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Gabapentin Dosage for Dogs – A Cheat Sheet For Pet Owners

Gabapentin Dosage for Dogs – A Cheat Sheet For Pet Owners

Updated April 22, 2022

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Approved by Sara Ochoa, DVM

July 2, 2022

Determining the appropriate Gabapentin dosage for dogs isn’t as straightforward as you might think. It’s an art as much as a science.

Gabapentin, originally, was designed for humans. In fact, you might even have some in your medicine cabinet.

The problem with human medicine has to do with the other ingredients that could be included. For example, pills designed for you may have higher doses than is necessary for a dog. The liquid formula for Gabapentin is even worse because it likely contains a sweetener known as xylitol.

Xylitol is very toxic to dogs and can cause a fatal drop in blood sugar.

Gabapentin definitely has a place in veterinary practice, which is why it’s best to refer to a licensed veterinarian for the correct dosage.

This post contains a cheat sheet with dosage guides for dogs based on their weight. This is by no means designed to take the place of a veterinarian’s advice.

In this post, we’re going to give you some tips on what the medication is prescribed for, how it works, how long a dog should be on it, and potential side-effects or drug interactions.

What’s So Special About Gabapentin for Dogs?

Gabapentin is a drug that belongs in the “anticonvulsant” group of medications. It’s a drug originally designed for humans to treat seizures. Veterinary medicine, however, has found the drug to have several uses in dogs and cats.

Gabapentin is Safer for the Liver

Gabapentin is not metabolized by the liver and poses a low risk of elevated enzymes or damage to liver function.

Gabapentin is a structural analog of gamma-aminobutyric acid, an inhibitory neurotransmitter (GABA). The medication’s exact mechanism of action is unknown, despite the fact that it mimics GABA’s effects.

Gabapentin, on the other hand, is known to block voltage-gated calcium channels in the brain. The release of excitatory neurotransmitters is inhibited by reduced calcium currents in the central nervous system, resulting in seizure, pain, and anxiety control.

Gabapentin, interestingly, has no direct effect on pain and does not prevent pain signals from reaching the brain. Instead, it acts as a nervous system dampener, which means it calms the nervous system.

The Explanation in Layman’s Terms

The brain works on neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) called “GABA” that send signals to the brain. 

GABA is the most important inhibitory neurotransmitter in the nervous system and is distributed throughout the brain and spinal cord.

When a medication like Gabapentin is used, it alters electrical activity in the brain, which reduces seizure activity, eases situational anxiety, and decreases the sensation of pain.

Although the mechanics aren’t entirely known, it’s thought that Gabapentin acts on the spinal cord to decrease the sensation of neuropathic pain by interfering with pain signals from the brain.

Common Uses of Gabapentin in Dogs 

Gabapentin is mainly used for pain relief. Because of its sedating effects, it can be used to manage short-term, occasional anxiety in dogs.

In addition to pain relief, it can be used in seizure control, for acute pain, and for mild sedation. This means that your dog’s veterinarian will have to prescribe it, and you’ll only be able to get a limited amount at a time. Gabapentin may help your dog with chronic pain caused by arthritis, spondylosis, tumors, herniated discs, or other conditions.

In some cases, gabapentin is actually used with analgesics to boost the pain-relieving effects. There are, of course, some medications that shouldn’t be taken with them. 

Some uses of Gabapentin include:

  • Osteoarthritis & Slipped Disc Pain (herniated discs)
  • Nerve Pain
  • Postoperative Pain
  • Epilepsy or seizure control
  • Adjunctive therapy for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy.
  • Anxiety about stressful events (or situational anxiety)
Gabapentin for Dogs Cheat Sheet for Dog OwnersPin

Gabapentin Precautions – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Mixing medications often poses a risk of adverse effects due to drug interaction. With Gabapentin, drug interactions can affect the level of medication in the bloodstream

If this happens, it can reduce the effectiveness of the medication.

The following drugs should not be combined with Gabapentin

Antacids

Antacids that contain aluminum or magnesium can prevent Gabapentin from working to its full potential. 

Gabapentin vs Tramadol

A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Volume 33, September-October, 2019, pages 7 – 15, revealed that Tramadol may not be as effective at relieving nerve pain in dogs.

In this study, 10 dogs with degenerative lumbosacral stenosis were administered oral Tramadol (3 mg/kg every 8 hours) along with Prednisone (0.5 mg/kg) for 4 weeks.

After one week, researchers discovered that only half the dogs showed signs of improvement.

As a result of this observation, Tramadol was discontinued and replaced with oral Gabapentin. By the end of the treatment period, all dogs showed lower pain scores.

Gabapentin as an Adjunctive Agent

Gabapentin is sometimes used as an adjunctive agent to complement the effect of other drugs.

A study published in the *Australian Veterinary Journal 2005, October; 83 assessed whether there would be a change in refractory seizures in dogs with refractory epilepsy with Gabapentin was added to phenobarbitone and/or potassium bromide.

