Gabapentin For Dogs
Just like their human companions, even the most lively, athletic dogs slow down as they age. Although regular robust exercise helps keep your dog’s joints flexible and limber, when joints become stiff and painful, dogs tend to avoid even the slightest physical movement.
Over time, the lack of mobility and resulting inactivity can make the joint problem worse.
But there are other more natural effective pet care alternatives you can give your dog for painful, swollen joints!
One of these complimentary therapies, CBD from hemp, compares favorably to Gabapentin and can potentially benefit your dog with chronic painful, inflammed joints, skin allergies and even epileptic seizures.
What Is Gabapentin Used For In Dogs?
Gabapentin (sold under the brand names: Neurontin®, Aclonium®, Equipax®, Gantin®, Gabarone®, Gralise®, Neurostil®, Progresse®) is classified as an anti-seizure and pain medication.
Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant prescribed by veterinarians predominantly to treat chronic pain in dogs and other animals. It’s frequently used either by itself or in conjunction with other medications to treat seizures but is also used to treat chronic pain, primarily nerve pain.
In humans, Gabapentin has also been used to treat patients with social anxiety & panic disorders. We’ll see later the connection between pain signalling in the brain and canine anxiety conditons like phobias (fireworks, etc) and compulsive behavior disorders, including separation anxiety in dogs.
Gabapentin For Dogs Pain
Gabapentin is an unusual pain medication in that it is rarely used by itself. On its own, Gabapentin is not particularly effective in preventing pain.
However, when used in conjunction with other pain medications such as an opioid or an NSAID, it has shown great potential in amplifying the pain reduction effects of those other medications.
Gabapentin plays a direct role in managing pain signals when pain is caused by damaged or disrupted nerves. Although its mechansim-of-action is not fully understood, Gabapentin is thought to decrease the release of excitatory neurotransmitters by affecting calcium-channels in the brain and nervous system.
In this way you can think of Gabapentin as “noise-canceling” headphones of the nervous system; while it doesn’t change the levels of noise (pain signaling) it dampens the ‘perception’ of it.
While many dog owners have seen improvements in their pet’s pain while on Gabapentin, there are side effects that pet owners should be aware of to determine if Gabapentin is the best choice for their companion animals.
Gabapentin For Dogs Anxiety & Seizures
As mentioned previously, Gabapentin (Neurontin) is an anticonvulsant drug and pain relief medicine intended for the relief of neuropathy (nerve pain).
However, Gabapentin is also used as an adjunctive therapy for dogs with refractory idiopathic epilepsy.
Generally, Gabapentin is prescribed when a previous Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) medications have failed to significantly reduce the intensity of a canine patient’s fear, anxiety or level of seizure activity (another reason why CBD is a good alternative therapy for canine seizures).
Structrually, Gabapentin is an ‘analog’ (similar in molecular configuration) of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter in the brain that functions to reduce the release of excitatory neurotransmitters (glutamate) from pre-synaptic neurons, thereby reducing the effects of conditions like epilepsy and nervous anxiety.
By inhibiting glutamate, gabapentin can help manage electrical activity in the brain thus preventing partial and secondary seizures.
There are conflicting clinical reports about its efficacy when used for this purpose, although some studies report improvement in as many as 30% of dogs studied.
Gabapentin For Dogs Side Effects
The most common side effects noted with Gabapentin in dogs are sedation and loss of balance or wobbliness.
However, if a dog has taken too much Gabapentin their experience can go from mild sedation and loss of coordination to much more extreme lethargy, drowsiness, depression (yes, dogs can get depression) and even life threatening Ataxia.
While sedation and ataxia can occur with the use of Gabapentin, other potential side effects include gastrointestinal distress, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea and increased anxiety or agitation.
Overdose of Gabapentin would likely cause increased severity of side effects including lethargy, somnolence, depression, and ataxia.
These side effects are typically transient and mild. In some cases, however, effects can be more prolonged and serious. Be sure to educate yourself about possible side effects of Gabapentin and contact your veterinarian immediately with any concerns.
Tolerance Problems With Gabapentin For Dogs
Most dogs build a tolerance to Gabapentin over time so that the starting dose becomes less effective. Higher and higher doses are then prescribed to achieve the same therapeutic results.
If the patient has been on Gabapentin treatment for a while, abrupt cessation of the drug is never recommended because withdrawal can precipitate seizures or rebound pain can occur.
Instead, Gabapentin dosage should be gradually decreased and the patient weaned off the medication over a period of two to three weeks. Be sure to ask your vet which precautions you should take before discontinuing Gabapentin treatment for your dog.
Precautions For Using Gabapentin
Gabapentin should be used with caution in animals with decreased liver or renal function and is not recommended for pregnant or lactating pets (it’s present in milk).
In laboratory animals, Gabapentin was associated with fetal loss and teratogenic effects (causing malformations of an embryo or a fetus). It should be used during pregnancy or lactation only when the benefits outweigh the potential risks.
Additionally, because Gabapentin can cause deficiencies of vitamins D, B1, and folate as well as calcium, it is important to provide a high-quality canine vitamin-mineral supplement in combination with the drug.
To get the maximum benefit, use Gabapentin as directed and in conjunction with any other prescribed medications.
Alternative To Gabapentin For Dogs
As we’ve learned, Gabapentin has potential negative side effects that include ‘withdrawal’ syndromes, ataxia symptoms (disorientation, stumbling, shaking, trembling, incontinence), as well as the consequences of it’s effectiveness lessening over time.
For pet parents who are looking for a better, healthier way to help soothe their dogs who suffer from chronic arthritis pain, seizures or anxiety, there is evidence that natural, plant based CBD therapy can provide safe & effective relief for those and many other canine conditions.
CBD Oil For Dogs
Researchers are investigating different ways to use CBD in veterinary medicine to help treat a myriad of canine conditions and diseases that afflict our beloved companions. CBD oil for dogs has shown encouraging results for a wide range of canine conditions–including osteoarthritis, epileptic seizures and atopic dermatitis (allergies), with no serious side effects.
Cannabinoids have been suggested as a possible alternative treatment for conditions like chronic neuropathy, canine arthritis, joint inflammation and, more optimistically, eliminating the excruciating pain cycle associated with certain canine cancers.
Studies show CBD to be very effective for decreasing nerve-related pain. Thereby replacing Gabapentin for pain in dogs. Using CBD oil for dogs pain has become a popular form of treatment to manage aches and pains in canines with lymphoma, arthritis, hip dysplasia or any number of ailments that can cause physical discomfort .
It is currently thought to be so effective, that more and more pet owners are choosing it instead of traditional pain killers.
CBD based interventions have already proven successful in treating degenerative disorders like hip dysplasia, certain types of cancer, epilepsy and seizures in dogs, but one of it’s primary applications is for dogs with chronic arthritis pain and inflammation.
According to medical literature, CBD oil affects many canine biological pathways through the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and functions to optimize cellular interactions involved in the repair and restoration of whole body systems that maintain normal canine homeostasis.
However, your dog doesn’t have to have a serious medical condition to benefit from daily supplementation of hemp CBD Oil.
Adding full spectrum CBD oil to your dog’s dietary regimen can also be beneficial for pets with milder, symptom-free conditions that over time could manifest into a full-blown medical diagnosis that require more advanced pharmaceutical intervention.