Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
What Can I Give My Dog If I Can't Afford Prescription Seizure Medication?
"I have an 11-year-old male Miniature Pinscher that has had many seizures and has been on phenobarbital. He has not had a seizure in about a year, but I have been out of medication for months and he is still okay. I cannot afford the medication and am looking for something OTC that will help him. Is there anything I can order on Amazon?" —Melanie
OTC Meds and Home Remedies for Canine Seizures
Unfortunately, there are no non-prescription medications available that are proven to help with canine seizures.
Homeopathic cures for epilepsy, whether purchased online or from a pet shop, have been proven not to work and are a waste of your money. There may be some herbs available online that might help (like milk thistle, skullcap, and oat straw), but nothing has been proven to be of any benefit and a dog may stop having seizures just because he stopped, not because of any herbal cure.
What Other Options Are There?
If phenobarbital is not an option, there are a couple of other things you can try to help your epileptic dog.
Ask for a Different Medication
Medications like phenobarbital change a dog's seizure threshold and make his brain less likely to suffer from another seizure. If you can afford another visit with your vet, explain the problem and ask for an alternative medication like potassium bromide, which may be more affordable and allow you to use even less phenobarbital.
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Change in Diet
Another thing that might help—though it is hotly contested—is a change in diet. Since Min Pins do not eat much, you can try switching your dog to a higher protein/low carbohydrate ketone diet (like a raw-food diet) instead of his regular food. You will need to do a lot more reading about how to properly make up a raw diet, or you can purchase one of the mostly meat-based raw diets and try that.
Note that there is no guarantee that this is going to help, but it has worked with some dogs and may prevent yours from having another seizure. (1) Many veterinarians, however, do not accept those results and point out there is no proof that dietary changes provide benefits. (2)
There are also alternatives in holistic medicine, like acupuncture or CBD oil, but none of them are going to be any less expensive than purchasing the medication from your regular vet. If you want to try acupuncture, that has shown the most promise, but you will need to find a holistic vet that practices acupuncture and possibly make several visits to treat your dog.
Do Dogs Ever Stop Having Seizures?
If you stopped using phenobarbital suddenly and did not wean the dog off but he still had no seizures, it is possible that he will never again have a seizure.
No one can predict this, however. I am sorry that I cannot recommend an alternative medication, but a seizure condition is a serious problem that needs to be treated medically. An 11-year-old Min Pin is not an old dog, and if you take care of this condition he can stay healthy and be a great companion for many more years to come.
- Masino, S. A., Freedgood, N. R., Reichert, H. R., Director, C. J., Whittemore, V. H., & Zupec-Kania, B. (2019).
- SkeptVet. (2020). Ketogenic Diets for Dogs and Cats.
This article is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from your veterinarian. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2022 Dr Mark