Gabapentin For Dogs: 3 Effective Uses And Other Facts

Gabapentin is a veterinary medicine often prescribed to treat seizures and works as a medication for chronic pain relief.

Gabapentin For Dogs

Dogs are one of the best creations in this world. Similarly, like humans, dogs undergo certain health conditions as they age. Some of these conditions may be life-threatening, some may adversely affect the nervous system, or other common issues, such as arthritis pain – are often observed in humans.

Dogs are susceptible to newer medications, and that’s why it is essential first to understand the purpose, mechanism, and side effects of any medicine.

What Is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant, meaning a medication used to prevent or terminate seizures, and an analgesic drug, essentially meaning that it is a pain reliever as well.

Vets often prescribe it to treat chronic pain, seizures, and anxiety.

It is important to note that this is a human medicine and is not FDA-approved for dogs and other animals.

Gabapentin for dogs has recently been commonly prescribed by vets when it comes to pain management for dogs. Other than that, different combinations have been suggested to relieve anxiety.

Types Of Pain

Pain can be broadly understood in two categories – Chronic pain and Acute pain.

1. Chronic Pain

As the name suggests, chronic pain is often caused due to dysfunctional tissues, inflammation, etc. This pain lasts for weeks and may even go up to years. The top causes of chronic pain can be joint diseases and even cancer.

2. Acute Pain

Acute pain is said to be protective in nature, as it makes the patient terminate the usage of the affected area. This helps the tissue damage to be cured gradually and get back to normal.

Uses Of Gabapentin

1. Treating Chronic Pain

As mentioned above, Gabapentin is an analgesic, meaning that the medication helps in easing or minimizing pain. Pain-relieving medications such as this are often prescribed when the dog is suffering from degenerating joint diseases and other neuropathic pain.

Other than this, it is prescribed combined with other medications such as opioids post surgeries to ease the pain.

2. Controlling Anxiety

Gabapentin has also been newly prescribed to ease anxiety and similar symptoms.

3. Stopping And Preventing Seizures

This is often beneficial for a senior dog whose current medications do not function well. Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant drug that makes it a useful remedy for dogs suffering from seizures regularly.

Dosage Of Gabapentin For Dogs

The dosage of any medication depends upon the cause for which you are using it. A prominent piece of advice remains that you must first take a trained vet’s instructions.

Gabapentin is typically available in three dosages:

  1. 100 mg
  2. 300 mg
  3. 400 mg

The above three dosages are available as capsules and tablets. The fourth form is a 250 mg oral solution. Please note that these are explicitly formulated for humans. The oral solution consists of Xylitol, which may deem toxic for dogs. The safest stance to take in this situation is to inform your trusted Vet to give you the formulation that is safe to consume for your dog.

Gabapentin is usually supposed to be consumed orally by your dog about three to four times a day.

Make through to go through the instructions given on the bought Gabapentin to understand whether you should provide it with or without a meal.

The dosage largely varies with the size of your dog as well. These are determined by the weight and height of the dog. At times, a dog’s size can be too small to directly consume Gabapentin as it is, as it is a human medicine.

Gabapentin gets to act pretty quickly, so you will be able to see the results in merely one to two hours after giving it to your dog.

Things To Be Careful About

1. Avoid Liquid Gabapentin

Do not give the liquid form of Gabapentin which is available commercially to your dog. As mentioned, liquid Gabapentin made for humans has Xylitol, which is deadly for dogs.

2. Do Not Immediately Give Gabapentin After Antacid

If your dog has regularly been given an antacid like Pepcid, wait at least for an hour or two before you give a dose of Gabapentin. Even if you provide the correct dosage of Gabapentin, if it is given right after an antacid, the absorption will be weaker.

3. Do Not Abruptly Stop The Dose

Never terminate the dosage of Gabapentin abruptly, as this can result in severe symptoms including withdrawal seizures and worse nerve pain, referred to as rebound pain.

4. When To Avoid

Gabapentin needs healthy liver and kidneys to metabolize it. Therefore, it is essential to note that you do not give your dog if they are currently facing any liver or kidney disease.

Additionally, dogs who are pregnant or nursing dogs should also avoid taking this medication. If your dog has been given antacids, morphine, or hydrocodone, in this case too avoid Gabapentin to prevent drug interactions.

Are There Chances Of Overdose?

