Epileptic Dog

Updated on September 13, 2010
K.H. asks from Saint Paul, MN
13 answers

i know this is a site for mom an problems,concerns etc...well my kids are grown..but ive got 3 dogs...my one dog was diagnosed with canine epilepsy..just breaks my heart every time she has a seizure which seems to be more frequent-every other day-use to be once every few months-i cant seem to find the trigger on this-the vet said to put her on phenobarbital-i refuse to-the side affects are brutal.i give her 10mg of benadryl a day lately.they okd that...but im looking for a natural remedy-im changing her dog food today-walking her seperately from the other 2...mom an 2 month old puppy
i rescued her from the humane society 4 yrs ago-spent 700.00 on her...shes my best buddy-vet said if they get way out of control the best thing would be to put her down...shes a blonde cocker/terrier mix...i cant imagine life without her-ive read everything on the internet-no help...anybody have any ideas??...please share...my min pin also is a rescue-she has asthma-her name is sassy...she came from a nitemare home in iowa...please help with any ideas...thxs

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So What Happened?

well thx you all for your very useful info..guess ill be bringing shadow in an getting her on pheno-im so anti drug-but if it will save my baby-then i have no choice...i heard that pheno is real ugly on the dogs system...my son was on it for the 1st yr of his life-and it was horrible-i finally weaned him off of it.got a good chewing out from the doc.but he was a better baby after i took him off of it.sometimes they are just wrong in their diagnos.so now that i see all the positive results of pheno on dogs-i guess that will be my route to take...thank you everyone...

More Answers


answers from Jacksonville on

May I ask what the "brutal" side effects are that you are referring to? When I did my research while trying to make decisions about our dog's treatment for sudden onset of cluster seizures I didn't find anything "brutal". The most common side effects (things like excessive urination, excessive thirst, hind end weakness, lethargy, etc) all are short term during the beginning weeks of treatment. There can be liver damage when used long term, but your vet should be taking blood serum levels on the liver enzyme periodically to watch for that. It doesn't happen in every case, and alot depends on how how of a dosage your dog requires to stop the seizure activity.

Our GSD would have been put down if we couldn't bring her out of her cluster seizures that she started out of the blue (she appeared to have a head trauma - one side was swollen, but we could never figure out from what... she is in inside dog and I am home most of the time with her). It was an awful awful week and a half. She started to recover somewhat (at one point she couldn't even sit up, let alone stand, and had stopped eating) and then started back with clusters of seizures. We found a different vet for a 2nd opinion and admitted her over the weekend for hospital treatment (IV's, steroids, antibiotics, diazepam to stop the seizing and blood work to try to figure it all out). She had low thyroid (which could be brought on by illness, disease, or seizures, and certain medications which she was now getting) but can also trigger seizures, so she started thyroid therapy along with pheno. When she started walking and eating by Monday, we brought her home. Over the next few weeks she slowly regained her strength and energy (her appetite was voracious due to the temporary steroids) and now, 5 months later, she is exactly like she was prior to anything of this happening, except she takes soloxine (thyroid med) and pheno twice daily. Both are the lowest dosages she can get by on for her weight.

She has more energy. Seems happier and more involved than ever before. And she doesn't shed nearly as much as she used to either (thyroid related). ALL of her temporary symptoms (hind end weakness, thirst, hunger, etc) were GONE within month. The worst was the thirst and excessive urination- but I think that was related to the steroids. Once she came off of that she quickly returned to her normal schedule (steroids made her go every 2 hours!! And she went a LOT, like 8 oz each time).

We spent $1500 for that weekend and the follow ups. Now we spend about $10/m for the pheno and about $8 ? a month for the thyroids. And it is worth every penny. We have our 6 year old dog (prime of life) back! She has had no long term side effects to date. And supposing that at some point in the future she has reduced liver function or something, (which she is monitored for periodically through blood tests) she will have had a long happy life during the interim.

