Hello again. How did the bloodwork results go? It sounds like she's at or very close to a therapeutic level from what you have said, so hoping there is no need to alter the medication level - but even if the results show an adjustment is needed, it sounds like it would be very minor increase or decrease. Tony
Hi. I have an 11 year old lab named Piper. She started having seizures when she was about 5 years old-having about 2 seisure a year (that I know of)..... Well, last year she started having them every other month and they would last almost 20 -30 minutes before she would totally come out of it. It was horrible to watch and I was so scared she was going to die. We put her on phenobarbital about 3 months ago and no more seizures, but she barks all the time and is constantly wanting food. I will take the bark for sure. Good luck
Hi. It's great to hear the phenobarbital has worked well with Piper. It is not unusual for seizures to increase as a dog gets older, particularly with true epilepsy (which it sounds like Piper has). One of the biggest side-effects of the medication is increased appetite, and with a Labrador, that's something to be very careful with as they are so prone to putting on weight. Most labs I have known are always ready to eat, ha. Anyway, it might be worth giving her something like a Kong with a little peanut butter smeared inside it from time to time, just to satisfy her craving and take her mind off the hunger she is probably experiencing.
The barking is interesting. This could be Piper having very minor seizures or the "fugue" state that often accompanies epilepsy. If you haven't had a recent blood-test done, it would certainly be worth doing, just to be sure the phenobarbital is still within the therapeutic range. If she has only been on phenobarbital for 3 months, you should really be having monthly bloods done anyway up to about 6 months or until such time as the therapeutic range has been found and is stable. And then every 6 months from there on.
Hello. Kujo, my 13 yr old Jack Russell, started having seizures 10 months ago. The first one was horrific to watch, never having seen a seizure before this. Kujo lost control of his bladder and waste during the seizure and I thought he was dying or having a heart attack. After my vet explained what a seizure is and does, I started keeping a log of the subsequent seizures which occurred at two month intervals, e.g. time of day, activity before seizure, length of seizure, recovery time, etc. The pattern was that Kujo would go into seizure during sleep and most frequently in early morning. The single seizure episodes then progressed to cluster seizures, up to 3 consecutive, about an half hour apart. Devastating. The vet suggested to change diet to organic, grain free, made in USA. I did immediately however, the seizures continued. My other dog, a dachshund mix, would run around yapping excitedly, clearly nervous and confused at her buddy's condition. During the seizures and directly afterward, I would take Kujo into another room, lower the lights, and just try to comfort him quietly. The vet put him on pb, 1 pill twice a day, at same times each day. Two weeks later, on vet instructions, the dosage was increased to 1.5 pills twice a day. In one week he is due for another blood test, and vet will continue to test until he is satisfied with levels. Kujo experienced the wobbly stance, clumsiness, increased appetite, and an insatiable thirst. After gaining a few pounds, I have now put him on measured amounts to keep his weight down. After initial dose and last week after the increased dosage, the drugged side effects were apparent, but several days later, both times, he seems to have adjusted. He still plays, runs, jumps up on couch and bed, but has a bit more trouble in doing so. He has not had a seizure since his first dose over three weeks ago. I am going to continue with vet's instructions and monitor/log his condition. Blood tests will continue as much as necessary. Kujo is my buddy boy and I am so grateful that there is something to keep him enjoying life without the frightening seizures. The effects of the drug is FAR less than the body jolting seizures. Thank you for your info and know that it is comforting to read of all of your experiences. The best to all of your dogs and you who love and care for them. Alicia, Kujo and Helen
Hello. I am pleased you have found the forum on this subject useful and informative. I read your post with great interest, because you have done exactly what all dog owners should do regarding monitoring, recording, having blood tests undertaken at regular intervals, starting at a low dose of Pb and rising gradually until the therapeutic level is found and then regular blood tests at longer intervals to maintain this. You have also started a weight control feeding regime, which is perfect, and have changed to better quality food. I commend everything you have done - and the proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating. You have achieved good results for Kujo by doing ll the right things. Congratulations. Tony
I have a 6 yr. old female Jack that very recently became withdrawn, inactive, and developed a spasm or tic that can be felt by placing a hand under her neck. The vet asked if she had access to rat poison. The only poison is used in the garage for spiders and she certainly does not have access to that but I am now wondering if walking on the spray could be absorbed through the feet as she occasionally comes into the garage if the door is left open.
The vet gave her prednisone 1 tab twice a day for 1 week and then 1 a day for a week but we did not get through the second week when he decided to give her phenobarbital twice a day 16.2mg because she was not getting any better. Have had several Jacks and know what she was and what they are and she is no longer the bundle of energy typical of this breed. We thought when we took her to the vet that our larger heeler jumped or fell on her and were very surprised to hear that he thought she had been poisoned. Right now, she has ups and downs but squeaks if touched. Am wondering what it could be as it seem the vet is unsure exactly what is wrong with her. It seems that the phenol is prescribed for seizures and she has not had one.
Hi. I have absolutely no idea why your vet has prescribed phenobarbital for your Russell. Even if she had been having minor seizures (as a result of poisoning), phenobarbital is a medication I would have thought was inappropriate. It is possible your dog has licked her feet, if she had walked through poisons, and this could have caused the problem. I would certainly question your vet and ask why phenobarbital ... and if he thinks it is seizures/epilepsy, why does he think this?
As you had suspected one dog may have fallen on your six year old - and given that she squeals when touched - has she had an x-ray? Has the vet examined her for torn tendons or pulled muscles?
Look at the poison you have been using. Check the ingredients and list them in a post here. Make sure neither dog is allowed anywhere near the floor or wall or other areas where the spray has been used. My next advice would be not to use that or any other spray containing poisonous elements. Look for organic remedies that are dog-friendly.
I strongly suspect the problem is actually a trapped or aggravated nerve or something very similar. The vet needs to test her reflexes - as well as take an Xray to ensure no other injury of the neck area has occurred. She will then need an anti-inflammatory and muscle-relaxant to help her feel more comfortable for a few days, until things calm down. Did the prednisolone have any effect at all? This is a steroid and anti-inflammatory, so it should have eased things a little.
Try to keep her calm. She needs lots of rest. Do not walk her with a collar on (no walks for a few days is best), as pulling could worsen the condition. Also, don't allow her to jump up or down on furniture or other things, beds, chairs, etc.
I'm finding it quite difficult to appreciate why the vet has used phenobarbital in this situation, unless there's something he has found under examination that he didn't tell you about at the time. I would be very interested to be informed about what his thinking is, just to satisfy my own curiosity.
I will call the vet tomorrow to ask the questions. I can only think that he thought she had been injured because of what I told him. My dogs go berserk when the doorbell rings or we open the garage door and they all pile on the back door. The IGH was injured in this way but recovered. I found it strange that an injury and poisoning would have the same symptoms. I fully expected 3 weeks ago that the vet would advise me to put her down because she was dying and that was how bad she looked. That is not an easy drive to the vet to make. Some days now better than others, still wagging tail, eating, sleeping, just not the same happy active little dog. The vet told me that the phenol would be absorbed into the fat at first so it would take some time for effect. Patty seems to be bloated and I am wondering if that is why. I asked about the x-ray and he said that it would be pointless for soft tissue injury as it would only show bone injury. I did not mention Thank you for answering so quickly.
oops! Sent before completing. I did not mention to the vet because I forgot but she holds out one leg at an angle when she comes up to me when I am on the computer. She is quite an actress and has many antics but now I think that mannerism is part of her illness.
One last comment and then I will shut up until I talk to the vet. Patty has an incontinence issue that the vet prescribed a medication for which I cannot remember the name of. I went back for a refill and he said it was no longer available and prescribed Proin which was a hit and miss. I did not feel comfortable with it and ordered Kemen off the internet which is a hit and miss also but is supposed to be natural and not a drug and had pretty much the same result. Some days good and some days not. My dogs sleep in my bed which also is an issue with her incontinence problem. I am hoping that Kemen does not play a part in her problem. I stopped the Kemen when she got sick and the incontinence is out of control now. Maybe I should get another vet opinion? He came highly recommended by many of my friends.
Talked to the vet today. Bottom line, he is puzzled. I told him I do not want to put down Patty if I do not even know what is wrong with her. I am going to see him within a week, sooner if I can work out my schedule with my job. I told him that I read that phenol is for seizures and epileptic fits and he said he prescribed it for the spasm in her neck and because the prednisone was not working. He still does not think an x-ray is necessary.
The poison in the garage which I do not think is the issue and he does not think so also because it would have worn off or killed her by now is
Ortho Home Defense.
Small amounts of Bifenthrin
cis isomers 97%
label reads that people and pets may re-enter treated areas after spray has dried- one hour.
Patty goes in the garage to greet us coming home. My husband sprays around the entrance from the garage to the house but also puts down a mat over the spray.
Hi. Thanks for the additional info. I really don't think the spray is the issue, although some of the ingredients are contra-indicated. Bifenthrin is of particular concern. Exposed pets may experience single-episode vomiting or diarrhea, reduced activity, twitching of the ear, paw flicking and increased drooling. Other signs can include hyperactivity followed by incoordination with diarrhea, depression, and dilated pupils. Some veterinarians have reported additional signs such as chewing, head bobbing, partial paralysis, and tremors.
There is absolutely no need to consider euthanizing Patty. Please put this thought out of your head. I am assuming this consideration did not come from your vet? If it did, swap your vet.
I think it is probably time to get a second opinion anyway, as your regular vet is out of ideas and - in my opinion - is misusing phenobarbital in the absence of any other ideas.
You need a diagnosis, and your regular vet seems unable to give one.
If the tremor was caused by the spray, it should dissipate within 48 hours of first contact with it (assuming you have kept her out of that area since the first event). I think therefore, by tomorrow Patty should be much improved - and if not, the cause of these symptoms is something else.
I have asked a friend of mine on this site to examine your post, just to give her very informed opinion on it. Hopefully she will remark on it within the next day or so.
"Exposed pets may experience single-episode vomiting or diarrhea, reduced activity, twitching of the ear, paw flicking and increased drooling. Other signs can include hyperactivity followed by incoordination with diarrhea, depression, and dilated pupils. Some veterinarians have reported additional signs such as chewing, head bobbing, partial paralysis, and tremors."
None of this is happening except for the reduced activity and of course the spasm in the neck. The vet did not recommend euthanizing Patty at any point. That was my thought when I saw how miserable she was and when I had to take her in that way- she looked like she was on her death bed. I do not want to lose my dog. My heeler was recently diagnosed as diabetic and I am getting up at 5 in the morning & dosing at 5 every nite. I have one dog left that isn't sick but she needs a dental cleaning and at 8 yrs. and a IGH, I am afraid I will lose her too after reading a post on this site about a Chi and a dental procedure fatal mishap.
Again, I appreciate the information and replies that you have given me so much!
I've read through this and have a few questions that I'm missing......
Why did your Vet think poisoning? Is there any ataxia going on?
What leg is being help up?
Was blood work done?
Most often phenobarbital is used to suppress epileptic seizures (i.e., seizures for which a cause has not been identified) but phenobarbital can also be used against seizures due to brain tumors, poisonings, or infection as well. That's why your Vet tried it...
I personally don't think your dog has been poisoned....A simple thing to do would be a complete blood panel.....Was one done originally? There would be plenty of elevations (Such as Liver & Kidney enzymes) that would indicate Poisoning. Too high of levels of phenobarbital is also easy to detect in the blood.....If not already, I'd have one done to CLEARLY rule out either kind of poisoning!!!!
Next, he's right, a soft tissue injury will not show on an xray. He could have nailed you for that & didn't, so that's one plus for him! :)
In a high energy terrier at the age of 6, is the ideal age for a herniated disk. I'd be leaning more towards a disc/disk of the neck..Therefore, I'm assuming the bad leg is a front leg. Right? These injuries are extremely painful, but given time and proper treatment, can heal on their own!
An xray will rarely show a disk injury....It's called IVDD..Intervertarbal Disk/Disc Disease if you want to google it...
Some Vets still use steroids to treat, but 1-2 weeks is not enough.....Normally, a medication for pain is used also...You must be careful here as the steroids cannot be mixed with an anti-inflammatory! ONLY a med strictly for pain.
Treatment normally lasts at least 4 weeks and sometimes 6.
Your dog's behavior is classic for pain.......
I personally have had better luck in these cases, using a Holistic Vet for Acupuncture.....I have seen these kind of injuries hear in half the time w/regular acupuncture treatments.....
If you are interested in finding a Holistic Vet in your area, please let me know...I will pass that info. along...
Last question: Was your girl recently vaccinated in the shoulder area by chance?
Karla. Thanks for responding to this one. I was running out of ideas but somehow knew you would have a whole batch of new good ideas on it. I am very grateful to you for helping giapattyjoey - and I hope they use your advice, insight and knowledge to help their fur baby. Tony x
No recent vaccinations. No blood work done.You are right pretty much on all counts. Front leg is right. Vet thinks it is a disc injury also. At this point he says the poisoning (which neither of us believe now) effects would be gone. Ataxia? -slow and careful movement but no lack of muscle coordination. She knows she is hurt and is moving slow.
We did not ask why he thought poisoning we were so blown away by his comment. We are very careful with the Ortho spray and never spray in the back yard or where the dogs will have contact. We will see him next week or sooner and try to get some more info. At this point I am wondering if we should have just left her on the prednisone. Neither one was having much effect but maybe not taken long enough to help. Thank you Tony and Karla!
Our dog Cookie, a rather large (12 pound) 13 year old Maltese, had a few seizures in the past four months and suddenly had 4 in less than 24 hours. We took her to the vet, who checked her out and actually saw a seizure. Since she did not seem to have any liver issues, he put her on phenobarbital (twice a day) which really seemed to control the seizures without any visible side effects. At the same time, we changed her diet because she had tooth issues and are giving her Mighty dog instead or the dry dog food we used to give her. She loves Mighty Dog and seems very happy now. So 3 weeks passed and we went to the vet to have bloodwork done - PB level and liver assessment. Now the bad part: Apparently, when we had her blood checked after the 3 wks on PB, it turned out that it has affected her liver. At the same time, it turns out that the PB level is too low and should be increased, but her liver would be devastated. He also now suspects that she has a brain tumor since one of her eyes seems to be bulging somewhat.
We are in a rather difficult position and are being asked by our vet to make a choice about her medication/seizures.
1) Stop the PB and deal with the seizures as they come;
2) Continue with the PB but understand that this will lead to liver damage and eventual...; 3) Try half dosage and see if she remains seizure free and then check liver enzyme levels again.
How about other meds or something to counter the effect of PB on the liver? Any thoughts?
I don't like any of the options suggested ... but have a new one for you to consider.
The clear option is to withdraw the phenobarbital - this must be undertaken slowly, at the rate of about 25% reduction in dosage a week. My rationale for this is, if you leave things as they are, the liver will become irreversibly damaged. Even if there is some liver damage now, you can potentially reverse the damage by swapping to a suitable alternative diet (one specific for liver damage).
Incidentally, it's good you swapped from dry food - I hate that stuff and know it can cause severe problems with both kidneys and liver, not that I can prove it, but it makes sense that dehydrated food encourages dehydrated dogs - and subsequent problems of this scenario. You can have a read of my article on dry dog food here: http://www.infobarrel.com/Why_Dry_Dog_Food_Is_Bad_For_Dogs
Exchange the phenobarbital for bromide. This should help deal with the seizures in much the same way, though there is little research on it, and some say it is not nearly as good at doing the job as phenobarbital. However, one of the reasons vets prefer to use phenobarbital is it is relatively inexpensive by comparison. More info on bromide here: http://www.vspn.org/VSPNSearch/VINLibrary/lv980606.htm
Now a word about your newly chosen food ... Mighty Dog. This is rubbish dog food and I would stop using it as soon as you can. It scores a meagre two stars on DogAdvisor. Read more about it here: http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/mighty-dog-canned/
For home cooked foods for liver diseased dogs, see this link: http://www.dog-health-guide.org/canineliverdiseasediet.html
As a starting point, see if you can get hold of Hill’s Prescription Diet L/D Canine (Canned). This has all the right ingredients for liver damaged dogs - and more importantly it will help restore your dog's liver - and at the very least, it won't cause any further damage.
Hope these suggestions are useful to you. Things aren't as bad as they might have first seemed. The priority is to see your vet, withdraw the phenobarbital, start bromide as a replacement to it, keep a diary of events and plan to change your dog's diet as quickly as you can - replacing the Mighty Dog food for more appropriate foods by about 25% each day until she is completely on the new diet.
Hello again ... sorry, I meant to add something about the diagnosis of a brain tumor. This is a more difficult problem, because although brain tumors are treatable, they are not curable. There are treatment options that may extend the life of your dog, but given her age, I would tend to resist putting her through some of the traumas of such treatments. The brain tumor is going to shorten her life, sadly, and there may be very little you can do to prevent the inevitable happening. When it will happen is another difficult question and not something I can answer. Dogs with untreated brain tumors tend not to live very long - I think the best you can do is talk over the options with your vet, when you are able, and go from there. If Cookie is still relatively contented, enjoys her walks, and seems otherwise able to cope with her other difficulties - then that's good. Once things start deteriorating (there are usually some warnings with a brain tumor), then maybe that is the time you need to have a real think about things. My guess is the seizures are directly linked to the brain tumor, which also might mean things are already on a downward spiral. I think this is a situation you just have to take day-by-day and hope for more good days than bad ones for as long as possible.
