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Treatment & Prevention For Seizures in Dogs

Treatment & Prevention For Seizures in Dogs

If your dog has frequent, recurring seizures there are a number of treatments your vet may prescribe to help reduce the frequency and severity of your pup's seizures. Today our vets share a number of available treatments for seizures in dogs, and explain more about the challenges of getting your pup's treatment 'just right'.

What is the best medicine for seizures in dogs?

Finding the right medication or medications to reduce the frequency of your dog's seizures can take time, and may require a number of modifications along the way. The goal of treatment is to prevent seizures in dogs from occurring, and to reduce the severity of seizures if and when they do occur.

When weighing up the best treatment for your pup, your vet will consider any underlying health conditions your dog may have, as well as each treatment's effectiveness, potential side effects, ease of administration, and affordability. 

Treatment for most dogs experiencing seizures begins with either phenobarbital or potassium bromide, with other medications and treatments being considered if these drugs are unsuccessful at adequately suppressing your pup's seizures.

Phenobarbital

Phenobarbital has been used for decades to suppress seizures in dogs and is typically the first medication prescribed by vets for dogs experiencing seizures. It is estimated that 80% of dogs on phenobarbital experience a decrease in seizure frequency of 50% or more. This medication can be used alone or with other anti-seizure medications to help achieve an acceptable level seizure control.

While your dog is on phenobarbital it will be necessary to visit the vet regularly for blood tests. There is a fine balancing act between maintaining optimal therapeutic levels of the drug in your pup's bloodstream, and preventing levels that are too high. High levels of  phenobarbital can lead to the development of liver disease in dogs, and optimal levels can fluctuate over your pets lifespan. While your dog is on phenobarbital you may find that their dosage changes from time to time.

Other common side effects of phenobarbital in dogs include a temporary sedative effect in first few days of use and a marked increase in your dog's appetite and thirst.

Potassium Bromide

Potassium Bromide is a very effective anti-convulsant medication for dogs. As many as 52% of dogs become seizure-free when given this medication, and about 70% of dogs will have a 50% reduction in seizure frequency or better.

It does take some time to reach stable therapeutic levels of potassium bromide in your dog's blood, meaning that, as with phenobarbital, there is a need for ongoing blood monitoring tests.

Potassium bromide has been linked with the development of pancreatitis in some dogs. Pancreatitis is a very serious condition, making regular blood level monitoring extra important if your dog is being given potassium bromide to reduce their frequency of seizures.

As with phenobarbital, you may notice that your dogs seems sedated when you first begin administering this medication. The sedative effect should diminish over time.

Levetiracetam (Keppra®)

If your vet has been unable to reduce the frequency and severity of your pup's seizures with the help of phenobarbital or potassium bromide they prescribe levetiracetam. This drug is a typically used in cases where seizures are particularly difficult to control through other drug therapies, and has minimal side effects. While this medication alone can be effective for reducing seizure frequency in some dogs, it is most often prescribed for use in combination with other drug therapies.

Zonisamide (Zonegran®)

Zonisamide is fast gaining popularity as a treatment for seizures in dogs. This drug can be used on its own or in conjunction with other anti-convulsion medications. That said, this drug does come with a number of side-effects including sedation, lack of coordination while walking, vomiting, and reduced appetite.

Premidone

Premidone is typically prescribed to dogs with seizures who are not responding to other anti-convulsion medications. When administered, this drug is converted to phenobarbital and phenylethylmalonamide (PEMA) by the dog's system and can be effective in suppressing seizures. Side effects of Primidone in dogs can include drowsiness, dizziness, hives, and swelling. 

Per Rectal Diazepam

For many pet parents this will certainly not be an ideal solution for their dog's seizures, however per rectal diazepam can be effective for treating dogs who frequently experience cluster seizures. Cluster seizures are 2 or more seizures within a 24 hours period. Administering per rectal diazepam following the first seizure can help to decrease the number and severity of subsequent seizures in the cluster, and can be administered up to 3 times within a 24 hour period.

What natural remedy can I give my dog for seizures?

Whenever you are considering trying natural remedies to treat your dog, it is essential to consult with your veterinarian. Natural treatments and remedies may interact with other medications your dog is taking.

Modified diet 

In some dogs, a veterinary therapeutic diet used along with standard medication can help to further reduce seizure frequency. Some studies show that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) significantly reduce seizure frequency in more than 30% of the dogs, and reduced seizure frequency by at least 50% in almost half of the dogs studied. 

Supplements 

Holistic veterinarians may recommend trying supplements to reduce the frequency of your dog's seizures. Supplements which are often recommended for dogs with seizures include Chinese herbs to improve liver function, vitamin E, taurine, and melatonin.

Acupuncture

Many pet parents feel that this ancient Chinese treatment is very helpful in reducing the number of seizures their dog experiences. Dogs typically accept acupuncture well and if the treatment proves successful for your dog, small gold beads can be implanted at the various pressure points in order to provide long-term treatment.

Why is my dog still having seizures on medication?

Finding the right combination of drugs, and the optimal therapeutic dose to control your dog's seizures can prove challenging. It is essential for vets to move slowing when increasing the dosages of anti-convulsion medications since high levels in the bloodstream can lead to serious health risks for your dog such as liver disease and pancreatitis.

Patience is going to be a required aspect of your dog's seizure treatment. Given time, a reduction in seizure frequency and severity can be achieved and maintained for most dogs. 

Where can I find a veterinary specialist that treats seizures in dogs?

At Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Winston-Salem our Board-Certified Veterinary Neurologist specializes in diagnosing and treating neurological disorders in pets, including seizures. Our specialist vets work closely with you and your primary care veterinarian to provide the very best care for your pet. 

If your dog is experiencing seizures that require advanced veterinary treatment, ask your vet for a referral to see our Veterinary Neurologist at Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Winston-Salem. If your dog is experiencing a seizure lasting longer than 3 minutes, or experiences a number of seizures within a 24 hour period visit our emergency animal hospital for urgent care. 

Caring for Winston-Salem Pets

At Carolina Veterinary Specialists, we accept new clients to our specialty services by referral only. Our 24/7 emergency service welcomes all clients.

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