets. So if you have an aging dog, it will likely experience arthritis. 

Epilepsy and Seizure Control 

Gabapentin is an effective anticonvulsant and is usually used for controlling epilepsy and seizures. Seizures occur in dogs from about six months old. Some dog breeds experience more seizures than other breeds. Breeds like the Beagles, German shepherds, etc., fall into this category. Hence, veterinarians usually recommend Gabapentin because it has been proven to control seizures effectively.

A long-haired German Shepherd at the vet's office

German shepherds are a breed that is prone to seizures.

©Andrey_Kuzmin/Shutterstock.com

Useful for Relief of Anxiety

Dogs also get exposed to certain factors that bring about anxiety, just like humans. These factors include environmental changes, noise, or underlying ailments. So when you notice that your dog is being unnecessarily restless, this could be due to anxiety. Some dogs even express anxiety by being destructive. The demand for Gabapentin has increased over the years due to how common anxiety is in dogs. Gabapentin has ways of calming the nerves of dogs, making them behave rightly. 

Side Effects of Gabapentin in Dogs

Gabapentin isn’t licensed for use in the veterinary world, so it can’t be concluded that it is 100% safe. However, Gabapentin has provided excellent results, so veterinarians keep using and recommending it. But then, some drugs usually come with some temporary adverse reactions, which usually settle after some time. The most common side effects of Gabapentin include: 

  • Sedation or Sleepiness: your dog might experience sedation if it’s the first time you are administering Gabapentin to it. Your dog might require a little more time to adjust to the medication. If this sedation persists, an excellent way to manage it is by administering the drug when your dog wants to go to bed.
  • Loss of coordination (Ataxia): your dog might experience dizziness and loss of coordination after taking the first doses of Gabapentin. Over time, this effect stops. 
  • Stomach Upset: your dog might experience stomach upset and diarrhea when first exposed to Gabapentin. So it is usually advised to start with a small dose before getting to the desired dosage amount. 
Pug sleeping on its side with its tongue hanging out

Sedation is one potential Gabapentin side effect.

©fongleon356/Shutterstock.com

Factors That Could Trigger Side Effects 

The Nature of the Drug

Before administering any drug to your dog, you should seek instructions from a veterinarian to ensure you are doing the right thing and not putting your dog at risk. Gabapentin is best administered to dogs in the form of tablets and capsules. Giving your dog the syrup form of Gabapentin must be avoided because it contains xylitol which is dangerous to dogs. 

Wrong Dosage 

Gabapentin is also helpful for humans. However, it will be wrong for you to administer the same dosage amount for humans to dogs. You should consult a veterinarian for advice on the correct dosage amount. 

Certain things must be considered before administering Gabapentin to a dog. The nature of the ailment and size of the dog must be considered. Smaller dog breeds might require a lesser amount than larger ones. An overdose might be hazardous for your dog. 

Special Conditions

Certain conditions must be checked to ensure that your dog is fit to take Gabapentin. If your dog already has some underlying ailments, it might be dangerous to administer Gabapentin to it, especially for ailments connected to the liver and kidney. 

If your dog is allergic to chemicals, it must be considered before administering Gabapentin. You will need the assistance of a veterinarian to know if you should go ahead. Gabapentin shouldn’t be used if your dog is pregnant, as it might cause harm to the puppies. 

Gabapentin Dosage For Dogs

The dosage of Gabapentin administered to dogs isn’t fixed, so you must contact a veterinarian before giving it to your dog. The dosage will depend on the ailment being treated and the underlying ailments your dog might have. 

Gabapentin is usually available in tablets and capsules of 100mg, 200mg, and even 300mg. In the treatment of seizures, the recommended dosage of Gabapentin is usually around 4.5mg to 13.5mg per lb of body weight. It is to be administered twice daily or every 10-12 hours. 

In the treatment of nerve pains, the dosage of Gabapentin to be administered is usually around 11mg to 22mg per lb of body weight. It is also to be administered twice daily. However, the vet doctor might recommend a lower dosage if your dog is suffering from a kidney or liver disease because it will take a longer time to metabolize. 

Warnings About Gabapentin Use in Dogs

The liquid version of Gabapentin contains xylitol and is specifically made for humans and not dogs. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is extremely dangerous and toxic for dogs. There are many dental benefits in humans which is why it is usually found in chewing gum and candies. 

It is safe for you but can cause over secretion of insulin in your dog’s pancreas. And this can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and even death in severe cases if left untreated. The dog then begins to experience diarrhea and seizures, and in the long run, the liver could be damaged. 

Any Gabapentin containing Xylitol should be kept far away from your dog. Try to contact a veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice that your dog has consumed Xylitol. 

Also, when using Gabapentin to treat seizures in your dog, make sure you don’t stop the medication suddenly. A sudden stop might cause increased seizures. Therefore, if you must stop the medication, make sure it’s based on a veterinarian’s advice. 

Concluding Thoughts

Gabapentin has been proven to work well in managing anxiety, seizures, and pain in dogs, but don’t just use it without consulting a trusted veterinarian for guidelines. They know how to examine your dog and know if Gabapentin is fit for it and the correct dosage amount to be administered. 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Donna Ellen Coleman/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Growing up in rural New England on a small scale farm gave me a lifelong passion for animals. I love learning about new wild animal species, habitats, animal evolutions, dogs, cats, and more. I've always been surrounded by pets and believe the best dog and best cat products are important to keeping our animals happy and healthy. It's my mission to help you learn more about wild animals, and how to care for your pets better with carefully reviewed products.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Can my Dog Overdose on Gabapentin?

Yes, your dog can take an excess dose of Gabapentin. You need the urgent attention of a veterinarian if you observe that your dog has ingested a large quantity of Gabapentin. Some of the signs include dizziness, vomiting, etc., as earlier mentioned.

 

How much Gabapentin should I give my Dog for Seizures?

It is often advised that the quantity or amount of Gabapentin you should administer to your dog should be based on a veterinarian’s prescription. But usually, the dosage for treating seizures is around 4.5 mg to 13.5 mg per lb of body weight.

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