1st let me thank you for everyone who has posted a question in here.
Okay my 10 year old Black Lab Max (big guy,115lbs) started having seizures. 1st 1 Thanksgiving morning. Took him to the emergency vet. Long story short they started him on Zonisamide 100 mg 2x2 a day. He would go a good 3 weeks with out a seizure. I day he had about 4 in 1 day but than went on a good month and a half run of no seizures.So in these last 2 months he had two big ones were he pooped himself. So his vet who is a straight shooter has prescribed him on Phenobartal 1 gr. So the following day he had the worst side affects (this weekend) mentioned here. My heart just aches for him. His age has really been showing since he has had these seizures. His arthritis really started bothering him too which we have started meds on to see how he will react to lessen his discomfort which might be the reason he had his last seizure. So my question is which med would you recommend the Zonisamide or the Phenobartal. FYI my vet does so blood work and has with Max
Hello. The side effects for Zonisamide are much milder than Phenobarbital, which is probably why your vet chose it as a 1st choice. But clearly it wasn't doing the job. Phenobarbital has worse side effects, but it deals with more wide ranging seizures. No one here can really make this choice - only you and your vet. I would try to keep going with the phenobarbital. Side effects normally disperse (mostly) within a few weeks and then the good effect of the medication kicks in. Regular blood checking is essential (at least every 2 weeks), to find the therapeutic level. Make sure you give the medication at the same time every day and never miss a dosage. It is worth keeping a diary about seizures, behavior and any other observable symptoms and side effects, so you can refer to it with your vet.
If the phenobarbital doesn't stop the seizures, even at the right dose (the therapeutic level), then your vet can add the Zonisamide too - or potassium bromide, which strengthens the effect. So, there are options open to him and eventually the seizures and the side effects will be largely brought under control.
Thanks to Tony and everyone else who has posted their comments on here regarding canine epilepsy/ seizures and the medication used to treat them. It has really helped me understand my dogs health issues.
About 4 weeks ago my healthy 5yr old Pomeranin RIO had 3 seizures within a few hours, which was one of the scariest things we'd ever witnessed! Rio spent 3 nights at the animal emergency hospital where he underwent a whole range of tests including a CT Scan and Spinal tap, unfortunately whilst under anaesthetic, Rio had another seizure which required the vet to give him a massive loading dose of Phenobarbitol. The dog I picked up from the Vet was definitely not the dog I dropped there a few days before and the best way I could describe him was... DRUNK! Rio was prescribed a quarter (2.5mg) tablet of Phenobarbitol x2 daily. It took him a good week to fully recover from his hospital visit and the massive amounts of drugs he was given but is now doing quite well on the Phenobarbitol and has not suffered any seizures at all since he got out of hospital. His initial blood tests since being on the meds were also quite good.
Rio, is pretty much back to his usual self...He has picked up a few weird behaviours though and is a bit more lethargic than I am used too ( not that this is a bad thing). He is hungrier, but I'm not over feeding him and since all this begun have gone back to feeding him the B.A.R.F ( biologically appropriate raw food) organic diet as well as some dry food which is specifically for his teeth as Rio has some teeth Issues. I have spoken to heaps of people since and it surprises me how much epilepsy/ seizures effects many many dogs (and cats). And how mostly it is manageable!
Just wanted to share my experience and to thank u for all your posts which have helped me understand a few things a bit better! Happy Easter x
Hi. Your post is really good, because it proves how effective the medication can be, given time. This is reassuring for those right at the start of a phenobarbital regime, who often see some bad side effects.
I am curious why you think dry food is good for a dog's teeth? There is really no evidence for this. My opinion about dry food is not good. You might want to have a read of this: http://www.infobarrel.com/Why_Dry_Dog_Food_Is_Bad_For_Dogs
The best way of maintaining good dental health is to brush twice a week using a canine toothpaste. There are foods and treats that can help, such as dental stix, but the best are actually chewable toys that rid any plaque build-up.
Rio was given the biscuits as he has had to have some teeth removed as they have basically ground away... It doesn't worry me too much as he may eat 3 or 4 single biscuits a day they're more of a play thing for him! Interestingly though, they have put his teeth problem down to his love of tennis balls as the glue holding the felt down is quite abrasive... Have you heard of this? It does make sense to me. Needless to say he only gets a tennis ball when we are at the beach now. I also use dentist is which I find have helped. Toothbrushing is definitely a no go, especially now I have to get him to swallow 2 tablets a day.
Hello. Why is tooth brushing a no go? Does Rio object? Some dogs are more difficult, but most dogs can gradually learn to accept it. You just need to be very consistent, undertaking it in very small degrees each day, building up the time spent and the process. For example, during the first week, you may do nothing other than get Rio to accept the toothbrush close to his mouth; then then next week, touching his jawline; etc., etc.
Yes, I have heard of tennis balls causing teeth problems. There is some controversy about whether it's the glue itself (which can stick to the teeth), or the abrasive nature of the felt. Either way, you're right, it's best to give tennis balls under strict supervision and remove them once play is finished.
Hello, just thought I'd share with you as my beagle also used to get mild seizures so Freckles is on Pheno also...and his liver was getting affected and the vet was going to give me really expensive medicine to help the liver but I could not afford that price...so I researched online and found that MILK THISTLE repairs the liver in humans so I asked my vet if I could use it for Freckles and he said it won't hurt him but he wasn't guaranteeing it would help...so he told me to try 175 mg of milk thistle capsules....and I give him one every time I give his phenob....and his liver improved alot and it is now normal lab work ever since...and he's been on milk thistle for over 2 years now and his liver is still fine ! so just thought I'd share this with you all :) take care !
Hi. That's interesting ... and something else for me to read up on. The liver is one of the few organs of the canine (and human) body that can repair completely, as long as an illness affecting it is caught early enough. Tony
Just found this university of maryland quote, which may point me in several directions ... 'Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) has been used for 2,000 years as an herbal remedy for a variety of ailments, particularly liver, kidney, and gall bladder problems. Several scientific studies suggest that substances in milk thistle (especially a flavonoid called silymarin) protect the liver from toxins, including certain drugs such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), which can cause liver damage in high doses. Silymarin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and it may help the liver repair itself by growing new cells.'
Source: Milk thistle | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/milk-thistle#ixzz2zEOL0hlW
University of Maryland Medical Center
Patty is almost to the end of her second week on an increased dose of prednisone that is taken for three weeks in a decreasing amount each week. I called the vet and told him I wanted her off PB after he said that the prednisone would do more for her pain and that was my biggest concern. It worked better this time- the spasm in her neck is gone and she is doing much better. Thanks again to you and Karla for your help.
I have a 17 year old schnauzer who started having small seizures a couple of weeks ago. Vet put him on pheno and he is having trouble with his hind legs. Once he is up he is fine but let him sit down and he can not get up. Does this side effect last long?
Hi. Yes, hind end weakness is a typical side effect. One of the problems with phenobarbital is it effects the neurons of the dog's nervous system. The good effect (the one that prevents seizures) is that it dampens the neurons of the brain, but it also has an effect on other neurons elsewhere too, hence the electrical impulses to the hind quarters and hind legs are also dampened down.
It may take a few weeks for this side effect to disappear. Just stay with it. It is important for your vet to find the therapeutic level of the drug, so regular blood tests are required. Once the therapeutic level is found, the side effects should dissipate,
My 15 month old border collie had 3 seizures in 12 hrs time. I witnessed all
3, he is perfectly healthy otherwise and my vet could find nothing wrong to
Support the seizures, I am very skeptical about the front line plus I put on him 3 days prior. Need some thoughts from the group ????
I am so thinking it was the Front line. I only apply twice a year as I hate that
Stuff but I also hate ticks, I did purchase the plus this year, my other dogs
Were fine with it, Needless to say I will never use that stuff again. Any suggestions on a natural approach to preventing ticks, I live in a area with
Lots of ticks early spring
New to this forum, with an 11-year old Golden who had his first seizure a month ago. Took him to vet the following day and bloodwork and x-rays normal. Vet sent us home since there were no apparent physical effects and this was Chip's first seizure. Vet said seizures in older dogs never good - might be brain tumor. Next day all was normal. The day after that (when I was out of town for work, of course), Chip had multiple seizures in a shore period, my wife and daughter took him to a Vet ER where they stabilized him with PB and prednisone. We had him there at night and our vet during the day for observation for the next two days. No additional seizures but he was really out of it with the meds and after effects of multiple seizures. We brought him home after three days and $1,300 (which is why no brain MRI) on 30mg predisone twice daily and 86.5mg PB twice daily. One month later he has had no additional seizures and we are down to 10mg prenisone twice daily (calling vet tomorrow to reduce to 5mg) and still at original PB dose. Asked vet about running PB blood levels after two weeks but said too soon to do so. Prior to seizure cluster Chip was very active and alert with favorite things being walks and chasing tennis balls. Yeah, he's 11 but acts like an enthusiastic pup. Or did. All the med side effects are in force - thirst, hunger, panting, insomnia (I love getting up 3 times a night for his call of nature), but most disturbing is his severe weakness and lack of coordination in his hindquarters. He sometimes had a bit of trouble getting his caboose off our hardwood floors, but now that's impossible and even difficult on all the area rugs we've put in the house to help him walk. Once he gets up (sometimes needing assistance) and starts walking he's OK but has a drunken sailor gait. He wants to be around family, has good appetite, and even plays some with his toys, but the meds are definitely having an effect. Our question is how much of what we see is from the meds and how much might be from physical injury from the seizures. Thanks for any suggestions for those who have been down our path.
Hi and welcome to the forum. I am rather surprised your vet has said two weeks is too early for testing the phenobarbital level. A stable blood absorption is usually achieved between 1 and 2 weeks from the first dose, so a test after the second week is advised. Without this first blood test, no one can determine whether the dose needs increasing, decreasing or continuing at the same level.
The weakened joint and muscle problem is very likely to be connected with the seizures, but of course, older dogs also tend to get such weakness as well. Seizures affect the electrical impulses from the brain going out to the muscles and joints (as well as other parts of the body) - but also, even just one seizure would cause the muscles to contract much harder and with more violence that normal day-to-day activity. The result is something like you might imagine you or I going to the gym for a whole day and working out non-stop - just imagine what that might do to your muscles and joints over the next couple of weeks or so.
Obviously, maintaining a seizure-free dog is the best course of action. However, if the cause is a brain tumor, that may not be possible. Only time will tell.
Thanks for the info Tony. Went back and read most of the previous posts - wow there are a lot of folks in the same seizure boat! Talked with vet today and we're continuing to wean off of prednisone. Took Chip in and had blood drawn for PB panel, so we should have info on blood levels soon. Vet said we can look at reducing PB dosage depending on results. Fingers crossed.
Hi..my pug dog Frank has epilepsy that we have controlled for 7 years now with a combination of phenobarbital 30mg and potassium 300 mg. He takes 2 phenobarbital pills in the am and in 12 hours he takes another 1 plus 1 potassium. This combination has worked for him with no seizures for 6 years now. He has a routine and sleeps most of the day while I am at work and then he is up with me at night. He plays, eats and has become a very affectionate dog. (He is a rescue dog, I got him when he was 2) he is now 10. I recently took him to the vet for a cough and the vet put him on 3 types of medicine, lasik, enicard and tussigon. They said he had some fluid in his lungs and his heart is enlarged. I specifically asked the vet if any of these meds would interfere with his current meds he is already taking or effect his seizures. He said no it would be fine(by the way he is not my original vet she was out of town on a family emergency). I started the routine and his cough started getting better, however on the 3rd day Frank had a very intense seizure. I took him straight to the vet and they told me that the tussigon will cause the seizures ( thanks for the late info) so I immediately took him off of those pills. We'll he had 2 more seizures after that, all 8 hours apart. I boosted his meds up to 4 phenobarbital per day and 2 potassium for the last two days his seizures have stopped which makes me believe his levels are high enough, however he is now experiencing the clumsiness and he is extremely thirsty, he seems a little disoriented as well but is trying to sleep it off. I have returned him to his regular pill schedule but I was wondering if I should back it down a little more. I gave him his 2 pheno pills this morning but I was wondering if I should give him the one tonight or skip it and just give him potassium. He is not acting normal and I don't want to overdose him. Vet seemed unclear as to what to do. Thanks for your help. Steph
Hi..my pug dog Frank has epilepsy that we have controlled for 7 years now with a combination of phenobarbital 30mg and potassium 300 mg. He takes 2 phenobarbital pills in the am and in 12 hours he takes another 1 plus 1 potassium. This combination has worked for him with no seizures for 6 years now. He has a routine and sleeps most of the day while I am at work and then he is up with me at night. He plays, eats and has become a very affectionate dog. (He is a rescue dog, I got him when he was 2) he is now 10. I recently took him to the vet for a cough and the vet put him on 3 types of medicine, lasik, enicard and tussigon. They said he had some fluid in his lungs and his heart is enlarged. I specifically asked the vet if any of these meds would interfere with his meds he is already taking or effect his seizures. He said no it would be fine(by the way he is not my original vet she was out of town on a family emergency). I started the routine and his cough started getting better, however on the 3rd day Frank had a very intense seizure. I took him straight to the vet and they told me that the tussigon will cause the seizures ( thanks for the late info) so I immediately took him off of those pills. We'll he had 2 more seizures after that, all 8 hours apart. I boosted his meds up to 4 phenobarbital per day and 2 potassium for the last two days his seizures have stopped which makes me believe his levels are high enough, however he is now experiencing the clumsiness and he is extremely thirsty, he seems a little disoriented as well but is trying to sleep it off. I have returned him to his regular pill schedule but I was wondering if I should back it down a little more. I gave him his 2 pheno pills this morning but I was wondering if I should give him the one tonight or skip it and just give him potassium. He is not acting normal and I don't want to overdose him. Vet seemed unclear as to what to do. Thank you for any help you can provide. Steph
Hi. You say the vet seemed unclear what to do??? This is very odd. Was the vet inexperienced? The very first thing to do is take blood and have it analyzed. Most good vets can do this instantly, in house, rather than have to send it away to a lab. The results will tell you if the pheno is at the therapeutic level or not. Changing dosages without a blood reading is not advised, because a) you could then overdose or under-dose your dog; and b) changing dosage will involve another period of settling down for side-effects.
The thirst and lethargy are just side effects. These will disappear after a couple of weeks of your dog being at the therapeutic level.
Awesome forum!!! wow...
okay I have a 10yr old boston terrier he is extremely healthy, until 2 weeks ago on Saturday. he had a grand mal seizer in my car, "thank goodness I was parked!!" it lasted a minute and a half he drooled, crapped, and had muscle spasms all in my car. wat a mess good thing he's my best friend. I give the ol lady heck for putting her gum in the ashtray lol... I was freakin out this is the first 1 he ever had, then he had another one 15min later it was just as bad. he was back to normal both times it happened, I called the vet they said 1 more bring em in. he didn't have another for 2 weeks then he had another so I waited too see if 1 more would come and it didn't, until the next day. off too the vet we go they took blood and my vet put him on clonazepam 2mg and phenobarbital 15mg my dog weighs 27lbs. he took 2.5 pils of the Pam and 6hrs later 2pills of the barbs, and the barbs I am giving him every 12hrs. this all happened on Friday, so he was very drugged up, so between Saturday Sunday he had 6 more seizers. they were mild only a minute long. but they were still full body contractions. Sunday night he had a small head shake and he's been getting better ever since. on the drugs he's like a puppy again doing watered he wants he is pacing a little and he can dring and eat a lot. just like all of u have said. he's all those symptoms balance, going too the bathroom were ever. no more big seizers since Sunday night :) so the drugs r helping and today being Tuesday he is getting even better. still a little unbalanced but I'm starting too get my dog back :) so too all people give the drugs time to do there thing an don't adjust there meds on ur own let the vet do it cause they have the blood work too see wats goin on. he's still pacing but he is alert and he is responsive. so let the drugs do there thing ur dog will adjust too em, my dog is and he is getting old. but this ride ain't over yet he may have a brain tumor but I'm takin it day by day he's too old for surgery so quality of life is everything. all we did was blood work on him, i don't need to spend $3000 just too find out he has a brain tumor cause. u can treat these things with meds if u take it step by step and ***** ur dog day by day. so right now I'm treating him for just having seizers and if the continues having seizers and has all the symptoms of a brain tumor are there, after he gets use too the meds he's on now. then u go the brain tumor route for meds. if all that fails then u say goodbye too a dear friend wen there old like my dog :( they live there hole life for u so just treat them the best way we know how :)
Hi. I'm sorry for you and your best friend, having gone through this difficult episode. But glad things seem to be settling down on the medication. It could indeed be a brain tumor, but equally toxins are a potential, so double check anything new you may have introduced to your home or garden over the last month. Have any of these new chemicals come into contact with your dog? Have you changed any of his food or treats? Some dog food and some treats (particularly cheap things and those from uncertain origins) have stuff in them that can also cause seizures.
One more thing ... try to give him his meds at the same time every day ... and keep a diary of what happens and when, as this will be useful to refer back to when reporting to the vet again.
Hope things settle down and both you and your best friend can get on with enjoying life.
