Can dogs become addicted to pain meds? - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-14-2009, 02:22 PM Thread Starter
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Question Can dogs become addicted to pain meds?

As most of you know, Beau takes pain meds (gabapentin) for his arthritis. I ran out of pills on Sunday and had to wait till today when Tim got some pay from a job to get more meds. The pills are pretty expensive. I noticed that Beau is having alot of trouble walking today and that he is panting like he is in pain so as soon as I am done posting this I will go pick them up. And restless like he cant sleep or get comfy. So I was wondering can they become addicted to the pain meds like a person can?

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-14-2009, 02:56 PM
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It's probably not an addiction - his baseline levels of the meds have worn off and he's experiencing the classic symptoms of pain. My guess is whatever you're giving him is not a narcotic or opiate - likely an NSAID? NSAIDS aren't addictive by nature - narcotics are...and why you can buy Aleve at the local drug store but not Cocaine...

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-14-2009, 03:14 PM
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As you know, I take Gabapentin for my neuropathic (nerve pain) related to my MS. Gabapentin is an anti-convulsant drug prescribed for epilepsy. It is also prescribed, off-lable for the treatment of pain. It is non-habit forming. However, if it no longer shows effectiveness it has to be weened off...as in titrate down.
It is not an opiate, narcotic type drug.
As I PM'd you earlier, the offer is still on the table. PM me if you are interested.
How are Beaus' seizures since taking Gabapentin?

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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-14-2009, 03:16 PM
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I think Beau is feeling bad because he isn't getting relief from the pain, but I looked up his med on Wikipedia and found this:

Gabapentin should not be discontinued abruptly after long term use. Abrupt or over rapid withdrawal may provoke a withdrawal syndrome similar to alcohol or benzodiazepine withdrawal. Gradual reduction over a period of weeks or months helps minimise or prevents the withdrawal syndrome.[19]

So it would probably be better to cut his meds in half so they last longer once you realize there are going to be a couple of days before you can get more. I'm so sorry you are having to deal with this in addition to all the rest.'
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-14-2009, 03:19 PM
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Edited to add: If Beau has gone without for a time he's most likely panting and having trouble walking because he is in pain, not because of withdrawal.
How long has it been since his last dose?

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-14-2009, 04:21 PM Thread Starter
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He had his last dose on Sunday night and I just gave him another so he only was without it for 1 day. I didnt plan on running out or having an emergency come up to not have the $105 for the meds on Sunday. But have learned from it so it wont happen again. So he is now covered for the next 30 days.

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-14-2009, 04:28 PM
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Hi Beaushel. I took Gabapentin for a long time for my mig. headaches & they are a non-addictive drug (at least for humans). I actually weaned myself off of them a bit too quickly, by accident, and ended up feeling a bit dizzy, sick to my stomach, CRANKY and "off" for several days afterward. He could possibly be in a bit of pain, too. I bet he'll feel better once they are in his system again. I hope he feels better soon!

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-14-2009, 05:56 PM
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Just to satisfy anyones curiosity - Dogs and other animals can become addicted to various drugs - even narcotics. I won't go into details because the stories aren't necessarily pleasant.

But...
I don't know how true this is but it's quite a story:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...toryId=6376594
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-14-2009, 06:12 PM
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If administered properly any physiological "addiction" is tempered if not completely avoided by gradually decreasing the dose of the medicationin order to allow the body to get back to a pre-medicated state.
What you described in Beau are not symptoms of withdrawl, but rather his response to feeling the pain that medication has been masking.

Hahaha
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 04-15-2009, 12:05 PM
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Addiction is the wrong word or description as it implies that a dog is capable of psychologically craving the euphoria drugs like opiates provide when they are no longer needed for their intended purpose. Drug Addicition is a human mental health condition with it's own diagnostic related group in the field of Psychiatry. Usually an individual will become addicted to a drug to self-medicate psychological pain.

Physical or physiological "dependence" would be the appropriate term for a dog in withdrawal.

The only difference between dependence and addiction is the psychological part because in both cases the physiological part is present in both cases (physical withdrawal and tolerance).

I strongly doubt that a dog is capable of seeking out or craving a drug to self-medicate.

There is SO much that is misunderstood about addiction - even among medical professionals. And it's really ridiculous because sometimes people who really do need pain medication or suffer from chronic pain continue to do so because of the lack of knowledge about the difference between addiction and dependence/tolerance. There is DEFINITELY a stigma attached to those who suffer in real legitimate pain - be it physical or psychological. And the biggest perpetrators of the misunderstanding is the DEA (Talk about government running your life! I'd rather my doctor and I decide if I need something for pain. Not the DEA.).
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