Welcome To Your Complete Guide To Gabapentin For Dogs.
Looking At How It Works, The Dosage And Potential Side Effects.
Helping To Reassure You About Your Vet’s Decision To Prescribe Gabapentin For Dogs.
None of us want our dogs to suffer, but medications can also be a bit worrying sometimes.
Pain medications almost always come with overdose risks, and the potential for side effects.
In fact, medications in general can often fill us with concern when we read the small print.
This is kind of the nature of medicine though, and when our dogs are unwell sometimes a miracle risk-free drug that can help just doesn’t exist.
Our poorly dogs really do need medicine, and it always helps to research and learn a bit more about why they’re taking what they’re taking.
Today, we’ll take a look at Gabapentin.
One of many medications routinely prescribed to our dogs by the vet.
So what does Gabapentin do? How does it work? And, what are the risks?
We’ll look into these questions and a few more in today’s article.
First lets answer the question, what is Gabapentin for dogs? And what is Gabapentin used for in dogs?
What is Gabapentin for dogs?
Gabapentin is primarily an anti-epileptic drug, meaning it helps lessen the seizures caused by epilepsy.
Typically it’s used alongside other medications as part of a robust treatment.
This isn’t its only application, though.
It’s also been found to be useful in the treatment of dogs with long-term chronic pain, usually when associated with a disease of the nervous system.
Gabapentin is commonly prescribed by vets for both of these reasons.
Some people have even suggested using Gabapentin for dogs with anxiety.
In the US, Gabapentin is not technically FDA approved for use in animals.
This isn’t any cause for concern, though, as this is the case for many veterinary medicines.
Use of Gabapentin by vets is covered under the AMDUCA, an act allowing vets to use human drugs on animals where appropriate.
How Gabapentin For Dogs Works
There’s still an active discussion about the exact mechanics of how Gabapentin works.
It is clear, though, that it blocks communication between certain nerves, and this seems to have a beneficial effect when used to treat seizures, epilepsy and some chronic pain.
In dogs, Gabapentin has been shown to significantly reduce the severity and length of seizures, which benefits unwell dogs enormously.
At this point, Gabapentin for dogs is widely prescribed for a range of issues.
If your dog suffers from epilepsy, it’s very likely you’ll come into contact with this drug.
So what’s the standard Gabapentin dosage for dogs? Does it differ from dog to dog, and based on what it’s being used to treat?
Gabapentin dosage for dogs
Ultimately, how much Gabapentin your dog receives will be up to your vet.
Dosages are tricky, especially in animals like dogs with such a huge range of sizes.
We can, however, look at some of the information vets are provided with for a rough idea of how much Gabapentin we will be giving our dogs.
It’s really important to only take a vets advice on this though.
They could be aware of extenuating circumstances that would restrict your dog’s ideal dosage.
What the exact dosage should be depends a lot on what the vet is treating.
One study reduced the symptoms of epilepsy in dogs significantly by administering 10mg (per kg of your dogs weight) of Gabapentin every eight hours.
So Gabapentin 100mg for dogs would be taken at this interval by a 10kg dog with epilepsy.
A much larger pooch might be prescribed Gabapentin 300mg for dogs.
This regular dosage helps keep a steady level of Gabapentin in the dog’s blood stream, as it can’t be used as and when seizures appear.
Gabapentin takes 1 to 3 hours to reach it’s full strength in dogs, so needs to be consistently re-dosed.
The changing doses of Gabapentin for dogs
If your dog doesn’t have epilepsy, but is in pain due to another condition like cancer, the dosing will change accordingly.
When it comes to post operative pain, Gabapentin seems to block some of the pain signals that the nervous system is creating.
The dosage does change though.
Gabapentin analgesia in dogs is widely documented, and it’s often considered by vets a way to lower morphine intake.
Similarly, with chronic pain, studies have found a single daily dose to be very effective.
This type of pain is often associated with cancer and other really nasty diseases.
So, the doses can differ hugely from dog to dog, depending on their medical situation.
If your dogs dose doesn’t appear to match any of the examples we’ve given do not worry.
Vets use guidelines but have to treat each dog on a case by case basis.
We can look at the same guidelines, but only your vet will know how much Gabapentin your dog needs.
So, how long does Gabapentin stay in a dog’s system? Does it linger on or dissappear quickly?
How long does Gabapentin stay in a dog’s system?
The length of time a drug stays in the system of an animal is usually discussed in terms of its half-life.
This means the amount of time it takes for the levels of a given drug in the blood to drop by half.
In dogs, it’s the same as in humans and rats — a period of 2-3 hours.
This means Gabapentin doesn’t hang around that long, but still long enough that regular dosing helps it to have a cumulative effect.
You may be wondering how long can a dog take Gabapentin since epilepsy can be a life long condition.
With epilepsy, Gabapentin for dogs is often taken as long as the pup needs it, which can be months or even years.
