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Gabapentin For Dogs: Potential Uses In Canines

Gabapentin is a drug that was formally approved in 1993 for the treatment of epilepsy.  It is still commonly used as an anticonvulsant drug, generally as an adjunct.  Roughly a decade later, the drug was approved for the treatment of neuropathic pain.  It is considered to function via modulation of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain.

The drug has a relatively vague mechanism of action that produces anticonvulsant, analgesic, and anxiolytic effects.  Some have compared the drug to various benzodiazepines like Valium (Diazepam) in that it reduces physiological arousal.  It is also frequently prescribed as an off-label treatment for restless leg syndrome, hot flashes, and refractory cases of anxiety.

Due to the fact that many dogs (canines) can experience epilepsy and neuropathic pain, Gabapentin has been researched as a potential pharmaceutical treatment.  It is believed to elicit similar effects in canines as humans, has a high bioavailability, and appears to be well-tolerated.  Just because a drug is well-tolerated does not make it automatically effective.

Gabapentin For Dogs: The Research

It is important to avoid wrongfully assuming that a medication that’s effective for humans is automatically effective for canines and vice-versa.  Although Gabapentin has been approved for the treatment of various human conditions, there is little research that has been conducted investigating its efficacy in dogs.

Absorption: A paper published in 1986 suggested that Gabapentin is well-absorbed by canines and maximum blood levels are reached within 1 to 3 hours of administration.  This paper highlighted the fact that Gabapentin transitions into “N-methyl-gabapentin” in canines; a biotransformation that does not occur in humans.  The peak blood levels occur in dogs and humans both within 1 to 3 hours after ingestion.  The elimination half-life of Gabapentin in dogs is 3 to 4 hours, whereas in humans it is 5 to 6 hours.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3730018

Bioavailability: Research published in 1995 indicates that Gabapentin has favorable bioavailability in canines.  One report highlighted the oral bioavailability of Gabapentin in dogs when administered at 50 mg/kg was approximately 80%.  Maximum blood concentrations were attained within just 2 hours of oral administration in this study.  Furthermore, 34% of the dose was metabolized into N-methyl-gabapentin; a biotransformation that does not occur in humans.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7600909

Gabapentin for Dogs: Potential Uses

Below is some research analyzing the potential therapeutic uses for Gabapentin in dogs.  Due to the fact that most studies are small-scale, it is difficult to suggest Gabapentin’s clinical efficacy for any condition.  Some evidence suggests that it may be an effective adjunct when used for the treatment of epilepsy.

Anticonvulsant effects: There is some evidence to suggest that Gabapentin may be an effective adjunct for the treatment of epilepsy in canines – particularly those with refractory idiopathic epilepsy.  Though the drug does not appear to reduce seizure intensity, evidence suggests that it may reduce both the number of seizures experienced and the number of days on which seizures occur (per week).  It may also increase the time between seizures (interictal period).

Some dogs appear to have more favorable responses to others to Gabapentin when used as an anticonvulsant.  In fact, one study found that some dogs went from having severe frequent seizures to no seizures once Gabapentin was added to their treatment regimen.  Like humans, responses to Gabapentin are likely subject to significant individual variation.

2005: Due to the fact that Gabapentin is an effective adjunct for the treatment of epilepsy in humans means that it could have similar therapeutic effects in canines.  In 2005, researchers tested the efficacy of Gabapentin as an adjunct treatment for dogs with refractory epilepsy.  A total of 17 canines were included in the study; 16 of which were diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy.

All canines included in the study were treated with phenobarbitone and/or potassium bromide for stabilization of seizures.  After the dogs were stabilized (as determined by serum concentrations), 35 to 50 mg/kg of Gabapentin was administered.  This dosage was given 2 or 3 times per day over the course of 4 months.

The dog owners were instructed to document all seizure activity and side effects in a journal.  The dogs had undergone physical examinations and blood sample extractions each month to assess concentrations of the pharmaceutical agents.  The results suggested that there was no significant reduction in the number of seizures experienced during the 4 months with Gabapentin administration.

That said, researchers reported that 3 dogs completely stopped seizing and the interictal period (time between seizures) significantly increased.  The most notable side effect of Gabapentin administration was sedation and loss of muscle control.  Over the long-term, it was reported that 2 of the dogs were seizure free and 10 owners reported benefit from the Gabapentin.

The results from this study suggest that using Gabapentin as an adjunct for the treatment of epilepsy in canines may increase the interictal period with minimal side effects.  Researchers report that the drug may help prevent seizures entirely in certain dogs.  It should be noted that this is a very small scale study, but does show some benefit – even if it’s just lengthening the time between seizures.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16255282

2006: Another study was published in 2006 analyzing the effects of oral Gabapentin administration on 11 dogs diagnosed with refractory idiopathic epilepsy.  They were administered Gabapentin at a starting dose of 100 mg/kg every 8 hours for at least 90 days (3 months).  All dogs included in this study had been experiencing generalized “tonic-clonic” seizures and were regularly treated with both phenobarbital and/or potassium bromide.

Prior to administration of Gabapentin, researchers measured: number of seizures, duration of seizures, and number of days on which seizures occurred.  These baseline measures were then compared to the same measures taken after 3 months treatment.  Researchers interpreted efficacy of Gabapentin based on whether it reduced the number of seizures per week by 50%.

Results suggested that 6 dogs showed marked improvement on Gabapentin treatment.  Gabapentin as an adjunct in dogs reduced the number of seizures per week and number of days with seizures during the week.  Though the drug didn’t appear to reduce the severity of seizures, reducing the number of seizures per week is significant.

Some side effects were noted including both sedation and loss of muscle control, but these were not considered severe.  Though this study was extremely small-scale, it provides more positive evidence for the usage of Gabapentin in canines with refractory epilepsy.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17189599

2009: A newer drug called Pregabalin (brand name “Lyrica”) is considered the successor to Gabapentin.  It is more potent and is classified as a “Schedule V” controlled-substance whereas Gabapentin is not.  Researchers designed a study in 11 canines with idiopathic epilepsy to test both the safety and efficacy of Pregabalin when administered as an adjunct.

Dogs were already being treated with phenobarbital, potassium bromide, and/or a combination of both substances.  All dogs in the study were regarded as having “poorly controlled” epilepsy.  The 11 dogs were evaluated at baseline for the number of generalized seizures in 3 months before treatment, and again in the 3 months during which Pregabalin was added as an adjunct.

Results suggested that Pregabalin significantly reduced seizures after Pregabalin in the 9 dogs that followed through with the study.  Of these dogs, 7 were regarded as “responders” with major seizure reductions.  Some adverse effects were reported in 10 of the dogs, but like in previous Gabapentin studies, they were considered “mild.”

While Pregabalin is certainly not the same drug as Gabapentin, it is considered very similar.  Most individuals report very similar anticonvulsant effects regardless of which specific drug is administered.  Results from this study may support preexisting evidence suggesting the efficacy of Gabapentin for the treatment of seizures in canines.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20001779/

Analgesic effects: Several studies have been conducted to analyze the effect of Gabapentin as a potential analgesic in dogs.  Although most studies were small scale, none of them found a significant benefit associated with using Gabapentin as an adjunct treatment for pain.  In one study, postoperative morphine requirements were reduced in dogs administered Gabapentin, but postoperative pain scores did not significantly differ in the Gabapentin group compared to the placebo group.

2010:  There is evidence to suggest that Gabapentin may be an effective adjunct analgesic treatment for dogs undergoing amputation of a frontal-limb.  To study the effect of Gabapentin as an analgesic, researchers recruited 30 client-owned dogs undergoing amputations.  They performed multiple pain assessments prior to the procedure.