I have a question for you I am in the process of changing to making my dogs food but I am wondering if you need to give them any vitamin supplements if you do. My Dexter boy was just started in phenobarbital 60 mg yesterday for epilepsy and the vet said I should get him off the food he is on. he suggested I start him on a Royal Canine they have but he refuses to eat it and it is still a dry food and after reading this thread I figure I will just make his food now instead but am worried he may need some form of additional vitamins if I do.
Can you help me out please as I don't want to make anything worse for him by not giving him the right vitamins he needs.
my dog is starting to really come around now it's been day 6 on the barb 30mg twice a day he is starting too be his ol self again. so the meds do seem too be working, and he hasn't had a seizer yet. he is still a little dizzy, lack of balance, and still really thirsty and eating a lot but I manage his food intake but water he drinks as much as he wants :) still goin too the bathroom in the house :( it suck I hope he remembers to go too the door again it's like havin a 10yr old puppy lol. my fingers r crossed just have too let the meds do there thing.
I have an American Eskimo, whippet, Australia Shepard mix. Who was 18 lbs but, is around 20# since starting phenobarbital. He's been having seizures for almost 2 years now.
He had past elevated tests. Was started on Marin and SAMe. But, had gastric bleeding from it, After taken off and started on Milk thistle levels were better. Thyroid tests have always come back low or low normal.
Currentt diet ~royal canin Hepatic food,
Current meds~ phenobarbital 1/4 grain BID
Potassium bromide 375mg SID
Keppra 250mg TID
MIlk Thistle 175mg SID
Seizure history~ for a year he was having them every 4 weeks. After starting phenobarbital he had one after 7 weeks.
His blood levels were all good after starting pheobarbital. Neurologist suggusts checking levels every 6 months but, I will every 3.
My questions. After starting pheobarbital my little guy wants to eat none stop. He's gained weight and his thyroid level was pretty low. He will bark at me for an hour for a treat. Thoughts on starting thyroid meds?
Between the vet and neurologists they don't know of the result is true due to the phenobarbital. Yet, he's always had low or normal with the testing. Lowest result just happened to be after starting pheobarbital.
Should I try the broken up feeds like someone else on here suggested?
Any other food suggestions?
Hi. Dry food is a real pet-hate of mine. The manufacturers will tell you it's good and nutritious, but actually, it's akin to you and me eating nothing but cheese crackers for the rest of our lives. Have a read of my article on dry food here: http://www.****.com/Why_Dry_Dog_Food_Is_Bad_For_Dogs
Royal Canin is rubbish dog food. Don't buy it. Royal Canin Dog Food receives the Dog Food Advisor’s second lowest tier rating of 2.5 stars. The second largest volume ingredient in this food is chicken by-product meal, a dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It’s made from what’s left of a slaughtered chicken after all the prime cuts have been removed. While there may be some protein in this, it is very poor quality and could contain suspect materials, bacteria, etc.
There are lots f home made recipe dog food sites, so I would do a little research on it. However, be aware that some products are not good for dogs. Here's a list of my concern (mainly some foods and vegetables that should never be given to dogs): http://www.****.com/Everyday_Foods_That_Are_Poisonous_To_Dogs
One of the best ways to keep a dog healthy is to ensure the diet is balanced. A good quality tinned dog food given in a small quantity as a first meal of the day will get all the vitamins and nutrients your dog needs. The second larger meal of the day should mostly contain meat or poultry, which are natural foods for dogs. Try sourcing all natural high quality frozen pet food from a local pet food store. These frozen blocks commonly come in a huge variety including white fish, chicken, beef, green tripe (an excellent food for dogs), lamb, turkey and rabbit. I tend to cut these blocks down to a usable size - and get four meals out a single block - and then microwave them for 14minutes on 30% power. I mix this with some boiled white rice or pasta (alternate most nights). It seems like a lot of work, but actually once you get into a routine, it takes just 14 minutes, which isn't a huge chunk out anyone's day.
Take a look at Primal Raw Frozen Mixes, which receives the highest quality score on Dog Food Adviser.
Hi. That's great news. I think the only way is to help your dog remember to go out to pee, much like when he was a puppy and in training. One of the great problems with all dogs on phenobarbital is the thirst they get. This means your best friend is probably drinking far more than he ever used to, and consequently, he will need to urinate far more. He will also be a bit dopey on the meds, so he will certainly not be able to concentrate enough hold on to it until you return home to let him out (if you work) - or at night, when you are asleep.
As far as possible, let him out to pee once an hour. This will help him feel more comfortable and it will remind him where to go. If you are out during the day, do you have a good neighbour or a friend or relative that could ensure your best friend is let out every couple of hours? This won't be forever, but it will really help a lot until the side effects calm down.
Night time is more difficult ... it is crucial to let him out last thing at night and obviously first thing in the morning (even if he has urinated inside during the night). While it may not be practical, it would also be good to let him out once during the night - even though this would mean a disrupted night's sleep for you.
Hi. Yes, split the normal meal into 2, 3 or 4 portions spread during the day. BUT, reduce the amount being given by one-fifth. The only way to tackle this is to control what he is consuming. Yes, the meds will give him an increased appetite, but that doesn't mean you should try to satisfy his appetite by feeding more - because clearly, that will just make him put weight on, which won't help and is more likely to cause more problems. You really have to be quite hard and appreciate you have to do this to help him, even though he may beg you for more food - the simple fact is, he doesn't need the extra food, he just wants it, much like a child begging for sweets or cheeseburgers.
Weigh out a normal portion of food, then reduce the weight by a fifth - then divide this by the number of times you intend feeding him. You must then weigh out the portion for each meal, otherwise you will be tempted to feed too much.
You might also change the treats you are giving him. Treats often have added sugars and things that are very bad for dogs. Look to give natural products or things that won't add too much weight - such as rice bones and rice biscuits.
You might also try diverting his hunger by giving him a Kong to play with, smearing the inside with a little peanut butter (a tiny bit), which will keep him contented for hours.
The vet just diagnosed my malti-pom with Schiff-Sherrington Syndrome. He was having spastic paralysis in his back legs. He had 2 "seizures" in 2 days. He's had them before but they never lasted long. This last one was about 30 minutes. He is now on phenobarbitol. Seems to be doing the trick, but as these episodes were sporatic and not much is known about this syndrome, I am wondering if there is something else wrong. He has every single symptom of this syndrome.
Hi. Has your vet said the seizures are related to the Schiff-Sherrington Syndrome? This is a very complex disorder, but seizures are not usually a symptom, therefore it could be a separate thing - the Schiff-Sherrington Syndrome is more likely to have been caused by a lesion of the spine, whereas the seizures may be related to a lesion or tumor of the brain (more common). It is certainly a possibility that the seizures could be caused by the spinal lesion, but less likely.
Depending on the age and other general health of your best friend, Schiff-Sherrington Syndrome is treatable by aggressive surgery. Success is not guaranteed, but it is often worth trying, because it can resolve the problem, giving a dog a greatly improved quality of life. Have you discussed this option with your vet?
my dogs seizures were finally controlled by a combination of phenobarbitol and keppra. i haven't seen any dogs in this discussion on keppra. it changed my dogs whole life. it is wonderful. i did take him to a neurologist though. he is the one who started him on the combination.
unfortunately, this dog who was my whole world for 16 years, and most recent years was seizure free, started to have grande mals again and one lasted over 2 hours.. he had developed a brain tumor and it was extremely aggressive and i had to put him to sleep.
i am devastated and have not stopped crying for 6 weeks.
but please all of you...seizures can be controlled. go to a neurologist. ask about alternatives like keppra. oh, i also gave my dog denamarin to help with liver damage.
Hello everyone just a quick update on my Max (10 year old Black Lab 115 lbs*just noticed everyone gives this)
He's doing good off the pheobarbital. I'm giving him half the dosage from the original as the full pill was too much for him. He was so out of it. Stood up and peed in his own bed. So it was taken down to 75% of the original dosage than down to half which he is on now. So no seizures so far. But his side affects are still there. So my question is does every time we changed his dosage does it restart the whole process?
Also I read some of you mention the lack of coordination in the hind legs the light went off my boy has that too!! (some of the most hear breaking crap to see) My vet and myself attributed to his age, size and arthritis so I had him on Rimadyl but after 2 weeks he was not getting anymore mobile. So now we switched to Metacam. So is there a possibility it's more the side affects than the actual arthritis?
Message to everyone just hang in there because it can be heart breaking and frustrating watching them go through the initial side affects.
Hi. I just wanted to say, first of all, I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like you did an amazing job in caring for your best friend and for him to have reached 16yrs is truly incredible. I appreciate you must miss him so much, but take some comfort from the fact you did all you could and more to help him during his life - and at the end. Love never dies, and eventually the pain of grief will subside, leaving his cherished memories in your heart forever.
I also wanted to add that seeing a specialist canine neurologist is absolutely the very best thing anyone with a dog having seizures could do, but - and I guess we all know this is a big but - this type of consultation is extremely expensive and not all doggy owners could afford it. If it were me in the same situation, I would do all I could to meet the expense, including selling possessions if I had to, but I also know if the expense became too big, I would be unable to meet the consultation and treatment bill.
What I am really saying is, we should do all we can within our budgets and abilities, but sometimes, we also have to accept that maybe some objectives are outside our grasp.
Hi again. Yes, the side effects can resume when the dosage is altered. So, stay with it and see if they don't subside over the next 4-8 weeks (often earlier than this). I rather think the hind leg issue is more to do with age and arthritis. The best course of action here is to stay with the Metacam for a few weeks to see if there's any change to mobility.
One thing I should add is, has your vet done a recent blood panel test on your dog? This is the only way to ensure the phenobarbital dosage is within the therapeutic range. Also, as phenobarbital can take several weeks to have an effect, dosage adjustments should be made very slowly and carefully under supervision.
Yes blood work has been done (3 times 2 by my suggestion) but not during the altering of the phenobarbital (really just cutting up the pill). 1 strong point of my vet is they are straight forward as the initial blood work was bad due to me over working his system at 1st (herbal supplements (skull cap) and some pills I found on the net). Initially I was told that it looked really bad for him and the possibility of having to put him down.
Hi Yes, with epilepsy and other forms of seizure, owners need to be extremely careful and only use the medication tested and approved for this very serious condition. The internet is awash with untested medicines (often with unproved claims being made by the sellers) and herbal remedies that more often than not do absolutely nothing, but in some cases do much more harm than good.
Seizures are the result of damaged or inappropriate brain activity, often caused by trauma, but also commonly through lesions and tumors. The neurological system is extremely delicate, but also very adaptable, so with the right medication things often improve.
You have learned a valuable lesson - always take the advice of your trusted vet and don't rely on anything you might read on the internet, because sometimes the facts claimed are untrue. If you come across something on the Net you think may be useful to your dog, you should raise it with your vet to see if he or she has any comments about it. This is a lesson for us all on this forum.
I hope your best friend goes from strength to strength. Thank you for being so honest in your post. Keep us informed how things go.
Hi, new to the forum and really finding it informative. Our huge flat coat retriever/Newfie mix started having seizures about 9 months ago. Our vet put him on a half grain of PB, with the initial loading dose and then suggested we titrate him off until we got to a point where we could go as long as possible without a PB before he had a seizure. Initially, he did pretty good. Got to about a month with no seizures, but that was as long as he could go. More recently, he started having cluster seizures about every two weeks or so - at this point he was getting a half grain of PB once a day, every other day. We asked the vet about increasing the dose, but he said to try a pill every day - same dosage of half grain 1 x a day. I religiously give our boy his pill, but in the past 48 hours he has had 4 seizures. As luck would have it, our vet recently had a stroke, and the secondary vet that we use is closed today. I talked to our local emergency vet hospital, where it was suggested that we increase his dose to 2x a day with the half grain. Just trying to get an idea as to whether this seems appropriate. I know the seizures are supposedly worse on us than on him, but I think both myself and the dog could use some uninterrupted sleep. Thanks, Dubbie's Mom
Hi. Seizures will diminish and probably stop completely once the therapeutic level of phenobarbital has been achieved. Blood tests to ***** this are crucial, because increasing the drug - or giving frequently altered amounts - or frequently altered times of the day - is just second-guessing and of little help. He needs to stay on the same dose for at least two weeks, then have a blood test to see where the level is in the blood and if it has achieved the therapeutic level. If not, the dose should then be altered up or down as required, stay on that for at least two weeks, then another blood test for assessment ... and so on. It takes time and its horrible to watch a beloved pet have the seizures, but this is the only way of doing things to get to where you need to be.
Also, if the phenobarbital does not have the desired effect, your vet can begin potassium bromide instead - and if that fails, you can ask him to start a combination of both drugs.
I know it's frustrating, but slow progress achieves results. Trying to speed the process up rarely works and may in fact make the whole process longer.
I meant to add this ... Recommended therapeutic range in dogs is 20 to 35 ug/ml (65-194Âµmol/l). Most dogs will respond (reduction in frequency, intensity and severity of the seizures with minimal side-effects) when the serum level of phenobarbital is within this range. However, some dogs might need to be in the upper limit of this range while others might need to be below the lower limit.
It is also important to stress that blood should only be taken for this test within a 2 hour period of the next due dose of phenobarbital, otherwise the result will be inaccurate.
Hello... I have a 9 yr old Maltese who began having seizures out of nowhere January 2013. I did not want to put him on medication after reading side effects but then ended up having too. They put him on potassium bromide in the beginning. After I took him home after the first seizure he was acting strange pacing around the house... I took him back again after he was acting strange then the next day took him home and continued on potassium bromide.... He was doing ok... But then I began giving him a homeopathic remedy I purchased on line and began weaning him of the potassium bromide. That was a big mistake... He began getting convulsions one day one after another as I was rushing him to the hospital. They kept him for 2 days... Almost unable to bring him back... And not to mention when I picked him up he was blind. They said the seizures could have caused it. He was also now on potassium bromide and phenobarbital. They wanted me todo MRI and spinal tap since all other tests showed negative.. They were saying it maybe caused by brain tumor. I was devastated after reading on the procedures and the risks and then what it was a rumor what then?
Frustrated and upset I went online looking for other possibilities. I came across this website wwww.ellenmoranoph.com and I read on energy healing and how it can heal all types of ailments in humans and animals. I kept reading and viewed a testimonial on a dog like mine who had a big lump on her back and doctors wanted to operate on her and how she may never be the same and this lady Ellen Morano healed her in one sitting. I couldn't believe it... But I noticed her office was not far from my house and her service was on a donation basis. I was willing to try anything... So I took my dog and my dog has been seizure free... Not one... Since February14, 2013. I still try to take him every week and she also was able to get some of his vision back.
What's amazing you don't have to go in person... She also does distant healing with a photo.... I've referred many people who she has successfully healed.
Her number is on her website.... I urge you to try it... It's worth the try... I've seen amazing results. You can say Reyna referred you.
By the way... I still have him on both medications.... But they have been lowered by the doctor. The doctor is also amazed... Oh and yes they get really hungry in the beginning with the pheno... But it slowly goes away. My dog also gained some weight because of it. I just make sure to excercise him too.
Unfortunately Max had to be put down 06/12 as his body started to give out on him. The last 2 days was so bad. He could not stand and I had to prop him up to eat. It got bad, The seizures had been controlled but his age really started to show. The only consultation I take from it is It was he is no longer suffering. Hardest decision EVER. I've been so crushed. I got his ashes back in a week and took it home and cried like a baby. I miss my baby.If you believe in a God or not when I left vet the sun was so bright on me I'm taking it on a sign that he is fine now. Like I said it doesn't make it easier as I miss him so much.
Hello again. I am very sorry things didn't work out and so sorry for your loss. Our best friends are more than friends to many, they are our family, our companions and trusted confidants ... and they are our loyal and deeply loved children, our guardian angels during troubled times and they never criticize or complain when we natter away to them. Little wonder then that when they have to leave us, we miss them so deeply. I hope as each day passes, things feel a little easier for you. As you say, Max is no longer suffering, which must be some small comfort to you.
Hi my 8 yr old chi started coughing and not acting right we took her to the vet and he found that she had a heart murmur and congestive heart failure. He put her on enenpril , lasix and the phenobarbital for seizures after blood test showed the her liver was effected a little by the phen. but we needed to increase it because she started having seizures between doses. I asked about adding something else with the phen. so it wouldn't have to be increased. And I suggested neuroton it is also for seizures ( I am a medical assistant). So we tried the two together and she has been seizure free. So I suggest asking to add another medication with the phen. The neuroton is not very expensive either. Even though all this medication is expensive and we are both disable we feel it is worth the expense to keep her as long as we can. Hope this helps good luck Pam
My 10 Year old Pug Jack had his first sezure in his sleep last Thursday night. On Friday evening about 8:00 he had a more severe Gran Mal and a second one about 5 minuets after. Rushed him to ER given valium and an inital dose of pheno. Saturday morning he was seen by his normal vet. She did several neurological tests and found him to be functioning just fine. She opted for a wait and see approach. He had his fourth seizure on Sunday night. We noticed all of his seizures (besides the first one in his sleep) happened when he was over excited. We even think the second seizure he had on Friday night 5 min after the first one was probably caused because he was pacing around and excited. We really didn't know what was happening or what to do. Now we know to him calm and sedate.
