Veterinary science is making advances in the medical management of canine idiopathic epilepsy, a condition for which there is currently no cure. A recently published study may help veterinarians decide how best to use phenobarbital and potassium bromide for individual dogs, with at least one new medication showing promise as an alternative to these two drugs.
Phenobarbital vs. Potassium Bromide as Treatment for Epileptic Dogs
A recent study by Dr. Dawn Boothe and colleagues at Auburn University found that phenobarbital is often better tolerated in the first six months of treatment with a higher proportion of dogs having no seizures. For those dogs that did have episodes, seizures did not last as long.
Both drugs have side effects, including excess hunger and thirst, lethargy and problems with coordination. But phenobarbital has been implicated in liver toxicity when used long term and sometimes damages both red and white blood cells. In an interview with Decoded Science, Dr. Boothe noted that one of the interesting findings from the study was that the incidence of phenobarbital side effects was higher than expected.
She suggested keeping phenobarbital doses below the maximum range. Identifying at risk patients, such as dogs with signs of liver disease, those on other drugs metabolized in the liver, and elderly animals, for closer monitoring may help reduce the incidence of liver toxicity. According to Dr. Boothe, further study is needed to completely understand risk factors for phenobarbital induced liver toxicity.
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