Gabapentin, which is sold under the brand name Neurontin, is commonly used in people for the treatment of chronic pain. It is especially helpful for pain caused by diabetic neuropathy. It was developed as an anticonvulsant to treat partial seizures but found to be more effective for the neuropathic pain that arises from damaged nerves. It was the tenth most commonly prescribed medication in the U.S. in 2020 according to Wikipedia.
Veterinarians have borrowed this prescription medication from human medicine to help dogs and cats with chronic pain. It is a very popular drug that improves quality of life for our pets. There is a wide dosage range, and it is a very safe drug. In the dog, gabapentin is commonly used in conjunction with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) for excellent pain management. There can be a mild sedative effect with gabapentin, which is also helpful to quiet dogs and cats in pain. Gabapentin is especially helpful for post-surgical pain when it is important to keep the patients relaxed and comfortable.
Gabapentin is excellent as a mild sedative for cats. It is very safe and effective for managing the stress associated with veterinary visits. This is called the “chill protocol.” The veterinarian will prescribe a dosage of gabapentin the night before the veterinary visit and then another dose about one hour before travel. These medicated cats are much more relaxed and are easier to examine.
Gabapentin is not classified as a controlled substance in Connecticut. It is abused, however, and the state of Connecticut will only allow veterinarians to dispense this drug for three days. If your pet needs long-term treatment with gabapentin, it is possible to have your veterinarian write a script for you to bring to a pharmacy to be filled.
Gabapentin is effective for arthritis, dental pain, cancer, post-op pain and stress. It is very safe and readily available for both cats and dogs. The major side effect is mild drowsiness which can be an advantage.