The seizures are FAR FAR worse than taking pheno. And from what I have read and been told by our (new) vet, every seizure they have contributes to the likelihood that they will have another. Every seizure has the possibility of serious damage either internally, or from injuring herself during the attack (during our dog's attacks, she would get really stiff suddenly, stretch her neck up and back like you wouldn't think was even possible, and slam her body backwards/to the side and land on the tile floor/the chair legs/the wall/ the corner/ whatever with her head. Amazingly, after days of this, she is FINE.

If you can control the seizure activity with a small 2x daily dose of pheno, then it will be worth it. You might be able to have your best buddy back for a long time. If you can't control them, then you will have to considering putting her down... are you ready to do that before even trying to see if the pheno works. She could live happily for YEARS more!

Please please reconsider giving the pheno a try. It is SO worth it.


5 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

I have a 10 year old female golden retriever with seizure disorders. She has been on phenobarb for nearly three years now. Her seizures were long and violent. Yes, it took her body about 6 months to get used to the meds. It made her a little sluggish, a little 'high' for awhile. But now she is back to her old self and tolerating the phenobarb well. I really cannot imagine opting NOT to give her what she needs to stop the seizures. Putting her through it, putting my kids through it, the seizures are terrifying for kids to see. Wow, this may sound harsh, but would you 'refuse' to put your CHILD on the meds that would make her/him better?! I feel bad for your dog and your family.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My dog used to have seizures every couple days. Went on a low dose of phenobarbitol and he has a 1 minute mini seizure about every 2 months now. He suffers no side effects from the drug. It has been a miracle for him and no suffering. Have you ever tried this? If not, why let your dog suffer if there is a known useful medication for it? It has helped many many dogs and the benefits far outweigh the possible side effects.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Hi there,
My dog, Daisy, started having seizures when she was a year old. We were able to control them with Pheno and Potassium bromid. She went for three years with few seizures, then the cluster seizures started. We inceased the meds and it worked for a while but the clusters got worse and worse. You need to control the seizures. I have seen all the side effects of Pheno - your dog will be sluggish, hungry and need lots of water for the first few weeks, then they begin to adjust to the medication. You do not want your dog to gain too much weight, so watch the intake of food.

The last month of her life was not good. We were unable to control the seizures (7-12 a day) and she did not always know us and where she was. We had maxed out the the meds, and did not have any choice but to put her down. It was heartbreaking, but she did have 4 good years of life when her seizures were under control.

Get your dog on the meds soon! Be careful when changing your dog's diet. Find food that works and stick with it. The earlier you control them, the better your dog will do in the long run. Good Luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

We had a wonderful Sib. huskey that was diagnosed with same thing at about age 1 at the time we had her as a family pet since she was a pup so putting her down was not an option for us, we are big dog lovers. Vet suggested we do the medication route and it worked wonders. The dosage was low to my knowledge, but it worked and she seldom had seizures after being on the meds her whole life. Oddly our dog's seizures sometimes occurred right b4 rain/thunder storms, b4 she was put on her anti-seizure med.. The med. did not seem to affect her mood/tempermant thankfully just controlled the epilepsy. She was a beautiful and very healthy dog otherwise, she ran about 3 miles daily for 10 yrs with my husband each morning and lived to be 14. Pls reconsider the meds, you wont regret it. Hope this helps.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Davenport on

What is the difference in side effects between benadryl and phenobarbital? It looks to me like they have similar side effects and at least phenobarbital could actually save your dog from being put to sleep. I know several people that have/are using it and it works. I know one person that had to put their dog to sleep after he had a long seizure-it changed his behavior and he became very aggressive.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

First of all, cut out the benadryl. It is a trigger for seizures in dogs. I have no idea why your vet okayed this. My dog has a history of seizures and, even though he hasn't had one in over two years, we're still not allowed to give him benadyl for allergic reactions.