An actual, full-fledged overdose does not occur with Gabapentin. The few reported and researched cases of accidental overdose show the following symptoms:

  • Mild sedation
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Ataxia refers to improper balance and coordination in daily activities such as walking.

Side Effects

The majority of the dogs do not show much of the adverse effects of taking Gabapentin. Most dogs who face any side effects take very little time to adjust to these.

Some of the most common side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Sedation
  • Wobbly gait, losing balance, also known as Ataxia

Please keep in mind that if your dog is taking Gabapentin as an anti-seizure medication, abruptly stopping it will come with a definite more significant side effect – increased seizures.

If your dog has been on other pain-relieving medications such as antihistamines, opioids, or CBD supplements, sedation or drowsiness to some extent will be a common side effect of pain medication such as this.

How To Minimise Side Effects?

The only way to minimize side effects which deem useful is to time the dose of this veterinary medicine accordingly with the sleeping time of your dog, which is mostly night.

Feeling drowsy when your dog is already sleeping will almost be neglected.

Other than that, ataxia imbalance during sleeping will not affect your dog much.

The veterinary pain management plan will be tweaked accordingly with time – the dose can be altered by increasing to 8 to 12 hours. The prescribed Gabapentin dose will help treat pain while your dog will adjust to the side effects smoothly over time.

The Mechanism Of Gabapentin

Pain medications that come under long half-lives are those that stay in your system for a much longer time. In this case, the side effects are something to worry about.

The half-life of any medication is understood through how much time is taken by the body to metabolize it and excrete out half of it.

The good news here is that Gabapentin does not fall under long half-life drugs. When it comes to animals, specifically dogs and cats, the pain medication stays for a shorter time of as long as two to three hours.

Gabapentin is removed from the body through excretion, generally through urine after drifting from the kidneys. That is why, in cases where the dogs have a history of prolonged kidney issues, the Vet is supposed to prescribe Gabapentin with appropriate adjustments made to the doses.

What To Do In Cases Of Side Effects?

As mentioned, Gabapentin doses do not cause harsh side effects and are invisible within a few days of adjusting. However, it is still understandable to want to minimize these as well.

In this case, the Vet must be informed about the side effects so they can adjust the doses by either decreasing the dose or the frequency of it.

Oral Gabapentin

As mentioned, liquid gabapentin contains Xylitol. This is something that you may have noticed as an avid ingredient in sugar-free gums. This is an artificial sweetener.

Xylitol is highly toxic for dogs. So any time a vet prescribes liquid Gabapentin, they check on the unavailability of Xylitol.

Combining Gabapentin With Other Medications

To control pain and maintain proper functioning of the central nervous system by minimizing the occurrence of seizures and to relieve anxiety, Gabapentin may be combined with other appropriate treatment regimes.

1. Gabapentin And Trazadone

Trazadone is a medicine that is now commonly prescribed alongside Gabapentin as an anti-anxiety medication. Certain pharmacies have combination solutions consisting of Trazadone and Gabapentin and are prescribed for anxiety-related health conditions. With regular prescriptions and observed effects, this combination has been concluded to be safe.

2. Should Gabapentin And CBD Be Combined?

One of the questions that come around is whether Gabapentin is to be combined with CBD oil. CBD oil, Cannabidiol, is known to ease symptoms of neurological disorders and anxiety and also as a medication for pain control.

However, this combination is generally not advised to be taken. This is due to the adverse effect of amplified drowsiness or sedation from both medications.

Tramadol V/S Gabapentin

As mentioned, Tramadol is another medication used by veterinary patients to treat pain. But, over time, studies are starting to conclude that Tramadol may not be as effective as Gabapentin. Specifically, in cases dealing with osteoarthritis, Tramadol is deemed a lot less effective than assumed previously.

Although studies regarding the usage of the same are still in process, veterinary advice drifts more towards favoring Gabapentin.

Natural Alternatives Of Gabapentin For Dogs

While some vets favor the usage of Gabapentin 1to treat chronic pain, there is another section of professionals who drift away from it. Certain studies suggest a natural alternative to Gabapentin. Some of these are

1. Turmeric

Turmeric is a yellowish-orange root belonging to the ginger family. It holds excellent properties as an antioxidant 2and has been used traditionally in relieving pain and soothing inflammations.

While it has been used extensively in traditional practices, it has become popular in treating pain. For specifically treating arthritis, this Ayurvedic substitute has been deemed safe and completely natural.

