What is Gabapentin? What is Gabapentin used for?

Gabapentin is a Generic name for prescription drug that is used as an antiepileptic for controlling seizures. It is indicated for the treatment of partial seizures in adults and in children who are 3 years or older. Gabapentin can be also used for the treatment of nerve pain that can be caused by a shingles infection, as well as restless legs syndrome. Gabapentin is available in following dosage forms and doses: immediate-release tablet, an extended-release tablet in doses of 300, 600 and 800 mg, capsule 100, 300 and 400 mg, and a solution in dose of 250 mg/5 ml. All these forms are taken by mouth. Most common Brand names on the market for this drug are: Gralise, Neurontin, Horizant, Gabarone. It is approved from FDA since 1993. One study from 2013 showed that gabapentin may be helpful for anxiety symptoms among patients who are about to have surgery. It is well tolerated in most patients, generally causes mild side effect, it passes unmetabolized through the body, does not bind to proteins and doesn’t possess the usual drug interactions

How Gabapentin works in the body?

Gabapentin works by interacting with voltage-sensitive calcium channels of cortical neurons. Gabapentin increases concentration of neurotransmitter GABA in neural synapses, and also increases GABA responses at non-synaptic places in neuronal tissues, and reduces the release of mono-amine neurotransmitters.

Gabapentin uses in dogs

gabapentin for dogs arthritis

Gabapentin is used in dogs as a anticonvulsant and pain reliever and is intended for neuropathy and nerve pain relief. Gabapentin can be also used for the seizures treatment, but not as a first line treatment.

Gabapentin side effects in humans and dogs

Common side effects that gabapentin can be cause in humans are following:

·         Sleepiness

·         Fatigue

·         Dizziness

·         Clumsiness while walking

·         Tremor

·         Visual changes, including double vision

·         Runny nose

·         Indigestion or nausea

·         Nervousness

·         Weight gain

·         Muscle ache

·         Memory loss

·         Dry mouth or sore throat

·         Headache

·         Diarrhea or constipation

·         Unusual thoughts

·         Swelling of hands or feet

·         Fever

·         Itchy eyes

Serious side effects that can occur in human are following:

·         Severe rash

·         Fever or swelling of lymph nodes

·         Thoughts of suicide or harming yourself

·         Swelling of the face, lips, or tongue

·         Difficulty breathing or swallowing

·         Seizure

Side effects in dogs:

·         Sedation

·         Diarrhea

·         Bulging eyes

·         Loss of coordination

·         Sleeping for unusually long periods

·         Vomiting

By using a low initial dose high level of sedation may be avoided. In cases of overdose severe sedation and loss of coordination can be caused.

Gabapentin can cause calcium, vitamin B1, vitamin D and folate deficiencies. This can make your dog unwell, and it can also put a dent in recovery because vitamins D and B1 are needed for nerve repair. To prevent this, multivitamins should be given to a dog that contains all mentioned vitamins and minerals.

Gabapentin doses for dogs

Pain Relief treatment:

A dose of 1.5 – 5 mg/lb should be given once per day but over time the frequency of dosing should be increased to two or three times a day, because in most dogs tolerance can be built after sustained periods of treatment and standard dose may become ineffective. Many vets administer to all sizes of dogs fixed daily dose of 75 mg. But, in most cases the dosage should be started on the lower ones and then gradually increased until symptoms are relieved.

Seizure Treatment:

For recurrent seizure attacks 5 – 13.6 mg/lb should be administered  2-3 times a day, with a maximum dose of 1200 mg on every 8 hours. Owners should be alert that treatment can get quite expensive and its limited benefits may not warrant the expense. It appears that some dogs have more favorable responses than others when gabapentin is used as an anticonvulsant.  One study showed that some dogs reduced their frequent seizures to no seizures once Gabapentin was added to their treatment regimen.  Like in humans, Gabapentin responses are likely subject to significant individual variation.Vet may alter the dosage depending on dog’s reaction to the drug and symptoms improvement. Owners should not abrupt the treatment suddenly, as this can may provoke rebound effects of severe seizure attack or pain depending on what gabapentin was used for. Doses should be gradually reduced over a period of three weeks.

Is Gabapentin for dogs the same as for humans?

Gabapentin safety of use in dogs: Gabapentin is considered to be safe for use in dogs and apart from ataxia and sedation; it appears to cause few more side effects even when it is overdosed. However, studies showed increased incidence of pancreatic cancer in mice after long-term treatment, so caution is needed when treating dogs such as Airedale terriers, Boxers and Spaniels as they can be more susceptible. Gabapentin is eliminated thorough kidneys so it should be avoided in dogs with kidney diseases. Reduced dose can be used depending on the severity of impairment.

Morphine, hydrocodone and antacids can all interact with gabapentin. Caution is needed and vets counseling when these drugs are administered. Gabapentin is not yet FDA-approved for use in dogs for the management of seizures and nerve pain but it is still commonly prescribed by vets.

Gabapentin during pregnancy and breastfeeding in dogs

Gabapentin should be avoided in pregnant and nursing animals unless the benefits outweigh the risks. Gabapentin has lyophilic structure and it can pass into milk easily thus may cause fatal damage if it is taken in high amounts

Gabapentin safe guideline in dogs

Following guidelines are recommended:

  • Multivitamins should be given during gabapentin treatment to prevent vitamin deficiency
  • Owners should tell their vets if their dog has any disease such as liver or kidney disease
  • Tell the vet about other medicines/supplements you are giving your pet
  • Gabapentin use should never be stopped suddenly
  • Avoid the use of liquid formulations that contain xylitol.
  • Avoid giving your dog antacids for at least 2 hours before and after each dose of gabapentin.

What if I miss to give a gabapentin dose to my dog?

If a Gabapentin dose is missed, give the dose as soon as possible. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular schedule. Do not give two doses at one time. Gabapentin should be always given with veterinarian’s instructions.  The dose may be adjusted if it is necessary only by veterinarian opinion depending on the response to the treatment.

How should I store gabapentin?

Gabapentin should be stored between 68oF and 77oF (20-25°C). Store out of children’s reach.

Could Gabapentin cause Lichen sclerosus?