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Does gabapentin need to be taken with food dogs?


Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant originally created as a treatment for epilepsy in humans. Over time, clinical application revealed gabapentin was also successful in “off-label” uses such as the treatment of nerve pain and mood disorders in humans and canines.

Anticonvulsants like gabapentin work by influencing neurotransmitter activity and changing how the brain interprets information from the body. Gabapentin isn’t a cure for these conditions, but for many dogs, it significantly increases their quality of life.


Gabapentin comes in three forms: capsules, tablets, long-acting tablets, and oral solutions. To calculate a starting dose of gabapentin, vets consider the animal’s kidney function, age, size, medical issues, and the bioavailability of the brand. An average starting dose of gabapentin for dogs ranges from 3 mg to 20 mg per kg twice daily. Owners may offer this medication with or without a meal.


One study of gabapentin for dogs with epilepsy found it decreased seizure activity in half of the test subjects. 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 NSAIDs alone.


Individual gabapentin tablets cost 25¢ on average. A bottle of 100 tablets with a dosage strength of 100 mg costs about $15. The same number of tablets in a 300 mg strength costs roughly $40. Drug prices may vary depending on costs of living, the price of veterinary care in the area, and whether the drug is generic or brand name.

In some states, gabapentin is a controlled substance. Online retailers may not carry the drug. Check with your pharmacist for additional information.

Side effects

  • Agitation
  • Memory loss
  • Tremors
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nystagmus
  • Loss of coordination
  • Vertigo
  • Tiredness
  • Chills
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive thirst
  • Ataxia
  • Behavioral changes
  • Muscle spasms
  • Sleeping a lot


Some gabapentin oral suspensions contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, a known canine toxin. Talk to your vet about which type of gabapentin is right for your dog.

Epileptic dogs should be tapered off this medication. Sudden discontinuation of gabapentin can cause withdrawal seizures.

Drug interactions

The following medications may intensify or limit the absorption of gabapentin in dogs:

  • Morphine
  • Hydrocodone
  • Antacids

Allergic reactions and sensitivity

Allergic reaction and hypersensitivity is a concern with any medication. Contact the vet immediately if your pet exhibits any of the following symptoms:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Extreme muscle weakness
  • Fever
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the tongue, throat, lips, or face
  • Jaundice
  • Rash

Frequently asked questions

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 the 2-hour rule for oral medications. If you realize you’ve forgotten your dog’s meds within 2 hours of the missed dose, you can give go ahead and it to them. If it’s nearly time for the next scheduled dose and your pet isn’t exhibiting signs 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.

What’s the best way to administer 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 single most common side effect of gabapentin for dogs. The drowsiness should subside as your pet gets used to their dosage,

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

Most veterinarians prescribe gabapentin 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 3 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 2 hours. Some pet owners notice their dog shows signs of relief after only one hour.

Can I give a Gabapentin for 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 the 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 human pharmacies with a written prescription. Do not administer this medication to an animal without a prescription — severe, and sometimes fatal reactions can occur.

What’s the brand name for gabapentin?

Gabapentin goes by many brand names, the most well-known being Neurontin. Other common gabapentin brands are Aclonium, Equipax, Gantin, Gabarone, Gralise, Neurostil, and Progresse.

Gabapentin for Dogs and Cats: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects

Cartoon woman sitting on pills giving her dog gabapentin

Gabapentin (brand name: Neurontin) is an anticonvulsant and analgesic drug. It is commonly prescribed to treat seizures . This medicine is also used to treat chronic pain , specifically neuropathic pain or nerve pain. Gabapentin works by decreasing abnormal signals in the brain and changing how the body perceives pain. Human gabapentin is also used for seizure control and pain management in pets. Please continue reading to learn about the uses, benefits, and side effects of gabapentin in dogs and cats.

Is gabapentin used in veterinary medicine?

Gabapentin is used in veterinary medicine for treating neuropathic pain in dogs, cats, and other animals. It is also used to treat seizures alone or as adjunctive therapy with other anti-seizure drugs.

Gabapentin works by increasing the activity of an inhibitory neurotransmitter called GABA in the brain. Taking gabapentin therefore reduces abnormal activity in the brain caused by excitatory neurotransmitters.

Is there a difference between human gabapentin and dog gabapentin?