There are some long term risks like an increased risk of cancer, but a dog that’s suffering from regular heavy seizures needs this relief, so it ends up being a trade-off.
In the short term, when correctly prescribed, Gabapentin doesn’t seem to cause any real issues.
Except for a bit of dizziness, most dogs do absolutely fine on this medication.
So how will Gabapentin affect my dog? Lets take a look at Gabapentin side effects in dogs.
Gabapentin side effects in dogs
Absolutely no medication is without side effects, but the severity of them can differ hugely from drug to drug.
Side effects can also differ enormously based on the individual dog, it’s general constitution, and it’s medical history.
The most common side effects for dogs taking Gabapentin are to do with a loss of coordination.
Gabapentin use in dogs can cause them to appear unsteady, and they may also experience drowsiness.
Even if the effect seems mild, it’s worth checking in with your vet.
They’ll be able to establish if their symptoms are harmless, or if different medication should be pursued.
Even in the case of more severe-seeming side effects it’s very important that you don’t suddenly take away your dogs Gabapentin.
If your dog abruptly stops taking Gabapentin they can experience some pretty nasty withdrawal symptoms, including heavy seizures, and can potentially harm your dog long term.
So, how much Gabapentin can my dog take?
Overdoses actually seem to be fairly rare when it comes to Gabapentin for dogs.
There’s a high margin of safety, and though a dog that’s had a little too much might be dizzy and sick, they very rarely die.
With this being said, as soon as you notice your dog has had too much, get in touch with a vet.
The exact amount for an overdose differs wildly from dog to dog.
Can I give my dog human Gabapentin?
Most of us would be inherently wary of giving our dogs our own human medication.
But if you have your own Gabapentin, and your dog could benefit from it, you might wonder what the harm could be.
The truth is, this could be catastrophic.
The Gabapentin itself will have been prescribed at a dosage suitable for you, and if you use this to calculate how much your dog can have and get it wrong, you could seriously harm them.
Even with the exact dosage you could still harm and possibly kill your dog with your own Gabapentin.
This is because Gabapentin prescribed for humans often contains xylitol.
Xylitol and dogs
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is harmless to humans, and actually has dental health benefits.
This sweetener is found in chewing gum, sugar free candy, and occasionally even peanut butter. The problem is that xylitol is deadly poisonous to dogs.
A small amount that we would think nothing about can kill a dog very easily, so it’s best to give it a wide berth.
Xylitol does this by causing hypoglycemia in dogs, literally meaning a lack of sugar.
This might not sound that serious, but the glucose in your dogs blood needs to be at a certain level for them to do pretty much anything.
Xylitol in the blood stream is confused for sugar, causing your dog to release way too much insulin.
If the xylitol lowers a dogs blood sugar levels enough they will go into a coma and die.
It seems quite odd that something so innocuous to us could be such a potent poison for our dogs, but it really is dangerous for our furry friends.
This is something all of us dog owners should take into account when we feed our dogs unusual food.
The main symptoms of xylitol poisoning are lethargy and vomiting.
If your dog is experiencing these symptoms and you suspect xylitol poisoning you should get them to a vet as soon as possible.
Can dogs take Gabapentin?
Gabapentin for dogs is fine. When given exactly what they have been prescribed by a vet, at the dosage that is recommended.
Human Gabapentin for dogs or another dog’s left over Gabapentin is too risky considering what’s at stake.
We should be especially wary of giving dogs our own Gabapentin, even if they’ve been prescribed the same drug.
Humans and dogs can reap the same benefits from a number of different medicines and foods, but some things that work for one of us won’t work for the other.
For example, a dog wouldn’t think twice about eating a raw chicken breast, but this would probably make you quite sick.
Although Gabapentin functions pretty much the same in humans and dogs, we still shouldn’t give medication prescribed for one to the other.
This is always a good rule of thumb.
If your dog has been prescribed Gabapentin, it’s because he needs it.
Epilepsy and chronic pain are not things any of us want our dogs to go through, and this drug can definitely help with both.
So don’t worry about giving your dog Gabapentin if a vet has said so, as it’s side effects are infinitely preferable to frequent debilitating seizures and chronic neuropathic pain.
Have you used Gabapentin for any of your dogs? If so let us know about your experiences in the comments below.
- Pharmacokinetics and metabolism of Gabapentin in rat, dog and man K. O. Vollmer
- Improving seizure control in dogs with refractory epilepsy using Gabapentin as an adjunctive agent M. Gov emir et al
- Gabapentin client information sheet
- British pain society Information for adult patients prescribed Gabapentin for the treatment of pain
- Treatment with Gabapentin of 11 dogs with refractory idiopathic epilepsy. S. R. Platt
- Gabapentin as an adjuvant for postoperative pain management in dogs undergoing mastectomy G. C. Crociolli et al
- Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act of 1994 (AMDUCA) FDA.gov
- Acute hepatic failure and coagulopathy associated with xylitol ingestion in eight dogs E. K. Dunayer et al