Gabapentin question -- side effects?

Discussion in 'Feline Health - (The Main Forum)' started by allie and newkitty, Sep 20, 2011.

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  1. allie and newkitty

    allie and newkitty Member

    Feb 18, 2010
    Hi everyone. Newkitty has been having some arthritis pain and is on Dasaquin, Adequan shots. She was also getting bupe by mouth, a smaller dose than what other cats get because she is very responsive to some meds (like cyproheptadine) at tiny doses. But even at 0.05 ml (TINY dose) she developed a sensitivity to bupe and it made her agitated and restless and mouthy, to the point both of us were up 24 hours at one point.

    My vet got me gabapentin (28 mg, compounded, capsules, 2x a day), last week and I need to give it to her but have been afraid of an adverse reaction. Has anyone had anything other than slight sedation on gabapentin? I know some other kitties here have had tramadol and bupe weirdness like Newkitty, so wondering about this one too.
  2. Vicky & Gandalf (GA) & Murrlin

    Vicky & Gandalf (GA) & Murrlin Well-Known Member

    Dec 28, 2009
    Gabapentin seems very mild to me, compared to the opiates like Buprenorphine. Gandalf gets a compounded 25mg dose of gabapentin for arthritis once a day. I notice a little wobbliness the first few hours, but that wears off. He does not zone out on it like with bupe and it doesn't make him sleepy. I feel it's effective and he tolerates it well. I also notice he drinks more the first 3 hours or so getting it. Not sure what that's about.

    You could just give it once a day if it bothers her too much.
  3. Jessica & Boo Radley

    Jessica & Boo Radley Member

    Aug 2, 2011
    Buprenorphine is an opiate and can certainly have kitti- wonkiness effects. What you describe are Idiosyncratic drug reactions, and fall out of the normal "side effect" profile. Tramadol is not an opiate, but does work on opiate receptors so can often can deliver some of the same side effects that opiates do (just without the dependence). It would stand to reason that it then could have the same idiosyncratic effect of an opiate.

    Gabapentin is supposed to be a "copy" of the GABA nuerotransmitters, which naturally occurs in our central nervous system. It is responsible for calming nervous activity and pain... The drug is poorly understood as to how exactly it works in this GABA process. I can confidently say it is completely different than opiates.

    In humans, it's used to treat seizures, and neuropathic pain. It's used a lot, and it's used very successfully. Every drug can have side effects.

    I've found some information for you in regards to use with cats and have highlighted the critical points. Please read through everything as there is some really good info:

    • As with many human drugs, this one has found its way into veterinary medicine where it is also used as a seizure control drug, either alone or in combination with other anti-seizure drugs, or as an adjunct in the control of chronic pain, especially arthritis pain.

      Gabapentin can be used in both dogs and cats. The dosing is very different depending on if gabapentin is being used for seizure control or for pain management. For pain control gabapentin is typically started at once daily dosing but can be increased to two or even three times daily.

      For pain control, gabapentin is usually used in conjunction with other pain relievers which may later be tapered away. Unfortunately, it is common to develop tolerance to gabapentin so that the pain relief dose must be increased as time goes on. How long a dose is adequate before it must be increased is highly individual.

      Sedation is the chief side effect of concern though it is usually temporary and resolves in a few days after the patient's body gets used to the medication. Diarrhea has also been reported. (if you see an agitated, excited are having another idiosyncratic side effect)

      In mice, male mice on gabapentin were found to have an increased incidence of pancreatic cancer. It is unknown if this finding holds for other species. This information has not hindered FDA approval for human use of gabapentin. (I would probably research this a bit further....we are already dealing with a pancrease with problems!)

      Gabapentin can cause a false positive reading on urine dipstick tests for urinary protein. (Be cognizant of this in the event you ever have a urinalysis done....if your vet suggests there are proteins in the urine, remind them about this drug)

      For chronic pain relief, gabapentin is best started in combination with other pain relievers but after a time often the other pain relievers can be discontinued and gabapentin is effective as a sole agent. This may not be possible for conditions where the pain is progressively worse.

      Oral antacids will hinder absorption of gabapentin into the body by up to 20% so it is important to separate administration of these two medications by at least 2 hours. (If you are giving any sort of pepcid, please separate the times)

      Gabapentin may be given with or without food.

      Doses for cats are small enough that a special compounding pharmacy may need to prepare an appropriate product.

      Gabapentin is removed from the body via the kidneys. If it is to be used in a patient with kidney insufficiency the dose will need to be modified or another product should be selected.

      Gabapentin should not be abruptly discontinued after long term use as seizures can be precipitated. Instead gabapentin should be gradually tapered off over a couple of weeks.

      Gabapentin oral suspension is sweetened with xylitol which is a sugar. The issue can be avoided by having liquid formulations compounded rather than using the commercially available oral liquid.
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