Gabapentin for Dogs: Dosage, Side Effects, and Natural Alternatives
Nali Macklin - June 17th, 2020
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 – used for controlling seizures, preventing or reducing epileptic fits, and managing other convulsions. It is a common drug for humans, but can also be effective for dogs, cats, and other animals.
Seizures occur when there is excessive electrical activity in the brain; Gabapentin works by stabilizing this activity.
Gabapentin also mimics the neurotransmitter in the brain called GABA. This neurotransmitter is what calms the nerve activity in the brain.
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.
As mentioned in the earlier section, Gabapentin is commonly for controlling seizures or preventing and reducing epileptic fits.
Gabapentin can also be for:
- 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.
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, research has shown that Gabapentin can cause pancreatic cancer in test mice. Because of this, you should be cautious when giving this drug to breeds that are susceptible to this disease (i.e., Airedale Terriers, Boxers, and Spaniels).
Also, because this drug passes through the kidneys, it may not be suitable for dogs that have kidney disease.
Vets will often prescribe Gabapentin for dogs by itself or in combination with other anti-seizure medications. It seems to be most effective when combined with NSAIDs or different types of analgesic drugs.
Even though Gabapentin is available for humans and dogs, dogs require much different formulations and dosage than what is considered safe for humans.
For example, popular Gabapentin in liquid form for humans has an ingredient called xylitol, a sugar substitute. This ingredient is toxic and dangerous for your dog’s liver.
Gabapentin is available in 100mg, 300mg, and 400mg capsules.
- Usually, the common dose for treating seizures in dogs is 4.5mg – 13.5mg per pound of your dog’s weight, every 8 – 12 hours.
- When using Gabapentin for the management of chronic pain or cancer pain, the dose is usually 1.4mg per pound of your dog’s weight, once a day.
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
Other more serious side effects may occur. If you notice the following symptoms, you should contact your vet:
- Bulging eyes
- Loss of coordination
You should gradually increase the medication over time until you reach the recommended dosage to alleviate these side effects.
Gabapentin should stop working withing 24 hours after administered. However, it can last longer in some dogs, especially those with kidney or liver disease.
Combining Gabapentin with certain drugs such as Trazodone for dogs can also increase the common side effects mentioned above.
Some other known drugs, such as antacids, hydrocodone, and morphine, can also have interactions with Gabapentin.
As with any drugs, you should discuss with your vet on other medications your dog is on before taking Gabapentin.
According to one popular online pet pharmacy, the following are prices sold per capsule depending on the dosage.
We are living in a time that people are more aware and conscious about what we eat, where our food & drugs come from, and the long term impact they will have on our bodies. This same awareness, we now also expect for our beloved pets.
More and more people are turning to natural alternatives as opposed to pharmaceutical drugs such as Gabapentin for their dogs.
In a small study, scientists found that 89% of dogs who received CBD oil experienced a decrease in the frequency of seizures.
This study is both exciting and promising as CBD oil for seizures in dogs is 100% natural and has minimal and non-harmful side effects in comparison to many pharmaceutical drugs in the market.
Further research is needed to fully draw a conclusion on CBD for seizures in dogs, and you should always consult your vet if you think your dog is having seizures.
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