Gabapentin for Dogs: What You Need to Know - Whole Dog Journal (2023)

Gabapentin is a drug that veterinarians are increasingly prescribing, sometimes only in combination with other drugs, to treat pain in dogs. It is also increasingly being used in combination with other canine anxiety medications. Why has it become so popular? I'll get to that, but first we need to talk about pain.

Treating pain is a top priority in medicine

pain managementHas become an integral part of human and veterinary health care. If you've ever been in the hospital or had surgery, you're familiar with the common question, "How's your pain? Rate it on a scale of 0 to 10." to dial a number again and again.

It turns out there's a very compelling reason for that. Pain is not our friend. it hurts. But it's much more than that. Left unchecked, pain can cause not only physical damage, but also emotional and psychological damage. It slows healing and negatively affects the immune system. In both humans and non-human animals, it often results in harmful, unwanted behaviors such as self-harm, aggression, or giving up the pleasures of life.

You've heard medical professionals say it's important to deal with pain early. And for good reason too. Untreated pain can make your pain receptors increasingly sensitive, which can lead to worsening pain. This is called "ending" the pain and it becomes more difficult to control.

We veterinarians work hard to prevent pain. If that's not possible, we work harder to reduce it. This has become easier over the years as scientific medical knowledge has evolved and extrapolation of human medical discoveries has taken place. Veterinarians can now use a range of drugs and other therapies to manage pain.

Chronic pain, that's itNeeis expected to disappear, which is especially challenging for us. It must be managed, usually for the rest of the dog's life. For this type of pain, "polypharmacy" (multiple drugs) and multimodal (more than one type of treatment) approaches are usually most effective.

To manage chronic pain, we often use prescription drugs, as well as safe and potentially effective "nutraceuticals" - nutritional supplements that have a positive effect on a medical condition. More and more veterinarians are using Chinese herbal remedies as complementary treatments for pain management. Treatments such as acupuncture, laser therapy, ultrasound therapy, physical therapy, and rehabilitation are readily available to dog owners in most areas. More and more dog owners are now using different forms of cannabidiol (CBD) to treat pain in their dogs.

Pain is a very personal experience. One patient's pain perception can be completely different from another. Some are more tolerated than others. A drug or therapy can work wonders for one patient, but not for another. This makes it imperative for the owner to remain attentive, closely monitor the dog's response to treatment, report accurately to the vet and be open to suggested changes to the prescribed pain regimen.

unexpected benefits

Gabapentin for Dogs: What You Need to Know - Whole Dog Journal (1)

Gabapentin is rapidly gaining popularity for its potential contribution to veterinary pain management (hey! This is what we want: jumping and jumping dogs!). But it was not originally designed for that.

Pharmaceutically, gabapentin is classified as an anticonvulsant or anticonvulsant. It works by blocking the transmission of certain signals in the central nervous systemepileptic seizure. Then researchers discovered that some of the same transmitters were involved in a biochemical cascade related to pain perception, and doctors began investigating their use in pain management.

Today, gabapentin is known and respected for its ability to treat a specific form of pain called neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain results from damage to nerves deep in the brain and spinal cord or to peripheral nerves (nerves that extend outward from the brain and spinal cord). It is not the same as pain that is transmitted along healthy nerves through damaged tissue. Examples of neuropathic pain include neck and back pain caused by herniated discs, pinched nerves, nerve tumors, or tumors that compress nerves; some cancers; and toothache.

A perfect example of neuropathic pain in humans is fibromyalgia. You may have seen an ad for Lyrica, a drug for this chronic, debilitating, painful neurological disease. Lyrica is pregabalin, an analog of gabapentin. (Incidentally, pregabalin is also used in dogs, so if your dog's current pain relief regimen, including gabapentin, isn't working well enough, ask your vet about pregabalin.)

How Gabapentin is Used in Dogs

Although gabapentin is primarily considered best for the treatment of neuropathic pain, it is most commonly used as an adjunct or "add-on" drug in a polypharmacy approach to chronic pain. It is rarely used alone, as the sole medicine for pain, even in neurological conditions such as neck and back pain.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are and will likely always be the first-line option for veterinary pain management. But when nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) alone aren't enough, gabapentin is more often added. Gabapentin is very safe and can be added to almost any medication currently used to treat pain in dogs. A recent study showed that gabapentin is synergistic, meaning that when it is combined with another drug, such as the opioid painkiller tramadol, the effects of both drugs are enhanced.

