Gabapentin for Dogs in Dogs

Written By hannah hollinger
Published: 02/19/2024Updated: 02/19/2024
Gabapentin for Dogs | Wag!

Gabapentin is a type of anticonvulsant and anti-seizure medication used to treat epilepsy in humans, and is also prescribed to help dogs with a range of issues, too. Your vet might recommend gabapentin as part of treatment for your dog – but what does it do, how does it help, and is it safe to use?

Read our quick guide to using gabapentin for dogs to learn:

  • What gabapentin is
  • What conditions gabapentin can treat in dogs
  • Possible side effects of gabapentin for dogs
  • Gabapentin dosage for dogs

If your current pet insurance doesn't cover this treatment and you want to find one that does, try our fast and easy online comparison tool to scan some of the best pet insurance plans from leading providers in seconds.

How can Gabapentin help my dog?

Gabapentin can be used to treat several conditions in dogs. Because it has anticonvulsant and analgesic properties, prescribing gabapentin for dogs can help to prevent seizures and anxiety, and also provide pain relief for serious medical issues such as cancer, arthritis and nerve pain.

An anticonvulsant prevents seizures from conditions like epilepsy by influencing the release of neurotransmitter activity and controlling how the brain interprets information the body. An analgesic relieves pain and inflammation.

So, while gabapentin isn’t a cure for these conditions, it can improve quality of life significantly for many dogs.

Gabapentin is sold under a range of different brand names, including, but not limited to:

  • Neurontin
  • Gaborone
  • Gralise
  • Neurostil
  • Progresse
  • Gantin
  • Aclonium
  • Equipax

Efficacy of gabapentin for dogs

The important question – does gabapentin for dogs work?

The effectiveness – also known as efficacy – will differ from dog to dog. Some might see an improvement within a couple of hours, while for others, it may take several hours longer before you see a positive effect. And, like a lot of prescription medicine, there’s a chance it won’t be effective for your dog’s issues. If this is the case, speak to your vet about an alternative.

One study of gabapentin for dogs with epilepsy found it decreased seizure activity in half of the test subjects. It can be used to help treat cats, too – a study on felines published by the American Veterinary Medical Association found that gabapentin helped control anxiety and compliance before stressful events.

Clinical data supporting gabapentin's analgesic effects in canines is limited. However, there's much anecdotal evidence of its pain-relieving properties for dogs.

A study of postoperative pain levels in canines found that this medication boosted the effectiveness of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen) and vice versa. The dogs given gabapentin required fewer doses of narcotic painkillers than those who were given non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) alone.

How is gabapentin given to dogs?

Gabapentin for dogs can be administered in three different ways. You might be given it in the form of tablets, capsules or as a liquid – whatever format you’re prescribed, it’s given to your dog orally.

Not all dogs will take a tablet, so you may have to be a little sneaky with it. Hide a tablet or capsule in your dog’s food, or tuck into a treat; hopefully they’ll eat it without really noticing.

If you’re offered the liquid version, check the ingredients. Some types of liquid gabapentin may contain xylitol, which is a sugar substitute also used in a wide range of human foods. It’s safe for people to consume but can be toxic for some dogs – xylitol poisoning can be fatal in the most extreme cases.

If the liquid gabapentin for dogs is fine to use, you can add it to food and mix, or preferably use a syringe to squirt it directly into your dog’s  mouth.

Gabapentin for dogs: dosage

When you’ve got your prescription for your dog’s gabapentin, it’s important to administer the correct dosage. If you’re wondering, ‘How much gabapentin can I give my dog?’ make sure you ask your vet for clear guidance. You need to make sure your dog is getting enough to have a positive effect, but not too much that could cause a problem.

Dosage depends on a few different factors. To calculate the correct starting dose of gabapentin, vets consider a dog’s age, size, kidney function, any existing medical issues and the condition it’s being used to treat.

An average starting dose of gabapentin for dogs can range from 3mg per kg to 20mg per kg, twice a day. It can be given with or without food.