Some of the dogs were administered Gabapentin (10 mg/kg) followed by 5 mg/kg, while others received a placebo.  Administration of Gabapentin was continued for three additional days following the amputation of the frontal-limb.  Every 18 hours post-surgery, in-patient pain evaluations were conducted.

In addition, owners were also asked to assess their dog’s activity level, appetite, and overall soreness within 3 days of being discharged from the hospital.  Results suggested that pain evaluation scores did not significantly differ between the dogs receiving Gabapentin compared to those receiving a placebo.  Although the study was considered small-scale and other analgesics were administered to both groups, there wasn’t significant evidence to suggest Gabapentin’s efficacy for perioperative pain reduction.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20367041

2012: In a randomized, controlled, clinical trial, researchers analyzed the analgesic effect of Gabapentin when administered as an adjunct on 63 client-owned dogs undergoing a hemilaminectomy.  A hemilaminectomy is a surgical procedure conducted to reduce pain caused by an irritated nerve and/or impingement of the spine.  The 63 dogs were divided into 2 treatment groups: one receiving 10 mg/kg Gabapentin orally every 12 hours prior to anesthesia and the other receiving a placebo (gelatin) prior to anesthesia.

Levomethadone and Fentanyl patches were administered to help reduce pain.  Pain was measured with the Glasgow Composite Measure Pain Score (CMPS-SF) and via a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS).  Although pain scores as measured by the CMPS-SF were of a lower “median” in the Gabapentin group, the average differences in pain scores in comparison to the placebo group weren’t of clinical significance.

Researchers suggested that the insignificant differences may be a result of the other opioid / analgesic agents administered to both groups.  They also highlight the fact that Gabapentin dosing may have been inadequate to provide additional pain relief.  This research suggests that Gabapentin is not an effective analgesic adjunct when administered for surgery.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22882632

2015: Yet another study analyzed the analgesic effect of Gabapentin as an adjunct in canines.  This study specifically focused on postoperative pain management following a mastectomy.  A mastectomy is a surgical procedure in which breast tissue is removed.

A total of 20 dogs were included in this study, all of which were undergoing a mastectomy.  The dogs were divided into 2 groups: one group received perioperative oral placebo or Gabapentin (10 mg/kg).  All dogs were administered intramuscular acepromazine and morphine for pain relief, while anesthesia was achieved with propofol (4 mg/kg) and isoflurane.

Postoperative analgesic effects were evaluated for 72 hours.  Dogs in significant pain were administered intramuscular morphine following surgery.  The results of this study documented no significant differences in pain scores among dogs receiving Gabapentin compared to those receiving a placebo.

Gabapentin administration did provide some benefit in that it reduced postoperative need for morphine. This suggests that the dogs administered the Gabapentin may have been getting a subtle analgesic effect, but not significant enough to differ with the placebo group.  This study adds to the existing literature suggesting no significant benefit associated with Gabapentin for the purposes of pain relief in dogs.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25816802

Cancer pain: There is some evidence to suggest that Gabapentin may be an effective alternative treatment for pain associated with various types of cancers in canines.  Although traditional opioids may be preferred for cancer pain management, Gabapentin may be a viable alternative with less pronounced side effects.  Although its analgesic effect may be less noticeable than standard opioids, it may provide mild or moderate relief for canines coping with pain-inducing cancers.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2704117/

Neuropathic pain: There appears to be only one, extremely small-scale report of Gabapentin benefiting dogs diagnosed with refractory neuropathic pain.  Various traditional analgesic treatments were administered, but symptoms did not improve.  Administration of either Gabapentin or Amitriptyline seemed to completely alleviate symptoms.

2009: A report published in 2009 discussed the case of 3 dogs that had chronic behavioral and locomotor disorders associated with pain.  All 3 dogs found no relief with traditional analgesic options including NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), glucocorticoids, and opioid agonists.  All dogs had undergone neurological testing and various diagnostic protocols to rule out other causes of pain.

Each of the dogs was diagnosed with “neuropathic pain” and alternative treatments were considered, one of which was Gabapentin.  Researchers found that by administering either Gabapentin or Amitriptyline (a tricyclic antidepressant), the neuropathic pain significantly improved in all cases.  While this study is small-scale, it highlights the fact that dogs with neuropathic pain may benefit from Gabapentin – particularly those that have poor responses to traditional treatments.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19178477

Conditions Gabapentin May Treat in Dogs

There are several conditions that may improve with administration of Gabapentin in dogs.  Most of the aforementioned evidence is too small-scale to make any definitive conclusions suggesting the drug’s efficacy versus its inefficacy.  That said, most research concludes that the drug may help dogs with epilepsy, but not with pain reduction.

Anxiety: While the research has not specifically studied Gabapentin for anxiety in dogs, there is reason to believe that it may elicit an anxiolytic effect.  This is due to the fact that the drug causes drowsiness likely via modulation of GABA.  This hypothesized GABAergic modulation suggests that (just like in humans) the drug could reduce anxiety.

Epilepsy: There is evidence to suggest Gabapentin’s efficacy in reducing the frequency of seizures in dogs.  Dogs with treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy may significantly benefit from adding Gabapentin as an adjunct treatment to their regimen.  Though further research is warranted, the preliminary evidence is optimistic.

Pain: Upon analysis of Gabapentin’s analgesic effect, it appears to be relatively weak in dogs.  One limitation associated with analgesic research is that the studies are small-scale and the fact that Gabapentin was used as an adjunct.  Researchers highlight that the effect of other opioids may have essentially overpowered the effect of Gabapentin to notice a difference.  Another thought was that Gabapentin may not have been administered at a high enough dosage to elicit a significant analgesic effect.

  • Cancer pain: Some studies suggest that Gabapentin may provide some relief in terms of reducing pain associated with various types of cancers in dogs.
  • Neuropathic pain: One study highlighted the fact that refractory neuropathic pain in dogs may be mitigated with administration of Gabapentin and/or tricyclic antidepressants.
  • Surgery-related pain: When administering Gabapentin as an adjunct to traditional opioids for the reduction of perioperative surgical pain, it appears as though the drug provides no additional benefit. It may reduce the need for additional postoperative opioids (e.g. morphine), but its analgesic effect for surgery-related pain is insignificant in canines.

Limitations of Research: Gabapentin for Dogs

There are many limitations associated with the research of Gabapentin in dogs.  Perhaps the biggest limitation is that nearly every study conducted was extremely small-scale and highly specific.  Therefore results suggesting possible therapeutic potential (or lack thereof) may be subject to significant inaccuracies.

Dosing: In most studies related to analgesic effect, Gabapentin was administered at doses of 10 mg/kg at various time intervals.  Perhaps this was too low of a dose to achieve any significant effect.  It is difficult to administer more than 10 mg/kg due to the fact that there may be potential unsafe contraindications with other opioids and/or analgesics.

Researchers haven’t experimented much with the dosing and therefore may have found insignificant effect because too low of a dose was used.  Other studies administered 35 to 50 mg/kg and 100 mg/kg of Gabapentin and noted therapeutic effect for the treatment of seizures.  It is possible that Gabapentin may be a superior anticonvulsant than it is an analgesic – but alternative strength of dosing needs to be researched; particularly for pain reduction.