The human medicine gabapentin is used off-label in dogs to control seizures and treat pain. It is also used to treat anxiety in dogs. Off-label use means dog-specific research on gabapentin has not been done. This medication is not FDA-approved for use in animals. However, human gabapentin appears to be safe and effective in dogs, cats, and other animals.

Human dosage forms of gabapentin include 100 mg, 300 mg, and 400 mg capsules, 600 mg and 800 mg tablets, and an oral solution. Liquid formulations are useful if you have trouble getting your dog or cat to swallow pills. However, keep in mind that the oral solution meant for humans may contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol which is toxic for dogs. A pharmacy can compound liquid gabapentin for dogs that does not contain xylitol. In addition, a special compounding pharmacy may need to prepare the appropriate doses of oral gabapentin for smaller animals.

Can gabapentin be used to treat seizures in pets?

Gabapentin is commonly prescribed to pets for treating seizures caused by refractory idiopathic epilepsy (a type of epilepsy that is not controlled by other medications). Taking oral gabapentin can reduce seizure frequency (the number of seizures per week) in dogs by half. However, long-term treatment with gabapentin may be necessary, which can have cost implications. Moreover, studies have shown that stopping gabapentin can lead to withdrawal seizures or recurrence of seizures.

Can gabapentin be used to treat chronic pain in dogs and cats?

Gabapentin is used as a pain reliever in dogs, cats, and other animals. It can provide chronic pain relief by managing neuropathic pain, chronic arthritic pain , cancer pain, and other types of pain. Gabapentin is often prescribed along with another pain medication, for example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen. Pain management with a combination of gabapentin and NSAIDs can enhance the effects of the latter and may lead to a dose reduction of NSAIDs in veterinary patients with chronic pain.

How much gabapentin can a dog take?

The dose of gabapentin in dogs, cats, or other animals varies greatly. It depends on whether gabapentin is being used to control pain or treat seizures. The dose also varies according to the animal’s body weight.

A veterinarian may give a low starting dose and gradually increase the dose. Dose adjustment may be needed when giving future doses if gabapentin is used for the long term. This is because animals can develop a tolerance to the medicine.

How long does 100 mg of gabapentin last in dogs?

Gabapentin is a short-acting drug. Its effects typically last for 24 hours. Your vet may ask you to give gabapentin to your dog every 8-12 hours (2-3 times a day).

What should I know before giving gabapentin to my dog?

Your vet will give you detailed instructions on how to give gabapentin to your pet, but here are some general guidelines:

  • You can give your pet gabapentin on an empty stomach or with food.
  • In case you miss a dose of gabapentin, give it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and give the next dose as scheduled. Do not double up on the dose to make up for a missed dose.
  • Gabapentin may not be right for all animals. Tell the vet if your pet has a history of kidney or liver disease. Talk to your vet about the benefits versus risks of gabapentin for dogs and cats if your pet has liver disease or kidney problems. Extreme caution should be exercised in giving gabapentin to animals with reduced renal function.
  • Keep all veterinary visits during treatment with gabapentin. Your vet may need to change the dose based on clinical signs and response.
  • Do not abruptly discontinue gabapentin. This can lead to withdrawal seizures. Your vet will tell you how to gradually lower the dose.
  • Give your vet a complete list of your pet’s medications, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, other analgesic agents, supplements, and herbal therapies to avoid drug interactions. Check with your vet before starting your dog or cat on any additional medications.
  • Gabapentin may not be safe for animals that are pregnant or lactating.
  • You should give your pet oral antacids at least 2 hours away from gabapentin. Antacids can hinder the absorption of gabapentin and make it less effective.
  • Know that taking gabapentin can lead to a false positive reading on urinary protein tests.

What are the side effects of gabapentin in dogs?

Gabapentin is generally well tolerated. The most common side effects of gabapentin in dogs are mild sedation, occasional diarrhea , and poor coordination and balance. Rarely, gabapentin can cause more serious adverse effects, such as an allergic reaction. Call the vet or take your dog to the emergency room if there is an adverse reaction with hives, itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing.

How does gabapentin make a dog feel?

Gabapentin can make a dog feel better by providing pain relief or reducing the frequency of seizures. This medicine may also have a calming effect in dogs with anxiety.

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