On Monday he went back to the vet who had also, based on his blood tests, confirmed a diagnosis of diabetes. Both of these conditions seemed to come out of no where and started at the exact time (because we just had him in for routine blood tests a month before). She consulted a neurologist who did not believe these were diabetic seizures. But it is such a coincidence, we just can't shake the idea. Or maybe it's just wishful thinking on our part.
Anyways due to the diabetes he can not take phenobarbital. So they have put him on Zonisamide twice a day. He started this on Monday.
I have been with him for the past 4 days and monitoring his behavior. He is indeed sleepy and at first had a loss of coordination. But that seems to be improving every day. The question I have, is has anyone experiance a temporary loss of vision, lasting 4 hours or more, as a side effect of any of the seizure meds. I told my vet about this, and she indicated it was probably just a side effect of the meds. He is literally acting blind, walking into everything, not looking at me when I talk to him, etc. And then all of a sudden he is back to normal. I know the meds can cause dizzyness and double vision, but, this feels more to me like total blindness. He has been going blind slowely over the last few months due to an eye condition he has. But this is more like total blindness, and then all of a sudden he is manuvering around small objects just fine. It started with the first dose of the medication, not with the onset of the seizures last week. I also have learned that temporary blindness can follow a seizure. I am actually starting to think these are not side effects of the drug, but that he is possibly still having seizures and the temporary blindness is the result of that. He has a sort of spaced out look to him at times, he is also pacing around the house at times, and sometimes he looks like he is hallucinating. The blindess is occuring when all of these other events are occurring. Could these be symptoms of partial seizures? I only have experiance with the Gran Mal's he had over the weekend. So we believed these to be side effects of the medicine. But I haven't, in my research, seen side effects like this and especially not the temporary blindness.
Anyone have any similar experaince with vision problems or other strange side effects from the zonisamide?
Hi. I am so sorry you and your dog have been and are continuing to suffer from these experiences. I can tell you, interestingly, that seizures are very common in uncontrolled diabetes. I am actually diabetic myself and have had seizures during hypoglycemic attacks. Is it possible these are two very different illnesses (diabetes combined with epilepsy - or is it just diabetes)? I think this is the question your vets need to work out. Is the diabetes under good control? Do you test your dog's blood glucose levels? If the diabetes is under good control, then the seizures are more likely linked to epilepsy - or a brain tumor - or some other cause for them occurring.
The stumbling, disorientation and blindness are not uncommon side effects, but they should not continue for more than a couple of weeks or so - though there are some dogs that have side effects beyond this, particularly when the seizure medication is slow in being brought within the therapeutic range. I would read through this:
which gives some useful information and advice. It is indeed quite possible your dog is also having seizures without you noticing them. Petit mal seizures may last a few seconds or several minutes, and can take the form of a dog seemingly half asleep, losing coordination and becoming disorientated. They may not immediately recognise you or their surroundings. While these may also be confused with side effects of the anticonvulsants, it is important to diary all events and raise them with the vet at your next appointment.
One of the concerns would be whether the seizures have been brought on by illness (slowly progressing) or by an acute reaction to a toxic substance. The substances that can provoke seizures are alarmingly varied, including household chemicals, cleaners, even some floor coverings, plants in the garden, and even things you would think are perfectly safe such as a dry dog food (seizures can be brought on through an allergic reaction to such foods too).
So, in short, this is quite complex. I hope my comments prove useful and that things settle down over the next week or two. One word of caution, don't be tempted to lower or raise the dosages of the anticonvulsants without veterinarian supervision and advice, because this would render any blood tests invalid. Also, try to ensure the tablets are given at the same time every day, as this will help build a picture of whether the current dosage is strong enough or too strong (when the dosages are given at different times every day, an overlap of their effect can occur or a lapse in any effect, which of course could cause problems).
Tony, thank you so much for your comments. We too believe that the diabetes has to at least have something to do with the seizures. They might very well be two seperate conditions. But we just can't shake the fact that they occured together.
The diabetes was first diagnosed just this Monday. He spent the day at the vet getting insulin and having his glucose checekd. He checked in right around 500 and they were only able to get him down to 350. He came home with us and we were cautioned that diabetes in dogs can take many weeks or even months to get regulated. That multiple glucose checks would be needed to get his insulin dosage right and we were prepared for a long road. Just 4 days later, Jack went for his second glucose check yesterday. His levels were between 115 and 140 the whole day. The vets were literally in shock. They even consulted an endochrinologist because they couldn't quite believe it. In short, they believe we caught his diabetes so early, that we were able to control it quickly and with the minimal amount of insulin. All great news.
The bad news is that his seizures continue. While he's not had a gran mal seizure in almost one week, we have noticed several focal seizures, mainly the facial twitching. It's very quick, usually 10-15 seconds in length, and no other symptoms follow. I understand the med can take a few weeks to be effective, but, I am discouraged to see this. I reported the symptoms I mentioned in my other post to my vet, and she too reiterated what you stated. All side effects of the meds. She actually believes that there wasn't actual blindness at all and that likely what I was describing sounded to her more likely due to extreme disorientation from the drugs. I'm not sure, but, I do know that we are at least seeing focal seizures with the face twitching. I fear this even more than the gran mal seizures as everyhing I can get my hands on tells me this is more likely a symptom of brain tumor than anything else (although I have read that it can rarely occur in severe drops in blood sugar, but seeing that the diabetes now seems to be under control, it seems to me less likely).
To end on a positive note, I will say the disorientation, wobbly walk, etc from the zonisamide is starting to decrease. We've seen glimmers of his former self from begging for food to wanting to look out the window in the car. He's still a bit sleppy most of the time, but he's a pug, so he's prone to 23 hours of sleep a day. I've seen less of the look of hallucinating I noticed on day one and two of the meds, we haven't seen any of the mindless pacing around the house, and he's not had any episodes of apparent blindness in the last 2 days. (although intrestingly enough I did have the vet check his eyes and she did find a small scratch on one eye, so he's on antibiotics for that now too). He's still walking a little slower than normal, he's also still a little bit wobbly and not quite has his coordination back 100%. But he also has been dealing with arthritis and we were worried that the arthritis meds were causing the seizures so we stopped them for about a week so he is just now getting back on those. Long story short, we're only barely over a week into the total journey and at least we feel that we have the diabetes under control and we're starting to see the side effects of the seizure meds starting to wear off.
I realize we have a long journey ahead of us. The next big decision we have is whether or not to have the MRI. At the end of the day we have already made the decision not to put him through surgery if it is a tumor. As a pug, he could easily die from the anesthesia from the surgery. It's just not worth the risk even if it means we don't have long with him. So what good is an MRI to us then? Part of me just doesn't want to know especially if there is nothing we can do for him. Other than the focal seizures, right now, neither our vet nor we, see any other symptoms of brain tumor (no circling, no loss of coordination prior to starting to meds other than what is the result of his slight arthritis, no vision loss other than an exisitng eye problem caused by his eyelashes, no behavior changes, all appropriate reflex responses during neurological exam, etc). I think until we start seeing some of these symptoms, and as long as the zonisamide continues to keep seizures at bay, we may just continue on this course.
Anyways, sorry for such a long response. But thank you so much for your comments!
Hi again. I think, despite a dreadfully traumatic and no doubt incredibly emotional and stressful week, you are now seeing some positive signs - and for that, you and your dog can afford to be thankful. You can also afford to take some time out jut to relax and start getting back to some kind of normal routine. This will actually help your dog enormously, because (just like some of us humans) routine is reassuring and calming.
In your shoes, I too would have to consider the benefit of an MRI scan too. In a younger and healthier dog, the MRI would be useful, because it would at least confirm or discount the tumor and help assess whether surgery was worth considering. In your dog's case, the anaesthetic and diabetes and the fact that Jack is a pug (with usual breathing issues) all add to the risk, making an MRI scan probably an unworthy consideration.
Jack seems to be doing well, for now, so just keep up the management plan as you are doing. There may be more complications down the road, but those can wait - getting the diabetes under control is a primary concern, because once that is stable you can then look a little closer at whether there are any minor seizures still occurring and what you might be able to do about them.
After a year on Phenobarbital, the liver enzyme test showed elevation above the normal range in our 13 year old standard poodle (about 2X what it had been . . .I recall the vet said ALT popped into the 500 range from the mid 300's where it had been since she started PB. She has been doing very well and there are no signs of any problems. Our vet explained that there's not much to do about the liver issue, pointing out that he didn't think lowering the dose of PB was called for (or safe for the dog). I asked about Milk Thistle and he said it couldn't hurt her but that he thought that administration was more for my peace of mind than it would provide any real effect on Rosie's liver. From this post, I'm thinking it can't hurt. Any others with evidence that Milk Thistle made a difference in the liver enzyme levels?
Hi. Yes, milk thistle has been used for many years as a so-called treatment of liver issues, but the scientific evidence of any really positive results are just not available. In short, word-of-mouth and anecdotal comment has made it a popular product, but it may not do very much. Have a read of this:
Given the circumstances, trying milk thistle might be worthwhile, simply because ... there's nothing to lose by giving it a go.
I'm not aware of any alternatives (such as Potassium Bromide, etc) that are not processed by the liver. There are a few human remedies available and some are used with dogs, but there re other complications with many of them. I think this is a difficult problem to resolve, but treating the seizures is certainly the most important priority, regardless of consequential liver damage.
I would suggest asking your vet again about alternative treatments to phenobarbital that do not affect the liver quite so much ... and if he doesn't know, get a second opinion from a vet that does.
Thanks. Very helpful. I agree that it's worth trying the Milk Thistle given the price and limited side effects. Now have to figure out best way to administer (liquid drops vs. capsules vs. powder) and confirmation of alcohol-free product. Dosing guidance seems to be different on certain sites I've researched. Most suggest 2mg for every lb.
Hi. I would suggest capsules, simply because they will have a better chance of getting past the stomach acids and enzymes and to the liver. I suspect powder and liquid forms may just get destroyed in the stomach. The dosage depends on the concentration of the supplement, so check the manufacturer's recommendation. Most do indeed suggest 2mg per lb, but not all are the same.
Vet put our Chihuahua who is 4 years old because he was having Gran Mal seizures, now he has trouble with is bladder and not being able to get to potty pad we have in a cat litter box which he was trained to go when he needs to go. Would being on the PB be causing this and our vet does not preform weekly blood work to see if levels are right. He also has developed a bad cough like he is having an asthma attack.
Hi. Yes, phenobarbital dose cause both excessive thirst there more drinking - and consequently an urgency to urinate, which explains why he may be having problems getting to the potty pad in time. Weekly blood tests are not necessary, but at least two-weekly is advised for the first month to 8 weeks, because the blood levels will indicate whether your dog is currently taking too much or too little of the drug.
The coughing could be an allergic reaction to phenobarbital, so it is worth raising this with your vet. Coughing can also occur when dogs are on some other medicines in addition to phenobarbital. Is your dog on any other medication?
Male show dog, (small size) aged 6 years.... 6 months ago put on phenobarbitone for treatment of seizures..... just recently found to have only one testicle. Is it possible that phenobarb has something to do with this ?
Hi. No it has nothing to do with the phenobarbital. In fact, the likelihood is that your dog does have both testicles, but one may not have dropped, and is therefore being retained inside the body. This is actually quite common, and much more prevalent in pure breeds as the genetic fault causing this is passed down the line. Generally, there is no pain or disease associated with this condition - and a dog can lead a perfectly healthy and happy life regardless of it. More info is available at:
Tony, this dog is 6 years old, a show champion and as such requires two descended testicles in his scrotum.....they were both there until just recently....At a show the judge could only feel one .... there has not been any evidence of any infection....dog quite normal and healthy and both testicles appeared normal.....
I was assuming from your post that he never had both testicles. The fact that it was there is somewhat bizarre. There are of course occasions when the testicle can revert back into the body (cold weather, shock, trauma and certain physical ailments), but this is not as common in dogs as it is in humans. I would seek veterinarian advice on this and a proper examination.
Have you noticed any other change in behaviour, other than this physical symptom?
Hi Tony..... Bizarre to say the least ! 6-7 weeks this adult dog had apparently normal testicles......however......... he now has one seemingly normal one and one the size of a jellybean. He has been to the Vet. and this scenario is very indicative of testicular cancer and an aggressive one obviously. The dog is being castrated today and we are praying that this is the only site for the cancer and it is not anywhere else.
So it does look like Phenobarb is not the problem.
Thank You for your input.
Hi Fran. I was reading up on this and it seems testicular cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in older dogs, but of course because many dogs are neutered at an early age, it doesn't show highly in the statistics. It is therefore one very good reason for neutering - in addition to the many other good reasons, including unwanted addition dogs in the world.
What is odd (from my point of view) is that ordinarily all three forms of testicular cancer would initially show as swelling of the testicle, not an erosion of it. On the plus side, the prognosis for dogs with treated testicular cancer is usually very good. Obviously ongoing and frequent veterinary checks, blood panel checks and continuing observation of any future signs and symptoms will be essential.
Hoping all goes well with the surgery and they don't find cause for concern afterwards.
However, I remain puzzled about how your vet came to their diagnosis. A reduction in the size of the testicle in dogs can commonly and really more likely be caused by exposure to certain toxins (lead particularly but also other metals and a variety of chemicals), exposure to heat or trauma, inflammation through infection, a hormone imbalance or tumor of the pituitary gland. I'm sure the vet will retain a tissue sample for testing and undertake a full blood panel count, but just in case they don't - I would ask for confirmation that they intend doing this.
Hi again, and thank you for your comments. I am not sure how the vet arrived at the Cancer diagnosis.... however, during the operation they discovered that there were cancer nodes all along the spermatic cord, so they dug a big further and the poor dog had cancer in other parts...so naturally this dog was pts.
It turns out that he had a tumour on the brain, (unknown until now) which caused some fitting, which was then treated with phenobarb, which did control the fitting but the cancer spread elsewhere.....Such a very sad ending.
Thank you again for all your input
My 7 year old Golden Retriever has been having seizures for the past three years. He had one about every 6 months. His last seizure/epileptic lasted on and off for two hours and continued 5 hours later. He was listless and couldn't move. I took him to the vet. She gave him a 200.00 shot of phenobarbital and he is now home taking two table twice daily 64.8 mg. He isn't the same. It has been three days. He isn't responsive and lies around unless he needs to go to the bathroom or walk outside. Is he getting too much of a dosage?
Hi. Don't worry too much about the initial side effects of phenobarbital. It is normal practice to start all dogs with seizures on a higher end dose of phenobarbital, just to bring the seizures under control. This drug does have a tranquilizing effect, therefore you can expect your dog to become slow, sleepy, lethargic and unresponsive. This WILL pass. You need to be patient. The next task is to get your dog to the vet in 2 weeks time to have the first blood test, which will determine whether the dose is too high or too low. There is what is known as a "therapeutic level" of phenobarbital (different for every dog) and the only way of determining this is to have a blood test. As the drug take some time to reach a stable level, the first test should be done two weeks after the drug was started. Has your vet made an onward appointment for this test? If not, telephone them and book one.
One month after that first therapeutic level blood test, there should be a further blood test to check the level again. Then further blood tests every month for 3 months - and then every 6 months.
Phenobarbital has a 12 hour effective period. So this is why your dog is on two doses a day. It is important (I am assuming your vet has explained this) that you ensure the dosages are given at the same times each day, because even an hour or two difference can have a detrimental effect. In fact, what it means is that your dog will go the hour or two without any medication influence, which in turn means there will be an increased risk of seizures occurring during this time.
Finally, don't be tempted to miss a dose or give any different amount other than what is prescribed. This is extremely important. If you have concerns about anything while your dog is taking the medication, please raise it with your vet - don't be tempted to amend the regime yourself.
I read the posts about liver damage from ph, and to try bromide. My dog is on both. The bromide is great but you have to watch for pancreatitis. Give bromide with food. My dog had pancreatitis after two weeks from to high a dose
Hi. You are absolutely right, phenobarbital can produce pancreatitis and liver damage. However that is why it is essential to have a blood check undertaken within the first two weeks of starting it, to ensure it falls within the therapeutic level. It is (ordinarily) only too high a dose that produces pancreatitis and liver damage and that can begin to happen after two weeks. Potassium bromide is the usual first choice for dogs with existing liver issues, but phenobarbital is ordinarily the first choice for those that do not have such problems. Initial high doses are often advised to control severe seizures, which makes it the best choice out of two evils, as it were, because it is more important to control the seizures at the outset.
my 12 year old just started having seizures a week ago, took him to the vet and they found a lump in his neck below his jaw. she said it may be a lymp node or salvary glad. taking him to a specialist on Monday for ct of growth. could my dog be having seizures due to a brain tumor?. he is currently on phenobarbital for the seizures. the worst side effects is the extreme anixiety, constant whinning and barking
Hello. It is possible it could be a brain tumor, yes, but there are also other possibilities too. The side effects of the medication will subside over a couple of weeks, so just keep with it and try not to fret too much. The more anxious you are about it, the more anxious your best friend will be. It will also help if you can keep your dog as calm as possible over this period of diagnosis and initial treatment, because seizures can be triggered by over-excitement. I hope the specialist can identify what is the problem, and hopefully offer a treatment for it. Please come back and let me know. Tony
My 8 yr old Bedlington Terrier had her first GM seizure 6/28/14, then 5 within 12 hrs on 7/3/14. Blood work all normal and vet suggests brain tumor as cause. Started her on 10 mg prednisone. I also started her on Canna-Pet capsules every 12 hrs. After 4 days and no seizures, I reduced the prednisone to 7.5 mg for 2 weeks, then reduced to 5 mg. Same day as reduction, she had 3 seizures in 8 hrs. Added an additional 5 mg after cluster and then to 10 mf following day. Did that for 4 days and with no further seizures, went back to 7.5 mg. I am beginning to notice some pot bellying and thinning of her coat. She has been on the prednisone for nearing 2 months. Theory is that it is reducing the brain swelling likely from the tumor growth. Vet suspects she may have headache type pain and Canna-Pet seems to help with that and is also an anti-inflammatory.
