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Medications and Treatments

Home Phenobarbital Potassium Bromide Clorazepate Clonazepam Gabapentin Felbamate Phenytoin Primidone Valium Keppra Zonisamide

This section includes various types of treatments for epilepsy in our dogs.  Although medication is still the primary treatment, other treatments are being studied and information will be provided here.

New medications for treating epilepsy in humans are continuously being approved.  Unfortunately most of these new medications are metabolized too quickly to be useful in treating canine epilepsy and are very erratic in their effectiveness, therefore Phenobarbital and Bromide remain the first choice of anti-epileptic drugs for our pups.  Additionally, most of these new medications have not had toxicity studies done on them in dogs and at least one (Lamotrigine) is extremely toxic to dogs although it's perfectly safe for humans.

The goal of drug therapy is to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures without compromising the quality of life your dog enjoys.   Some dogs respond very well to medications and never have another seizure.  Most veterinarians will consider treatment successful if seizures are reduced to less than once a month, however, many dogs obtain much longer seizure free periods and some will never have another seizure as long as they take their medication. 

If your dog does not gain control of seizures with the use of Phenobarbital and/or bromide, your vet may refer you to a neurologist who may prescribe one of the other drugs listed here, or he may want to try another medication that has shown promise in treating humans with epilepsy.

All medications, both natural and prescription, have potential adverse side effects.  Most of the potential adverse effects are not harmful long term, but several of them can be.  Please be sure to learn what signs to look for to determine if your pup is having an adverse reaction to anti-seizure medication and seek prompt medical attention in the event they occur.

The following is some terminology that is pertinent to the medications used to control seizures:

Target Serum Concentration is the estimated amount of medication that should be in the blood stream in order to gain good control with the least amount of side effects.  Note that this is an estimate and may vary from one dog to another.  Some dogs gain seizure control on doses well below target serum concentrations and others need to be above the target to gain control.

Mean Elimination Half Life is the amount of time that it will take for half of a given medication to be eliminated from the body by metabolism and excretion if the medication is never given again.   For example, Phenobarbital has a half life of 36 to 72 hours.    In this case a dog with Phenobarbital levels of 30 ug/ml would have a level of 15 ug/ml after 36 to 72 hours if no additional medication was given.  After another 36 to 72 hours the serum level would be 7.5 ug/ml and so on.  It takes  5 half-lifes for a drug to be 97% eliminated from the body.

Time to Reach Steady State is the amount of time that the drug needs to be given before blood levels are constant.  This is usually equal to five half lives.  Optimal seizure control is not gained until a drug reaches steady state.

Dosage Frequency is frequently abbreviated as follows:

SID means once a day 
BID means twice a day
TID means three times a day
PRN means "as needed"

Dosing Recommendations - Please note this web site does not include dose recommendations.  In most cases, anti-seizure medication is measured by blood serum levels.  Published dose recommendations are only estimations of the amount of medication a "typical" dog will require to achieve the desired blood serum levels.  The blood serum level, seizure control and side effects are the factors that determine if a dose is right for your dog.  Please beware of any web site that tells you what dose of a drug to give your dog.  Doses are always best determined by the veterinarian who knows your dog.

 

Braund, KG Clinical Syndromes in Veterinary Neurology, Kyle G. Braund
Tilley LP, The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult
Thomas WB, Idiopathic Epilepsy in Dogs
Plumb, DC, Veterinary Drug Handbook

Site Map

Home

Primary Epilepsy

Epilepsy Meds and treatments

Secondary Epilepsy

Diet and  Supplements

Common Concerns

 

FAQ'S

 

What Can I do

My Beagles

Radar's Triumph

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Last Updated August 2009