When you add gabapentin to your current pain regimen, you may see some effects within 24 hours, but you will not see the maximum effect for 7 to 10 days. Therefore, dose adjustments are usually made every few weeks. be patient. Gabapentin has the potential to add a lot of value to your dog's current pain management program.

Also, adding gabapentin, which has minimal side effects, can sometimes lower the dose of other medications, such as NSAIDs, which have potentially dangerous side effects, especially with long-term use. This is a huge benefit to both your dog and your vet as they swear by "do no harm".

What are the side effects? Nothing. Mild sedation and muscle weakness may occur, which worsen with dose. At doses commonly used for pain relief, this side effect is usually minimal. Veterinarians are even capitalizing on this side effect by combining higher doses of gabapentin with other sedative medications, such as trazadone, to enhance the calming effects of anxious or aggressive patients in the veterinary clinic.

Gabapentin Precautions and Side Effects for Dogs

Gabapentin has a large margin of safety in dogs. It won't harm your dog's kidneys or liver, and it's even safe to use with itCBD products, although the mild sedative effects of both products can be enhanced.

However, gabapentin has some important precautions for dogs:

  • First of all, do not use commercially available liquid gabapentin for humans.This formulation contains xylitol, a sweetener commonly used to sweeten sugar-free gum. Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs, even deadly.
  • Wait after antacids before administering gabapentin.If you regularly give your dog antacids such as Pepcid or Prilosec, you should wait at least two hours after taking the antacid before giving gabapentin, because antacids can reduce the absorption of gabapentin in the stomach.
  • If your dog has been on gabapentin for a while, it is very important not to suddenly stop taking gabapentin.This can cause rebound pain, similar to ending pain, because the pain is worse than ever. That's why it's important to wean your dog off gabapentin gradually.

veterinary fan

Gabapentin for Dogs: What You Need to Know - Whole Dog Journal (2)

As you probably know, I am a huge fan of gabapentin for dogs. It helps many of my patients with pain relief, it's safe, and it's inexpensive. I usually prescribe this medication as part of my multidrug regimen for chronic pain conditions such as osteoarthritis and cancer. I prescribed this medicine for a toothache. It works wonders for neck and back pain.

Although gabapentin is currently not widely used for the treatment of post-operative pain, as its effectiveness in this area has been questioned, I am now pleased that a study is underway to examine the effect preoperatively (before pain) on undergoing surgery to evaluate. dogs. Many vets have started using it pre-operatively on their surgical patients because they feel confident in it.

Gabapentin is very safe for dogs and has the potential to reduce pain and improve their quality of life and enjoyment in dogs. If you've ever wondered why so many vets are increasingly prescribing this drug, here's your answer. We saw the results, plain and simple.

gabapentin for anxiety

Gabapentin has no direct anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects, limiting its usefulness as a standalone drug for chronically stressed, anxious dogs. However, because of its synergistic use with pain relievers, it is sometimes combined with Prozac (fluoxetine, a selective serotonin inhibitor [SSRI]) or clomipramine (clomipramine, a triple cyclic antidepressant [TCAs]) in combination for the treatment of persistent generalized anxiety. disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and true separation anxiety.

The purpose of adding gabapentin in these situations is to help the dog relax when faced with a stressor, while you try to help him cope with the problem through proper desensitization and behavior modification exercises. This is especially useful when the dog has already received the maximum dose of an anti-anxiety drug and the effects are not as expected.

It's important to note that medication alone is unlikely to relieve your dog's anxiety unless combined with the desensitization and behavior modification exercises described above. These exercises may be prescribed by your vet or a veterinary behaviorist.

The calming effects of gabapentin in higher doses can be used as needed to help dogs relax and get through specific situations that cause them excessive stress. Examples of this type of situational anxiety include vet visits, grooming appointments, long drives, thunderstorms, and fireworks.


How do I know if gabapentin is working for my dog? ›

Gabapentin should start to take effect fairly quickly, and relief should be noticed within 1-2 hours of administration. It's a short-acting drug, and the effects will be gone in 24 hours.

What is the most common side effect of gabapentin in dogs? ›

The most common side effects include sedation (sleepiness) and incoordination. Gradual increases of the medication over time is recommended to alleviate these effects. This short-acting medication should stop working within 24 hours, although effects can be longer in pets with liver or kidney disease.

