Gabapentin is a generic name of the drug Neurontin. The drug was originally used to treat epilepsy, and now, Gabapentin is being used for pain relief and as an anti-depressant. The drug does not have the approval of the FDA to be used in dogs, but the prescription of the drug for animal use has become common in practice for vets.
How It is Used
In the past, Gabapentin has been used to treat dogs with epilepsy to control seizures, however, it is now more commonly used to treat chronic pain. It has been observed that Gabapentin is most effective when combined with other analgesic drugs, including NSAIDs.
How It Works
Gabapentin mimics the chemical structure of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA. The neurotransmitter is believed to help calm the nerve activity of the brain. So, when an epileptic dog has a seizure, the drug is able to stabilize the dog’s electoral brain activity. Science has yet to discover why it is able to inhibit the transmission of pain signals to the brain.
Gabapentin is only available through prescription and it is quite expensive.
How It Is Prepared
Gabapentin comes in the form of 100 milligrams and 300 milligrams capsules. It should be stored at room temperature and should not be exposed to moisture or light. Antacids should not be administered within two hours of taking Gabapentin, as this reduces absorption of the drug.
The usual dose for Gabapentin for the treatment of seizures is 4.5 milligrams to 13.5 milligrams per pound of the dog’s weight every eight to twelve hours. For pain relief, a dose of 1.4 milligrams per pound once a day will suffice.
Overdosage & Side Effects
Since the drug affects the nervous system, some of the side effects of the drug are drowsiness, loss of balance, and fatigue. It has also been observed that the drug can cause vomiting and diarrhea in some cases. It is important to inform your vet if your dog is experiencing any of these side effects.
Gabapentin should not be used with antacids since these prevent Gabapentin from being absorbed by dog’s system. Narcotic drugs should also be avoided as they may add to the severity of Gabapentin’s side effects.
How to Use Gabapentin Safely
Gabapentin should never or very cautiously be given to the following dogs:
• Dogs with pre-existing liver or kidney conditions.
• Dogs that are pregnant or lactating, as clinical trials have shown that the drug may cause fetal loss.
The using of Gabapentin should not be stopped abruptly as this can cause withdrawal symptoms. The sudden withdrawal of the drug can also cause seizures and for the pain to rebound. The correct way to stop the medication is to decrease the dosage slowly over a course of two or three weeks.
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