Realistically, what can I expect in life span at this point? With reduction of prednisone to 5 mg and restart of seizures, the trade off in PB vs pred side effects seems near the same.
We are hostages here because I also have 3 other Bedlington terriers who could band as a pack during her seizures and destroy her if not supervised.
Her quality of life does not see affected yet, so no thought of eu T present.
Hi. According to a Kennel Club survey, about 10% of Bedlingtons develop a cancerous brain tumor - but they equally report the average mortality age is around 13yrs, so while this may be disconcerting, the chances are that your dog could have around 5 good years yet. It is quite difficult to identify whether this is a brain tumor or not, though the evidence and symptomology suggest it is the most likely diagnosis. Tumors in the
cerebrum section of the brain produce seizures and/or other behavioral changes.
As you probably know, Canna-Pet is described as an over-the-counter medical marijuana for dogs. The company manufacturing it suggests there have been clinical trials that show benefits in treating pets with cancer, arthritis, diabetes, digestive issues, chronic pain, nausea, and those receiving palliative care.
Prednisilone is a Corticosteroid that suppresses the immune system. It can slow the progress of cancerous growths, but not cure them. In effect, suppressing the immune system slows the reaction that promotes cancerous growths. Prednisilone blocks the production of substances that trigger inflammatory and immune responses. Because it suppresses the immune system, it is also important to guard against injury, infection and other viruses, because the body won't be able to fight them as effectively.
I am a little concerned you have altered the dose (I assume without the vet's approval or supervision). This is quite dangerous. Prednisilone must be given at the appropriate dose continuously, with no missed doses, otherwise it's effectiveness will be compromised.
If you want to get an accurate diagnosis, talk to your vet about what is involved (and the costs of) having a comprehensive neurological
examination and special tests, including EEG, cerebrospinal fluid analysis, and CAT scan or MRI. While surgery is really the only possible remedy (not guaranteed), not all dogs are able to have or survive this type of invasive surgery - and the costs involved are tremendously high.
While your dog appears comfortable and contented and does not appear to be in pain, I think euthanasia is best avoided (at least for now). In time, things may deteriorate, in which case you may need to reassess.
I can't really suggest much to solve your other problem, i.e. the danger from your other dogs. If the dogs aren't under constant supervision, it may be necessary to crate your dog, just to ensure her protection while she is alone with the pack - the other alternative is to foster her out to a friend or relative, I guess. I hope you can find a way around that one, for her sake.
Hello....my baby boy is almost 6 and has been have seizures from epilepsy for about 2 years now. At first, they were literally every 30 days from August 2012 until January 2013. They then stopped almost completely.....would only have one if something "out of the ordinary" would stress him (I.e. Fireworks on July 4th). They have been very controlled....until this past weekend, when he had a bout of cluster seizures and had to be rushed to the ER vet. This is the first time he has been put on PB....he is having a terrible time adjusting. Some of his symptoms are diarrhea, clumsiness, bumping into walls....my question is....do these symptoms continue as long as he stays on PB? I hope the answer is no....I just want my sweet boy back....he doesn't hardly interact with his brother anymore....he is getting slightly better....but FAR from his normal self. Any advice is greatly appreciated.....
Thanks Tony. The variation in Prednisone is with vet supervision. He is suggesting dosing every other day now. I have not heard of weaning off prednisone that way before, but vet says that there is enough of a load in the body not to cause a problem. (I am not convinced) I have considered the testing, but cost is a significant factor as I stopped the insurance when the dogs reached 6 years and had them all neutered. Also, I would not subject her to surgery, so a MRI would only verify what he is already thinking. Going rate here is $1500 plus anesthesia.
Any ideas on what I can expect regarding deterioration?? She did have what I consider a breakthrough seizure 2 nights ago on the 7.5 mg of pred, so I am very concerned about any reduction. They seem to occur at approx 18 day intervals. You expressed concern about the changing dosage of the pred. Is it more common to just keep them at the same dosage and not wean off? The vet is a generalist but deals primarily with purebred show dogs. He did not suggest a neuro exam, but maybe because I nixed the MRI. If I am not going to pay for the expensive tests, is their still a value in having her seen by a neuro?
Hi. You will be pleased to hear that the answer is NO, these symptoms will gradually disappear within 2 to 4 weeks. It's heartbreaking to have a dog with the side effects of pheno, but it DOES pass, so stick with it. And it is much more important to get the seizures under control than to withhold pheno and have no side effects. Have you got your next vet appointment booked for bloodwork to be done? This should be undertaken 2 weeks from the first day the phenobarbital started.
Also, make sure you keep a diary over the next two weeks of all side effects, any seizures, and the time of day you give the phenobarbital and how much is given. This info will be useful to you and your vet. Finally, make sure you give the phenobarbital at the same time every day and don't miss any doses.
Hi. I think the biggest advantage of a neuro examination is that you will get more accurate information and potentially a more accurate diagnosis. The huge problem with a brain tumor diagnosis (without any specialist involvement) is it's somewhat guesswork on your vet's part - he is simply looking at the symptoms and making a judgement based on the symptoms alone. A neuro vet will have more knowledge and more experience and (even without surgery or scans) he will be able to make a more certain diagnosis. Without the diagnosis, you and your vet are 'hoping for the best' by what you are doing. It's a really difficult judgement - and costs are an enormous factor.
If it is a brain tumor, then there really isn't an 'average' time limit to when things will deteriorate. All dogs are different. The best way of thinking is to take each day as it comes and manage/treat symptoms as they occur. Keep a diary of events and observations, as this will provide useful info to your vet. The potential, with treatment, is to gain years of good quality of life - without any treatment, things will deteriorate rapidly.
Thanks again. Just got back from vet. He says she is on the pred 7.5 indefinitely. Went armed with questions, thanks to your input. He expects that at some point may have to add PB if seizures become more frequent & severe. I work in health care field and have dealt with human seizures without difficulty, but seeing one of your 'kids' in a full blown seizure is more than painful. Reading on this blog shows how much we are involved with our pets and wanting to take any discomfort away from them...much like parents of real kids.
Interestingly, an initial exam with neuro is $300, the MRI will cost $1700, and on!!!! Haven't made that decision yet...
Hi. I empathise with you completely. I am an ex-nurse (following a career change and now retired), and despite knowledge and experience in dealing with various human ailments, I fall to pieces when it's 'one of my own'. For whatever reason, probably stress and anxiety, it is sometimes hard to look beyond dealing just with the symptoms.
I know the costs are enormous. We always want to do everything possible to help our best friends, and sometimes despite so much wanting to, we simply can't. I think your vet is right, there will come a day when Phenobarbital is likely to become necessary - and that might be sooner rather than later - but just take each day at a time. Tony
I have a 5 year old beagle mix who had his first seizure in June. At that time he was put on a low dose of PB and was fine until the end of August when he had multiple seizures and had to be hospitalized for 2 nights. Now on PB 2x day and Keppra 250 mg 3x a day. All was fine, no seizures but now has developed a compulsion to eat grass, leaves, dirt, twigs and then throws up. Did this behavior over the last 3 days. Now I can't take him out and I know you shouldn't feed a dog after they have thrown up. He had eaten grass before but this is really extreme. I think it's the keppra. Will call the vet, but wondering if anyone else has heard of this side effect.
Hi. As far as I know, there are no known side effects or reports of dogs with such a compulsion following treatment with Keppra. However, I am very doubtful this is a compulsion, in the strictest sense of the term. Keppra is an unusual anti-seizure drug, and has no comparison to other epilepsy treatments. Being on both Phenobarbital and Keppra, it is very likely your best friend has an acidic-reflux problem, which may or may not improve as time goes on. The drugs are probably causing this - but it can be treated with a suitable antacid designed for canines. Raise it with your vet and ask for some antacid treatment that is safe to be combined with the other medications. Tony
When my doxie was about 3 years old he bit me,actually it was more of scrape bite when I tapped her back end for tearing up my just installed laminate floor. I so I tapped hjm again in the same spot. He bit me again in the same spot on my hand. I tapped again and a bite again. I then slapped him on the nose with a paper, the receipt for the floor. He stopped any more aggression. Since I worked full-time I did not want to leave him the care of my roommates. So I day-borded(sp?) him at the vets. When I dropped him off the next morning, I was telling the ladies that ran the front part of the excellent clinic about his odd behavior the night before. They said, simultaneously, "You must have hurt him". I said I tapped him. They decided an x-ray was in order. The technican took the x-ray and the doctor found 3 herniated discs. I was hurting him. If those very talented and dedicated ladies had said nothing or worse yet did,'t recognize his behavior as pain life would have been different for us. He is now nine and doing ok.
My golden retriever Bumper just turned 6 yrs. old in late August. He has been having seizures since he has been about two. At first the seizures were only every two months, some times 3 months, and once he even went as long as 6 months that I know of without a seizure. Sometimes he would seize one day and then the very next day have another seizure but then good for a couple of months. All of his seizures last around a minute, then the post ictal stage can last for a while. I also want to mention that Bumper does not see to well, thus his name. He was born with plaque over the retina's of his eyes, so he kind of see's peripherally, almost like having a fist in your face to see around. A week ago Monday, he had one seizure at 10:40 pm, another at 2:00 am, woke me up seizing again at 8:00 am, and then later that evening at 5:10 pm. I had already made an appt. with my regular vet for the next day for blood work and start him on meds, but after the seizure at 5:10 pm, and no one at the vets office, I took him to the ER. There, they gave him a shot of pheno, and gave me pills of pheno to start the next day, along with a couple of valium rectal syringes. He did sleep all night without another seizure. He saw the vet the next day for blood work and vet said to return in 3 weeks for a level check. In the mean time, after starting on pheno 1-1/2 grain twice a day (88.8 lbs.) the side affects with bumping into things, collapsing and not knowing where he was or heading in the wrong direction of my voice, I spoke to a vet on saturday who reduced him to 1 grain in the morning, and the 1-1/2 grain at night. This seems to have helped a bit, and I think he is starting to come around a bit. Though I am worried about if his vision will ever be back to what it use to be. This has been a very stressful time with dealing with this drug, I am so glad I found this thread!
Has anyone claimed on the Pet insurance for epilepsy? If so what did the Pet insurance company pay? Will they pay for an MRI or specialist? For the drugs like pheno? Thanks, LaDonna
My little Boston started having seizures a year ago August. 1 each month for 3 months then 4 in one day. Started 16.2 mg PB twice daily. October 4 she had a seizure an hour before she was to have her normal dosage. Then October 12 she had one while we were gone. She was pacing, running her head along walls, circling my legs. Took her to the vet the doubled her meds. She is basically a zombie, did double for 3 days called again backed down to 1 1/2 pills thinking it was too much. Did that for 2 days no improvements. Cannot walk without falling, not herself at all, gets stuck in a circle trying to go potty, pushes head into wall and stands there, face rubbing along wall, walking on tops of paws when I let her try to walk, we are on day #6 since the last seizure. She was eating and drinking when I take her to eat, yesterday would not eat. Peeing on herself. So took her to the vet Friday, they said her symptoms are not normal and thinks she is having a reaction. She consulted with 3 other vets and the decided to quit cold turkey PB start Zonisimide(sp?). Have been off PB 48 hrs and no improvement. I am worried she has damage due to her seizure and may not be able to recover. Any suggestions? Our plan is see a neuro dr in she is not better by Monday.
Yes, my dog (also beagle) tries to eat everything too. She has never taken Keppra though. I guess it might be the PB?? I have to watch her very closely. I walk her on a leash & if she acts like she is nudging in the grass, I gently pull up on her leash & take her in.
Hi. Anti-seizure medication is not a simple or straightforward thing. Unfortunately. It is also not a quick-fix. Have your vets been taking bloods during the phenobarbital trial? If not, they won't know whether the therapeutic level has been achieved, or not. It takes time - and the period and symptoms presented during this time can be frightening and discouraging, but most dogs settle on the medication over a period of 2 to 8 weeks. It is useful to keep a diary of "events" during this time.
When Pb doesn't have the desired effect on its own, adding potassium bromide to the mix can work. Did your vet consider this?
Potassium Bromide is often the next best option, after trying Pb, as it is universally successful.
I am not as familiar with Zonisimide, though it seems it is quite low on the list of favored anticonvulsants. There are side effects (as with all this type of drug):
Side effects could include drowsiness, ataxia, loss of appetite and GI upset. While the drug appears safe, owners should be warned that because of the sulfonamide base, potential adverse effects (eg, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, bone marrow dyscrasia, hepatopathy, vasculitis) could occur.
I think you need to be patient. Try to accept that side effects initially are par for the course, and you need to give this (or any other drug) some time to work. I know it's upsetting seeing these side effects, but they should settle down eventually. It just takes time.
Hi. Yes, this is normal. The drug is meant to slow her down (it has a tranquilizing effect), but the side effects can also cause a drunk-like gait. If this is just the 4th day, then you need to give the drug time to work and the side-effects time to dissipate. Ordinarily, you should see a marked improvement within 2-4 weeks, and no side-effects at all beyond 8 weeks. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, it is vital for the vet to check her bloods after 2 weeks and then monthly thereafter, until a therapeutic pheno level has been found. After this, a 3 or 6 monthly blood check is advised. Tony
My 11 year-old golden retriever had his first seizure two and a half weeks ago. We went to the vet next day and had all his blood work done. Everything normal. He had another seizure this morning. So, back to the vet we went today. He's been prescribed PB, low dose, but I'm worried about when to start it. I'm going out of town in three days and I don't want him to be experiencing the side effects everyone is describing here when I'm not around. Of course, I really don't want him to have a seizure when I'm not around either. It's my new pet sitter's first time with him too, so I'm nervous. To start or not to start the PB before I leave?
Hi. That's quite a difficult decision you need to make ... and to be honest, it's pretty much Catch 22. If I were you, I would start the Pb (because that will almost certainly restrict and possibly maybe prevent any seizures). Obviously, you need to make your pet-sitter fully aware of what to expect and what to do in the event of a seizure occurring. It would also be useful to explain what the side effects of Pb are, because they are very likely to occur. I suppose it really depends on how long you are away for and whether it's worth waiting for your return. Maybe have a word with your vet and see what they say. Tony
Can seizures return after a period of being seizure-free? Is this serious?
My beagle-mix, Buster, has been taking phenobarb and potassium bromide for several years now. I had to put him on the combination because he was having violent seizures where he lost control of both his bowel and bladder.
I assumed he had been seizure-free since. However, in the last month, maybe longer, he has started having "mild" seizures about once a week. By "mild" I mean he seizes but he doesn't lose his bladder or bowel. I failed to start marking a calender, so I can't tell if they're increasing in frequency, besides most have been unwitnessed -- could see a "drool spot" left afterwards (Buster is restricted from free roaming after a failed surgery for a luxated patella).
I am concerned.
Hi. Yes, seizures can indeed return, even after a long period of good control on phenobarbital and pot bromide. The important thing with ALL dogs that are on phenobarbital (and any other anticonvulsant medication) is to have regular blood checks to ensure the tablets are maintaining a therapeutic level in the blood. There are several things that can happen over time. First, the underlying cause of the seizures (be it a tumor, epilepsy, neurological issue, etc.) can deteriorate gradually over several months or years, which means the anticonvulsant being given may either cease to work properly for the condition, or the amount being given may need to be adjusted. Secondly, over time, dogs can also become immune to the effect of a particular drug, which means it may be necessary to change to an alternative anticonvulsant.
Your first step is to get Buster to his vet as soon as you can for a full blood check, because the likelihood is the seizures will only become more frequent and/or more severe. Keeping a diary of events (even unwitnessed ones) is a good idea, both for you and for your vet, as it will act as a useful reference and base-line.
I have a 9 1/2 year old lab named Lexie. About a month ago, she had a mild seizure. A month went by without another siezure that I know of since I am the only one in my household. This Christmas she had 4 in less then 24 hours loosing her bladder all 4 times. Took her to the vet ER and she had another there. They ran blood tests and found nothing wrong.they started her on HB. Next day I took her to the family vet and they increased the HB another level twice a day. They also ran more test and she tested positive for lymes. I hunt allot and found a tick on her 4 days prior to Christmas siezure attacks. Vet seems to believe it is a brain tumor, but have read lymes could cause seizures. It has only been a few days, but no more siezures. Side effects are panting, whining, equilibrium, and laziness. She does has typical lab hip and joint issues, but was active. Just don't want her to suffer. Not sure, lymes or brain tumor causing siezures?
