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Gabapentin for dogs: Uses, side effects and dosage

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on May 15, 2024.

Official answer


Gabapentin is used for dogs and is commonly prescribed by veterinarians to treat seizures, pain, and anxiety. It has a low risk of side effects.

What is gabapentin used for in dogs?

Gabapentin can treat and reduce the frequency of seizures and is commonly used as an anticonvulsant to treat or prevent seizures in dogs.

Gabapentin may also be used to provide pain relief for dogs, particularly when other medications have proved ineffective or are not well tolerated. It may be used to treat pain associated with cancer, arthritis, or intervertebral disk disease.

Gabapentin is commonly used as a mild sedative to treat situational anxiety, for example, just before a vet visit.

Using gabapentin in pets is considered “off-label” which means it is not an FDA-approved indication in pets.

How does gabapentin work in dogs?

Experts aren’t sure exactly how this medicine works to relieve seizures, pain, or anxiety but it is thought to inhibit the release of excitatory neurotransmitters. It resembles a naturally occurring inhibitory neurotransmitter called GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid), which is involved with the transmission of nerve signals within the brain and spinal cord.

How much gabapentin should I give my dog?

Gabapentin dose for dogs can vary, but usually, it is dosed at 5 to 30 mg/kg (or 2.2 to 13.6mg/lb) up to three times daily.

Dosage Chart of Gabapentin For Dogs (Low-Dose)
Dog's weight Low dose (5mg/kg)
5kg 25mg
7.5kg 37.5mg
10kg 50mg
12.5kg 62.5mg
15kg 75mg
17.5kg 87.5mg
20kg 100mg
25kg 125mg
30kg 150mg
40kg 200mg
50kg 250mg
60kg 300mg
Dosage Chart of Gabapentin For Dogs (High-Dose)
Dog's weight High-dose (30mg/kg)
5kg 150mg
7.5kg 225mg
10kg 300mg
12.5kg 375mg
15kg 450mg
17.5kg 525mg
20kg 600mg
25kg 750mg
30kg 900mg
40kg 1200mg
50kg 1500mg
60kg 1800mg

Gabapentin can also be given before an anticipated stressful event, such as a veterinary visit, at a dose of 30-60 mg/kg one to two hours before the event.

How long does gabapentin take to work?

Gabapentin is quick acting, and an effect should be noticed one to two hours after administration. However, when it is used to treat pain, a low dosage is started initially, which is then titrated up slowly, which means it may take longer to see an effect. While your vet is titrating up the dosage, they will be using other medications to keep your dog comfortable until the it is working. When used to treat seizures gabapentin may take a few weeks to reduce seizure frequency.

The effects of gabapentin wear off quickly unless the dog has kidney or liver disease. This is why it is usually given three times a day.

Related questions

How long can a dog stay on gabapentin?

There is no maximum time for a dog to remain on gabapentin. Some older dogs will stay on it for the rest of their life as part of a management plan for arthritis.

What are the side effects of giving a dog gabapentin?

The most common gabapentin side effect in dogs is drowsiness, which can be managed by starting with a low dosage and increasing it slowly. Most dogs become tolerant of this side effect with continued dosing.

When starting gabapentin your dog may also seem a little uncoordinated initially, but this should also resolve with continued dosing. Rarely, a dog may be allergic to this medicine and they may have a reaction which is a sign to avoid giving it to your dog in the future.

Xylitol is used to sweeten commercially prepared gabapentin oral suspension and this can be toxic to dogs. Low-to-moderate dosages of oral suspension are unlikely to contain enough xylitol to be problematic for dogs but higher dosages, such as those used for seizures, might. This can be avoided by having liquid formulations compounded rather than using the commercially available oral suspension.

How does gabapentin make a dog feel?

Gabapentin makes your dog feel a little sleepy and possibly a little uncoordinated initially. They should become tolerant to these effects within a few days, especially if the dosage is started low and titrated up slowly.

Does gabapentin make dogs sleepy?

Yes, gabapentin can make your dog sleepy initially but by starting with a small dose and gradually titrating it upwards, your dog should become tolerant to this effect.

Can gabapentin cause diarrhea or constipation in dogs?

Vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation is not a common side effect of gabapentin unless it is being used at high dosages. If your dog develops any of these side effects, call your veterinarian.

Can gabapentin cause hind leg weakness in dogs?

Hind leg weakness may be a sign of incoordination in dogs, usually associated with too high a dose of gabapentin. If your dog has been on this medicine a long time and this happens, tell your veterinarian. As pets age, their bodies are not as efficient at metabolizing this medicine and side effects, such as incoordination may reappear again, especially hind leg weakness. Usually reducing the dosage helps resolve this.

Can I overdose my dog on gabapentin?

Although this medicine is generally well tolerated in dogs, like any medication, you can give too much of it. Always follow your vet’s instructions and never try to increase the dosage yourself without their advice.

Symptoms of a gabapentin overdose in dogs include diarrhea, extreme sleepiness, lethargy, and incoordination; however, an overdose is not usually fatal. Seek veterinary advice immediately.

Do dogs need to be weaned off gabapentin?

If gabapentin is being used to treat seizures in dogs then it should be tapered off slowly over a couple of weeks after long-term use and not abruptly discontinued because it can precipitate seizures.

What can I give my dog instead of gabapentin?

Gabapentin is commonly used to treat nerve pain in dogs but there may be times when a dog does not tolerate it or it no longer effectively treats the pain. Other treatments that may be effective for nerve pain in dogs include:

  • Pregabalin (Lyrica): this works similarly to this medicine but it lasts longer which means it only needs to be given twice a day and it is more effective at a lower dosage
  • Amantadine works by blocking NMDA receptors in the spinal cord and may improve your dog’s mobility when used in addition to NSAIDs

Other possible treatments that require more research include amitriptyline and venlafaxine.

  • What are some other oral pain medications that will help my dog? CARE.,if%20recommended%20by%20your%20veterinarian
  • The use of gabapentin to help manage anxiety in dogs. September 7, 2019. DVM
  • Loos S. Gabapentin for Dogs: How It Can Help. Pet MD. Nov 3, 2020.
  • Barnette C. Gabapentin for Dogs: How it can help. 18 Oct 2023.
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin). Revised August 11, 2021. Veterinary Partner.

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