How To Treat Canine Epilepsy

Canine Epilepsy is recurrent seizures that occur in dogs. Seizures result when abnormal nerve signals from the brain cause muscle responses such as convulsions.

Treating Canine Epilepsy should result in a normal life for the dog and its owner by controlling the number, strength and frequency of the seizures the dog has. The treatment should also contain as few side effects as possible. This treatment includes:

  1. Phenobarbital is a prescribed drug available in pill or liquid form that must be given every 12 hours. Side effects include drowsiness, lethargy, excessive urination, thirst, hunger and excitability, loss of coordination and restlessness. Long-term use can scar the liver and cause liver failure. The veterinarian should check blood work regularly to watch for liver failure.
  2. Potassium Bromide is a prescribed drug that is mixed with water, but can also be in capsule form and is given once daily. This medication is safe for dogs with liver disease. Side effects include upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting. Give this medication with food to help curb these side effects.
  3. Sodium Bromide is a prescribed drug that is safe for dogs with kidney disease. This medication is available in liquid or capsule form and should be taken twice daily. Side effects include drowsiness, loss of coordination, increased urination and rare skin disorders.
  4. Gabapentin is a prescription drug used to treat seizures that are resistant to Phenobarbital and Potassium Bromide. This drug must be given every 8 hours and is expensive. Side effects are uncommon.
  5. Felbamate is a prescription drug used to treat seizures that are resistant to Sodium and Potassium Bromide as well as Phenobarbital. This drug is extremely expensive and must be given every 8 hours. Side effects are uncommon, however, when high doses are given, the dog may become very nervous and excitable.
  6. Primidone is a prescription drug available in tablet and oral suspension that must be given every 8 hours. Side effects include anxiety, agitation, depression, excessive thirst, urination and hunger, sedation and loss of coordination. Rare side effects are loss of appetite, increased heart rate, skin disease, hyperventilation and anemia. This medication can also cause liver disease.
  7. Valium is a prescription drug given by intravenous injection, and is used to halt a seizure in progress. This drug can become addictive. Side effects include drowsiness, lack of coordination, excitement, aggression and uncommon behavior.
  8. Pentobarbital is an injectable medication placed in the vein and used in veterinary clinics, under the close supervision of a veterinarian. Side effects include decreased breathing and loss of body temperature.

When treating Canine Epilepsy, it may be necessary to try several medications, or even combinations of medications and different doses to customize the correct treatment for the dog. Each dog is different and each circumstance is different, making individualized treatment necessary.

Treatment failure is usually linked directly to the owner of the dog. It is important to follow the veterinarian's instructions exactly to prevent further seizures.


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great definitions of the drugs!

By Marie Bulfinch