Frequency of administration: Research conducted on Greyhounds indicates that Gabapentin is likely rapidly absorbed and eliminated in dogs.  Evidence from a report published in 2011 indicates that frequent dosing is necessary to maintain minimum targeted plasma concentrations of the drug.  Should any of the aforementioned studies have administered Gabapentin at time intervals exceeding 8 hours, the drug may have lost efficacy and ultimately [inadvertently] clouded the results of the study.

(This is based off of the fact that therapeutic efficacy in humans is achieved at 2 μg/mL plasma concentrations of Gabapentin, and that for dogs this concentration would need to be similar to attain a therapeutic effect).

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19854080

Individual variation: Some studies mentioned that there was variation in responses to Gabapentin based on the particular dog.  Some dogs seemed to respond very well, while others did not.  There may be specific genetic biomarkers or breed-specific characteristics associated with increased and/or decreased efficacy of Gabapentin treatment as well as adverse reactions.

Researchers should consider that there may be variation in responses between individual dogs and breeds of dogs.  This remains incredibly difficult due to the already small samples of dogs available for these types of studies.

Lack of research: The research analyzing the therapeutic effects of Gabapentin in dogs is severely lacking.  The studies that have been published tend to include a very small number of canine participants.  Follow-up research has been relatively unfocused and does not seem to expand off of previous findings (or lack thereof).  Maybe researchers have thrown in the towel on Gabapentin in canines due to availability of more proven, effective treatments.

Mechanism of action unknown: It’s more challenging to study a drug with an unknown mechanism of action, specifically in dogs.  While the mechanism of action is believed to be similar in dogs as humans, this cannot be confirmed.  The drug metabolizes into “N-methyl-gabapentin” in dogs – it does not do this in humans or other rodents.  The drug is believed to modulate the neurotransmission of GABA – an inhibitory neurotransmitter.

  • Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12021399

Small-scale studies: Most studies conducted using Gabapentin in dogs have been extremely small-scale. The largest study analyzing Gabapentin’s effects included 63 dogs, with most studies containing less than 20 dogs.  To determine the therapeutic efficacy of any substance, a larger-scale studies need to be conducted.

Thinking Twice Before Using Gabapentin in Dogs…

In most cases, Gabapentin isn’t considered a first-line treatment option for health conditions in canines.  It may be prescribed as an adjunct medication to help control seizures and/or pain, but there isn’t significant evidence to suggest that it helps.  Based on the current body of research analyzing Gabapentin administration in canines, the potential detriment may outweigh the speculative benefits.

  • Adverse reactions: As with any medication, there’s always a potential for adverse reactions.  Most research suggests that adverse reactions are mild and that the drug is well-tolerated.  However, since every dog is different and the presented studies were small, more serious adverse effects may occur including coma and possibly death.
  • Balance / coordination problems: A common adverse effect experienced by dogs upon administration of Gabapentin is that of “ataxia.”  Ataxia is characterized by loss of control of bodily movements.  This may result in balance problems and other coordination problems.  While the ataxia may be relatively benign for most, some dogs may experience functional impairment and/or be increasingly prone to injury as a result.
  • Drowsiness: Perhaps the most common side effect associated with Gabapentin in dogs and humans is that of drowsiness.  This drowsiness stems from Gabapentin’s modulation of GABAergic activity, which decreases physiological arousal.  Should your dog experience drowsiness, he or she may appear more fatigued, less energetic, and sleepy.
  • Interactions:  It is possible that Gabapentin may interact with other drugs that your dog is taking.  For this reason, it is important to talk to your vet to determine any potential contraindications.  Interactions with other drugs may result in serious side effects and could be fatal.
  • Lack of efficacy: Most literature suggests that Gabapentin is ineffective for the treatment of most conditions in dogs.  While the drug may be of benefit to certain dogs that fail to respond to traditional, first-line options, there isn’t significant evidence to justify its administration for most conditions.
  • Superior options: It is thought that there are likely superior medicinal options to Gabapentin for the treatment of seizures and pain.  While Gabapentin may be a helpful adjunct in refractory cases of epilepsy and/or various types of pain, it isn’t usually considered a first-line treatment.

Should Gabapentin be used in dogs?

It is difficult to determine whether Gabapentin should be utilized in canine populations.  The drug appears to be safe with minimal side effects.  However, it remains difficult to justify the drug’s use when most studies suggest that it produces no significant therapeutic effect when compared to a placebo.

Certain veterinarians may prescribe Gabapentin if your dog fails to derive therapeutic benefit from traditional first-line treatments for a condition like epilepsy or neuropathic pain.  As evidenced by certain studies, some dogs may experience marked symptomatic improvement once Gabapentin is added to their treatment regimen.  Therefore the drug may be beneficial to test on an experimental basis with potential therapeutic upside – especially for dogs with epilepsy.

Further research is warranted in order to confirm hypothesized therapeutic efficacy of Gabapentin in canines, particularly as an adjunct treatment for refractory idiopathic epilepsy.  The drug may also prove to be effective in dogs with neuropathic pain.  Potential therapeutic benefit associated with Gabapentin administration in dogs may be limited to cases of epilepsy and neuropathic pain; similar to humans.

How do the effects of Gabapentin differ between dogs and humans?

Difficult to determine whether the drug is as effective in dogs as it is for humans.  Due to neuropsychological differences between dogs and humans, it is difficult to suggest that all effects are the same.  Gabapentin is thought to reach peak blood levels within 1 to 3 hours in both dogs and humans.

It has an elimination half-life that is slightly quicker in dogs (3 to 4 hours) compared to humans (5 to 6 hours).  Some believe that the effects may be similar in dogs as humans.  It is important to highlight the fact that 34% of the Gabapentin is metabolized by dogs into “N-methyl-gabapentin,” whereas this does not occur in humans.  Preliminary evidence suggests that the drug may treat epilepsy and neuropathic pain in dogs (just like humans).

Does your dog take Gabapentin?

If your vet has prescribed your dog Gabapentin to help with a condition such as epilepsy or neuropathic pain, do you believe that it has been therapeutic?  Has it significantly improved your dog’s ability to function (e.g. reduced seizure activity)?  If you’ve noticed any adverse effects or unwanted side effects such as increased drowsiness or lack of coordination, feel free to share a comment below.  Do you think Gabapentin is an effective pharmaceutical treatment option for certain canines with minimal side effects?

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85 thoughts on “Gabapentin For Dogs: Potential Uses In Canines”

  1. It’s interesting to me that vets prescribe such a high dose of the medication initially. So many dogs react poorly to it at the higher dose. I do think that, after a conversation with your vet, starting with a lower dose and gradually increasing to a therapeutic level is the way to go. It seems to be working for my dog, but of course I’m keeping a close eye on him.

    Unfortunately his kidney levels doubled on metacam/meloxicam so he can’t take that – it worked great for him for 6 months. I’m hopeful that the gabapentin will help him too. It does seem to make a difference. I’m also giving 300mgs of turmeric daily.

  2. Major is my 15ish year old Chocolate Lab, a stray that adopted me in 2003, who went on to become 1st a Search and Rescue K9 and then my 1st mobility Service Dog after I had a spinal fusion that year and could no longer accompany him in the field. He was always a VERY energetic boy with a very high ball drive and there wasn’t much that could slow him down.

    2 days before Christmas in 2011 he was incorrectly diagnosed as having Hemangiosarcoma due to him having extremely pale gums, ears, and belly skin, indicating severe anemia. His hematocrit was at an immediately life threatening 11 (it was supposed to be a minimum of 37 to be low normal). Due to my living in a fairly rural area and it being the holidays (I have learned to heartily dread those days and weekends too), we had to wait until Jan 2nd before we could fully stabilize him with 2 blood transfusions at a different vet.

