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Published: Mar 21, 2024 10 min read

Gabapentin is a drug commonly used in humans to treat seizures, nerve pain and restless leg syndrome. These applications have worked in veterinary medicine as well. Gabapentin is often prescribed "off-label" to keep dogs calm, reduce epileptic seizures and manage neuropathic pain.

Read on to learn more about gabapentin for dogs and how it's used.

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What is gabapentin used for in dogs?

Dr. Lindsay Butzer, D.V.M., a veterinarian at Clint Moore Animal Hospital, often prescribes gabapentin for seizures.

"It's one of the first-line treatments for mild seizures," says Butzer. "We start them on gabapentin and wait and see if they have any more. If they don't, then we keep them on gabapentin. If they have more, we increase them to Keppra [brand name for levetiracetam] or phenobarbital, stronger seizure drugs."

Gabapentin also helps alleviate anxiety during triggering experiences (travel, vet visits or thunderstorms) and reduces neuropathic pain, a type of pain that occurs when there's damage or dysfunction in the dog's nervous system.

"I also use it for all types of pain, and it helps keep them [dogs] calm," she adds. "It's very safe and it has a very high dose range. You can administer it with trazodone and tramadol. It has almost no drug interactions, doesn't hurt the organs and the risk of overdosing is really low."

What is gabapentin?

Gabapentin — sold under brand names Neurontin, Aclonium, Equipax, Gantin, Gabarone, Gralise, Neurostil and Progresse — is an anticonvulsant medication originally developed to treat seizures and pain in humans. It works by inhibiting certain neurotransmitters in the brain, thus reducing the sensation of pain, anxiety and the recurrence of seizures.

Doctors generally recommend the use of gabapentin to treat neuropathic pain in humans, a type of nerve pain, especially if other opioids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) aren't effective.

The drug is also effective at treating similar problems in dogs, which has led to its widespread off-label use — a common practice in veterinary medicine due to the high costs of getting FDA approval for treatments for different species.

Gabapentin for dogs: dosage

Determining the correct dosage of gabapentin for dogs depends on factors like the dog's weight, the severity of the condition, and whether your dog is on other medications like antacids, antihistamines and pain medication. These drugs can interfere with gabapentin by either enhancing or inhibiting the drug's effect.

Generally, veterinarians start with a low dose, observe how the dog responds and adjust until the desired effect is achieved. It's often prescribed as a tablet or capsule, but it's also available in liquid form.

Liquid gabapentin contains xylitol, an artificial sweetener that's safe for humans but toxic for dogs, so vets and pet owners must take additional steps to ensure the drug is xylitol-free: adding "no xylitol" on the prescription, communicating with the pharmacist and double-checking the prescription's label at pick-up.

Gabapentin for dogs dosage chart

The typical Gabapentin dosage ranges from five milligrams to 30 milligrams per kilogram of your dog's body weight, depending on the drug's intended therapeutic effect and your dog's health.

For example, your veterinarian may prescribe 25 milligrams of gabapentin to reduce epileptic seizures but prescribe just five milligrams to relieve discomfort after a surgical procedure.

Therapeutic effect

Gabapentin dosage

Behavioral modification (anxiety)

Five to 30 mg/kg twice a day


10 mg/kg twice a day, up to 30 to 60 mg/kg twice a day

Neuropathic pain management

10 mg/kg two to three times a day

Gabapentin for dogs: side effects

Like any medication, gabapentin can potentially cause side effects in dogs. However, serious side effects are rare when the medication is used as directed by a veterinarian.

The most common side effects of gabapentin in dogs are loss of coordination (ataxia) and sedation, especially if your dog is on other opioids, CBD supplements or allergy medications.

Gabapentin should be used with caution if your dog has liver or kidney disease, as they take longer to metabolize the drug and may experience severe side effects. A small number of pet owners have also reported side effects such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Dogs are best kept at home in a calm and safe environment while they're under the effects of gabapentin, especially if they're taking the medication for the first time.

"Anytime you give [dogs] these sedatives, don't take them on long walks and don't make them do agility," emphasizes Dr. Butzer. "Keep them away from the pool, and don't leave them outside when it's hot." She also recommends keeping them in their kennel or crate, as that's often the safest place for them.

These side effects tend to resolve after 24 hours but don't hesitate to contact your veterinarian if your dog seems too sedated. They can adjust the dosage on your next veterinary visit.

Gabapentin vs tramadol for Dogs

Both gabapentin and tramadol are commonly prescribed for pain management in dogs, but they work differently. Gabapentin suppresses neural activity that causes anxiety, nerve pain and seizures, while tramadol is an analgesic in the opioid family.

Tramadol works by activating opioid receptors to block pain signals between the brain and the body, relieving the sensation of pain (but not treating the source of it).