Access our extensive guide to treatment and care for dogs here – search our A-Z listings to find quick advice

Side effects of Gabapentin in dogs

As with many or even most medications, there’s always the risk of gabapentin side effects for dogs. It’s generally safe for dogs, but you should be aware of some of the potential side effects that your dog could experience. Can gabapentin kill a dog? It’s extremely rare, but as with all medication, there’s always a minimal risk so keep a close eye on your pet’s behavior – especially after first administering gabapentin.

Possible gabapentin side effects in dogs can include general tiredness, while your dog may sleep more than usual after ingesting it. Your dog might be thirstier than normal too, so make sure you’ve plenty of fresh, clean water available.

Other side effects of gabapentin in dogs can be: 

If your dog is demonstrating side effects after taking gabapentin, and you’re concerned by them, don’t hesitate to contact your vet for further advice. You might be offered an alternative to gabapentin instead.

Other medications could intensify or limit the absorption of gabapentin in dogs. If your dog is currently taking morphine, hydrocodone or antacids, make sure you tell your vet.

How much does Gabapentin cost?

The cost of gabapentin for dogs might vary depending on where you buy from, the strength of the dosage, and the number of tablets or capsules prescribed. Gabapentin is available in four different dose strengths – 100 mg, 300 mg, 400 mg and 800 mg. Each capsule is generally priced at a few cents each.

If you buy a bottle of 100 tablets with a dosage strength of 300 mg, you can expect to pay around $40. That price might be different depending on the price of veterinary care in your area, and whether the drug is a generic or brand name.

In some US states, gabapentin is a controlled substance. Online retailers might not carry the drug – check with your local pharmacist for additional information.

Your dog’s prescription for gabapentin might be covered by your pet insurance plan. WAG! can help you compare popular pet insurance plans in under 30 seconds to help you find the best cover for your dog. Compare plans here.

Gabapentin - frequently asked questions

If your dog hasn’t taken gabapentin before, it’s only natural that you’ll have a few questions. We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions from pet parents here, but always check any specific concerns with your vet.

What should I do if my dog misses a dose of gabapentin?

Never double up doses of gabapentin to make up for a missed dose. Many vets and doctors follow something called the two-hour rule for oral medications. If you realize you've forgotten your dog's meds within two hours of the missed dose, you can give it to them. But, if it's nearly time for the next scheduled dose and your pet isn't exhibiting signs of pain or epileptic activity, then continue their dosage at their regular time.

How do I know if gabapentin is managing my dog's pain?

When gabapentin starts working, your dog may be more active, have a happier demeanor, and return to activities they once avoided – like jumping on furniture or using the stairs. If your dog is doing any of the above, chances are they're feeling much better and the gabapentin is working.

What's the best way to give gabapentin tablets to my dog?

Most dogs hate taking pills — unless they're flavored, of course. Make things easier for you and your pup by hiding their meds in a piece of cheese, meat, or flavored ‘pill pouch’.

My dog gets drowsy when they take gabapentin. Is this normal?

Sleepiness is the one of the single most common side effects of gabapentin in dogs. The drowsiness should subside as your pet gets used to their dosage, but if it continues throughout using it, you should tell your vet. 

How often should I give gabapentin for my dog's anxiety?

Most veterinarians prescribe gabapentin for dogs as needed for anxiety. For some dogs with anxiety disorders, this means taking gabapentin once or twice a month. Dogs with more frequent nervous episodes may need the maximum dosage of three times a day. Consult with your vet to find the right dosage schedule for your dog.

How long does it take for gabapentin to start working?

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

Can I give gabapentin to pregnant or nursing dogs?

Gabapentin should only be used in pregnant or lactating dogs if absolutely necessary. Studies show gabapentin can cause spontaneous abortion and deformities in offspring if taken during pregnancy.

My dog is diagnosed with kidney disease. Can they still take gabapentin?

Dogs with renal failure or low liver function are at higher risk for gabapentin toxicity since their body isn't as efficient at metabolizing these medications. Talk to your vet about the benefits and risks of using this medication for your dog's condition.

Where do I get gabapentin for dogs?

Gabapentin is available at most pharmacies with a written prescription. Do not administer this medication to an animal without a prescription — severe, and sometimes fatal reactions can occur.

Stay on top of your dog’s healthcare needs with a wellness plan, which covers routine vet bills such as annual boosters and deworming. Get a wellness plan here, and compare popular pet insurance plans right here.

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