Treatments for Seizures

Each dog is different, so is their ability to metabolize medications. In order for any drug therapy to be effective, the amount of the drug in the body must be consistently monitored and adjusted to accommodate each individual dogs own body chemistry. No two dogs will react the same way to the same drug in the same dose. So, initially you must observe your dog, communicate with your vet, monitor your dog’s blood levels, and adjust the type or quantity of medication given accordingly.

Medications used to control seizures:
Phenobarbital (PB)
• the most commonly prescribed drugs for the treatment of seizures
• most epileptic dogs can be controlled effectively with PB alone
• relatively inexpensive
• fairly easy to maintain PB serum levels with 2 or 3 times a day daily dosing
• few side effects other than some interaction with the liver
• Dogs on Phenobarbital need to have their liver enzymes tested every few months using the following tests ALT (SGPT), AST (SGOT), GGT, and Alkaline Phosphatase.
• available by prescription in pill capsule or liquid form
Potassium Bromide (KBr)
• should be considered for dogs whose seizures are considered refractory (not controlled by another AED (anti epilepsy drug)
• Combining potassium bromide and phenobarbitol may be useful for patients who do not respond well to phenobarbital or primidone alone.
• is the anticonvulsant of choice for dogs with liver disease as it is not processed by the liver
• preferred for dogs with kidney problems
• effective in controlling cluster seizures
• should be given with food and not on an empty stomach
• available by prescription in pill capsule or liquid form
Kepra (Levetiracetam)
Very helpful if Phenobarbital and Potassium Bromide are not enough to control seizures.
Few side effects and does not affect the liver

Primadone (Mysoline)
• metabolizes into Phenobarbital within the dogs’ system.
• can also cause liver damage.
• some dogs who do not respond to PB will respond to Primadone.

Felbamate
• often beneficial for dogs who are resistant to PB and KBR.
• can also cause liver damage.
• extremely expensive
• requires dosing every 8 hours

Diazepam (Valium)
• available as an injectable, oral, or rectal application
• good choice to halt a cluster seizure or interrupt status epilepticus.

Gabapentin
• one of the newer AEDs (anti epilepsy drugs.
• offers some exciting potential for use in dogs.
• most often used as a secondary (or add-on) drug to help treat seizures that cannot be controlled by other AEDs alone
• has been recommended by board certified neurologists for seizure control.
• only partially metabolized by the liver in dogs
• can be used in combination with liver-metabolized anticonvulsants (i.e. Phenobarbital
• must also be given at least three times a day to have effective serum drug concentrations.
• rather expensive

Dilantin
• currently not recommended for use in canines to control seizures.
Other drugs that may be used: Valproic Acid, Zonisamide

Alternative Treatments to control seizures:
• Acupuncture
• Gold Bead Implants
• Chinese Herbs
• Homeopathic Remedies and Flower Essences
• Diet
• Vitamin and Mineral supplementation
These treatments can be done alone or in conjunction with traditional seizure medications, but be sure to discuss your decisions with your vet or vets. Some methods may contradict or counteract one another, and it is best to make your vets aware of all your protocols. In addition, remember that it is important not to delay prompt or aggressive treatment for dogs having severe seizures. Consider using traditional medications first to get the seizures under control and then incorporate alternative methods into your program with the goal to be to reduce your dogs’ drug intake. Each dog is different, so is their ability to metabolize medications. In order for any drug therapy to be effective, the amount of the drug in the body must be consistently monitored and adjusted to accommodate each individual dogs own body chemistry. No two dogs will react the same way to the same drug in the same dose. So, initially you must observe your dog, communicate with your vet, monitor your dog’s blood levels, and adjust the type or quantity of medication given accordingly.

– Tips for living with an epileptic dog.
o Never leave your IE dog alone with other dogs. If your dog were to experience a seizure, the other dogs might attack it.
o If you must leave your dog unsupervised, secure him in an area where he cannot accidentally injure himself during a seizure (falling down steps, knocking over unstable or top-heavy items, falling into a pool, etc.)
o If you must be away from home and there will be no adult at home who can look after the dog, make sure you make arrangements for appropriate supervision and care for the dog from people knowledgeable about his condition, informed on how best to care for him, and both willing and able to deal with a seizure should one occur.
o If you have children, instruct them in how to behave should they see the dog have a seizure for their own protection and the dog’s. Do not leave very young children unsupervised with the dog.

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