Can gabapentin be stopped abruptly in dogs? ›

Gabapentin should not be stopped abruptly because withdrawal can precipitate seizures or rebound pain. The dosage should be decreased over the course of two to three weeks.

What is the combination for gabapentin for dogs? ›

The Chill Protocol, a management solution for aggressive and fearful dogs, combines gabapentin with both melatonin and acepromazine to reduce a dog's fearful or aggressive behavior at veterinary visits. But don't combine Gabapentin with other drugs or supplements without first consulting your veterinarian.

Can gabapentin cause hind leg weakness in dogs? ›

Can gabapentin cause hind leg weakness in dogs? Hind leg weakness may be a sign of incoordination in dogs, usually associated with too high a dose of gabapentin. If your dog has been on gabapentin a long time and this happens, tell your veterinarian.

How do you know if gabapentin is effective? ›

You should notice that your pain starts to improve over one to two weeks after starting gabapentin, but it may take longer in some people. However, some feel benefit straight away. Your treatment will be reviewed when you next see the doctor or nurse.

Is gabapentin safe for older dogs? ›

As you can see, gabapentin can be beneficial in a variety of situations, especially for arthritic senior dogs. It is safe, effective, and has fewer side effects than many other pain medications.

What damage can gabapentin cause? ›

Gabapentin may cause vision changes, clumsiness, unsteadiness, dizziness, drowsiness, sleepiness, or trouble with thinking. Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are not alert, well-coordinated, or able to think or see well.

What is the number one side effect of gabapentin? ›

1. Dizziness. Dizziness is the most common gabapentin side effect. In studies, almost 30% of people taking gabapentin for postherpetic neuralgia, and over 15% of people taking it for seizures, experienced dizziness.

When should gabapentin be stopped? ›

Stopping gabapentin

It's important not to stop taking gabapentin suddenly, even if you feel fine. Stopping gabapentin suddenly can cause serious problems. If you have epilepsy, stopping gabapentin suddenly can cause seizures that will not stop.

How long does gabapentin take to relax a dog? ›

For most pets, gabapentin takes effect within 2 hours. Some pet owners notice their dog shows signs of relief after only one hour.

Does gabapentin heal nerves or just mask pain? ›

Medications like Gabapentin, Lyrica & Neurontin (if they work at all) cover-up pain but do not stop or reverse nerve damage.

What Cannot be mixed with gabapentin? ›

Gabapentin should not be mixed with any other illicit drugs, alcohol, or certain prescription medications like hydrocodone and morphine. If you're considering taking an over-the-counter medication while on gabapentin, discuss it with your doctor before making a decision.

Can gabapentin cause neurological problems in dogs? ›

Neurological adverse effects, similar to those seen in humans on gabapentin treatment, were reported in five dogs. These adverse effects could not be related to other medications or disease symptoms.

How much gabapentin can you give a 50 pound dog for pain? ›

A suggested starting dose is 5-10 mg/kg twice a day. (divide your pet's weight in pounds by 2.2 to get kilograms. For example, a 50 pound dog is 22 Kg). Always start with the evening dose as it causes sedation and they will sleep through this sedation at night.

Does gabapentin make dogs walk funny? ›

Gabapentin can potentially cause your dog to have difficulty walking or become uncoordinated, especially if the dosage is too high. This is because gabapentin can have sedative effects on the nervous system, which can cause drowsiness, lethargy, and impaired motor function in some animals.

Why can't my dog walk after taking gabapentin? ›

The most frequently reported side effects of gabapentin are sedation and ataxia. Ataxia is the loss of motor control over the limbs, the main symptoms of it being weakened limbs (inability to walk, swaying, stumbling), drowsiness, tilting the head to one side, unresponsiveness, vertigo, and nausea.

Is gabapentin hard on the liver or kidneys? ›

No cases of acute liver failure or chronic liver injury due to gabapentin have been described. There is no information about cross reactivity with other compounds having similar structure (pregabalin). In general, gabapentin is well tolerated in patients with hypersensitivity reactions to other anticonvulsants.

Does gabapentin work immediately? ›

6. Response and effectiveness. Peak concentrations of gabapentin (immediate-release) occur within 2 to 3 hours. Although gabapentin may improve sleep problems due to nerve pain within a week, it may take up to two weeks for symptom relief from nerve pain to occur.

