Adjunctive therapy for refractory canine idiopathic epilepsy


A study from the AHT looked at the efficacy of Gabapentin as an adjunctive therapy for the management of refractory epilepsy in dogs. Gabapentin has been used as an add therapy in human epileptics refractory to the combination of phenobarbital and potassium bromide (KBr). It has an elimination half-life of approximately 3-4 hours in dogs, and although should ideally be administered every 6 hours, efficacy has been demonstrated with three times daily dosing. Contrary to the situation in humans, gabapentin is metabolised by the liver in dogs which puts this species at risk of hepatotoxicity especially when gabapentin is administered with phenobarbital; however, this has not yet been documented. In a study of 11 dogs, 45% demonstrated improved seizure control with success based upon a 50% reduction in seizure frequency.


The study included 11 dogs with refractory idiopathic epilepsy showing generalised tonic-clonic seizures. Underlying causes were investigated using CSF tap and MRI examination of the brain.


All of the dogs were receiving a combination of phenobarbital and KBr and had therapeutic serum concentrations of these drugs. Each dog received oral gabapentin for a minimum of three months at an initial dose of 10 mg/kg q 8 hours.


Five dogs showed a significant reduction in seizure frequency (ie seizures reduced to less than 50% per week). However, many dogs still exhibited multiple days on which there was cluster seizure activity.


Gabapentin was well tolerated - five dogs exhibited mild side effects (ataxia and sedation). One dog developed sterile panniculitis after 18 months but this resolved following cessation of gabapentin treatment.


This small study indicates that gabapentin may reduce seizure frequency in some dogs with refractory idiopathic epilepsy. A larger study is warranted to further evaluate the potential benefits of gabapentin in epileptic dogs.



Platt SR, Adams V, Garosi LS, et al (2003) Gabapentin as adjunctive therapy for refractory idiopathic epilepsy in dogs. Proc ECVN Annual Symposium [abstract]


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