Use of Oral Gabapentin to Aid Healing of a Periparturient Pelvic Fracture in a Common Zebra (Equus burchelli)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2008
Ellen Bronson1, med vet, DACZM; Allison Wack1, DVM; Robyn Johnson1, BS; Cooper Williams2, VMD
1Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, MD, USA; 2Hampstead, MD, USA


An 11-yr-old, primiparous Burchell’s zebra (Equus burchelli burchelli) gave birth to a full-term stillborn fetus. Left-sided vulvar edema and a non-weight-bearing (grade V/V) lameness on the left rear leg with knuckling was noted post-partum. The zebra was placed on stall rest and given oral phenylbutazone and omeprazole. Over the following month the animal started placing slightly more weight on the affected leg (grade IV/V), but the opposite leg became severely dropped at the fetlock due to increased weight-bearing. Gabapentin (2.5 mg/kg BID PO; Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Inc., Mahwah, New Jersey, USA) was administered from day 30 to 90 for added pain relief and mild sedative effects to decrease excessive movement. Gradual improvement of the lameness was observed during the 4 mo after the injury. Six months after the initial injury, anesthesia was performed, and a healed, comminuted fracture of the left ischium continuing into the acetabulum was diagnosed via rectal and transcutaneous ultrasonographic examination.

Both the analgesic and sedative effects of gabapentin are considered to have contributed to the successful management and outcome of this case. Gabapentin initially was used as an anticonvulsant, but has been shown also to be effective for the management of neuropathic and chronic pain in humans; few side effects are noted.4 Its use has been infrequently reported in the equine and zoological medicine literature.1-3 This drug has great potential as an adjunctive pain management tool for non-domestic animals.

Literature Cited

1.  Adkesson, M.J. 2006. The role of gabapentin as an analgesic: potential applications in zoological medicine. Proc. Am. Assoc. Zoo Vet. Annu. Meet. Pp. 270–272.

2.  Davis, J.L., L.P. Posner, and Y. Else. 2007. Gabapentin for the treatment of neuropathic pain in a pregnant horse. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc. 231:755–758.

3.  Lehner, A.F., J. Stewart, A. Dafalla, K.J. Ely, A.L. Connerly, C.N. Jones, H. ElkHoly, K. Thompson, T. Tobin, and L. Dirikolu. 2007. Gabapentin in horses: validation of an analytical method for gabapentin quantitation. J. Anal. Toxicol. 31:555–565.

4.  Rose, M.A., and P.C.A. Kam. 2002. Gabapentin: pharmacology and its use in pain management. Anaesth. 57:451–462.


Speaker Information
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Ellen Bronson, med vet, DACZM
Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
Druid Hill Park
Baltimore, MD, USA

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