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Pregabalin
Wendy Brooks, DVM, DABVP
Published: May 20, 2024

(For veterinary information only)

WARNING
The size of the tablet/medication is NOT an indication of a proper dose. Never administer any drug without your veterinarian's input. Serious side effects or death can occur if you use drugs on your pet without your veterinarian's advice. 

It is our policy not to give dosing information over the Internet.

Brand names: Bonqat,® Lyrica®

Availablity:

Capsules: 100 mg, 300 mg, 400 mg

Tablets: 100 mg, 300 mg, 400 mg, 450 mg, 600 mg, 750 mg, 800 mg, 900 mg

Oral solution: 50 mg/ml, contains xylitol, not safe in dogs. A compounded preparation should be prescribed if a dog cannot be treated with gabapentin tablets or capsules.

Background

Pregabalin has been used in human medication mostly for nerve pain and can be similarly used for pets. It came into veterinary use in 2024 when it was approved for cats needing help with transport anxiety.

Many cats do not receive proper routine medical care because of fear of pet carriers and stress associated with transport and the veterinary profession has been seeking techniques to improve feline well-being and alleviate veterinarian visit anxiety for some time. Gabapentin, a related compound, has been in use for some time and has helped tremendously, but its sedation side effect has been undesirable. Pregabalin works similarly but has much less potential for sedation. Bonqat® was designed for feline use with feline-friendly flavoring and packaging for short-term use.

In addition to feline transport use, pregabalin also has anti-seizure activity and may have a place in the treatment of seizure disorders; as mentioned, it can be used in pain management long term in dogs.

How This Medication Works and How It Is Used

Pregabalin has a similar structure to a natural neurotransmitter called GABA and can, as a result, create similar effects. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means it reduces nerve activity. This "deactivation" alleviates pain, anxiety, and even seizure activity.

For seizures (usually in dogs), twice daily use is typical. For transport anxiety in cats, a single dose is used one and a half hours before transport, and the effects last approximately 14 hours. According to its official labeling, pregabalin may be given to a cat on two consecutive days.

Pregabalin must be refrigerated. If a dose is skipped accidentally, pick up with the next scheduled dose and do not double up. Do not re-dose if the cat vomits or spits out the medication.

Pregabalin works best on an empty stomach.

Side Effects

While pregabalin has less potential for sedation than gabapentin, it still has some potential for sedation. 

As with most oral medications, GI side effects such as nausea, reduced appetite loss, or diarrhea may occur. 

Liver enzymes may increase incidentally on blood testing. It may be useful to check baseline levels for comparison.

Serious side effects have not been reported, but there are cautions about using pregabalin with concurrent medical problems (see below).

Interactions With Other Drugs

Concurrent use with opiates (or other medications with tranquilizing side effects) will increase the potential for sedation.

Concerns and Cautions

Pregabalin was not tested in cats under seven months of age or in cats with high blood pressure, heart disease, or kidney disease. It was also not tested in pregnant or nursing animals.

Pregabalin works best on an empty stomach. Food can delay the onset of action.

If used long-term, pregabalin should not be abruptly discontinued. It should be tapered off.

The Bonqat® product is good for six months after opening if refrigerated but only one month after opening if kept at room temperature.

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The information contained here is for general purposes only and is not a substitute for advice from your veterinarian. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk.

Links to non-VIN websites do not imply a recommendation or endorsement by VIN® of the views or content contained within those sites.

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