*Citation: GOVENDIR, M., PERKINS, M. and MALIK, R. (2005), Improving seizure control in dogs with refractory epilepsy using gabapentin as an adjunctive agent. Australian Veterinary Journal, 83: 602-608. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-0813.2005.tb13269.x

The result was that, in some dogs, seizures were prevented completely. In other dogs, the amount of time between seizures was increased.

Gabapentin may cause tummy upset in dogsPin

Common Side Effects in Dogs 

Sedation 

Gabapentin, especially if it’s the dog’s first time taking it, will leave your dog very groggy.

Your dog may experience mild sedation, which usually disappears with repeated doses (i.e., the next day).

Side effects in dogs are usually mild, but if it makes your dog too drowsy, the veterinarian might suggest giving the drug in the evening before bed.

Once your dog adjusts to the medication, the drowsiness should go away.

Dizziness

Your dog might be a bit wobbly after the first few doses. Side effects in senior dogs could include a dangerous loss of coordination or dizziness.

Mild Tummy Upset

If your pet vomits after the first dose of Gabapentin, try administering the drug with food the next time.

Allergic Reaction

Allergic reactions to Gabapentin are rare but could happen. Watch for signs of skin rash, hives, difficulty breathing, or fever.

Tips for Administering Drugs to a Dog

It’s important to follow the instructions so that your dog doesn’t become over-sedated.

In case you miss giving your dog a dose you can administer it as long as it isn’t too close to the next dose.

If the next dose will be due soon, skip the missed one and continue with the next scheduled dose .

Gabapentin is typically prescribed in pill or tablet form to dogs. Some dogs will eat anything and may not think twice about swallowing the pill.

Other dogs, however, need a little coaxing.

Peanut Butter

Try wrapping the pill in a teaspoon of peanut butter. Gently “hook” the peanut butter with the capsule in it on the roof of the dog’s mouth, just behind the front teeth. 

Pill or Capsule Treats

You can purchase treats that are designed to hide medicine. A popular one is Greenies Pill Pockets

Don’t Open Capsules or Crush Tablets

Medication is compounded and formulated in specific ways. By taking the active ingredients out of the capsule, you could be changing the way the drug interacts within the body. 

Gabapentin Dosage for Dogs

Determining the proper Gabapentin dose range for dogs depends on a few things including:

  • the dog’s medical condition
  • the dog’s weight

Gabapentin has a wide dosing range that makes it difficult to offer a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s very important to discuss this with a licensed veterinarian. You don’t want to give your dog too much, but you also want to make sure your dog has enough to be effective.

There are so many individual differences and factors, finding the right Gabapentin dosage for your dog may require some trial and error which is another reason why your dog’s veterinarian should be involved.

Gabapentin is available in 100, 300, and 400 mg capsules as well as 600 and 800 mg tablets. Dosages for pain relief or seizure control vary.

Gabapentin Tolerance in Dogs

A dog’s tolerance to the medication may develop over time, and the dosage may need to be increased. To treat pain, veterinarians recommend that owners give this dosage every 24 hours.

Dogs being treated with gabapentin for pain are likely also being treated with a complementary medication.

The following gabapentin doses are an example of what might be prescribed for anxiety in dogs.

Disclaimer: Please note that suggested dosages do not take into account any other medications your dog may be on nor does it factor in any underlying disease your dog may have. You should always speak with a licensed veterinarian before administering any medication to your dog.

Gabapentin Dosage by WeightSuggested DosageSpecial Notes
10 pound dog (4.5 kg)100 mgLowest dose available is 100 mg
Alternative medication or supplement may be suggested.
20 pound dog (9.07 kg)100 mg
30 Pound Dog (13.60)100 mg – 200 mgStart at lowest dose
40 pound dog (18.14)200 mg – 300 mg
50 pound dog (22.67)200 mg – 300 mgGabapentin for anxiety should be administered 60 minutes before triggering event.
60 pound dog (27.21)300 mg
70 pound dog (31.75)300 mg – 400 mg
80 pound dog (36.28)400 mg
90 pound dog (40.82)400 mg – 500 mg
DISCLAIMER: THIS HAS NOT BEEN VERIFIED BY A VETERINARIAN. THERE ARE MANY VARIABLES THAT WILL ALTER THE DOSAGE. PLEASE SPEAK WITH A VETERINARIAN ABOUT A GABAPENTIN PRESCRIPTION AND DOSAGE

Dogs should be given 5 mg of Gabapentin per kg of body weight every 12 hours as a general rule of thumb. However, because there are so many individual differences and factors, finding the right Gabapentin dosage for your dog may require some trial and error. Gabapentin comes in three different formulations: capsules, tablets, and compounded liquid. The oral liquid contains 250 mg Gabapentin per 5 ml of suspension, and the capsules and tablets come in various strengths – 100 mg, 300 mg, and 400 mg. Ask the veterinarian to prescribe a specific form if it is easier for you to use or more acceptable for your dog. Gabapentin is always taken by mouth, and it can be taken with or without food, depending on which form you choose. Give the Gabapentin dose before feeding if your pet has a sensitive stomach and is prone to vomiting and diarrhea when given medications on an empty stomach. 