Hi. It's very tricky to diagnose between Lymes and a brain tumor, and either are possible, though I would tend to think the coincidence of Lymes being diagnosed and the seizures starting is hard to ignore. It would certainly be very prudent to check your dog for further ticks each and every time you go out, because as long as the tick is found within 24 hours of becoming attached, infection can be prevented.
You mention HB ... what do you mean by this? If it's Phenobarbital, then the side effects you describe should dissipate over the next couple of weeks or so. Initially, your dog should be having two weekly blood tests to check the phenobarb level is right - and stays within a therapeutic level.
Thanks Tony for the response. I just wish I had the almighty chrystal ball. I had called the vet and he scheduled the first blood test to check the levels. Yes, I was referring to HB as phenobarbital. I just don't want her to suffer through all of this. I cannot tell if she is in pain. I took this week off of work to keep eye on her. Left the house and she pissed on the floor. Took her out right before I left. Gone for 3 hours and not sure if she had siezure. Called vet and scheduled the tests.
Hi. It is very hard for owners to watch their best friends go through the initial stage of phenobarbital treatment, because the side effects are quite dramatic. But remember this... they WILL subside, once the therapeutic level has been found. It's a bit of trial and error until that point. The blood tests will identify whether the phenobarbital is too high or too low, so make sure you keep up with the blood tests each two weeks (some vets will advise monthly) for the first 3 months. After that, a blood test once every 3 to 6 months is advised.
Did you have to tell your vet to do a blood test? If yes, this isn't the sign of a good vet, because THEY should have told YOU a blood test would be needed and should have scheduled it when phenobarbital was prescribed.
Whether the seizures subside completely is a difficult question, because if it's a tumor, the tumor will gradually increase in size and cause further complications in time. You may therefore notice increased neurological problems and/or further seizures. But this may take anything from a few months to several years to develop. You could ask for neurological testing to find out if it is a tumor, but these are quite expensive.
On the other hand, if it is Lymes that has caused the seizures, the the standard approach is to treat with 30 days of doxycycline. It is also worth considering an anti-inflammatory such as Remadyl to treat the joint pain.
It is thought that the organism causing these problems is never completely removed from a dog's body, despite treatment, and goes into a kind of remission phase. This means it can return at a later stage. Regular kidney function and blood tests are strongly advised, just to check for signs it may be returning. Early treatment is always more successful and longer acting.
It has been very informative reading the information that has been learned on dogs and seizures and medicine.
My Australian Cattle Dog has recently started having what appears to be seizures. Loss of bowl movements, his whole body gets very tense, he pants lots, looks straight past you, he lifts his front paws off the ground and like tightens them so much they shake. While before this starts he has tries to squeeze his body into a small area.
We took him to his vet who prescribed Phenobarbital 64.8 mg 1 tablet every 12 hours. He is scheduled to go back for blood work in 3 weeks and the vet said every year after. I am wondering how long can a dog take this medicine if all test come back normal each check?
It has been very informative reading the information that has been learned on dogs and seizures and medicine.
My Australian Cattle Dog has recently started having what appears to be seizures. Loss of bowl movements, his whole body gets very tense, he pants lots, looks straight past you, he lifts his front paws off the ground and like tightens them so much they shake. While before this starts he has tries to squeeze his body into a small area.
We took him to his vet who prescribed Phenobarbital 64.8 mg 1 tablet every 12 hours. He is scheduled to go back for blood work in 3 weeks and the vet said every year after. I am wondering how long can a dog take this medicine if all test come back normal each check?
Hi. A couple of points ... first, if he's only just been put on Pheno, then the blood tests SHOULD BE every 2 to 3 weeks until the therapeutic level has been identified. One test in 3 weeks is wholly inadequate. THEN, tests should be undertaken every 3 months to be certain nothing changes over a year - after that, blood tests can be reduced to once every 6 months.
Second, a dog can stay on Pheno for a lifetime - just like an epileptic human on anticonvulsant medication does. However, things can change over time. A dog can become accustomed to the drug and/or the seizures can start again because the illness has deteriorated. In this case, increasing the dosage may not be enough and hge may need either an additional drug, such as potassium bromide, or an alternative anticonvulsant drug.
Finally, all drugs affect other organs, particularly the liver and kidneys, so it's worth having checks done once a year to ensure these organs are not being adversely affected by the medication.
We have a 10 year old,female Minpin named "Carley~bell".Carley used to have a seizure once per year (that we were aware of )then this past month she has had 1 per week,they last about 3 minutes and she returns back to normal afterwards(it is Heartbreaking to watch,my Husband holds her in a blanket close to his chest,and I talk calmly to her the entire time,petting her head softly)we noticed she usually has them when she is over excited (Dinner time excites her as she happily waggs her tail and jumps for joy!;)We had a complete blood panel done on her today,and the results were normal,the vett suggested we begin Phenobarbital(8 mg twice per day)and to do a blood test in 2 weeks to check Phenobarbital range....I have read the symptoms dogs typically have during the first few weeks of medication,hind legs being weak,increased hunger & thirst,and frequent urination,it helps to know these things shall pass,I was wondering how we can find out if she has a brain tumor?It seems many people on here are saying their dogs vett think their seizures are from a brain tumor,I want to rule that out,we will still begin her on the meds to stop her seizures.I kinda want to give her milk thistle to protect her liver since pb can cause damage (That was helpful info I read on here as well)Thank you for your advice and I want to say to you Tony,your such a kind,intelligent,and dedicated professional whose answers to ALL the Loving pet owners questions and concerns is so reassuring when we feel alone in this area of diagnosis,Your efforts are helpful and greatly appreciated!Sincerely,Carley~bells Mom
Hi. Thank you for your very kind comments. I should just add (as I do many times to others) that I am not a vet, and things I say here are borne from knowledge and experience of owning dogs for my entire lifetime, reading profusely and taking part in the MedHelp pets forums over the last few years. I am also the administrator of the Chronic Kidney Failure in Dogs User Group. What I'm trying to say is ... I am just the same as you, really, that is, a dog owner with a little knowledge and lots of compassion.
That all said, many dogs do indeed develop seizures, which are often caused by a brain tumor or some other neurological change. The speed at which these things affect a dog depends on how quickly they develop (a brain tumor can remain the same size for months, even years, but eventually does start to impose on the space within the skull, therefore affecting the part of the brain where it lies).
Diagnosing a brain tumor is invasive and costly. Many owners don't undertake the test because there really isn't very much that can be done to rectify the problem. Brain tumors are quite common in dogs over 5 years of age. Brain tumors that originate from the membranes covering the brain (known as meningiomas) are found more frequently in dolichocephalic breeds of dogs, which are characterized by long heads and noses, such as the Collie. Conversely, brachycephalic breeds of dogs, which are characterized by their short-nosed and flat-faced appearance, are more likely to develop tumors in the pituitary gland near the brain.
There are three primary care methods for dogs that have been diagnosed with brain tumors: surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The major objectives with these therapies are to eradicate the tumor or reduce its size, and to control secondary effects, such as fluid build-up in the brain (known as cerebral edema) that may result from a brain tumor. Surgery may be used to completely or partially remove tumors, while radiation therapy and chemotherapy may help shrink tumors. Various medications can be prescribed to slow tumor growth and to cope with side-effects, such as seizures.
A brain tumor may have other typically red-flag symptoms that go with it ... such as over-sensitivity to touch (around the head and neck area), uncoordinated movements, partial blindness/loss of sight, drunk-like walking and other unusual abnormal behaviour. But the most common symptom is for the dog to have frequent and increasingly violent seizures.
A tissue biopsy is the only available method for definitively diagnosing brain tumors in dogs. X-Rays and ultrasounds elsewhere in the body can be used to locate or to rule out primary tumors in other areas, while a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan can reveal tissue irregularities in the brain.
You might discuss these potential diagnostic tests with your vet and ask for an approximation of cost. It would also be prudent to discuss potential treatments, because without an effective treatment, the diagnosis would be a little pointless and would only add to the stress your dog is already under. Treating the seizures themselves is perhaps the best way forward, without an MRI Scan or a desire to put your dog under a long and difficult treatment program, and trying to keep your dog as calm as possible (particularly at meal times) will certainly help.
If the pheno fails to keep the seizures under control, you might ask about adding potassium bromide to the phenobarbital, which enhances the control element of the primary anti-convulsant drug.
Thank you for answering my question and concerns,I greatly appreciate it.Our Vett said he does not feel Carley~bell has a brain tumor,and unless she were younger and experiencing seizures would he suggest it.We started her on 8mg of Phenobarbital in the a.m&p.m (1 week ago),I am happy to say she has NOT had a seizure and NO side effects either from taking this medicine!!!(The side effects I read from other pet owners scared me)...We also started her on "Milk Thistle" to protect her liver;)Shes doing terrific,we have kept our eyes on her daily and taken her everywhere we go,Lol...When tuesday passed without her experiencing her weekly seizure,I felt relieved and grateful,we will have her blood checked on Feb 13th to see if her PB levels are where they need to be.Thank you for educating me on this subject,when you Love your pet you want to be able to give them the best care necessary to help them live a Happy~Healthy,Life!....Carley~bell gives us very much joy!!
Hi again. That's great news. Yes, many dogs suffer an initial spate of side effects from phenobarbital and it can be quite harrowing for pet owners. It seems like you are on the right track with Carley-bell and I'm delighted the medication seems to be having the right effect. Of course, although the phenobarbital is treating the seizure episodes, it doesn't treat whatever is causing the seizures to happen. There are many possibilities, including tumors, toxins and genetic neurological changes. It may not be possible to identify what may be the primary cause without further exploration by your vet. For now, the important thing is ... controlling the seizures, and that's exactly what you are managing to do. In time, things may deteriorate and the seizures may return (even with the medication), so just be aware of it and be prepared should it happen.
My 30 pound Shepherd beagle mix, Julie, experienced seven seizures last Tuesday. She has never had them before that I know of, and my dogs are with me a lot because I work from home and typically take them with me when I go out if the weather is conducive.
Between the primary care vet, the emergency vet, and a neurologist/specialist, no one has been able to figure out what caused the seizures. Her MRI came back normal, no brain tumor or sign of a stroke. Her blood levels are all normal. She didn't get into anything toxic, which would've shown up in the blood levels anyway.
She is on phenobarbital twice a day and Keppra three times a day. I believe the phenobarbital is 32 mg and she takes one and a half pills twice a day. The Keppra is 250 mg every eight hours.
Between the two drugs, she is extremely wobbly and dopey. She starting to come around a little, but I'm a little concerned that she is on so many medications without a definitive diagnosis. The neurologist said if she goes without having seizures for eight or nine months we can readdress the medications. Does that sound right? Granted, she has not had any seizures in a week and having her be a little wobbly is certainly better than the seizures, but the medication schedule is crazy. 6 AM, 8 AM, 2 PM, 8 PM, and 10 PM. It's a lot for both her and I. I just want to make sure that this is an overkill. I by no means want her to ever experience a seizure again, that was the most awful thing, let alone seven in one day. But I also want to make sure she's not being overly medicated says they don't know what is causing them.
Thanks so much!
Hi. First, sorry for not getting back to you earlier. MedHelp has decided to alter the way it loads to my desktop and it's taken me a while to figure out my WatchList connections. I've also been concentrating on the Chronic Kidney Failure in Dogs support group, which I administrate.
The regime does seem over-the-top, I must admit. The usual dosing regime for canine Keppra is three times a day. Check with your vet if there is some other reason why they've put Julie on 5 times a day. Keppra is usually a good medication, because it doesn't seem to affect the liver or liver enzymes as much as phenobarbital can. I think 9 months is way too long without having a blood check to see that the therapeutic levels are accurate. I would prefer to see a blood test every two months for the first 6 months and then every 3 months for a year.
As to why have the seizures started, well, that's a tough one. There may be some neurologiocal change that the tests haven't spotted. This is the most likely. Diet is the other possibility. Dogs can become allergic or hypersensitive to all kinds of foods, even things they might have had for years without problem. Let me know what you feed Julie - a comprehensive list, including all regular treats. If there's anything there that is suspect, I will let you know.
In the meantime, it sounds like Julie is "on the mend", so keep going and the wobbly legs and other side effects should dissipate over the next couple of weeks or so.
Hi. I have heard of trans-dermal applications, but not for phenobarbital. My only concern would be the rate and consistency of the drug getting into the bloodstream by this method. That said, it's a rapidly developing form of treatment, so maybe things have improved in recent months. The traditional treatments were for fleas and tics, the type of thing like Frontline, which is applied to the neck skin.
My guess is, you may just have to ensure there are frequent and regular blood panel tests, to make sure the levels are remaining constant and therapeutic. For background info, I found this useful:
My 12yr old mix breed (lab-red nose) weighing 75lbs is named Ruckus, all of the sudden had a seizure Friday night. Actually he had two back to back lasting approx 8 minutes in total. Terrifying. We rushed him to emergency where they administered Valium rectally. Sent us home where he had another seizure an hour later.( contentiously administering Valium for several days)
Thus resulting in 6 seizures with in 48 hrs. His blood came back clean minus a slight increase in one of his liver enzymes. No toxins.
This has never happen prior. The vet(s) have no taken him off the Valium and now he is on PB 90 mg twice/day. He has not had a seizures since Sunday am. (after two doses of PB) He is completely put of it. Wobbly at best, me having to support him when he uses the washroom. Walking into things...etc Is this a side effect of the medicine? Could it be permanent brain damage? They are concerned of a brain legion/tumor. I just feel helpless. I am scared to leave his side.
Our 6 year old bullie had seizures since one a few times per year, which we managed ok. No lasting effects. But last weekend, we think she may have been exposed to outside poisons (not sure), but she develeped 6 seizures in 24 hours with last one being so sever that she lost her memory and some control over her now twitching limbs. Dr. gave her PB 1/2 pill twice a day, and now she is slightly disoriented, losses control of her legs and acts very weak. After her last long (8 min min) seizure she does not know her place, or know what she likes (like curling in the ball on the couch), and pretty much lost her "personality". She is still excited to see us and follows us everywhere (so she still "loves" her owners"), but her well-established, personal traits are gone. We suspect PB is also causing additional weakness and drowsiness. How long these effects will last? Anyone tried therapy (physical etc) to restore functions? Did anyone encounter loss of memory after the seisure and is it reversible? Thanks!! Becca's mom
Hi. Sorry for my late response, but I have been away for a few weeks. I hope things may have settled down now and the side effects you describe have subsided. I wonder if your vet did a full analysis, asking you about your dog's diet, any potential chemical toxemic reactions, etc.?
Tumors in the brain are a very real possibility. But so too are many other things. If your best friend is still on phenobarbital, then I am assuming regular blood tests have been arranged. This is crucial, otherwise the dosage may be too high or too low and without a blood check, your vet won't know.
Once things settle down, it may be worthwhile to withdraw the pheno (slowly), to see if the seizures start again. If they do, then clearly whatever is causing them is still evident. Sometimes, a poor diet or environmental factors can cause seizures (toxicity), such as garden pesticides. So it's worth evaluating all of these things.
Hi. Yes, loss of memory (temporary amnesia) and weakness of the limbs and disorientation are all side effects of phenobarbital. They should not last for more than a few weeks at most ... BUT it is also important to ensure the phenobarbital dose is within a therapeutic range, otherwise these side effects will continue and become more acute. Has your vet scheduled blood tests every 2 weeks over the next couple of months? If not, book your dog in for them, then your vet can assess the dosage to make sure it is within the range.
Hi Tony, been reading your advice and am so glad u are here to ask. Esther, our 7 yr old Rotweiller began having seizures about 3 weeks ago. Last Monday, we took her to vet and she prescribed pb, one 97.2mg twice a day. From that Monday to early morn We'd, she had 16 seizures. Vet then said to increase to 1-1/2 pills per dose. We did that 3 times, and the 2nd time, she went 9 hrs without seizure. We're now back to 1 pill per dose again and no more seizures, thankfully. However, she is not eating much at all. She weighed 107.2 at vet. Will this pass? We're getting a little concerned, since this is Saturday.
Hi. Yes, it should pass. Unfortunately, despite the amazing success of phenobarbital in controlling seizures, it does have some disconcerting side effects. These are not ordinarily dangerous, but they can cause a worry to owners. Disorientation, lethargy and a kind of drunk-like gait are very common. I would keep an eye on Esther, if she has to climb stairs, for example, as she could easily stumble and hurt herself, until things calm down.
These side effects normally last between 2-8 weeks. So, you will see a positive change in her, but be patient as it takes a while.
Did the vet ask about your prior feeding regime and what you were feeding (including treats)? I ask because this can be a reason for the seizures, if there's something there that might be causing them. Let me know what you were/are feeding.
There's also the possibility the seizures could be genetic. Although genetic epilepsy tends to occur slightly earlier, it can kick in at any time and there's no easy way of finding out if this is the reason for them. If you are lucky enough to know her parentage history, know the breeder, or are aware of where other sibling pups from her litter went ... you might be able to find out if other dogs in the same "family" have started having or have had seizures, and this would certainly be a good indicator of a genetic cause.
The other possibility is a tumor, usually of the brain or spinal cord. Has your vet discussed this possibility with you?
