Dog waiting to take gabapentin prescription

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If your dog suffers from seizures or anxiety, your vet may prescribe gabapentin. Gabapentin is a prescription medication that treats pain, seizures, and anxiety in pets. Because it has different uses, it's crucial to understand gabapentin for dogs' dosage by weight to ensure you're giving them the proper amount based on their current needs.

So what is the gabapentin for dogs dosage by weight? It depends on what your vet is using it to treat and your dog's weight and overall health. Keep reading to learn more about how vets determine the correct gabapentin dosage for your dog.

What is Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant commonly prescribed to treat seizures, pain, and anxiety in dogs. This medication works by modifying the neurotransmitter activity in the brain1 and is used as an extra-label prescription for pets.

Gabapentin is given by mouth, but the set schedule for your dog will depend on the condition your vet is trying to treat. Ultimately, the gabapentin for dogs dosage by weight will depend on several other factors. For example, the gabapentin for dogs dosage by weight for anxiety may be different from the dosage for treating seizures.

Uses

Gabapentin has a wide range of uses, including treating nerve pain, seizures, and anxiety. This medication is often used in conjunction with other pain medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain associated with neuropathy by blocking calcium channels in the central nervous system to prevent particular neurons from being stimulated by pain.2 Additionally, gabapentin may be effective at reducing chronic joint pain from arthritis and other diseases. However, more research is needed to determine its efficacy in treating pain in dogs.

Gabapentin was originally developed to treat seizures, which is why it's classified as an anticonvulsant. While we don't yet know how exactly gabapentin works to control seizures, it's been proven effective at reducing their length and severity of them.3

Another common use for gabapentin in dogs is for anxiety management. Combined with other anxiety medications, it may drastically reduce symptoms associated with anxiety in dogs. Unfortunately, there's limited research on the efficacy of gabapentin for dogs for anxiety.4 However, a recent study on the effects of a single oral dose of gabapentin to treat storm phobias in dogs demonstrated a significant reduction of the fear response in dogs given doses of gabapentin ranging from 25 or 30 mg/kg.5

Side Effects

While gabapentin is tolerated well by most dogs, no medication is perfect. However, the side effects associated with gabapentin are generally mild since vets usually prescribe low trial doses to determine the medication's effectiveness and safety. The most common side effects of gabapentin for dogs are tiredness (sedation) and loss of coordination. Other side effects include:

  • GI upset
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Increased appetite6

List of potential drug interactions with gabapentin

Drug Interactions

Gabapentin is commonly prescribed alongside other medications. For example, your dog might take fluoxetine daily and gabapentin before stressful events like going to the vet. However, it may interact with some drugs, so it's crucial to let your vet know if your dog is taking any medication, vitamins, or supplements. Potential drug interactions include:

  • Antacids
  • Hydrocodone
  • Morphine

What Is The Recommended Gabapentin Dosage For Dogs By Weight

Gabapentin dosage by weight is the most common way vets determine how much of this medication to administer to your dog. It comes in a variety of doses — 100 mg, 300 mg, 400 mg, and 800 mg — but your dog's particular prescription will depend on the condition being treated. The recommended gabapentin dosage for dogs by weight for seizures is 10 mg/kg as a starting dose twice daily or up to 30-60 mg/kg twice daily.7 As a general rule, the recommended dosage of gabapentin for dogs by weight is 5 mg/kg every 12 hours.

Gabapentin comes in 100 mg, 300 mg, 400 mg, and 800 mg doses

However, every dog and condition is different. For example, the dosage for anxiety may be much higher or lower than the recommended gabapentin dosage by weight for pain. For this reason, vets typically prescribe a low starter dose and ask that pet parents monitor their pets for signs of adverse reactions and report back with changes in their pet's behavior or perceived pain levels.

Since gabapentin dosage for dogs by weight varies greatly depending on the condition, it's crucial to follow your vet's instructions to obtain the desired result. Some dogs may require much higher doses than others.

It's also important to note that gabapentin can take up to two hours for improvement in clinical signs. However, it can take a few weeks to achieve the desired result when given as an anti-seizure medication. Therefore, if your vet prescribed gabapentin to treat your dog's storm phobia, you should administer it at least two hours before the storm hits. As a short-acting medication, it should stop working within 24 hours.8

Gabapentin typically takes two hours or less to take effect

What Happens If You Miss A Dose?

If you miss a dose of gabapentin, you should wait and give them the next scheduled dose.6 Doubling your dog's dosages could increase their risk of an overdose.

Gabapentin Safety

There are several things to consider when administering gabapentin to your dog. First and foremost, your dog can overdose on gabapentin if they consume too much. Additionally, some liquid forms of gabapentin may contain xylitol, a known toxin to dogs. An overdose can cause life-threatening drops in blood sugar levels and liver damage.6

If you've accidentally given your dog too much gabapentin or consumed more than they should, contact your vet or go to the nearest emergency vet clinic as soon as possible. You can also contact the Pet Poison Helpline at (855-764-7661) for the next steps.

