Alternative Dog Medication for Seizures
Although the decision about whether or not to put your dog on seizure medication should be decided between you and your veterinarian, I think that the better educated dog owner will make a better decision. This article will give you some information about the medications available and give you a few guidelines you might choose to follow.
Watching a dog go through a grand mal seizure is a horrible thing. The neurons in the brain fire all at once and the dog loses consciousness, falls down, all of the muscles twitch, and the dog may even lose control of his bowels and bladder. A seizure may be a one-time event, though. A dog must have more than one seizure before he is considered an epileptic. If he is suffering from another disease, he may have a single seizure, and after he is cured of the disease he may never have another problem.
If your dog has an absence seizure, you may not even notice. They are more of a problem in human beings since the epileptic is not able to drive or work around machinery. Is the brain being damaged when he has the seizure? Yes, but it may not be significant.
The treatment for epilepsy will vary. No medication is without side effects, and some of the best medications to control seizures have the most side effects.
What are the medications most commonly used to control seizures in dogs?
Phenobarbital: This is the most common drug since it is very effective. It also has a lot of side effects. It will make your dog act tired, pee excessively, be constantly hungry and thirsty, wobbly, and restless. Some of these side effects go away after a short time; some of them will come back every time you need to alter the dose.
If you have to put your dog on Phenobarbital for a long time, he might have liver damage. Sometimes this can be picked up on blood work and sometimes it can be treated with milk thistle or other drugs. Some dogs will have liver failure and die.
Potassium bromide: This drug is effective in some dogs, either by itself or when used with Phenobarbital. It also may make your dog uncoordinated, drowsy, weak, and sometimes even causes skin problems. If your dog has behavioral changes, sometimes it helps to decrease his dosage.
Another side effect of potassium bromide can be GI problems like vomiting or nausea. It may help to give the drug with food, it may help to divide the dose, or you might have to stop giving the drug. If a dog has kidney problems he may not be able to excrete the drug and can build up toxic levels in his blood.
Diazepam: This is an anti-anxiety medication but it is also effective in controlling seizures in some dogs. It can cause drowsiness, disorientation, and in coordination, so your dog may just lie around except when he wobbles in to eat or drink.
What are the newer medications to control seizures?
Felbamate: This anti-epileptic is used to control seizures when mixed with Phenobarbital or potassium bromide since it will not make your dog drowsier. A dog may be nervous, or more hyperactive, the drug might cause liver problems, and it is expensive and has to be given three times a day.
Zonisamide: This drug seems to control seizures in a lot of dogs, but since it has not been used very often there have not been many reported side effects.
There are other anti-epileptic medications that can be tried but, unfortunately, everything has a side effect, even if it has yet to be discovered.
Every drug has side effects. You can find a drug or a combination of drugs that will keep your dog from having any more seizures. Of course he might stop climbing the stairs, stop playing with the family, and just sit around when he is not eating.
There are also holistic cures. An article in the Journal of Holistic Veterinary Medicine discussed the use of an ice pack placed on the dog´s spine just before or during a seizure. (The area of the back treated is just over the abdomen). Many of the dogs stopped their seizures, and owners that were able to notice a pre-seizure aura actually prevented their dogs from having seizures.
Are you willing to use drugs and sacrifice your dog´s quality of life? Make this decision carefully.
Should you put your epileptic dog on drugs?
Do you want to put your epileptic dog on medications?
Questions & Answers
My adult Chihuahua has been having seizures, and they are increasing in frequency. They last about 3 minutes, but he does not lose bowel or bladder control. What should I do?
A dog of that age with multiple seizures should be put on medications. You do not indicate if you have tried putting him on phenobarbital, potassium bromide, or any of the other traditional medications. Every time a dog goes through a seizure, brain cells are destroyed, and since he has so many years in front of him, this may become a serious issue. Get him examined by your regular vet.
My female dog is about thirteen years old, and has been on Potassium Bromide for seizures for about ten years now. I am considering taking her off the medication. She hasn’t had a seizure in about seven or so years. The drug is expensive, and so is the blood work that is required to have done once a year. Is this a good idea?
Yes, it is a good idea, just wean your dog off slowly. Give her 3/4 of the regular dose for a few weeks, then a half dose for a few weeks, then a 1/4 dose for a few weeks. Give her as little as possible until you are sure that she is still not having seizures. All drugs have side effects, so if she can get by without them, you both might have many more years ahead.