Gabapentin, a structural analogue of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), is unlike GABA able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier.
However, the precise mechanism of action of gabapentin still remains unknown. The anticonvulsive, antinociceptive as well as the anxiolytic effect of gabapentin has been demonstrated in animal as well as in human studies. Gabapentin is approved in the United States of America in human as an adjunctive agent for treatment of partial seizures with or without secondary generalization, in patients over 3 years of age. As well, it is approved for the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia in adults.
Nevertheless, up to 95 % of descriptions of gabapentin are for unapproved uses.
In this dissertation, the effect of gabapentin in the at-home treatment of 15 refractory epileptic dogs with idiopathic epilepsy including cluster seizures (at least 2 seizures in a 24 hour-period) was evaluated. The dogs in this study received gabapentin in a dosage of approximately 59 mg/kg per day, divided TID.
Cluster seizures in dogs are often difficult to treat. Until now, rectally administrated diazepam represented the only way to treat cluster seizures by the owner. Another effective, affordable medication, effective like diazepam in the treatment of cluster seizures, would reduce the expense as well as the morbidity of the affected dogs.
The therapy in all cases took place in the familiar surrounding and was applicated by the dog`s owner. In 31 % of dogs, a 49 - 100 % seizure reduction per cluster was found. A reduction of seizure intensity was found in 30 % of dogs, whereas gabapentin seemed to have no effect on seizure duration.
We found that gabapentin improved the quality of life during cluster seizures and 40 % of owners experienced cost reduction due to a reducing of the need of emergency clinic visits associated with potential required hospitalisation. As the financial and emotional constraints of repeated emergency therapy are often the limiting factors in an owner`s decision to continue treating their dog, gabapentin may represent an effective alternative solution in the home treatment of cluster seizures in some dogs. The administration of gabapentin by the owner was possible in all cases.