Overdoses are completely preventable. Your vet will likely start your dog on a low dose of gabapentin to gauge if it's an effective medication for whatever condition they're treating. From there, they can tweak the dose by increasing or decreasing it based on your dog's needs.

Additionally, you can purchase a pill organizer for your dog to ensure you don't accidentally give them a double dose. You should also store your dog's medication properly by keeping the child-proof lid on it at all times and locking it away in a medicine cabinet or somewhere your dog can't reach.

Always consult your vet before giving your dog gabapentin. You may have gabapentin for humans or another pet in your home, but you should only give your dog medications prescribed for them. Do not, under any circumstances, give your dog gabapentin prescribed for humans or other animals because they may require a different dose. The gabapentin dosage by weight for dogs differs from other species. In addition, gabapentin might not be safe for your dog. Some dogs should not take gabapentin, such as those suffering from liver or kidney disease.

In addition, if your dog takes gabapentin every day, you should not stop administering it abruptly because this can increase their risk of adverse side effects, potentially causing seizures.8 Instead, your dog must be weaned off this medication over the course of two or three weeks at the advice of your vet.

FAQs

How quickly does gabapentin work in dogs?

Gabapentin typically starts working in two hours or less. However, if your dog is taking gabapentin daily to treat seizures, pain, or anxiety, it may take a few weeks for you to notice any significant improvements. Gabapentin is considered a fast-acting medication, so if you're using it for situational anxiety, you can give it to your dog two hours before a triggering event. For example, if your dog is afraid of the vet, you can give them gabapentin beforehand to help them stay calm.

Does gabapentin make dogs sleepy?

One of the side effects of gabapentin is sedation, which is why it makes such a good anxiety medication for dogs. However, the level of sleepiness varies from dog to dog. Some dogs may not feel tired on gabapentin, while others may nap more frequently until the medication wears off.

That said, gabapentin shouldn't overly sedate your dog. Your vet will give your pet a low starting dose, and you should report back with any side effects, including sedation, to help your vet determine whether they should increase or decrease the dose. In some instances, your vet may suggest increasing the dosage on an as-needed basis.

For example, if your dog takes 50 mg of gabapentin every 12 hours to manage their daily anxiety, your vet might recommend they take an additional amount of the medication for triggering events. In this case, they might suggest giving your dog an extra 25 mg of gabapentin two hours before stressful events like vet visits, thunderstorms, or fireworks.

If gabapentin overly sedates your dog, your vet will likely decrease the dose and have you report back to see if there are any improvements in your dog's condition and their overall sleepiness.

Is gabapentin a strong painkiller for dogs?

Gabapentin is an analgesic that's well-tolerated by most healthy dogs and can help relieve pain associated with neuropathy and arthritis. It's typically used with other pain medications for dogs, such as NSAIDs or opioids, to further reduce inflammation and pain associated with a wide range of conditions.

Happy young man holding up and kissing his Boston Terrier

Final Notes

Gabapentin for dogs has a variety of clinical uses that can improve your dog's quality of life. Unfortunately, more research is still needed to determine its effectiveness at treating certain conditions like anxiety. However, numerous studies have been done on the effects of gabapentin in treating seizures and pain.

In any case, your vet may prescribe gabapentin to your dog as a trial to determine if it's effective for treating pain, seizures, or anxiety. Wondering if gabapentin can help your dog? Try Dutch telemedicine today.

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References

  1. "Gabapentin: Uses, Side Effects, and Safety." Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323681.

  2. Harari, Joseph. "Pain Management in Small Animals with Lameness - Musculoskeletal System." Merck Veterinary Manual, 22 Mar. 2023, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/musculoskeletal-system/lameness-in-small-animals/pain-management-in-small-animals-with-lameness?query=gabapentin.

  3. "U.S. Service Animals - Gabapentin for Dogs: How It Helps Dogs with Seizures." U.S. Service Animals Blog, 6 Jan. 2023, https://usserviceanimals.org/blog/gabapentin-for-dogs/.

  4. Erickson, Amelia, et al. "A Review of Pre-Appointment Medications to Reduce Fear and Anxiety in Dogs and Cats at Veterinary Visits." The Canadian Veterinary Journal = La Revue Veterinaire Canadienne, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2021, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8360309/.

  5. Bleuer-Elsner, Stephane, et al. "Effects of a Single Oral Dose of Gabapentin on Storm Phobia in Dogs: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Crossover Trial." The Veterinary Record, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33993491/.

  6. “Gabapentin .” MSPCA, Plumb's Veterinary Medication Guides, https://www.mspca.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Plumbs-Gabapentin.pdf.

  7. “Table: Antiepileptic Drugs.” Merck Veterinary Manual, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/multimedia/table/antiepileptic-drugs.

  8. "Is Gabapentin Safe for Dogs?" Drugs.com, https://www.drugs.com/medical-answers/gabapentin-safe-dogs-3570904/.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

How much will it cost for Dutch to treat my pet?

The Dutch membership starts at $6/month for unlimited access to the vet. No more long waits for appointments or surprise bills.

In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.