Should Gabapentin Be Weaned?

If your dog has been prescribed to be taken on an as-needed basis (i.e. for anxiety), there’s no need to wean him/her from the medication.

If your dog happens to be on a higher dose, or is taking the medication regularly for longer than two weeks, gradual weaning might be appropriate.

In some cases, an abrupt cessation of medication could lead to withdrawal seizures.

Always check with the veterinarian. 

You might be interested in reading: Diphenhydramine for Dogs – 7 Medical Uses

Is Gabapentin Expensive?

Gabapentin is approximately $30 for a one-month supply. Prices will vary depending on where you buy the medicine. 

If you are interested in shopping for the best price, keep a copy of the prescription and have a look at 1-800-petmeds.com.

They often offer discounts and other incentives that are less expensive than veterinarian clinics.

How Should I Store Gabapentin

It’s fine to store this medication at room temperature. The important thing is to keep it away from children.

When the Medication Doesn’t Seem to be Working

If you think your dog is still in pain, check with your veterinarian before giving an increased dose.

Veterinarians treat dogs on a case-by-case basis, and he/she might want to see your dog in the clinic to check for worsening of the underlying condition, weight gain (or loss), or any other side-effects. 

If your dog is on any other medications that he/she doesn’t know about (including vitamins and supplements), it’s important to share that information. 

Some drugs and herbal or natural supplements can interact with gabapentin in a way that reduces its effectiveness.

Pain Management Alternatives for Dogs

Sometimes prescription medications aren’t right for every dog. Severe pain that lowers a dog’s quality of life should be treated by a licensed veterinarian.

BUT, there are supplements available that contain the same type of Glucosamine and Chondroitin that humans use.

This type of supplement doesn’t work overnight. It may take several weeks to see the full benefit. Keep in mind that supplements (even St. John’s Wort) can significantly interfere with various prescriptions or medications your dog is on.

As the owner of a 13-year-old Labrador retriever with painful arthritis, I’ve seen stunning results from She Used to Need a Boost to Get Into the Car

Unfortunately, the pain in my dog’s hips was too much, and she wasn’t able to easily jump into the car. We had to hold her rear end and carefully lift her in.

Although the product might say it takes a few weeks for it to work properly, my dog was literally able to jump into the car without our assistance about a week after giving her the supplement daily.

Get Your Veterinarian’s Approval

Before administering any type of supplement to your dog, get a veterinarian’s approval. Did you know that some kinds of antidepressants can trigger serotonin syndrome in dogs?

Frequently Asked Questions

What does gabapentin do for dogs?

Gabapentin is first and foremost used as a pain medication. Dogs suffering from conditions like arthritis and other painful conditions are prescribed this drug. It is also used to help alleviate anxiety in dogs and is used on an as-needed basis.

What are the most common side-effects of gabapentin in dogs?

The most common side-effect of gabapentin in dogs is drowsiness. The first time your dog takes this drug, he/she may seem a little wobbly or uncoordinated. This side-effect typically goes away quickly.

Does gabapentin make dogs sleepy?

Gabapentin can make a dog sleepy, but not necessarily.

How much Gabapentin can I give my dog for anxiety?

The amount of Gabapentin you give your dog for anxiety should be the dose prescribed by the veterinarian. Generally speaking, the dosage for dogs with anxiety is calculated at 10 – 20 mg/kg. That said, it’s vital that a veterinarian prescribe the appropriate dose for your dog.

Are There Alternatives to Gabapentin for Dogs with Anxiety?

We recommend our favorite products through The Anxious Pet. Check out the link to their site below for 20% off your first order.

20% off Your First Anxious Pet Order with PEACE20

Before you go, we thought you might be interested in reading these:

Is Xanax Safe For Dogs?

7 Easy Ways to Treat a Sebaceous Cyst on a Dog

Dog Tranquillizers – What you need to know.

The Ultimate Dog Seizure Bible (2021)

Phenobarbital Side Effects in Dogs

Children’s Benadryl for Dogs

The Final Verdict

Gabapentin’s side effects in dogs are usually quite mild. The most common side-effect is sleepiness. Occasionally, dogs are a little wobbly until they become accustomed to the drug. 

Although it is not FDA approved for use in dogs, veterinarians are still permitted to use it to treat pain. Gabapentin should not be used in pregnant pets or animals with kidney disease.

Do not adjust the dosage or stop the medication before speaking with a veterinarian.
This post was designed to help pet owners better understand the uses of Gabapentin and how it works to relieve seizures, pain, and anxiety.

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