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Small dog at the clinic possibly getting Gabapentin for dogs in pain.

Gabapentin Dosage for Dogs – A Cheat Sheet For Pet Owners

Has your dog been prescribed Gabapentin? Pet owners tend to worry about serious side effects, but they also don’t want their dog to be in pain.

There are a few common side-effects, including sedation, that tend to go away after a few doses. The first dose can make a dog very wobbly and uncoordinated. 

It might look as if your dog is drunk (known as ataxia) and it’s scary when you’re not ready for it. Most dogs, however, adapt to the medication very quickly.

If your dog has been prescribed Gabapentin, you should know that most veterinarians prescribe it because of its safety profile.

Gabapentin is not metabolized by the liver and poses no risk of elevated enzymes or damage to liver function.

On the other hand, this drug is excreted through the kidneys and isn’t recommended for dogs who have or are at risk of kidney disease.

Gabapentin Breaks Into Main-Stream Veterinary Medicine

Gabapentin (brand name Neurontin) was developed in 1975 as a human medication to treat seizures. It wasn’t until 1993 when it was approved for human use by the Food and Drug Administration.

In later years, Gabapentin was shown to be effective in treating nerve pain in people.

Over time, veterinary medicine discovered the benefits of using Gabapentin to treat seizures, neuropathic pain, and anxiety in dogs.

Gabapentin is most commonly prescribed to dogs in its capsule form and is available in 100 mg, 300 mg, and 400 mg doses.

The preference of Gabapentin capsules over the liquid oral solution has to do with the presence of xylitol (an artificial sweetener), which is toxic to dogs.

Gabapentin is used to treat seizures in dogs.
Gabapentin is used to treat seizures, pain, and anxiety in dogs.

How Gabapentin Works in Dogs

Research shows that Gabapentin binds to specific spots on voltage-gated calcium channels. 

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.

Read the FAQ’s Below

Common Uses of Gabapentin in Dogs 

Pain relief is the main use of Gabapentin in dogs. In addition to being a pain reliever, it can be used in seizure control, for acute pain, and for mild sedation.

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

Some uses of Gabapentin include:

  • Osteoarthritis & Slipped Disc Pain
  • Nerve Pain
  • Post Operative Pain
  • Epilepsy or seizure control
  • Adjunctive Therapy for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy.
  • Anxiety of stressful events (or situational anxiety)
  • Post-operative pain
Gabapentin for Dogs Cheat Sheet for Dog Owners

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 Trazodone 

A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Volume 33, September-October, 2019, pages 7 – 15, revealed that Trazodone 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 dogs

Gabapentin and CBD Oil

CBD oil, the compound found in cannabis and hemp, is a trend with some dog owners.

It’s thought that CBD oil (which has no psychoactive properties) can treat neuropathic pain and control seizures in dogs.

Unfortunately, to date there hasn’t been enough conclusive data to support this theory. When compared to its effect on humans, it’s thought that CBD oil may cause the same side effects which include:

  • Dry Mouth
  • Lowered Blood Pressure
  • Drowsiness

Talk to your veterinarian before administering CBD oil as a supplement with Gabapentin.

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 on repeated dose (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.

What is the Right 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.

Generally speaking, when Gabapentin is used to treat anxiety the dose is 10 – 20 mg/kg. Higher doses are prescribed for dogs with seizures. Lower doses would be used to treat dogs with anxiety.

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. 

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.

Shop Dog Products plus Free Shipping at $49 at 1800PetMeds.com!

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 lessens 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.

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 ONE WEEK AFTER TAKING THE SUPPLEMENT!

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.

The Final Verdict

Gabapentin 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.

I want to thank you for reading this post, and I hope you’ll come back for more information on dog’s health matters. Please take a minute to Pin, Post, or Tweet!

WHAT TO READ NEXT:

The Ultimate Dog Seizure Bible (2021)

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