Veterinarians may prescribe gabapentin to treat seizures and chronic pain, while tramadol is primarily prescribed to manage moderate to severe pain. Both are prescribed to dogs "off-label" and are safe to use together under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Gabapentin and trazodone for dogs

Gabapentin and trazodone are sometimes prescribed together to manage dog anxiety and fear-related behaviors. Trazodone is an antidepressant that's used off-label to calm anxiety, phobias and related behavioral disorders in dogs.

Gabapentin can be used to enhance trazodone's calming effects as well as provide additional relief from anxiety-related pain or discomfort during vet visits and post-surgical confinement.

Gabapentin and CBD for dogs

CBD (cannabidiol) supplements can be used to treat anxiety and chronic pain due to arthritis. It's considered a milder alternative to gabapentin with fewer side effects, so many dog owners opt to experiment with CBD before giving their dogs more potent drugs. Unlike gabapentin, CBD supplements don't require a prescription.

CBD and gabapentin may be used together but only under the guidance of a veterinarian. Otherwise, combining these two drugs can enhance gabapentin's sedative effect and increase potential side effects.

Cost of gabapentin for dogs

The cost of gabapentin for dogs varies depending on the dosage, your dog's size and weight and where you purchase the medication.

We calculated how much a single bottle of gabapentin costs with or without pet insurance, based on a policy with 90% reimbursement for prescription medication.

Dosage x capsules per bottle


Cost with pet insurance

100 milligrams x 30



100 milligrams x 60

$7 to $11

$0.70 to $1

100 milligrams x 90

$10 to $25

$1 to $2

300 milligrams x 30



300 milligrams x 60

$10 to $14


300 milligrams x 90

$14 to $30

$1 to $3

Does pet insurance cover gabapentin?

Dog insurance may cover gabapentin as long as the drug is prescribed to treat a covered condition. That said, it's best to check directly with your insurer because certain policies exclude non-FDA-approved prescription medications, regardless of how commonplace its off-label use may be.

Your insurer likely covers gabapentin for the following issues, provided they aren't deemed pre-existing conditions:

  • Idiopathic epilepsy
  • Psychomotor seizures
  • Pain management after spinal surgery
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Chronic neuropathic pain
  • Post-operative pain after procedures such as spinal surgery or amputation

The same cannot be said for anxiety and phobias. When it comes to these behavioral issues, what pet insurance covers varies by provider.

Here are the pet insurance providers that cover the cost of treating anxiety and fear in dogs:

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Gabapentin for dogs FAQs

Can gabapentin kill a dog?


When used as directed by a veterinarian, gabapentin is generally safe for dogs and unlikely to cause death. The drug may not be safe to use in dogs that are pregnant, lactating, or suffer from kidney and liver disease.

Liquid gabapentin typically contains xylitol, a toxin that can cause severe liver damage in high amounts. So, always check the label and ensure the compounding pharmacy doesn't use xylitol in the formulation.

The best way to avoid these adverse outcomes is to use gabapentin as directed by a veterinarian familiar with your pet's health history.

How much gabapentin can I give my dog?


The appropriate gabapentin dosage for your dog depends on their weight, medical condition and response to the medication.

The drug has a high therapeutic range, meaning that veterinarians can safely increase the dosage by a lot before reaching toxic levels. And even if the dose exceeds therapeutic levels, a gabapentin overdose is rarely lethal. Instead, the dog may exhibit more severe versions of the drug's known side effects.

What does gabapentin do for dogs?


Gabapentin blocks calcium channels in your dog's brain, suppressing hyperactive neurons that cause nerve pain, anxiety and seizures.

Your dog may experience side effects such as drowsiness and clumsiness (loss of coordination), in which case your vet may adjust the dosage.

How long does gabapentin take to work in dogs?


Gabapentin takes effect quickly, around one to two hours after administering the first dose. However, it may take several days or weeks of consistent use before it reaches its full therapeutic effect, especially if gabapentin is prescribed for chronic pain or seizures.

The drug's therapeutic benefits for chronic pain also depend on the dosage. If your dog appears sensitive or unresponsive to initial doses, several attempts may be required before you notice an effect.

How often can I give my god gabapentin?


The dosing schedule for gabapentin in dogs varies based on factors such as the prescribed dosage and the specific condition being treated. Generally, gabapentin is given three times a day or every eight to 12 hours.

Always consult your veterinarian before starting or adjusting any medication regimen for your dog to ensure the treatment is safe and effective.

Summary of Money's Gabapentin for Dogs

  • Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant (anti-seizure) drug that's used "off-label" to treat epileptic seizures and manage chronic pain in dogs, often in combination with other pain-relief meds.
  • Adverse side effects include excessive sedation, ataxia (loss of coordination) and sleepiness. These side effects can be particularly severe in dogs with kidney or liver disease.
  • Gabapentin has a high dose range, which means that veterinarians can experiment with increasing dosage amounts safely, and the risk of overdosing is minimal.
  • Pet insurance may cover gabapentin prescribed for chronic pain, but it depends on how the insurer deals with off-label use of FDA-approved medications.
  • Pet insurance may not cover gabapentin if it's prescribed to treat anxiety and phobias unless your policy covers behavioral modification.