Does gabapentin help with arthritis pain? ›

While gabapentin is generally not prescribed to treat arthritis, research has found it to help manage the effects of severe knee osteoarthritis (OA). There is no evidence showing it improves pain caused by autoimmune arthritis conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis , though.

Is gabapentin a very strong painkiller? ›

Gabapentin is commonly used to treat some types of nerve pain but is classified as an anticonvulsant medicine, not as an opioid or painkiller.

How does gabapentin make a dog feel? ›

Gabapentin Side Effects for Dogs

Mild sedation and ataxia (wobbly or drunken gait) are the most common side effects of gabapentin in dogs. The severity of these signs will vary from dog to dog and also depend on the dose. Dogs sensitive to the drug may experience extreme lethargy and sleepiness.

Does gabapentin cause heavy breathing in dogs? ›

Rarely, gabapentin can cause more serious adverse effects, such as an allergic reaction. Call the vet or take your dog to the emergency room if there is an adverse reaction with hives, itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing.

Why is there a lawsuit against gabapentin? ›

Potential for Gabapentin and Pregabalin Lawsuits

The new warnings may lead people to file drug lawsuits over breathing-related injuries blamed on gabapentin's and pregabalin's respiratory risks. Poison control centers have reported increased calls about the gabapentinoids.

Can I stop gabapentin after 1 week? ›

Gabapentin use can be phased out over a period of one week, but the exact schedule will depend on the person's particular situation. Slower tapers may allow for a safer discontinuation of the drug. Experts recommend reducing the daily dose at a maximum rate of 300mg every 4 days.

Is gabapentin hard on organs? ›

Long-term effects

According to the authors of a 2010 study paper , people with preexisting kidney disease may experience potentially fatal toxicity when taking gabapentin. Gabapentin may cause other long-term effects, including memory loss, weakened muscles, and respiratory failure.

Is gabapentin safe everyday? ›

The use of any medication, including gabapentin, can create a number of various side effects. Both short-term and long-term use of gabapentin can cause physical and psychological complications.

What exactly does gabapentin do? ›

Gabapentin is used to treat epilepsy. It's also taken for nerve pain, which can be caused by different conditions, including diabetes and shingles. Nerve pain can also happen after an injury. In epilepsy, it's thought that gabapentin stops seizures by reducing the abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

How safe is gabapentin? ›

While gabapentin is used for many therapeutic applications and can be safe to use when taken as prescribed, there are also risks linked with its use. The drug's side effects can be severe, and there is a risk of abuse and dependence on the drug.

How do I wean my dog off gabapentin? ›

How to Wean Off Gabapentin. Weaning off Gabapentin requires you to do so slowly. Ideally, you need to remove small traces of it each day until eventually your dog is completely free from it. Tapering off Gabapentin though requires patience so you need to be careful to not immediately take your dog off large doses of it ...

How long does gabapentin keep pain away? ›

Generally, it is recommended to take gabapentin for at least four to six weeks or at the highest tolerated dose for at least two weeks. However, nerve pain can be a long-term issue, lasting for three or more months. If gabapentin provides relief, your healthcare provider may have you continue taking it daily.

How long is too long for gabapentin? ›

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “the efficacy and safety of gabapentin have not been examined in clinical studies for treatment periods longer than five months.” However, gabapentin can be taken longer than five months, should a treating physician deem it necessary, provided the patient does not ...

Should I give gabapentin to my dog in the morning or at night? ›

Typically dogs take gabapentin every 8 to 12 hours for best efficacy. But sometimes your vet may start out with once-a-day dosing at bedtime until your dog gets used to the medication. The dose of gabapentin that your dog will take depends on his or her size and the severity of the pain, anxiety, or seizures.

Is gabapentin used to calm dogs? ›

Anxiety Management

While the most common uses of gabapentin medicines include using them as an anticonvulsant to treat seizures and for pain management, many vets also prescribe gabapentin as anxiety medications to help ease anxiety in dogs.

What promotes nerve healing? ›

Magnesium promotes the regeneration of the peripheral nerve.

What kind of pain does gabapentin relieve? ›

Gabapentin is commonly used to treat neuropathic pain (pain due to nerve damage).

