Health

Can Dogs Take Gabapentin? Safety, Side Effects, And FAQs

Reviewed by Colleen Ferriman, DVM

March 31, 2022

It can be overwhelming to care for a sick pet, let alone manage their medications. When it comes to prescriptions, rest assured your dog’s veterinarian has carefully selected medications specifically for your pup’s needs.

It is important to give those medications according to your vet’s instructions. Watch for side effects, and know what missteps to avoid along the way. Before we dive into those details, remember that your vet is the best qualified resource for questions about your dog’s specific medication needs. Be safe, and ask your vet before making any changes (big or small) to a medication regimen!

Is Gabapentin Safe For Dogs?

That depends on what you mean by safe and your dog’s individual medical conditions. Most dogs tolerate gabapentin well, but sedation is a common side effect1. Especially when starting or increasing a dose, monitor your dog around environmental dangers (stairs, pools, anything you would not let a toddler near). 

While dogs usually tolerate gabapentin well, some human formulations have xylitol in it for sweetening1-3. Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs, and very small amounts can cause serious, life threatening issues1-2. If you are getting your dog’s gabapentin from a human pharmacy, do not substitute for generics or other brands without your veterinarian’s permission.

a dog looking at a blue pill

Below is a list of information your vet needs to know to determine if gabapentin is appropriate for your dog: 

  • ALL current medications and supplements (even if they are not prescriptions), how long your pet has been on them, and when they were last taken3.
  • If your dog now or ever has had liver or kidney disease1,3.
  • Any history of a bad reaction to medications in the past, especially allergic reactions3!
  • If your dog is currently pregnant/nursing or you are hoping to breed her soon2-3.

What Is Gabapentin And How Does It Work?

Gabapentin treats seizures, neurologic pain, and mild to moderate anxiety conditions1-3. Honestly, we do not know how it works for certain, though it does have an effect on the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). The kidneys remove gabapentin from the body1-2.

a white dog under a blanket

What Are Side Effects Of Gabapentin?

Sedation is the most common side effect and usually results in stumbling behavior1-3. This often occurs after starting the medication or after a dose increase. The sedative side effects usually only last a couple of days—if they persist, give your vet a call1.

Gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea) aren’t super common, but can happen. While you do not need to give gabapentin with food, it usually helps reduce stomach upset2.

Can I Give Gabapentin With My Dog’s Other Medications?

As with any medication, there are some combinations that are not good. That said, you can give many medications safely with gabapentin. In fact, vets often prescribe gabapentin in combination with one or more other medications. They typically work together to improve the function of both and reduce side effects. 

Be careful giving antacids alongside gabapentin3. If given at the same time, the body cannot absorb gabapentin as well1-2. Make sure you roll that pill up in some cheese 2 hours or more apart from gabapentin to prevent interference1-2.

a yorkie at the vet

FAQs

I Forgot To Give My Dog Their Gabapentin. What Should I Do?

Give the next dose immediately3. Gabapentin does not need to be given with a meal, but if your dog has a sensitive stomach, serve it up with a small amount of food. Shift future doses so that you stay consistent with the timing your vet instructed on the pill bottle. 

Do not discontinue gabapentin without help from your veterinarian. Stopping gabapentin too quickly can result in break-through seizures and rebound pain1-3. If you have concerns about how gabapentin is affecting your dog and want to stop it, discuss how to do that safely with your vet before making any adjustments.

My Dog Got Extra Gabapentin By Accident. What Should I Do?

Contact your veterinarian with the amount of medication your dog received3—they will be able to determine next steps. If your dog got into your gabapentin (not prescribed to your dog) contact your vet immediately and have the bottle handy. Some formulations of gabapentin are toxic to dogs because of added sweeteners.


Colleen Ferriman, DVM, is a canine and feline health, wellness, and illness management advocate. She has a combined 10 years of experience in clinical medicine, education, and educational content development. Colleen graduated from Colorado State University as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has worked as a general practitioner, and has contributed to the development of veterinary educational tools. She is also a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and American Academy of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.


Sources

1Gabapentin. VIN Veterinary Drug Handbook 2017. https://www.vin.com/doc/?id=7313149&pid=13468 

2Brooks W: Gabapentin (Neurotonin). Veterinary Partners-VIN 2021. https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/doc/?id=4952756&pid=19239  

3Gabapentin- capsule (dogs). Client Drug Information Sheets- VIN 2020. https://www.vin.com/doc/?id=10064245&pid=369

Reviewed by Colleen Ferriman, DVM

March 31, 2022

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