The other thing I need to mention is the absolute necessity for regular blood checks, as this is the only way of ensuring the dosage remains within a therapeutic level. Checks should be undertaken every two weeks for the first 3 months, and then every two or three months after that. Has your vet booked your next blood-check appointment?
I would also strongly advise keeping an "Esther" diary of observations, any seizures, her general health, what you feed and/or give as treats, and any relevant things you see about her behaviour. This will prove useful over time and will be an excellent reference for your vet.
This is a very useful, concise and informative article on canine epilepsy, which I hope you may find the time to read:
I'm sure you will find the content of that article helpful.
Finally, although the disinterest in food is not typical of the condition, it is not that unusual either. I think the best thing for the time being is to get as much nutritional food in her as you think necessary for her size and age - and maybe offer small amounts more often, so it doesn't over-face her. Tasty things like human grade chicken and boiled white rice is good, green tripe is excellent (most dogs love this, although it stinks when its being cooked), and if you do use a manufactured dog food, use a high quality tinned variety, which will help protect Esther against further toxic build-up (which can also contribute to seizures).
Big thank you for getting back to us so quickly! The article is excellent, thank you again. Unfortunately, Esther was rescued, so we don't have any parentage history. Our vet did mention the possibility of a tumor, but her immediate concern was stopping the seizures. We are scheduled to go back in 30 days (from last Monday) for blood work. Should we go sooner? She did blood work on her before prescribing the pb last Monday and said her levels were normal, except her blood sugar which was only slightly high. We have started sort of a diary, logging her pill times and whether or not she is eating and drinking in her awake times, which are few and far between. We will be more detailed. Just before the seizures started, we introduced Alpo Gravy Creamers into her diet, combining it with her dry dog food, Ol' Roy Complete Nutrition. The reason we did this is because we have a 17-year old dog (who still gets around, amazingly) who was having trouble with the dry food. We actually wondered if the canned food might be causing the seizures, so we stopped giving it to her. Then, however, she had those 16 seizures in 36 hours and had not had any of the canned food for about a week. Do you think that could have caused it? Also, what would you feed her, if she was your dog, on an everyday basis?
Hi. I wouldn't worry about going back sooner for bloodwork, unless you think she isn't tolerating the phenobarbital well. However, obviously, if she doesn't eat properly within the next 3 days, I would absolutely go back and ask for their advice.
I've tried looking up the Alpo Gravy Creamers and can't find it, though I'm assuming it's actually Alpo Gravy Cravers not Creamers. The nearest I can find any useful information on is the Alpo Dry Dog Food (presumably the same manufacturer). I regret to say, this is one of the worst manufacturers of dog food in the industry. These products contain a large volume of corn, which has no nutritional benefit whatsoever but bulks the food up so it looks like you are getting more for your money. The third biggest content is beef and bone meal, but this ingredient includes bone, exclusive of blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents. So, not exactly the best protein source. This dog food also contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.
I also note you have been or are feeding a dry dog food. I am rather famously (on MedHelp) against anyone using dry dog foods. I won't go into detail, but offer a link to my article below in which I explain things fully:
I have also explored the ingredients of Ol' Roy Complete Nutrition and, sorry to say, this is an extremely low quality dog product as well. I won't list the reasons, but enough to say it's best avoided.
One of the problems with low-quality dog foods is, they all contain things that can cause real health issues such as artificial flavours, colourants and preservatives, as well as a whole spectrum of chemicals. These additives can lead to toxaemia in some dogs - and toxaemia can lead to seizures. I am not saying this is necessarily the cause of Esther's seizures, but this kind of low-quality dog food certainly wouldn't help.
I have both the time and ability to cook a largely homemade and very varied diet for my dogs, but I am always aware this isn't practical for everyone. What I would say is, look for the best quality tinned dog food you can find and afford. The best dog foods analysed and reviewed by DogFoodAdvisor (a site I use a lot and trust) are listed at the link below:
Yes, your information is very helpful. Thank you, Tony. Esther seems to be unable to discern where she is going in the house. It's difficult for her to get up to pee (hit/miss in getting outside in time). Plus, we have steps both in front and in back, so when she can make it outside, we have encouraged her to go on the wooden deck. When she makes it up, she has a path that she follows; however, sometimes she goes into a corner and gets stuck there until we can gently manuever her away. We have to be careful because she will plop down if we aren't gentle enough and be stuck there for awhile. Do you think this will pass anytime soon? On a bright note, she has been accepting a little "gruel" concoction I made of chicken broth, ground chuck (her most favorite thing), and sweet potato, although all she can do at this point is lick it. Also, she does seem to be getting her appetite back somewhat because her curiosity as to what we are feeding our 17-year old Australian Shepherd is peaking a little. Prior to all of this, she ate his leftovers. May we please ask your opinion of all this, and if you think we should go back to the vet about her disorientation?
Hi. Personally, I still think this is side effects and nothing to get too worried about. The best way I can explain it is for you to imagine you've maybe had about four or five shots of vodka or whiskey or some other strong spirit. This drunk-like state is exactly how Esther feels most of the time. So, she will find it hard to concentrate, she will be wobbly on her legs and she may lose disorientation (where she is) for periods of time.
I would be more concerned about her not eating properly, and I think this is certainly something worth having a telephone conversation with your vet about. It may be he will ask you to take her in for a review of the blood levels of phenobarbital. It's probably too early to know whether the level has reached a stable and therapeutic zone yet, but your vet is the best person to get advice on this from.
It's only been a week of her being on this medication, so it's too soon to say how long the side effects will continue for. Some owners report them disappearing completely after a couple of weeks, while others report up to 8 weeks. My guess is, it may take at least a month before you start seeing things truly improve.
Hi Tony, Esther is eating a little now, thankfully, and drinking water. She had a bowel movement last night. All has been ok until just now when she woke up after about 4 hours sleep (she's been sleeping about 1-1.2 - 2 hours at a time). She was barely able to stand to pee, which is not unusual with the pb. However, she is trembling. Is this another side effect of pb?
Hi. Trembling is a tricky one ... because it may be a result of so many things, including the seizure condition. Can you let me know what the trembling is like? Is it like an attack of shivers or is it continuous? How long does it last? Does it affect the whole of her body or just the legs, front or back? When she is trembling, does she respond to you (if you call her name from across the room, for example)?
Also, you say she is eating a little better ... what has she been eating?
She trembles, stops for about 10 seconds, trembles, stops 10 seconds, etc It's not all the time. Just seems like when she first wakes up after her brief naps. Once she is up walking, seems to lessen significantly, until all gone. She's been lapping up chicken gravy but not the meat in it. She still hasn't eaten any solid food, although we are offering it with the gravy, broth, soup, in the hopes that she will eventually eat it as well. She drinks water and laps up all the liquid in the food. If you weren't able to cook for your babies, what high quality tinned food would you personally buy? There are so many choices, it's overwhelming to me. I've read your thoughts on dry food and I agree. Plus, she needs all the moisture we can get in her right now, yes? On a good note, she is starting to wake up more frequently and walk more. She also is getting up on her own (hind legs have been weak). She got up several times last night and walked a little. Also, if it's not too much trouble, would you be so kind as to share one of your personal dog recipes please?
Oh, just realized I didn't answer you completely - apologies for the inconvenience. It is her whole body that trembles and we only noticed it when we were helping her get up last night. It's not very visible at all, which now is making me wonder if she has had this at various times all along and we just haven't noticed. And she has responded to her name through it all.
Hi. Okay. I don't think the trembling is too much to worry about, but it's worth raising it with your vet at the next visit. Personally, I don't think it's mild convulsions (akin to the seizures), though it could be associated with how the seizures have altered neurological pathways in the brain. It could also be, very simply, that she is so disorientated at times that she is becoming fearful of what is happening to her. Poor thing, she doesn't understand it, unlike us, and many dogs shiver or tremble just because they feel insecure. Trembling can also be a symptom of pain, though I don't believe that is why it's occurring here.
The best thi is to keep her warm, and to reassure her as much as possible during these episodes. Be careful not to get too worked up or anxious yourselves, because dogs feed on their owners own emotions ... and if you get nervous about what's happening, so will your dog. I know, easier said than done, right?
Yes, fluids are essential, so you seem to be doing all the right things. It's far worse for a dog to become dehydrated than for them to miss a few meals. When you say chicken gravy, what is the chicken gravy made from? I'm assuming, just the juices from cooking chicken for your dog?
Rather than go into a whole list of my homecooking, have a wander around online at home cooking for dogs. There are entire websites dedicated to this subject and I'm sure you'll get plenty of ideas from them. As a starter, try something really simple, such as cooked "human grade" chicken and boiled white rice. You can add to this all kinds of things, such as a little natural honey, plain unflavoured and unsweetend yogurt or pure salmon oil. Dogs usually also love fish - but only ever use white fish, if you're cooking it yourself - or you can use tinned oily fish like sardines. It's always good to add a few vegetables to the mix, but be aware of those vegetables that aren't suitable for dogs.
Green tripe is one of my favorite foods for dogs. It's rich in nutrients and most dogs absolutely love it - unfortunately, it also stinks like hell, particularly if you cook it from frozen blocks (like me).
The best tinned varieties of dog food get 5-stars from DogFoodAdvisor (a site I use often and trust). Click the link below for the full 5-star wet food list from them.
Hi again Tony, our Esther stopped eating and drinking yesterday, so while we were trying to feed her through a 60ml syringe with a tube placed on her tongue, we discovered she has a very inflamed red pocket over her left tooth (long tooth after front teeth). :-( so we are giving her water on the right side and she is thirsty so we're keeping it up regularly. Vet is gone for the weekend and we really would like to keep her eating over the weekend. Do u think it will be ok to give her some Ensure or something like that through the tube? Many thanks for your care for our girl!
Hi. Ensure is actually okay for dogs, but there are a couple of things to bear in mind about it ... first, it contains lactose, which many dogs have a problem with (many dogs are lactose intolerant). So, although it will certainly help with getting nutrition in her, it could result in vomiting, gastric upset and/or diarrhea.
The second thing is it contains a fairly rich source of vitamins, intended for humans. Much depends on what Esther's current blood panel results say about things like calcium and phosphorus, because Vitamin D particularly can interfere with the balance.
You can afford for her not to eat for another day, if you know you can talk to your vet on Monday and then get professional advice - but it is essential she gets water, otherwise she will become dehydrated very quickly and this can have dire consequences, particularly and quickly developing into kidney crisis.
The gum ulcer is more likely to be causing the failure to eat than the kidney disease at this stage. Let's face it, when we have a gum ulcer, no one wants to chew on anything. It is also likely the uremia caused by renal disease has increased the bacteria in the mouth, hence the gum ulcer. The ulcer will almost certainly be causing some pain, which will worsen if she eats and tries chewing anything. A topical therapy, such as chlorhexidine solution or antibacterial gel may be used directly on the gums and in the mouth, and your vet may also be able to prescribe a topical pain medication that can be placed on the gums and mouth to lessen the pain.
If you can't see your own vet, it might be prudent to see an emergency vet in your area, explaining that she has kidney disease and is failing to eat/drink probably due more to the gum ulcer right now. Point out that she cannot afford to lose weight at this stage of her kidney disease management.
Hi again. Sorry for some slightly confusing comments in my prior post ... I'm answering too many questions tonight and my thoughts are all over the place. My comment about kidney disease was meant to be about the phenobarbital side-effects (I've just replied to maybe 5 people about kidney disease, so it's on my brain). There may be some uremia, which could be producing some kidney effects - but not kidney disease, as I mentioned. The ulcer could also just be a result of her feeling very tired and out-of-sorts or due to dental disease. Your vet will need to consider these potential problems.
Sorry for any confusion. I think it's high time I went to bed and got some sleep. It's actually 1am here in the UK.
Boy, can i ever relate! No worries at all; rather, thank u for taking the time, Tony, We will definitely put some salve on the ulcer. We're still having to use tube for water. She's just not interested in the bowl. She is insistent on walking, walking, walking - even when she's the groggiest. She tumbles a lot, so we carry pillows with us to catch her when she falls. When those little tremors come on, she wants up, even out of a sound sleep, and they usually subside quickly after she gets up. Gonna try to keep hydrating her. So far, so good. She drank About 220ml throughout the day in her awake times and we actually managed to get 2 bites of sweet potatoes on her tongue last night. Will keep at it today and keep u posted. Hope u had a glorious night's sleep - u absolutely deserve! It! Many thanks again, my friend ;-)
Yes, good night's sleep ... though early start this morning. But refreshed at least. I don't know whether she'll take it, but you might try some cooled-down chicken broth (basically the watery result of boiling chicken, as if stewing it). This will certainly help get some good nutrients in her for today. If she accepts it, you could also try blending it with some boiled white rice, potato or similar foods that will help her acquire some energy. Just a thought.
You're doing great with the hydrating ... keep that going. Don't let the vet fob you off tomorrow ... she definitely needs their attention.
Hi again, Tony. Thank you for all the help above! We managed to get 1/4 can of Ensure down her so far and feel pretty confident we can get the rest of the can down before midnight tonight when she takes her pb. However, when we were giving it to her, she swallowed the 1-1/4" surgical tube we were using to feed her that we had on the tip of our syringe. She didn't choke and seems ok. We are now using a longer tube so that we can pull it out if she bites on it. Also, it's a holiday here in the States tomorrow, so vet will not be in. Should we be worried? Do you think she will pass it naturally? We don't get paid until Thursday and our vet requires payment the day of the visit. Is there anything we can do here at home about this? We love Esther so much and hate that we let this happen to her :-(:-( (both of us)
Hi. The surgical tube should pass okay, but it's worth being extra cautious, as they can obstruct or puncture the digestive tract. Look out for any blood in her stool. I think leaving things until Thursday is not great, but I understand your situation. Is there anyone you could borrow enough money from until Thursday? Family or friends maybe? It's good you got the Ensure in her, though I am a little concerned about it (see my earlier post). It would be far more preferable for her to be on a canine nutritional supplement rather than Ensure. I'm sure your vet will suggest a much more appropriate one or maybe even give her some by tube himself.
Ok. We are definitely going to try to work something out to get to vet earlier. If you are a praying person, we would appreciate any and all, Tony. We did get a bottle of Ensure down her and we will buy some chicken to stew. It's been touch and go here, but she isn't giving up and neither are we. She is getting up consistently to walk, walk, walk, and pee, and we are tube feeding and watering her regularly now. We haven't left her alone since this started and won't. Will let u know what happens with vet. It's impossible to put into words how much you have helped us through this terrifying and painful time in Esther's life (and ours), THANK YOU just isn't enough.
Hi again. No thanks are needed. I feel we all family here ... and we care for each other and each other's best friends as much as we are able. The reward is knowing our dogs get through the tough times life throws at them ... and to be there as a shoulder for their owners, when things don't work out as we would like.
I can tell just how much you love and care for Esther. It comes across in everything you say. Yes, please do keep me informed.
We have a 15 year old Boston Terrier...he recently started having seizures -- 8 or more in a 24 hr period. Took him to vet, had blood tests run to check his liver etc to make sure nothing was out of whack there. The vet put him on PB twice a day. Took me home, gave him his first dose of PB, and had to go back to work. When we got home, he was pacing and barking, acting disoriented and like he couldn't see and then he became very aggressive, and even bit me when was trying to help him back into the house. He also attacked our other dog and has been acting like he is biting at flies or whatever else he thinks he sees. This started last night and wasn't any better this morning. I know most of these can be common in post seizure activities etc...just wondering how much time to give it before we react. On a side note...my mother had his litter mate who started having seizures and at 84 she decided it was best for the both of them that she put him down. Another factor to note is, my mother babysat him while we were on vacation for 10 days and the seizures started the day we brought him home. My hope is...since it was happening in his litter mate...it is more likely to be epilepsy and not a brain tumor...and that is why we decided to give PB a chance. Wishful thinking? Thanks in advance for your feedback
Hi. It is almost impossible to say whether this is genetics (epilepsy), degeneration of the neurological pathways due to age or a tumor of the brain. It would take several different tests (quite expensive, unless your dog is insured for them) to make an accurate diagnosis.
So, the second course of action is to treat the seizures. It seems the vet has discounted other potential and associated illnesses that can cause seizures, so it may be the only way forward is to treat the seizures and see what happens. The disorientation is rather more associated with the phenobarbital, rather than the seizures themselves. These symptoms should ease off gradually over the next few weeks, but it will take time. Yes, there is an associated amnesia and disorientation immediately following a seizure, but these shouldn't persist more than a few minutes. That's why I think these are more likely to be side-effects of the medication.
You clearly need to be very cautious about leaving both dogs together while unsupervised, or your dog could (unintentionally) hurt the other one. Also, it's imperative that you get your vet to check the blood levels every two weeks (ideally) until the therapeutic level of phenobarbital is found. Even after that, regular blood level checks are strongly advised, because overdosing and under-dosing is common with this drug.
It helps...this is the second Boston that I have had that has had seizures. My first one, his started young and I treated with acupuncture and holistic remedies and had great success until he got older and then I had to put him on PB...his were totally different than Dozer's. I guess needed reassurance that these were a reaction to the drug...not the seizures. I do not allow the two together at this point. I realized what could happen. My fear is that I will get bit also. I want to make sure he isn't suffering...he is or was in really good health until this happened. As with everyone, he is part of the family and I want to do every I can but I don't want him to suffer. If you were to guess...how long would you give the symptoms from the meds to subside. Again...thanks for your help.
