Evaluation of prescribing practices for gabapentin as an analgesic among veterinary professionals

  • Rebecca Reader
    Correspondence: Rebecca C Reader, Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, 200 Westboro Road, North Grafton, MA 01536, USA.
    Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, North Grafton, MA, USA
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  • Oladapo Olaitan
    Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Medical School, The Albert Sherman Center, Worcester, MA, USA
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  • Emily McCobb
    Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, North Grafton, MA, USA
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      To describe the prescribing practices for gabapentin as an analgesic within the veterinary community.

      Study design

      Anonymous online voluntary survey.


      A total of 718 veterinarians within the United States and Canada, including general practitioners and diplomates of the American Colleges of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia, Emergency and Critical Care, Surgery and Internal Medicine.


      An anonymous online survey was used to gather information about individual prescribing practices for gabapentin including frequency of use, reasons for prescribing and procedures for authorizing refill requests. Questions specific to gabapentin covered mechanisms of action, perceptions of efficacy and the potential for abuse in people. Dunn’s test for multiple comparisons and pairwise Mann–Whitney U test were used to evaluate relationships between veterinary specialty and survey responses.


      A total of 718 veterinarians responded to the survey, 528 (73.5%) answered all questions of the survey to completion. Frequency of prescribing was high with 365/529 (69.0%) of respondents prescribing gabapentin as an analgesic on a daily or weekly basis. Surgeons and general practitioners used gabapentin significantly more frequently than other groups, with surgeons more likely to prescribe gabapentin for postoperative pain. The most common reason [254/517 (49.1%)] survey respondents prescribed gabapentin as an analgesic was because administration of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication was contraindicated for that animal. The majority of survey respondents [362/527 (68.7%)] considered the abuse potential of gabapentin to be low in people.

      Conclusions and clinical relevance

      Veterinary prescribing practices for gabapentin closely mirrored that of human physicians, with gabapentin being prescribed frequently and for uses largely unrelated to its labeled indication. The perception of the potential for abuse of gabapentin is low within the veterinary community.


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