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Gabapentin is a medication that’s often used in veterinary medicine to manage certain types of pain and control seizures in dogs. But, is Gabapentin safe for dogs? This question is a crucial one for many pet owners. In this article, we will discuss the safety of Gabapentin in dogs, its side effects, and the precautions to take while administering this medication.
Gabapentin for Dogs: What is it?
Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant (anti-seizure) and analgesic (pain relieving) drug often prescribed to dogs to manage chronic pain, especially neuropathic pain. Veterinarians also use it to control seizures in dogs, often alongside other medications. It can also be used for behavioral issues or anxiety, also usually alongside other medications.
It’s essential to understand that Gabapentin should only be used under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
Is Gabapentin Safe for Dogs?
Generally speaking, gabapentin is very safe to use in dogs. To understand why, we have to look at how gabapentin works.
Gabapentin was modeled on GABA, a chemical in the brain that’s responsible for modulating nerve conduction.
Gabapentin does modulate nerve conduction, but it doesn’t do it in the same way GABA does! Instead, it blocks chemically activated switches on channels in the nerves of your dog’s body. These switches get flipped on a lot if a nerve is over-stimulated from pain or seizure activity, but if your dog’s nerves are working normally, they stay off, and gabapentin has very little effect.
In other words, if your dog is having nerve pain or a seizure, gabapentin has its strongest effects. If your dog’s brain and nerves are functioning normally and are not in pain, gabapentin does very little! Because it doesn’t affect nerves functioning normally (as much), gabapentin is unlikely to hurt your dog or cause serious adverse effects.
Side Effects of Gabapentin in Dogs
Some common side effects of Gabapentin in dogs include:
- Sedation or drowsiness
- Lack of coordination or wobbliness
These side effects are usually mild and go away as your dog’s body adjusts to the medication. However, if they persist or worsen, it’s essential to contact your veterinarian immediately.
if you’re looking to go further in-depth, check out our article on side effects of gabapentin in dogs!
Precautions When Using Gabapentin for Dogs
Gabapentin should always be given under the direction of a veterinarian. You should follow the prescribed dosage strictly to avoid any complications. Never give your dog gabapentin without a prescription, as overdosing can cause severe side effects, including seizures.
Dogs with kidney disease may need a lower dose of gabapentin, as this drug is excreted through the kidneys. Dogs who are pregnant or nursing should not take gabapentin, as it can harm the puppies.
It’s important not to abruptly stop giving gabapentin to your dog, as it may cause withdrawal symptoms. Instead, your veterinarian will likely recommend gradually reducing the dose.
Why Would I NOT Want to Use Gabapentin in My Dog?
The biggest reason you might not want to use gabapentin in your dog is its lack of effectiveness. While it’s safe, and often effective to an extent for nerve pain, gabapentin is not the most effective drug for seizures or behavioral issues in dogs. Papich’s Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics states that “…there is little evidence available in dogs…to show that it is effective.”
Most often your vet will include gabapentin for seizures or behavioral issues along with other drugs to help them work better. It is sometimes used by itself for nerve pain effectively because the dose can be increased to very high levels safely in many dogs.
If gabapentin isn’t helping your dog, or it’s helping a little but not enough, or it’s helping but only at very high doses that cause sedation, wobbliness, or other movement issues, it might be a good idea to check out our article on alternatives for gabapentin in dogs.
More On Gabapentin in Dogs
Gabapentin is a safe and effective medication for dogs when used appropriately. Pet owners should be aware of the potential side effects and precautions to ensure their dog’s safety. Always consult with a veterinarian before starting any new medication for your pet, including gabapentin.