Here is how you can use it for your dog –

Lightly grate some turmeric off the entire root. Mix the grated turmeric into your dog’s food. Make sure that you mix it in with high-fat content food, as it will make it easier to be absorbed.

Another way to have your dog consume it is by simply mixing turmeric with a few drops of water to make a consistent paste. Have your dog take 1/4th a teaspoon of this paste per 10 lbs of your dog’s overall body weight.

Be careful that turmeric stains any piece of cloth or even your dog’s fur very quickly. So if you find turmeric somewhere it is not supposed to be, wash it off as soon as you spot it!

2. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a part of Chinese traditional medicinal practices. The method focuses on revitalizing the essential energy of the overall balance of one’s body.

This technique involves using and inserting needles at the point where the nerves and blood vessels converge. These points on the body are known as Meridians. Meridians are essentially believed to be energy channels that radiate energy through the body.

The needles are believed to enhance blood circulation in the body, which then consequently initiates the healing process.

Acupuncture has also been shown to stimulate the nervous system, easing inflammation and soothing pain signals.

3. Herbs For Joint Diseases

Herbal medicines have resulted, to some extent, in improvements in joint diseases, especially arthritis. Some of these are:

  • Eleuthero Root: This antioxidant is greatly helpful for very active and athletic dogs. It soothes the inflammation in the affected tissues, ligaments, and, basically, the joints.
  • Ashwagandha: This works best when assembled with some more herbs. It is an antioxidant, antispasmodic, and works as an anti-inflammatory medicine. Its primary purpose is to minimize fatigue felt in the affected muscles and regulate the adrenal glands. This will then speed up the healing process.
  • Amalaki: This is a very high herb in Vitamin C 3content. It is highly nutritious and rejuvenating. It assists the body in healing damaged tissues. When the correct quantity is given as a regular dose, the herb does not cause any digestive issues.

Choosing the correct type of herbs or the right combination of herbs will require you to consult a trained herbalist or your professional Vet. They will help you find the proper supplements to fulfill the purpose of treatment your dog needs.

Other Ways To Maintain Your Dog’s Joint Health

1. Regular Exercising

Try to maintain regular exercise for your dog. While daily walks do count, make sure not suddenly elevate the activities. For example, let’s say your dog gets a peaceful walk every day, and suddenly one good weekend, they are being taken on an energetic outing such as trekking. This sudden activity will pressure your dog’s joints and hinder the dog’s ability to maintain the joint’s health.

2. Looking After the Food

Your dog must consume more of the whole food than commercialized diets. Processed food is not deemed the correct part of a healthy diet and may pose difficulty in digestion4.

3. Maintaining A Healthy Weight

With age, your dog will undergo various changes, one of them being an inconsistent weight. If your dog has gotten slower with age and is taking shorter walks only, you must try to tally the food they consume accordingly. Too much food but too little activity will cause more difficulties.

So, Is Gabapentin For Dogs Safe?

Dogs start to suffer from joint pains and other health conditions as they age – similar to humans. That’s why it is crucial to help your dog get through the pain with the proper doses of the right medicines. Do not hesitate to opt for a treatment for your dog’s sufferings.

While it is essential to find a cure, it is also highly necessary to dig deep into the mechanisms of the treatment you opt for. This includes the working of the medicine, side effects, and after-care.

So, Gabapentin does work very well for dogs. It has been used for and by humans for many years. What is necessary is that your dog should consume it in the proper doses and at the correct time. Ideally, the Vet should advise an evening dose to minimize the side effect – sedation specifically.

The number one piece of advice that always stands is that your foremost advisor should be your trusted professional Vet. The Vet will be able to correctly diagnose what is bothering your dog and prescribe Gabapentin for dogs accordingly.

  1. Russo, Marc, Brett Graham, and Danielle M. Santarelli. “Gabapentin—Friend or foe?.” Pain Practice 23.1 (2023): 63-69. ↩︎
  2. Gulcin, İlhami. “Antioxidants and antioxidant methods: An updated overview.” Archives of toxicology 94.3 (2020): 651-715. ↩︎
  3. Colunga Biancatelli, Ruben Manuel Luciano, Max Berrill, and Paul E. Marik. “The antiviral properties of vitamin C.” Expert review of anti-infective therapy 18.2 (2020): 99-101. ↩︎
  4. Karki, Renisha, et al. “Anaerobic co-digestion: Current status and perspectives.” Bioresource Technology 330 (2021): 125001. ↩︎

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Jahnavi Dass

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