Hi. I wish I could answer your question, but no one can. It normally takes between 2 and 8 weeks for side effects to subside, so you need to prepare for it. All dogs are different and no one can predict which dog will take 2 weeks to get over the side effects or which one will take 8 weeks. It will certainly help if you can make certain your vet undertakes regular blood checks (ideally every 2 weeks), as the therapeutic dosing level will help minimise the side effects and prevent seizures all at the same time.
You should also be aware that some dogs' seizures aren't controlled by phenobarbital. While this is unusual, it does occur. So, if the phenobarbital fails to address the seizures, your vet may need to add something like potassium bromide along with the phenobarbital - or prescribe a completely different anticonvulsant drug.
When seizures occur, you can protect yourself by leaving him in a safe zone until the seizure is over. This is a difficult thing to organise, but it can help to prepare for it, particularly if you can predict the seizure coming on. Baby playpens are something I have known some owners use ... but anything similar that restricts their movement (and biting you or others) without restricting the seizure itself, can be useful.
After the seizure, wait until he recognises your voice before comforting him. It's only during the first few minutes after a seizure that amnesia and confusion tends to occur, and this is when fear and anxiety may cause an aggressive reaction.
Hello my friend, It is a very sorrowful time for us. As soon as the vet opened after the holiday on Tuesday, we were there with Esther, because she began moaning at 3am Monday, increasingly more right up to the moment the vet gave her a sedative. We cried hard when she was moaning, praying hard, and holding her, comforting her as best we could. We basically told the vet that we weren't going away (even though we couldn't make payment until Thursday), and they obliged us. We're still not sure what happened. After we got the Ensure down her and water continually, we were hopeful. But something happened that we still don't understand and she began deteriorating rapidly. Once the moaning began, she didn't seem to know us, although she was somewhat comforted by light touch. She kept wanting to get up, and her moaning would stop when she was up momentarily, but at the last, she couldn't stand on her legs at all. It was heartbreaking. The vet explained to us that she was old. We hadn't realized that, her being only 7-8 years old, but he said that was average life for a Rottweiller. He said her moaning could be caused by many things, one possibility being that her bones ached so much from lying so long on the floor (prior to this, she slept on bed or couch with us) and because of the continuous rain we have had here. This has been one of the hardest losses for my husband and me. Night before last, we just laid in the bed, holding each other, crying and remembering so many precious moments with our beloved Esther. Don't know what we would have done without you, Tony. May GOD bless you and yours as you bless others with His loving care and wisdom. Kindest regards, Rick and Cris
Hi. I am so very sorry for your loss. You certainly went the extra mile in trying your very best to help Esther, but sadly, sometimes even everything we can do isn't enough. Yes, it's true, the bigger the dog, the shorter its life expectancy - dogs just don't live nearly as long as any of us would like. My heart goes out to you both. I am so sorry the outcome wasn't as we had been hoping, but rest assured you did all you could.
We got our 6 year old cocker spaniel from the local animal shelter 4 years ago in april. In December same year(Christmas Eve he had his first seizure) It was not severe. We took him to the vet on the 26th and he did and exam and blood work to see if anything was going on that would show up and the blood work was normal....He said to watch him and we would go from there it was 8 months before he had another one. back to the vet, blood work again and he said same thing. He said that cocker spaniels were proned to have seizures. He said as long as he was not constantly having them that he didn't need meds. He then had one about every 4 or 5 months, and they were all mild. He only had one grandma this entire time. Two weeks ago he had one then a few hours later he had another then about 10 minutes later another...We took him back the vet (his office is only 2 blocks from our house) and he was put on 32.4 phen a barb 2 x a day...that was on June 2nd, yesterday he had another one.....however the last few days he has been scrathing an itch on his leg and scooting along the carpet on his tummy......Could this be a reaction to the phenabarb?
Hi. In answer to your question, itching is not a side-effect of phenobarbital, but it is an allergic reaction - possibly to the drug and possibly due to the time of year (seasonal allergies are very common right now). I wouldn't stop the phenobarbital (seizures are more dangerous than an allergy), but I would go to the vet and point this out to him. It may be your dog needs another medication other than phenobarbital (there are several alternatives, but phenobarbital is by far the most used and generally more successful) ... or just another medication to counteract the itching. Has your dog been running/walking/playing in long grass recently? Or are there any signs of fleas or other parasites?
My 7 yr old golden was placed on pb to treat what the neuro is surmising is Orthostatic Tremor,(OT)The symptoms are hind leg shaking while standing to the point that he cannot stand longer than a minute, but no symptoms while running, jumping,,walking, laying, or sitting. The OT is found in giant breeds and I have not found any cases in goldens. He goes back in 2 weeks for blood check. After reading the posts above and hearing how dogs' personalities,changed I wonder if it is worth the side effects.
My regular vet tried him on Previcot, Predisone, and a pain pill that I,cannot remember the name of, with no change. He was had several tests that have all come back normal to rule out other conditions.
Hi. If the diagnosis of OT is correct (it's notoriously difficult to get a true diagnosis), then phenobarbital is certainly worth trying. The side-effects will last for between 2 to 8 weeks, then they should dissipate and your dog will return to normal. Patience is a must during this time. Also, it is very important to have regular (ideally 2 weekly) blood checks to ensure the dosage given is within a therapeutic range - and the dosing must be given at the same 12 hr period every day.
There are alternative anti-convulsant drugs suitable for OT, such as pregabalin or even gabapentin, which can be trried if the phenobarbital doesn't have the desired effect.
There is a forum dedicated to OT that I found, which you may want to consider becoming a member of. It's at:
I want to thank everyone who have posted. I am new to this blog. We have been backed in a corner so to speak with Mr. Frodo- a Boston terrier who has had seizures since about 6 months old. He is now 8. Has been on Phenobarbital ever since. 10 wks ago his liver function sky rocketed 7x over normal. the vet and i decided to try zonisamide and taper him off phenol. 8 weeks later, this past Monday we were in hospital for grand mall seizures and clusters that I could not control at home with crisis meds, so neurologist has taken off zonisamide, and replaced with Keppra. he put him back on the full doses of pheno, a liver ultrasound guided biopsy is scheduled for Monday morning, The neurologist along with the ER doc basically put it in light for me another way - even though he responds to phenol, it is not doing his liver any good - he is more or less addicted to it. The pheno is not even at the blood level that it needs to be to control seizures. so I cringe now that I give it to him( drs. orders) until Monday for his test. so , now the reason I am on here, Keppra like all other anticonvulsants - it has really made him groggy/clumsy, I read a lot of side effects about this, but the duration of the side effects not clear, anyone know a – a few days, couple weeks or couple months? Now then like most all, I love this little guy and he is truly my little buddy – He goes everywhere with me, he knows lowes and tracker supply and gets so excited just to ride in the car – it really upsets me to see him groggy and clumsy – I know all involved in his care are doing what is right for this very moment we are in, but just heartbreaking.
Hi. You have done amazingly well to get to this stage, after such a long time with the seizures and phenobarbital treatment. One thing you might try is some Milk Thistle supplementation with his regular diet. Milk Thistle protects the liver and can help restore it ... but talk to your vet first, because it sounds like you have a good one. As far as I know, there is no "median" time for side effects to dissipate. It really does depend on every individual dog, as to how they respond. It may take just a couple of weeks - or it could take considerably longer. Either way, please try to work through it, offering reassurance when required, but keep to the regime. You are doing everything and more to help Mr Frodo (what a great name), so just stick to it.
I have been reading through the posts and am happy to have found a place to discuss the issues we are having with our dog. She is a 12 to 14 year-old boxer/bulldog mix (we believe - she's a pound puppy). About 5 weeks ago she began to have seizures following the removal of a mast tumor on a back leg. The vet initially thought the seizures may be due to the large amount of benadryl she was on. We started pb at 1.5 pills twice a day and she became very drunk seeming - can barely walk, very stumbly, maybe a bit confused. This went on for a couple weeks when we began to slowly ween her off the pb. When we got down to .25 pill 2/day she began to have seizures again, having about 8 in a 36 hour period, including at the vets office. The vet told us that it is very likely a brain tumor. Because of her age we are not going to treat the tumor, but want her to enjoy the rest of her days. The vet told us to up the pb dose back to 1 pill 2/day. She has not have a seizure since. That was about a week ago, but again, she can't walk well - is very stumbly, has to be carried to food, water, and outside. I'm concerned that this side effect will not wear off since it didn't wear off before and the vet has told us that we shouldn't consider a lower dose again. How long should we keep her like this? Could she still be happy? It's heartbreaking to watch, but of course I don't want to let her go if there's a chance she'll get better. Has anyone dealt with this sever side effect before? She's been such a wonderful, loving dog. It tears me up, but I want to do the best and most loving thing for her. Thanks for any thoughts.
Hi. Side effects can last up to around 8 weeks, though most dogs respond within 4 weeks. The point is, your vet is absolutely right, do not reduce the phenobarbital and make sure you never miss a dose, and give the doses at exactly the same time every day (usually 12 hours apart). You just have to be patient. The side effects will eventually dissipate. You didn't wait long enough the prior time (2 weeks I think), and had you continued with the dosage, the side effects would have reduced and disappeared within the 8 week framework. Your vet is also right that this could be a brain tumor (most common cause in older dogs, particularly boxers). You could have tests to determine whether it is or not, but I tend to agree with you, it would be stressful to consider treatment for it and, given her age, probably not a good idea.
I rescued the sweetest westie mix in December of last year. However, a few months later we found out she had renal failure, since then we have managed the problem with Royal Canine LP. Our next issue was allergies, she is now on a steroid for this. Just recently, she started having seizures.She had 3 back to back seizures so now we have her on the Phenobarbital and since she has been seizure free. She has only been on the medicine a little over a week, but I am going insane. I know most of the side effects are normal, the weak legs, thirst, excessive urination etc. HOWEVER, she is barking...NON STOP. She paces, barks/howls/whines for 2 hours, sleeps for 30 minutes, paces, barks/howls/whines for 2 hours, sleeps for 30 minutes. We have a camera on her during the day and have noticed she sleeps just fine when no one is home. It only begins once we get home and literally does not stop until we leave again the next morning regardless whether we are awake, up moving, or asleep. Anyone have any ideas on how to ease the anxious barking?!
Hi. That is a really complex group of illnesses. The anxiety barking may of course be directly linked to the side effects of phenobarbital or indeed minor (petit mal) seizures that are making her feel insecure and/or afraid. When did she last have her bloods checked? It would certainly be worthwhile, so your vet has some idea about whether the dose is high, low or at the appropriate level.
Also, what stage is the renal disease? If it is late stage 3 or stage 4, there is going to be an impact caused by the anticonvulsant drug. This may mean the renal failure is going to deteriorate more rapidly.
As she is already on phenobarbital, it may be worth your vet prescribing a suitable "calming" medication. Ordinarily, with renal failure, this is not something advised, as it will cause more toxins to be produced - but in this case, it's unlikely to make much difference to the outcome, so something probably worth trying.
I apologize for the delay, I reached out to so many different groups it seems i had lost track of this one.
Update - Sugar has now been on the Phenobarbital for almost a month. (We started her June 30th) She is still seizure free, however the barking has not stopped. It has gotten a little better, I suppose. She still barks continuously until we go to bed. We ignore her the best we can until she stops barking and then reward that behavior. It does stop it for a short period of time. During the night she wakes up between 2 and 3am, goes potty, has a barking fit for about 30min-1hr and goes to sleep until between 6-7 and wakes up barking again. Once I get out of bed for work, about 7:20 the barking stops. She gets up and just watches me get ready, following me around the house.
We just took her to the vet last Wednesday and said her levels are "fine" and are continuing with the same dosage of the Phenobarbital. They have tried to suggest the barking is just because shes old. However I refuse to settle for that answer as it absolutely did not start until she was on the medicine.
As far as the renal failure, i am guessing she is at stage 3 from what I have read. I read that you really cannot tell from blood work until it gets to stage 3. Again, I could be wrong, but this is from what I have read.
The vet we have been going to was great with our other dog, but I feel since Sugar needs more attention and more specific treatment they are not qualified. I have another appointment for her on Saturday with another vet.
Do you think the phenobarbital could be causing this issue at all? Again, her kidney levels are almost normal still just with the renal food. We have also as of last week discontinued the steroid for her itching and have her on Hydroxezime (antihistamine)
I guess, my point of this is to get some advice on where and how to proceed with the vet on suggestions for medicines etc. The other vet did not seem open to anything and stated she had to be very careful due to the renal failure.
Also, I did some research on her flea/tick prevention. I feel this could have been an issue as well.
We have been taking Sugar to Banfield and they prescribed her FirstShield, which is a Banfield product. Her seizures did not begin until we began giving her First Shield. Both times the seizures happened within 2 weeks of giving her this medicine.
I am not sure if you are familiar with FirstShield but the reviews are VERY disturbing to say the least. We also noticed after reading about the medication and what to look for she had other reactions from the medications. Chemical burns and hair loss along the application site.
We have taken her off this as well. I am contemplating weaning her off the phenobarbital and seeing if it was a direct effect of the FirstShield as i read it caused seizures in many dogs.
Hi again Well, there's a lot there to try and answer ... but I'll do my best.
It is quite wrong for the vet to say you can't tell what stage the kidney failure is at until stage 3 and beyond ... the first blood test (prior to managing the kidney failure diagnosis) is the one to look at, as it is the base result. The levels you need to diagnose the stage is BUN, creatinine and phosphorus. If you have that initial test result, let me know the levels.
The vet is right that virtually all medicines are difficult with kidney failure, because all medicines cause by-product toxins, which further stresses the limited functioning kidneys. Of course, this doesn't mean all medicines should be avoided ... but certainly those that are not crucial to your dog's well-being and good health.
Yes, avoid all flea and tick treatments, unless the risk of your dog catching fleas or ticks are high. FirstSheild is not a treatment that I am very familiar with, though I suspect it falls into the same category as many others that are chemical-pesticide based. You might want to have a read of a piece I did on this subject. You can find it here:
In fact, both flea and tick treatments - and kidney failure - can cause seizures. Also, the question over the kidney disease is a fair one, because many vets misdiagnose and then treat something that may not be a problem anymore. I would strongly advise your vet undertakes a urinalysis, looking particularly for protein leakage. If there are proteins in the urine, then kidney disease is confirmed. The following article looks at the correct way to diagnose kidney failure - along with various other pieces of information you will probably find useful. That article can be found here:
Taking your dog off phenobarbital is a risk, but maybe one worth trying. Dogs can have very serious allergic reactions and acute problems from some flea and tick treatments, and seizures are not uncommon. Taking her off the phenobarbital will test the theory that this was an acute reaction (very possible, considering the other allergic symptoms you have described). There is of course a great danger that the seizures will return, so talk to your vet about this before considering it. Also, don't just stop the drug suddenly, as it needs to be phased out slowly.
The barking remains a puzzle. I am still of the opinion this must be related to anxiety and petit-mal seizures, but it's very hard to be sure without seeing the behaviour first hand. I certainly don't believe it is "down to age", which is a strange comment from a vet. Did the vet check things like hearing and sight? Sometimes, older dogs that are starting to lose some hearing and/or sight, do get afraid or confused and bark as a consequence.
Sugars BUN level upon her first visit (12/28) was 43 and creatine level was 2.1
As of 3/20 her BUN is 23 and creatine is 2.4.
I asked for the recent panel they did, but this is the last one they sent me.
At this point, we have taken her off flea and tick medication completely. I do live in an apartment complex with a lot of dogs and have noticed fleas on her after walking her, but I have narrowed down where they are coming from and keep her from those areas. I truly feel the medicine had SOMETHING to do with her seizures. Albeit, we have only had her for 8 months and I know seizures can come without warning, I just find it odd they came on both times about 2 weeks after the application of the medicine and the reviews.
I know it can be tricky. I have made an appointment with another vet for Saturday, I am sure I already mentioned that. We were taking her to Banfield, who has been great with our other dog, but with a special needs dog I feel she needs a low volume vet that can spend time with her.
As far as hearing and sight, I am glad you brought that up. That is something else I plan to address with the new vet. I do believe her sight is normal, but the hearing is an issue. Before Sugar was on the medicine, when she was sleeping we would have to walk up to her and call her name several times before she heard us. We call her name and there is no response. If there is a loud noise in the room she looks to the total opposite direction to see where it is coming from. Not trying to dismiss any options, but again, this had been the case the whole time.
Thanks for talking through this with me and you have brought up several good points to bring to the vets attention. I also plan on reading our articles to further educate myself on these conditions.
Hi. My opinion, for what it's worth, is that this is kidney disease. Probably stage 3. If protein leakage is confirmed, then that's another confirmation. It would also be prudent to get your dog's blood pressure checked (more on that in my article, link given previously). The point is, at this stage, there are lots of things you can do to help prolong life and improve quality of life, but getting a confirmed diagnosis and starting the diet plan and maintaining blood pressure control are crucial.
The seizures are another matter ... it could be this was an acute episode, and a consequence of the flea and tick medication. The problem for your vet now is to find out whether it was acute (and therefore is now not a problem) or whether it is an epileptic type seizure that will get progressively worse without treatment.
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