    We then spent all of Jan and Feb getting tests done at U of Penn Animal Hospital trying to get him back to “normal” from what turned out to be Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (caused possibly from an unidentifiable tick borne disease and definitely from hypothyroidism). He showed absolutely no thyroid symptoms which caused all of the numerous vets he saw to brush off my questions of whether that could be a contributing reason for his anemia. I finally decided to just send his blood out to Hemopet where it showed severe hypothyroid problems… he started thyroid meds… and his red blood cell numbers finally started to climb back to normal range.

    The various treatments to save him though, were really rough on him and it was touch and go if he’d make it, but he’s a driven dog and that drive helped him overcome what others thought would surely kill him. He never really came fully back to his over the top energetic self but of course by then he was getting up there in age too. Over the following years the poor boy has endured all kinds of joys from 2 bouts of severe Old Dog Vestibular Disease that’s left him wobbly, to spinal arthritis and disk compression, to a bone spur in his left shoulder, to almost dying yet again in the summer of 2015 from most likely Babesia (he had multiple recurring bouts of 106 degree fevers and severe liver damage which the vets couldn’t figure out the origins).

    Been battling that with antibiotics on and off ever since. This past summer he started limping a lot on his left foreleg so I had him x-rayed (where we found out about the spinal and bone spur issues). Because of his liver problems I couldn’t put him on the typical meds for pain and because of his balance problems, we couldn’t go with anything that would cause issues with that. I take gabapentin for my own bad spinal issues so we opted to try him on a low dosage of it for his pain.

    He was getting a 100mg capsule once a day. At that time I only gave it a short trial because the dosage was too strong for him to keep his balance. Even 12 hours after the dose he was staggering and falling down like the proverbial drunken sailor on shore leave. The limping eventually eased but recently he started limping badly again and it was obvious when he “knuckled” at times on that foot that he must be having neuropathy too.

    So I decided to give the gabapentin one more try. This time tho I’ve been pulling the capsule apart and splitting the dose to give him 1/2 of it twice a day in his meals so that he’s not getting overloaded at one time. I’ve also been giving him a couple of baby aspirin and a 500mg curcumin complex capsule with each meal (tho I have to be careful of the curcumin dosage as that can cause oxalate bladder and kidney stones and he already has some bladder stones of unknown origin).

    First couple of days on the gabapentin he was quite unsteady. When he was walking I made sure to hold on to his harness that he wears 24/7 (fortunately I’m short and he’s a small Lab that weighs only 54 lbs) so that he was steady and to give his foot a bit of a break from having full weight placed on it. He did his best to slip slide away on the floors numerous times but overall it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as his original trial of the drug.

    His urinary incontinence has been more problems lately too but I’ve been having him go out much more often than normal to compensate for the initial gaba break in period. He’s generally been able to hold it except in the morning when he first wakes up. So far every morning has been washing his crate bedding at 6:30am. Oh fun oh joy. When I was first starting my gabapentin it took a while to get beyond that groggy, fuzzy brained stage so I can relate to what he’s going through.

    Oddly enough I’ve noticed that feeling more at lower dosages than when I was at my much higher dosage periods. Even now that I’ve been able to lower my dosage by using curcumin, whenever I have to increase my gabapentin dosage levels a little because of break through pain, I’m a lot “loopier” on a dose that’s only a third of what I previously used to take with no issues. I’m guessing that the body sets a threshold for symptoms and once above that threshold for a while, it doesn’t recognize it as much.

    Conversely if you go below that threshold for a while and then increase a dosage, your body has reset your “line in the sand” and you start the symptom joys all over again. Probably along the same lines as how all drug tolerances develop. Anyhow… the good news is it’s been 4 days now that he’s been on the meds and today his limping has dramatically diminished and he’s starting to have much better control of his balance! Wooooo Hooooo!!

    I’m hoping that means that soon I’ll not have to keep washing pee soaked beds at the crack of dawn! If that doesn’t stop soon I’m going to have to figure out a way to devise a cost effective diaper that will stay in place and not cause walking problems because of his spine and balance issues. Previous attempts at diaper solutions were big flops (there have been so many times that I’ve wished he was female rather than male).

    Hopefully this info aids others with their dog’s Gaba experiences. Gabapentin is definitely a fickle drug as to effectiveness and side effects. Some people it helps a lot with minimal symptoms (fortunately the case for me), others can’t tolerate even small dosages or it doesn’t help at all. The mileage certainly varies for each person and animal.

    Good luck to everyone in their quests to ease their fur kids’ sufferings. They’re very lucky to have such caring “parents”!

  3. We have a 10 year old OES. He has been taking 600 mg twice daily Gabapentin for 5 years following major back surgery for spinal decompression. He had lingering pain after the surgery and after we started him on the Gaba, he was much better. He tolerates it well, but here lately he seems to be voraciously hungry. Has anyone experienced this if your dog has been taking Gaba long term? Thanks for any help you might be able to provide.

  4. I’m sorry to hear of the bad effect many of your dogs have suffered from Gabapentin. My 14 year old Lab/ Border Collie has inoperable oral osteosarcoma. He was on Tramadol and Carprieve, but not controlling pain – so commenced Gabapentin 300mg + Codiene 60mg twice daily. The vet said he would be very drowsy for 2 weeks at least, then as his body got used to the drugs he would improve – that the Codiene helped the Gabapentin to work.

    She was right, he was still able to walk and eat, but 16 days later, the drowsiness reduced and he was back swimming, running, chasing balls etc – without the pain – so grateful he will have a few good weeks now of his limited time. I hope that you will find a solution that suits your dog.

  5. My Westie’s personality totally changed due to what the vet believed to be pain caused by the onset of arthritis. He was very snappy and it was getting such that I was afraid to touch him for fear of being bitten. His whole body seemed to hurt him. Within a short time of being on Gabapentin he is back to his lovely friendly self, enjoying cuddles and walks as before, if not as far. As in humans I guess, every patient is individual and as such their needs and reactions to certain medication will differ. For our Westie this certainly has improved his wellbeing and for that we are grateful

  6. I have a 15 year old Golden Retriever. Around a year ago, he started having issues going up stairs. It was too the point that we had to carry him up the stairs. We took him to the vet, who put him on a steroid. That was horrible! He peed all over the house and you could tell he felt guilty as he had never messed in the house.

    Not even as a puppy! So we brought him back into the vets and she said there was something new being tried on dogs nerve pain. Gabapentin has been a miracle for our dog. He could walk up stairs, go for longer walks and even played with our other dog. It has been over a year.

    We have since moved to a single story house, but our 15 year old now loves to walk our new neighborhood! This drug, like any drug, may or may not help. But if it does, definitely worth it. My dog does sleep a lot and stumbles once in a while but he has done this since he turned 12.

  7. Our dog was prescribed gabapentin in addition to pheno and potassium bromide for seizure control. It’s too soon to make a judgement about seizure control, but the gabapentin has greatly improved his behavior in between seizure events. He is much more calm and “normal” during these times.

    Interestingly, he did well with his first prescription, but his behavior deteriorated once we had the prescription refilled as the pharmacy provided gabapentin from a different manufacturer. We noticed the change, called the pharmacy and they special order the drug from the original manufacturer. The change for the better was almost immediate with the first dose of the “better” gabapentin.

    • Gary Jacuk – Which is the “better” gabapentin? I have a seizure dog and she is on phenol but has been having mild episodes at least once a day. Vet recommended gabapentin, but wanted to check it out before deciding to go ahead. What kind of dog do you have? I have a 10-year old papillon.

