If your dog has regular seizures or suffers from chronic pain, your vet may prescribe a drug called Gabapentin. While Gabapentin isn’t FDA approved for dogs, it is a commonly used medication.
What is Gabapentin?
Gabapentin, which has a brand name of Neurontin, is a drug that was first developed to treat epileptic seizures.
Since its development, the drug has been proven to effectively treat a number of other conditions in humans. These include anxiety, restless leg syndrome, and pain.
In dogs, Gabapentin is used to prevent seizures and manage chronic pain.
Gabapentin is especially useful for treating pain associated with neuropathy. Pain that is caused by damage to nerves – sometimes due to cancer – can often be successfully managed with Gabapentin.
It’s important to note that Gabapentin pills for humans can be poisonous to dogs. This is because the drug is mixed with a sweetener that dogs can’t safely eat. You should only ever give your dog Gabapentin that is labeled as safe for veterinary use.
What is the Typical Dosage of Gabapentin?
The normal dosage of Gabapentin depends on the condition that is being treated.
To prevent seizures the average dose is 4.5mg – 13.5mg per pound. This is given to the dog two or three times per day.
The dose for treating chronic pain is much lower – around 1.4mg per pound once a day.
If you miss a dose, give the medication to your dog as soon as you realize. The only time you should skip a dose is if you don’t remember until the following day – it’s important not to give double doses.
If you accidentally give your dog an overdose of Gabapentin, you should seek emergency help from a vet. Overdoses of Gabapentin can cause depression and excessive drowsiness.
Gabapentin often becomes less effective over time. Your vet may recommend gradually increasing the dosage so that it continues to have the same effect. You should never increase the dose without talking to your vet first.
Gabapentin can be taken with some other painkillers. This is useful if the chronic pain gets progressively worse, as other pain-killing drugs can be combined with Gabapentin for a greater effect.
You should always talk to your vet before giving your dog any medication that hasn’t been prescribed.
Antacids taken orally can stop Gabapentin from being properly absorbed. For this reason, you shouldn’t give Gabapentin to your dog within two hours of antacids.
Tips for Getting a Dog to Eat Gabapentin Pills
Some dogs may resist eating a Gabapentin capsule. This can make it difficult to administer the correct dosage – especially if your dog needs to take the pills multiple times per day. Here are a few tips for getting your dog to eat a Gabapentin pill:
Gabapentin can be taken with food, which makes feeding it to a dog much easier. You can try mixing the pill with your dog’s food. This isn’t as effective with dry kibble, so you might want to add some soft food.
You can also try coating the pill in a treat to disguise its taste and texture.
If this doesn’t work, you can make a game out of eating the medication. By throwing your dog the capsule wrapped in a treat, he may eat it before realizing (although this might not work on a regular basis).
If you can’t get your dog to eat the treat voluntarily, you may have to feed it manually. To do this, hold the pill in one hand and use the other to lift the dog’s upper jaw. Put the Gabapentin capsule as far back as possible, and then remove your hand. Keep the dog’s jaw shut while stroking him. Once he has swallowed the pill, give a treat as a reward.
Should You Talk to Your Vet About Gabapentin?
If your dog has been diagnosed with epilepsy or suffers from chronic pain, you may want to talk to your vet about Gabapentin. The type of drug that’s best for managing your dog’s seizures or pain depends on the condition. Your vet will be able to advise you whether Gabapentin – which is usually recommended for neuropathic pain rather than muscular or joint pain – might be a good option.
Side Effects of Gabapentin
There are a number of potential side effects of Gabapentin. If your dog suffers from any side effect, you should immediately visit your veterinarian before giving another dose. Some of the most serious side effects include:
Sedation. Sedation is the most common side effect of Gabapentin. In most cases, the dog’s body will gradually become used to the medication and sedation disappear. It’s still important to visit a vet if your dog becomes lethargic or drowsy.
Diarrhea and vomiting. Both diarrhea and vomiting can cause rapid dehydration. This can be dangerous for your dog.
Loss of balance. Some dogs suffer from mild imbalance and loss of coordination when taking Gabapentin.
Other side effects include swelling and allergic reactions. If your dog is allergic to Gabapentin, he or she may show symptoms such as facial swelling, hives and difficulty breathing.
When Should I Stop Giving My Dog Gabapentin?
You should only stop giving your dog Gabapentin when advised by your vet. It’s important that your dog doesn’t stop taking Gabapentin suddenly.
How Long Does Gabapentin Take to Work?
Gabapentin can start reducing pain and preventing seizures in as little as five hours. To receive the full benefits of the medication, a dog needs to take the drug on a regular basis.
Is Gabapentin Safe?
Gabapentin hasn’t been FDA approved for veterinary use. It has, however, been approved for treating epileptic seizures in humans, and is considered a safe drug. The fact that it doesn’t interact with many other drugs increases its safety.
Is Gabapentin Only Available in Pill/Capsule Form?
Gabapentin can be administered in liquid form, although this is less common than pills or capsules. If your dog resists eating pills, you should talk to your vet about liquid Gabapentin.