Gabapentin has a variety of uses in veterinary medicine, and prescribing gabapentin for dogs, especially, is becoming more popular amongst veterinarians.
Here’s everything you need to know about gabapentin for dogs.
Jump to a section:
- What Is Gabapentin for Dogs?
- What Is Gabapentin Used for in Dogs?
- What Are the Side Effects of Gabapentin?
- What’s the Dosage of Gabapentin for Dogs?
- Can You Use Gabapentin and Trazodone Together for Dogs?
- Can Dogs Take CBD and Gabapentin?
- Is Gabapentin or Tramadol Better for Dogs in Pain?
Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant and analgesic drug that is commonly prescribed by veterinarians to treat seizures, pain, and anxiety in dogs.
It is a human medication, and its use in veterinary medicine is “off-label,” meaning it is not FDA-approved for pets.
How gabapentin works is not completely understood; however, it is thought to inhibit the release of excitatory neurotransmitters.
Gabapentin can be prescribed to help with seizures, pain, and anxiety in dogs.
Gabapentin has anticonvulsant properties that make it beneficial for adjunctive therapy for dogs with refractory seizures, or those whose current medication regime is no longer effective enough.
It has also shown to be beneficial when used in combination with other pain medications—such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories or opioids—to help with pain associated with surgery.
While traditionally used for seizures and pain, gabapentin is becoming more popular to use as adjunctive therapy for anxiety in dogs as well.
Sedation is the main potential side effect of gabapentin, and the level of sleepiness varies from patient to patient. Veterinarians will prescribe a starting dose, and if this results in the dog becoming a little too sedate, the veterinarian will taper the dose down to the most effective one.
Like all medications, there is a small chance that a dog could be allergic to it, in which case, this medication should be avoided.
The dosage range for gabapentin varies widely depending on what it is being used to treat. Gabapentin should be used with caution for animals with liver or kidney disease, as it will take longer to metabolize.
Gabapentin is available in several forms that are human-labeled products:
100 mg (capsules and tablets)
300 mg (capsules and tablets)
400 mg (capsules and tablets)
There is also an oral solution made at 250 mg/5 mL; however, sometimes the solution is formulated with xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Your veterinarian will help you order this medication in a form that is safe for your dog.
Sometimes a dog is too small to use the human formulations, in which case, a compounding pharmacy can formulate whichever form and dosage that the veterinarian requests.
Gabapentin is usually given by mouth three to four times, with or without food. Check the directions on the bottle or ask your vet if you are not sure of the correct dosage for your dog.
Gabapentin should start to take effect fairly quickly, and relief should be noticed within one or two hours of administration.
Since it is a short-acting drug, the effects will be gone in 24 hours; however, the medication may last longer in dogs with renal or liver impairment.
This drug should not be stopped abruptly when used to treat seizures, as it can result in withdrawal seizures. Always consult a veterinarian before discontinuing any medication.
Trazodone is a commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medication, and while it is not recommended to be used with tramadol, it is safe to use with gabapentin. There are combination solutions from compounded pharmacies that contain both trazodone and gabapentin, and these are more commonly prescribed for behavior disorders like anxiety.
Another common question is if dogs can take gabapentin with CBD oil. This is not recommended due to the risk of increased sedation between the two.
Always consult with a veterinarian before starting your dog on any additional medications or supplements that were not originally prescribed to ensure that they are safe with your dog’s current medications.
Tramadol is another medication that has been commonly prescribed to treat pain in dogs; however, this is starting to fall out of favor with veterinarians.
Studies have found that tramadol may not be as effective as originally thought. In fact, it was found to be ineffective at controlling pain associated with osteoarthritis in dogs. However, studies are ongoing, and the debate is still up for discussion on the effectiveness of tramadol.
In the meantime, veterinarians are turning more towards gabapentin for pain relief in their patients.
Want to learn more about pain medication for dogs? Read this advice on pain management.
Featured Image: iStock.com/Fly_dragonfly