      • Robin, The gabapentin which worked better for our 30 pound beagle – was from Solco Healthcare. Interestingly, his latest prescription came from a compounding pharmacy (a long story) and the pharmacist believes the Gaba from the other manufacturer, Actavis, didn’t work as well because the filler they used acted as a diuretic for canines and inhibited his ability to absorb the medication. Complicated business.

  8. My 13.5 yo Kerry Blue Terrier has had spinal & other arthritic pain, so I have been treating her with 50mg Tramadol bid which helped some, but she was still in pain, so my veterinarian suggested 150mg Gabapentin bid along with the Tram. That was too high a dose, as she was beginning to stagger in her rear, so I reduced the Gaba dose to 100mg bid along with the 50mg Tram.

    Three days is too soon to tell, but so far she seems really improved with no side effects. Urine, stools and appetite are normal. She slept a lot before the Tram and Gaba, and that hasn’t changed, but she seems more alert, active, and interactive with me and my other Kerry.

    She had intervals of slight shivering and vibrating her teeth, and I don’t see that now. After she has had a week of treatment with improvement and no side effects I’ll continue the Tram and Gaba. She is otherwise healthy.

  9. Hello, My German Shorthair Pointer has been on Gaba for about 2 yrs now. She takes it for lower back pain, near her hind legs. She has chronic leukemia, has been in remission for 2yrs, it is unknown if her pain is related to the cancer or not. The Gaba helps her a lot so she takes it twice a day. She doesn’t do well if I miss a dose or more, sometimes she starts having withdrawals or her pain comes back (walking stiffly with her back legs). Hope this helps! Jane

  10. My terrier cross is on gabapentin for pain associated with trigeminal neuritis with a possibly inflammatory neurological condition in his spinal nerves causing intermittent lameness that moves from leg to leg and twitches. He had hypersensitive pain in his spinal area which the acupuncturist has noted has drastically reduced with gabapentin. However he still has pain in his paw, he now has diahorrea and is so sleepy he can’t even stay upright to eat.

    He has been on it for three weeks, firstly at 50mg every 12 hours, increased to 80mg every 12 hours this week. He weighs 8kg. I am planning to slowly reduce the gabapentin and add tramadol as I can’t see that sleeping all day is a great life but neither is pain. Hopefully I can find a balance because two specialists have given him a potential good prognosis, even though they cannot name the disease. It is noted to take time to get used to in people.

  11. We put our 14 year old Maltepoo on Gabapentin as a last resort to help what we believe may have been diabetic neuropathy. She was licking and chewing her paws and the vet could find no other reason for this to be happening. We tried many other topical treatments but nothing seemed to work. We started 1 ml dose of the liquid, 2x per day.

    Within a day she stopped licking her paws but began to exhibit signs of extreme fatigue and loss of appetite. By the 3rd day (today) she cannot stand on her own and is completely lethargic. Won’t eat or drink water. By tonight she has become as limp as a rag. We have immediately stopped the Gabapentin are taking her back to the vet for an evaluation.

    Sadly I’m not sure if she will recover and we my have to put her down. I can’t say if it was the Gabapentin or if her little body is just giving up on us, but the onset was so fast and seeing the others on this posting talk about their dogs quickly losing the ability to stand on their own, or other issues we are experiencing, I can’t help believe the Gabapentin may have contributed to her quickly worsening condition.

    I take Gabapentin for a pinched nerve in my neck with excellent results, so thought this would be good for our girl. Just because a med works well for humans it may not for our pets. I’m just sick that we may have done more damage to her.

  12. My dog was prescribed Gabapentin when she started to not be able to walk and put all her weight on her legs. My vet suspected she had a spine issue & will eventually lose movement of all her legs. Within 4 days of taking gabapentin, she was walking normal again & has been on it for almost a year now.

    I can tell her legs are getting weaker, and when I try to lessen her dosage or do every other day, I notice a difference & go back to once a day. It has helped a lot with her issue. She also is on another medication for seizures & we think this also helps with those.

    • Melynda, Glad to see the Gabapentin worked for your dog. May I ask how much your dogs weighs and what the Gabapentin dosage is? Did you notice more sleepiness or any other adverse reactions? I have a 13 year old lab with hip dysplasia and neuropathy. I discontinued meloxicam a few months ago because of side effects. He’s been taking Tramadol for over a year, twice daily (100 mg each dose). I just started Gabapentin this morning; 200 MG in addition to his 100 MG Tramadol. Thanks so much.

  13. My older (16) border collie has been battling arthritis in his spine for several years, and the vet recently suggested tramadol and gabapentin for pain. The amount if gabapentin (400 mg) was way too high for him (24 kg); he was so unsteady I was afraid he would injure himself. 100 mg seems to be OK.

    He’s been on it a month and is still wobbly for a while after he’s had a dose, and there seems to be some cognitive changes which may or may not be related. At his advanced age, I’m considering steroids which may be more effective and have less side effects (he’s done well on them before). Not totally convinced abstention is the way to go, but it’s hard when they don’t talk….

  14. It does not appear to help my dog with the pain. In fact, he seems worse on it. He cannot get up on his own or walk at all or stand for very long. He’s definitely groggy all day long. He’s given 200mg twice/day. I skipped a dose last night and he was able to then get up on his own and walk (although not very well) and stand for much longer.

  15. We have a 13 year old champion Briard. He has been showing ordinary deteriorating conditions associated with age (slowness, reduced appetite and increased arthritis). He recently has had difficulties controlling both his bowel and urinary needs. Combined with difficulty getting up and down, we sought additional treatment from our vet. He was placed on 300mg twice daily of Gabapentin combined with Proin 50mg 3 time daily to control his urination.

    Within 3 days he had totally lost his ability to raise his back legs (dragging them when needing to walk) and was urinating 3- 4 x’s MORE than he ever had been. We have decided to eliminate the Gabapentin immediately hoping his rear legs return to his previous, albeit somewhat slow state (far better than no movement at all which is what we have now). Am glad to report back results of ceased treatment of Gabepentin in 48-72 hours. He returns to our vet in 3 days for a recheck.

  16. My dog has been on Gabapentin for a little over a month. His pain seemed to decrease drastically. However he just started experiencing extreme diarrhea in the middle of the night.

  17. My dog was prescribed this for a UTI. I have no idea why. If the UTI was causing pain, he should have given her something more proven. It’s time for a new vet.

  18. Our 14 year old White German Shepherd is experiencing arthritic problems in her hind legs that is not diagnosed as hip dysplasia. It’s only been apparent over the last 8 months. Up until that time she could still jump in an SUV that’s high off the ground. She then, she developed constant sleeping tremors with her body involuntarily “dancing” around while she sleeps.

    If I call out her name nicely and loudly, it stops. All the while asleep and it does not happen while awake. Our vet suggested 1 1/2 tabs of chewable Rimadyl, which I’ve always avoided because it seems so over-prescribed. But… We’ve now been giving it to our dog for about 3 months. We see no real difference. She then developed a leg motion similar to when you hit that “joy spot” on a dog’s tummy that makes a hind leg go funny crazy.

    But it began happening involuntarily but often. Back to the vet. He asked if we wanted to try Gabapentin and we agreed… Not knowing what it is. The tremors and leg reaction have lessened but not disappeared. The leg reaction either happens when she’s awake or it awakens her and she looks at us as if she’s saying “What’s happening???” Our vets response was “try acupuncture” (which we’d done for about 6 years, up until 8 months ago).

