Gabapentin for Dogs: Dosage, Side Effects, and Natural Alternatives
Nali Macklin - June 17th, 2020
Accuracy Review & Edit: Nicole Wanner, DVM - May 26th 2021
For dog owners living with a dog suffering from neurological disorders, daily life can be scary, unpredictable, and heartbreaking. Not only knowing that your dog is in chronic pain, but the uncertainty of when the next seizure or epileptic fit will come is a sad reality that many owners face.
Once your vet determines that your dog has a neurological disorder, often the next step is to manage and treat the symptoms. With many pharmaceutical drugs on the market, your vet will prescribe the one that’s appropriate for your dog.
Today we will specifically look at a drug called Gabapentin for dogs; what it does, how safe it is, and its possible side effects.
We will also explore natural alternatives that may help dogs dealing with neurological disorders.
Table Of Contents
What is Gabapentin?
What is Gabapentin used for in dogs?
Safety of Gabapentin for dogs
Gabapentin dosage for dogs
Side effects of Gabapentin in dogs
Price of Gabapentin
Natural alternatives to Gabapentin for dogs
Gabapentin is a type of anticonvulsant drug that is usually given to increase the effectiveness of other seizure medications in dogs. It is a common drug for humans, but can also be effective for dogs, cats, and other animals.
Seizures occur when there is abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Scientists aren’t sure exactly how Gabapentin works, but it has been shown to help calm this electrical activity and change levels of certain neurotransmitters, like serotonin.
Gabapentin has a similar chemical structure to the neurotransmitter GABA. This neurotransmitter helps calm down brain activity.
Gabapentin is a generic drug. Brand names for this drug include Aclonium®, Equipax®, Gabarone®, Gantin®, Gralise®, Neurontin®, Neurostil®, and Progresse®.
Because it does take a while for Gabapentin to have full effect, this drug is likely more commonly prescribed for chronic pain rather than temporary pain.
Gabapentin is often prescribed to treat:
- Anxiety – Gabapentin can be an option for managing stress in dogs if therapies alone are not enough. It can be effective for both sudden (i.e., fireworks, thunderstorms) and predictable (i.e., car rides, vet visits) stressful events.
- Pain - Veterinarians will, in some cases, prescribe Gabapentin to dogs suffering from chronic pain, especially when it is associated with the nervous system.
- Seizures – Gabapentin is sometimes prescribed for dogs with seizures who are not responding well to the main epilepsy medications. Combining these drugs with Gabapentin can sometimes help them work better.
Gabapentin is currently not FDA approved for veterinary use, but it is commonly accepted and prescribed by vets. It is generally speaking a safe drug and appears to have few side effects, even when an overdose happens.
However, one study showed that high doses of Gabapentin caused pancreatic cancer in mice. A larger study in humans found that Gabapentin did not increase risk for this cancer, though, and no studies have been done in dogs. Still, you might want to ask your veterinarian if your dog’s breed is susceptible to this disease (e.g., Airedale Terriers, Boxers, Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels).
Also, because this drug passes through the kidneys, it may not be suitable for dogs that have kidney disease.
This ingredient causes dangerously low blood sugar levels in dogs and can be deadly.
- Usually, the common dose for helping with seizures in dogs is 4.5-9 mg per pound of your dog’s weight, every 8 hours.
The above is just a general guideline; your vet will determine the exact dosage that is appropriate for your dog’s symptoms.
The most common side effects of Gabapentin include the following:
- Sedation or lethargy
- Wobbliness and incoordination
You should gradually increase the medication over time until you reach the recommended dosage to alleviate these side effects.
Other more serious side effects may occur. If you notice the following symptoms, you should contact your vet:
- Difficulty breathing
- Blue tongue or gums
- Swelling of the face/muzzle
- Excessive drooling
As with any prescription drug, your vet will consider how your dog’s other medications might interact before prescribing Gabapentin.
According to one popular online pet pharmacy, the following are prices sold per capsule depending on the dosage.
Further research is needed to fully draw a conclusion on CBD for anxiety, pain, and seizures in dogs. CBD is FDA approved for epileptic seizures in humans. You should always consult your vet before adding CBD to his or her wellness plan.
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