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How Epilepsy is Treated in Dogs

The first time your dog suffered a seizure, it probably scared you. When your veterinarian diagnosed the dog with epilepsy, you probably feared for your pet’s life. Fortunately for dedicated dog lovers, it is entirely possible for a dog to live a long and healthy life with epilepsy. Here’s a description of how it is usually treated.


Many advancements have been made in recent years when it comes to treating epileptic dogs. Unfortunately, medications do not work 100 percent of the time and can sometimes have harmful side effects. But most of them usually decrease the number and severity of canine seizures. Your veterinarian will typically prescribe medication only if your dog averages at least one or two seizures a month.

When your pet is officially diagnosed with epilepsy, he or she may be given phenobarbital, potassium bromide, or a combination of the two. Phenobarbital is usually more effective in preventing seizures, but the side effects can be frightening. 

Most dogs that are placed on the drug will experience lethargy and excessive hunger. Happily, the lethargy will often go away within a few weeks as your pet’s system gets used to the medication. Liver damage is another potential side effect that should be discussed with and monitored by your vet.

Potassium bromide is usually not as effective as phenobarbital, but it is safer. The only major side effect is potential stiffness in your pet’s hind legs. If you notice stiffness in the dog’s rear legs when he or she goes on a potassium bromide regimen, stop giving it to your pet and contact the veterinarian.

Many people end up using a mix of the two medications. Other drugs are available as alternative treatments. Some of these include valproic acid, clonazepam, and clorazepate. It’s important to give your pet any medication in the exact amount and manner prescribed by your veterinarian.

Change in Diet

Just as with humans, designing a healthier diet for your pet can help prevent and fight various diseases. Many believe that a nutritious diet can effectively avoid or weaken canine seizures. This may involve purchasing premium dog food at a pet shop instead of the inexpensive stuff found in grocery stores. Look for foods that do not use artificial flavors and other chemicals.

A better way to ensure your pet is getting an all-natural diet with lots of good vitamins is to put together your own dog food. A raw or home-cooked diet should be stocked full of protein, amino acids, magnesium, and other key vitamins and minerals. You should also avoid feeding your dog any products that contain wheat, corn, or soy. These offer little nutritional value for dogs, and can even cause an allergic reaction in your pet.


If you are open to alternative forms of medicine, you may want to give acupuncture a try. Studies conducted in the United States have indicated that dogs who received acupuncture as a treatment for epilepsy tended to experience fewer seizures and required lower doses of medication in treatment.

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