    This was evidently our vets way of saying he had nothing else to suggest. The Gabapentin has possibly made our dog sleep most of the time and when she struggles to get up, her walking is very wobbly. Once up, we can walk a mile or so outside. The problem is, we don’t know if the medication is helping or if all of this is just related to old age.

    She looks great, & her physical was excellent with no serious health issues but, after reading other’s reviews here, we’re thinking of stopping the Gabapentin. The problem being is that in researching, the drug is addictive and cannot simply stop it because of dangerous withdrawal symptoms. I haven’t seen anyone mention how to reduce dosage, and for how long,’in order to alleviate withdrawal.

    Any thoughts? Wishing everyone here love and all the best with their “babies”.

  19. My 14 year old border collie mix has been on gabapentin and meloxicam for arthritis pain. He also has a history of seizures (frequency of about 4-6/year). He does appear to have gained some mobility and pain relief on this regimen. He has had some ataxia and diarrhea, but that has subsided over some weeks. He has been on gabapentin for about a year and has not had a seizure since starting it, which is a huge benefit. Generalized seizures were very hard on our old dog, leaving him exhausted and less mobile for about a day after each one.

  20. My daughter’s 12 year old lab mix has been having trouble with what the vet believes is ACL injuries and arthritis. This last time she’s tweaked it she hasn’t been healing up so the vet gave her Gabapentin in addition to other medication. Within a few days it became apparent that this medicine was causing some side effects, she was having major coordination problems where it seemed like her legs were like rubber and she couldn’t get stable.

    She also seemed drugged, not just drowsy or sleepy, but like she couldn’t get her mind to do what she wanted either. It’s not good when we are trying to help her protect her leg so it will heal and she can’t stand up and falls flat, much less trying to get her in and out of the house to go to the bathroom. Hope the drug gets out of her system quickly.

  21. I have recently adopted a 13 year old lab that has been kept on a chain most of his life and was in bad shape. His back legs remain bent and has obvious arthritic hip and shoulder pain. Initially vet tried tramadol and meloxicam, but he slept all the time and soon vomited each time I gave him the tramadol.

    I stopped the tramadol and with the melicam alone he began showing some personality but obvious pain. I tried doggie aspirin and that has been a good choice. He is eating and is excited to go outside for short walks with my other labs. Vet said to try gabapentin and the first day, we are back to sleeping. I am torn what to do. I know first hand arthritis is painful but I also know that movement is essential. Anyone else tried doggie aspirin?

    • I realize it’s too late for this response, but you should never give doggie aspirin with meloxicam/metacam (or any other NSAIDs) this could cause an overdose and send the dog into renal failure. Hope you found a good way to manage the pup’s pain and bless you for adopting a senior dog. Meloxicam is a great NSAID (one of the safest ones as well) sometimes adding tramadol will help (always check with your vet).

  22. My dog is 17 years old… she weighs 52lbs. The last year she has started to stiffen up in her back legs. A month ago I went to the vet clinic and they put her on Tramadol HCL 50mg-every 8 hours. Once her blood work came back clear they also put her on Carprofen 100mg-every 12 hours. After a month she was still the same. Her back legs were a little wobbly. Went back to clinic and they added a third pill Gabapentin 300mg-every 12hrs.

    After her first dose I came home after 5 hours and she couldn’t even stand. I asked the pharmacist if 300mg capsule was too much. They said no. I gave her one more capsule after 12hours and she couldn’t even get up. That was four days ago. I stopped giving her the Gabapentin. And she can get up on her own, go outside and go to the bathroom by herself. Se wants to walk… I feel if she was in pain she wouldn’t want to walk. I think the clinic was overmedicating her!

  23. My 10 year old greyhound has done really well with the addition of Gabapentin 100 mg twice a day with her Methocarbomol 500 mg twice a day last April 2015. She definitely has good days and not so good days but the Gabapentin helped a lot. She seems to be worse again recently so I’m going to increase her dose to see if this helps her.

    I think it’s one of those meds that either work or don’t. And you know pretty quickly. It never worked for my other girl and in fact made her so loopy I think she fell as a result of being so sedated from it which made her go downhill quickly. If you try it and your dog is not doing well on it stop it right away and talk to your vet.

  24. My German Shorthair Pointer has stage 5 lymphoma in the bone marrow. She had chemo and has been in remission for over a year now; she is on a daily low dose chemo capsule which she tolerates well. She did start showing pain in her spine so the vet put her on gabapentin for a couple weeks (only), which seemed to help a little. But the pain kept coming back, so now she is on the gabapentin long term. Once she had taken it for about 3-4 weeks she started eating much better, gained 3lbs, and is much more active.

  25. Has anyone seen loss of bladder control when on Gabapentin? My 12 year old Scottish Deerhound is on it for back leg pain and now has lost bladder control.

    • Yes, Anna. Our 11 y/o boxer began leaking again after years of successful urinary-incontinence management with DES when a neurologist recently prescribed Gabapentin for neuropathic pain. The reason we took her to the neurologist was to diagnose her ataxia, which he attributed to degenerative myelopathy.

      Ironically, he prescribed Gabapentin for arthritis, which exacerbated her ataxia, made her lethargic, and dampened her mood. We’re going to talk to our vet about taking her off the Gabapentin immediately.

    • Mt 13 yr old lab was given gabapentin for cancer and after soon after she started taking it began to lose control of her bowels. Is this normal?

  26. My 14 year old 70lb Golden Retriever Mix has been on Previcox for about 3 years for arthritis pain and aggression due to pain. He had severe Kidney failure 1 year ago Feb 2015, we almost lost him. We did subcutaneous fluid treatments at home for about a month and he is on a special renal dog food now. Amazing he is functioning. We stopped the Previcox at the time of Kidney failure to preserve his kidneys.

    He started getting grumpy & aggressive again and we thought he was in pain. Started Previcox again at a lower 1/2 dose of 227mg pill and definitely helped him with pain, better mood. Tried laser therapy for what we thought was arthritis and didn’t seem to help him. Decided to try hydrotherapy (underwater treadmill) to make him feel better.

    Had an full orthopedic exam before the hydrotherapy and learned he has full joint movement and therefore, not arthritis bothering him. But muscle wasting and loss and nerve pain in legs and hips. Continued on the 1/2 227mg Previcox and tried to add 300mg Gabapentin 2x day. It totally knocked him out cold, that he could not even stand up. He acted as if he was paralyzed and his legs were limp.

    Very scary! Stopped the Gabapentin after 3 doses. Went to special rehab vet again and recommended trying lower dose Gabapentin 100mg 2x a day, six weeks after we stopped Gabapentin. Now he is on one full 227mg Previcox keep in mind. Today was his last day of Gabapentin after a one week trial on a lower dose! No improvement for our dog. The side effects were too adverse. He can barely stand.

    His back legs when standing up straight are half bent. His front legs are criss crossing more when he walks and then while walking outside for about 10feet he plops down on the ground legs all out and cannot stand up! Needless to say, this is making our dog worse and not better. His lack of coordination was sever as it was, and this has made it 10x worse that he can barely stay standing up or walk.

    I am going to my regular vet and the rehab vet. Needless to say my regular vet said do not give him the gabapentin because of the kidney failure. The rehab vet said give it to him and is aware of the kidney failure. I think the best advice is to observe how your dog acts if you do try this medication and write a daily log of what they were like before they are on the medication and after to see if the benefits are worth it!

  27. We started to administer gabapentin to our 13 year old collie mix this week for arthritis-based pain. She’s experiencing awful ataxia, sleeplessness and just seems zoned out. Will these side effects go away with further use?