Does gabapentin help with inflammation? ›

Gabapentin inhibits bowel inflammation by regulating mast cell signaling.

Is gabapentin 300 mg strong? ›

Gabapentin in low doses is a useful drug in treatment of CTS symptoms with no side effects and intolerance. Gabapentin with dose of 300 mg/day is more effective than the dose of 100 mg/day.

Is there an over-the-counter gabapentin? ›

Is there an over-the-counter equivalent to gabapentin? No. Gabapentin is a controlled substance and there are no over-the-counter equivalents. All gabapentin alternatives are prescription medications.

Which is better for pain meloxicam or gabapentin? ›

Results: On the day of surgery, 60-min rest pain (0-10 numerical rating scale +/- sd) was significantly lower (P < 0.05) with gabapentin alone (2.0 +/- 1.6) versus meloxicam alone (3.6 +/- 2.1).

Can gabapentin damage liver in dogs? ›

Cautions With Gabapentin For Dogs

The kidneys and liver are needed for the metabolism of gabapentin so it should be avoided by dogs with liver or kidney disease. Pregnant or nursing dogs, or dogs taking antacids, hydrocodone or morphine should not take it to avoid drug interactions.

Is gabapentin 100mg strong for a dog? ›

Gabapentin is extremely safe for dogs, and it has the potential to alleviate pain for our dogs and improve their quality and enjoyment of life. If you've been wondering why so many veterinarians are prescribing this medication more and more, there's your answer.

Which is better tramadol or gabapentin? ›

Comparing Gabapentin vs Tramadol. Gabapentin has an average rating of 7.1 out of 10 from a total of 2457 ratings on 63% of reviewers reported a positive effect, while 22% reported a negative effect. Tramadol has an average rating of 6.9 out of 10 from a total of 1799 ratings on

How long does it take for gabapentin to calm a dog? ›

For most pets, gabapentin takes effect within 2 hours. Some pet owners notice their dog shows signs of relief after only one hour.

How much gabapentin will calm a dog? ›


An effective dose for gabapentin for anxious dogs as given in one study is 25-30 milligrams per kilogram, or around 11-13 milligrams per pound. It's used directly before a trigger that causes anxiety (going to the vet, fireworks, etc).

How long does it take a dog to adjust to gabapentin? ›

When adding gabapentin to a current pain protocol, you may see some effect within 24 hours, but you won't see the maximal effect for seven to 10 days. For this reason, dosage adjustments are usually made only every couple of weeks. Be patient.

Does gabapentin relax a dog? ›

Gabapentin is believed to work by stopping the release of certain neurotransmitters within a dog's brain. This can help to reduce anxiety and pain. In addition to this, some vets have also used Gabapentin as a treatment for seizures and epilepsy.

Can I give my dog gabapentin every day for anxiety? ›

Dosages can vary, but commonly gabapentin is dosed in dogs at 5-30 mg/kg up to three times daily,3 though in our own patients we have used 10-40 mg/kg up to three times daily as well.

Is 300mg gabapentin strong for a dog? ›

It comes in a variety of doses — 100 mg, 300 mg, 400 mg, and 800 mg — but your dog's particular prescription will depend on the condition being treated. The recommended gabapentin dosage for dogs by weight for seizures is 10 mg/kg as a starting dose twice daily or up to 30-60 mg/kg twice daily.

What is the most common side effect of gabapentin? ›

Dizziness and drowsiness are common side effects of gabapentin. Some other possible side effects include weight gain and trouble with movement.

Can gabapentin cause behavior changes in dogs? ›

Beyond physical reactions, gabapentin may also provoke changes in a dog's behavior. This can manifest as increased aggression or anxiety in your furry friend. While these instances are relatively rare, they are nonetheless important to be mindful of.

Does gabapentin help with separation anxiety in dogs? ›

In conclusion, gabapentin is an effective prescription medication that helps dogs with various anxiety-related or neurological disorders. It is not FDA-approved for use in dogs, but it has helped many owners, especially those whose separation anxiety was severe.

Is gabapentin good for arthritis in dogs? ›

Dogs with arthritis often live with chronic pain. Thus, gabapentin can be a useful way to relieve arthritis pain in dogs. Your vet may sometimes prescribe it in conjunction with other pain-relieving medications such as NSAIDs or tramadol for dogs. Gabapentin may also help control pain associated with cancer in dogs.


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