We put our dog on potassium bromide. It was tough, because one of the size effects is extreme hunger. He ate everything in sight! Still, it was worth it to us because his seizures were very long (over 5 minutes each) and we were worried he'd go into one and never emerge, which is a possibility in dogs. Eventually he was seizure free for long enough that we were able to wean him off, and he's only had one seizure since. The trigger for our dog is very low barometric pressure - those cold winter mornings were the worst.

You can try getting valium. You insert it rectally in the middle of a seizure and it stops the seizure. We still keep some on hand just in case. I don't know how frequent your seizures are, but it's something to discuss with the vet.

Honestly, and I know this isn't what you want to hear, I think you should seriously consider medication, or consider putting her down. And I don't say that lightly; I'm an animal lover with two rescue dogs myself. But she will likely start to suffer cognitively from all of the seizures, and that's just not fair to a dog. Also, there's a possibility that the other dogs will attack her mid-seizure, just because they can't figure out what's going on. To be on the safe side, I highly recommend that you consider crating her during the day while you're out. It will protect her from both the other dogs and herself (won't fall down the stairs, etc).

Good luck. Having been there, I know how painful this can be.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from State College on

I wish I could help you with natural, but I'm not sure what to recommend. I can understand not treating with there is one every couple of months, but as frequency and length increase you may want to consider meds. Great if you can find something natural that works. Using google I found DMG, omega 3s, vitamin B may help on several different websites.No idea if any of these work or help at all, I would think they would be more for the ones that are rare, not high frequency. I would talk to your vet before trying anything, especially with seizures every other day.

I know you don't want to use meds, but you may want to at least talk to your vet about them short term with possibility of longer to keep your dog comfortable. From working in a vet's office you may want to consider the meds with the seizures being so often. My parents also had a dog that was controlled and lived well into its teens. The phenobarbital or Potassium Bromide (usually used in conjunction if needed) are used at the lowest dose possible and with blood levels checked frequently to see if you need to adjust dosage, but also to check organ function. In 6 years, I have not seen one dog that had a problem related to the meds. If you are worried about liver damage, you may be able to talk to your vet about a liver supplement at the same time, milk thistle is pretty common.The seizures themselves can also cause a lot of damage including brain damage to the dog if they are prolonged. I would spend some time talking to your vet about your concerns and you maybe able to find a vet that is more holistic in your area to help and work with both vets.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Janesville-Beloit on

I, too, have a rescue dog. He is a german shepherd mixed with something that we don't know. Anyway, I still remember his first seizure. It scared me to death! Of course it was on a weekend so there was no one to talk to. When I finally got to the vet, we ended up putting on Phenobarbital. It did have some side effects, like stated before. Thor actually put some weight on that we had been trying to for a few years. He has only has one seizure in 3 years.



answers from Milwaukee on

I'm so sorry! We had a 2 year old St. Bernard with epilepsy. I agree the side effects are just as heart breaking, but pheno really can work. The other things we did was try and keep him stress free and give him body massages. We were able to minimize the seizures to once every four months.


answers from Minneapolis on

Hi there,

Jasmine and Idaho Balsam Fir essential oils applied topically will help your dog from seizure. I have only used our oils on animals as the purity is known. There will only be other positive benefits. I applaud you for staying clear of the drugs!



answers from Kansas City on

for our dog, the trigger is heat. And this dog LOVES to sit in the sunlight, then she gets too hot and has a seizure. It's scary, but we stick her head in the freezer to cool her off quickly, or if it's cold outside, take her outside. Good luck!


answers from Dallas on

I just wanted to let you know that I grew up with an incredible dog named George that had epilepsy. He lived for 19 years. Because I was the same age as George (a child/teen most of George's life), my mom was in charge of medicating him, but I know he was on medication for his seizures, and it was likely the same medication you are planning to give your dog. George lived a wonderful life. I've had many great dogs since then, but George still stands out as one of the best. I just wanted to share this to give you hope. I hope your dog does well on the medication.

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