    Her negative side effects remind me of a time we tried ace promazine for thunderstorm anxiety. Are these drugs at all related? I’m hesitant to keep using gabapentin because of the negative effects. We haven’t seen any major pain reduction, but maybe it hasn’t been long enough.

    I will follow up with my vet, but this discussion has also been useful.

  28. My 12.5 y/o lab just started gabapentin about a week ago, the vet prescribed for her hip and elbow dysplasia, she has been in a little more pain during the winter. The vet wanted her to take 300mg twice daily in lieu of her tramadol and carprofen combo, but she can take those for breakthrough pain. So I started giving her half of her tramadol and carprofen doses to wean her down or off and just within a couple of days she seemed to ambulate much better!

    She’s 12 so she’s already kinda lazy but she will play hide and seek with the ball as an alternative to catch. I have not seen an GI issues as of yet, so I’m pretty happy. As for the cost, as someone else mentioned, I have her prescriptions sent to Walmart and with the exception of carprofen, the tramadol and gabapentin are on walmart’s discounted med list. Otherwise I pick up her rejuvenate at the vet. I hope this helps someone!

  29. My dog was placed on prednisone and gabapentin for pain management for inoperable cancer. She is doing great on both drugs and is very happy on both drugs. She does eat a little more because of the prednisone but it has been 4 months and the drugs seem to be helping drastically. When we brought her into the specialist she could barely even walk. Now she runs around and acts like a puppy again at age 9. So far it has been a wonderful experience on the drug.

  30. I have a 5 year old Doberman who has had 2 knee surgeries (TPLO on his left knee and a lateral tear on the same knee a year later). He is currently 3 months post the 2nd surgery (lateral tear) and is still toe touching. He will use his leg if running but will barely use it if walking or standing. Panzer is on Trimadol, Amantadine, Gabapintin, Adequan, and laser txms. Nothing seems to help his knee… Anybody out there have experience like this? He was also just diagnosed with early stage DCM.

  31. I’m unsure when this article was written, but judging by the dates on the comments, it is recent. How odd to read that gabapentin is not well supported by research when vets in the SF Bay Area (many of them grads of prestigious UC-Davis vet school) have been prescribing gabapentin for neuropathic, and/or refractory, and/or pain of unclear origin, for years. My elderly chihuahua has been on it for at least 3 years. Is it possible that the benefits I see are placebo? When he misses a dose he becomes very touchy around and about the neck and the muscles leading to the neck. Maybe he’s simply habituated?

    • I agree with your thoughts… my vet is a graduate of Cornell University – their veterinary program is renowned for its research, etc. We have been on Gabepentin (2-3X/day) and Tramadol (as needed) for neuropathic pain associated with Syringomyelia – we definitely notice when we have missed a dose. My pup is lethargic, but so our day goes as I work from home and she is cozy sitting behind me in my work chair. When awake she is excited to walk and explore outside. I am committed to her med schedule to keep her as pain-free as possible.

  32. Just put my pug Sheena on gabapentin for pain relief. It makes her sleepy so she gets it early morning and before bed just 0.5 and will increase in 5 days not sure if it is helping. She walks great for about 20 min, then is a little unsteady. Then she sees a dog and starts jumping like a rabbit and you would think she is fine. So without seeing a neurologist, not really sure she has had the correct diagnosis. She has only had problems since December 23rd. We will wait and see.

  33. My 17 year old dachshund has osteoarthritis in his hips and shoulders. He was in pain and could hardly move. My vet put him on gabapentin (pain) and metacam (inflamation). I seemed to eliminate pain. He’s been on it for two years now. His mobility has continued to degrade slightly but he is still playful and gets around on his own.

    He can’t play fetch anymore, but he’ll bring me his ball when he wants to play hide and seek. I hide the ball in some blankets and he roots around till he finds it. During the winter months I add tramadol. The cold and wet really.

  34. We have been treating our elderly mixed-breed doggie (~30 lbs) who was having incredible hip/nerve pain with 100mg gabapentin twice a day. It has had a marked effect and has improved his ability to move easily. My husband stopped giving it to him when the prescription ran out because it is so very expensive to buy.

    However, I did not know that. I noticed our dog was having difficulty moving again yesterday and asked him if he had dosed the dog and he told me that we had no more. Soooooo, that was significant evidence to me that the medicine does indeed have an effect on pain for our dog. By the way, we are going to get more today! Poor doggie…

    • Has anyone tried having the prescription written by the vet but filled at a regular pharmacy? I take gabapentin myself and it is on the generic list at Walmart and only costs $4.00 to fill.

      • I am reading up on gabapentin, as we are adopting an older dog who is on it for arthritis of the spine. One of the pharmaceutical websites cautioned against using the human form of gabapentin because it has xylitol in it, which is very toxic to dogs.

        It looks like some human pill forms of gabapentin can also have xylitol in them. So, bottom line: I’d check with the pharmacist before giving your pet any human medicine to ensure it doesn’t have xylitol in it.

        I’m guessing that xylitol (which is an artificial sweetener, often found in sugarless chewing gum) is used in the pill coating. I learned the hard way about xylitol’s toxicity to dogs when our 100 lb lab ate 5 pieces of gum with xylitol in it. Thank Heaven he survived, but he spent two days in ICU.

        • You can also get it compounded through a compounding pharmacy. My vet calls it in and they compound it into a bacon-flavored liquid. 100mg/ml and a 30ml bottle costs 45 bucks (It says K9 on it and I still ask to make sure it doesn’t contain xylitol). Another thing to note is that my vet prescribed the 100mg pills twice a day for my 22lb dog. I had another dog who was on it and had severe ataxia from it so I quit giving it to him.

          This time I tried for 1 week and watched my sweet pup become a zombie, depressed, lethargic and totally uninterested in life. That’s when I had it compounded and we switched to 50mgs 1x a day (night). Now he gets 25mgs in the morning and 50mgs at night. He’s back to his bright-eyed silly self and although he seems a bit out of it at night, he isn’t depressed or lethargic during the day.

          I was told that in order for it to truly to be therapeutic, he needs to be on a higher dose, but that it was ok to slowly build him up to it. Even at this lower does it seems to be helping. He does get painful at night though for some reason – maybe he plays too hard during the day because he feels good?

          And he sometimes (not every night) yelps out in pain when he readjusts his position while sleeping. Anyway, to everyone whose pup becomes listless, you might consider talking to the vet about lowering the dose and slowly building it up. Seems to be working for Max.

    • Hi, Costco has it for super cheap. We pay about $14 for 60 day supply. It’s working really well for my old achy dog too.

  35. Our 15.5 yr old Schnauzer mix just started taking Gabapentin for help with his arthritis. Due to developing kidney disease, other arthritis meds were not recommended for him. He had already been sleeping more over the last year or two, and though slightly unsteady after his first dosage, he seems more comfortable and not anymore unsteady or tired than your average 95 yr. old granddad might be. Interesting mix of comments here. I hope it helps our dog for his remaining time with us.

  36. My 13 yr old Bischon was put on this last night for pain in his back. We think he jumped off the couch and hurt himself. He has only had two pills and I have already seen the adverse effects. He hasn’t eaten yet today, very wobbly when he does get up because all he wants to do is sleep. I will NOT continue to give him this medicine. He seems worse than ever. Unfortunately I think I may have to make that choice. I will not keep him here for my own selfish reasons. He deserves better.

    • Sounds like a herniated disc. Please do not put him down without finding out and trying a better cocktail of drugs. Gabapentin works better when given with tramadol. He may not be eating just because of the pain but it just means you need a better cocktail of meds. Our dog is on Meloxicam, tramadol and gabapentin, but gabapentin is the last drug added.

    • Karen, how long did it take for the adverse effects to subside once you stopped administering gabapentin? Our dog showed the same adverse effects, but she’s been off for 24 hours and is still not eating or moving from her bed.

  37. My 13 year old lab was started on this for arthritis in her shoulders, back and hips, she also takes previcox and tramadol. She has shown much improvement, walks easier and doesn’t tire out as easily. The sleepiness isn’t a big issue since she slept a lot before the gabapentin. Her gait has actually improved. I’ll continue using it since it has really helped her.

  38. My dog has a herniated disk. It’s been two day that my dog has been on this medication (50mg). I don’t believe it’s helping. He’ is still in pain- heavy panting, whining and loss of apetite.

    • Nena, gaba won’t be enough for a herniated disc. It needs to be given in conjunction with melodixicam and tramadol. This should help way more. Our dog is on her third herniated disc and this combination works best. She’s now going for surgery Monday.

  39. My 60 lb pit/lab mix started gabapentin November 2nd for severe back pain/neck pain. She takes it 3x a day along with tramadol. I saw the positive effects almost immediately. However, her sleepiness is horrible. She sleeps all day and we have to wake her to go out and eat. She does go out and she seems to be pain free and enjoys a good walk.

  40. My dog was put on gabapentin yesterday for nerve pain in his back/arthritis. The thing that concerns me most is the potential for a bad interaction because he is also taking hydrocodone. Is that possible interaction mainly related to use in humans or also in dogs. He’s also being treated at the same time for bronchitis so the poor thing is being inundated with alot of meds. I’m assured by my vet that all this is in order to give him. I just wish I could be so sure. Can I get another opinion? Many thanks.

  41. My dog had a cervical vertebral injury recently. He was in extreme pain and whelped each time he moved. My vet gave him morphine for the first 2 days. When the effect of morphine wore out, he was whelping again. He was then put on gabapentin and meloxicam. The relief was instant.

  42. My 9 year old Doberman recently underwent radiation treatment and chemotherapy for cancer, osteosarcoma in his front leg. The Dr. Prescribed Tramadol, Derramax and Gabapentin initially and now he suggests just Gabapentin. I don’t see much of a difference with him on the Gabapentin or off it which makes me want to keep him off it, but the Dr. says to keep him on it.

    My dog is extremely high energy and is barely limping despite the bone tumor/cancer. It’s actually difficult to keep him from playing hard and running so as not to injure his leg. I’m tempted to stop the Gabapentin however I also don’t want to go against the doctors orders. I just think Why use any drug if it doesn’t seem to be needed. Does anyone have any thoughts??

    • It can take up to 3 months for the impact of Gabapentin to be seen, so I would not recommend weaning him off of it unless he is having adverse effects.

  43. My 9 y/o Labrador retriever was put on gabapentin and previcox for hip dysplasia. OMG, I wish I had not given them to him. He is off Previcox, but I am weaning the gabapentin. He definitely experienced ataxia, which was made worse by his hip dysplasia. His stomach roils and he wants to eat grass constantly. I am giving him Pepcid for his stomach, but will put him back on the Meloxicam which seemed to help with discomfort without the side effects.

    • Previcox is known for stomach upsets and causing liver/kidney failure rather soon in older dogs, bloods should be done BEFORE they take it. The amount of dead dogs eventually forced them to include that advice on pack inserts! Meloxicam is gentler and you can use less, but again minimal dose is best. Why not try the injectable Pentosan/cartrophen? It’s very effective for severe arthritis and joint problems. 1 injection subcutaneous a week for 4 weeks can give relief in some days and ongoing ease for 6 moths or so.

    • My 8 year old suffering from an undiagnosed spinal condition causing back leg problems was prescribed Gabapentin too see if nerve pain relief eased his symptoms. It has not been confirmed that he is in pain but thought worth trying. Within the first day his stomach was making horrendous noises and he had an increased desire to eat grass. He has been noticeably drowsy and on day 5 today he staggered on both back legs as never before. I am surprised that a vet prescribed something with a known common side effect of ataxia to a dog who is already suffering a mobility problem!!! I will not be continuing this medication for my dog.

  44. Gabapentin has been useful in reducing post-operative activity in my dog. His anxiety due to lack of exercise also seems well-controlled. The dog had a growth removed from between his toes, and it is a essential for healing that his ordinarily high activity level be curtailed. So the drowsiness for him is beneficial; he needs doggy “bed rest.” I haven’t noticed any ataxia. Gabapentin was prescribed as a more humane and safer alternative to ace, which is similar to Thorazine. The drug is being co-administered with tramadol for pain. There does not appear to be any increased analgesic effect compared with tramadol alone.

  45. My dog was prescribed gabapentin for a knee injury, small back injury and onset of arthritis. It made things worse. When getting up either drowsiness, or lack of muscle control made the dog uncoordinated. Also made her sleepy, lack of life and I suspect depressed. It may have benefits in a very old sick dog but I certainly won’t be giving her this anymore. I also suspect it upset her stomach and gave her very bad diarrhea, which I thought was caused by kangaroo meat. She now eats kangaroo without any problem. Sorry, needs a lot more R&D.

  46. My dog has been undergoing chemotherapy for squamous cell carcinoma for 8 months. As things have progressed and the cancer is aggressive, the chemo is barely controlling it. He has been on tramadol for pain relief, but at one point it seemed he was still in terrible pain, so I brought him to his vet. She prescribed gabapentin as a last resort for pain control for his final days.

    Within a day of using it, and cutting back his tramadol, his eyes were open again, he was more cheerful and active (not like normal, but at least better), and his appetite increased. He has done well and continues to do relatively well symptomatically since then, but only a short time. Since the tumor isn’t reducing, this will likely be his final medication. He put himself into a crate I had out for the cat tonight, so I think he’s looking for a hiding spot to pass away in.

      • @Jason, that was very hurtful, and not your business to judge. I have a 19 year old dog, who isn’t doing well the last couple weeks, but my after seeing my vet before making appointment to “put him down”, we discussed any options that may give him relief to try. We upped the gabapentin and tramadol, and he also needs a heart pill and antibiotic, his chest congestion only started a few days ago.

        I would not be okay with helping my beloved to the Bridge if I didn’t think I tried everything for him. I will know in a few days if this course helps him… if not, he will meet his brother, deceased before him 1 & 1/2 years ago. It is not for you to pass judgement.

        • That was very rude of you Jason, not to mention incredibly hurtful. Have you ever heard the saying, “If you have nothing nice to say then say nothing at all?” The vets know if animals are in so much pain and so do the owners. I’ve had several people say that at a certain point closer to death that all they have to do is look into their pets eyes to know it’s time to let them go. Medications have came a long way, there’s nothing wrong with monitoring our beloved pets and treating them, that’s love, not selfishness.

      • Jason you ARE SELFISH!!! Your comment tells me as soon as your dog would be diagnosed with a fatal disease you wouldn’t hesitate putting your dog down long before his time to go! Dogs want to be with their owners! In the comfort of THEIR HOME, comforted, loved, reassured, by their parent!!

  47. My 3 year old vizsla was exhibiting nerve pain and was in severe discomfort which had worsened over months. Previcox didn’t seem to be helping. She has been on gabapentin for 3 weeks. The benefits were immediate and her gait and mood are hugely improved. She has a lot of walks but in between times is much more tired.


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