Phenobarbital for Dogs: Uses, Side Effects & Dosage

Phenobarbital for Dogs: Uses, Side Effects & Dosage

Author WDF Staff


Just like humans, dogs can suffer from seizures. Luckily, there are medications like phenobarbital for dogs that can help them control it. Seizures are a quick burst of electrical signals to the brain, and they can last from a couple of seconds to several minutes. You can notice seizures if you see your dog shaking uncontrollably. However, with the advancement of modern veterinary medicine, there are ways to help our dogs cope with these issues. Here is what you should know about phenobarbital for dogs.

What is phenobarbital?

Phenobarbital is a medication used for treating seizures in different species. Humans, horses, dogs, cats, and ferrets use it, and it is pretty effective. However, the use of phenobarbital for dogs is off-label, which means it is not a medication specifically developed for dogs. Some of the medications containing phenobarbital are;

  • Solfoton®
  • Luminal Sodium®
  • Tedral®

basset-hound laying

This is not the only human drug that can be used for dogs, and vets will often prescribe human medications that are safe for our dogs to use. When it comes to off-label use of human medications, it is vital you follow your vet’s advice on dosages and uses.

Seizures in dogs can be scary. Check this article if you want to know more about them - Seizures in dogs.

How is phenobarbital for dogs given?

Phenobarbital for dogs comes in several options, and your vet will let you know the best option for your dog. Some dogs prefer tablets, and others cannot swallow them. This medication can be given with or without food and should be given regularly. Some dogs might experience some side-effects, but it is usually nothing too serious. The available phenobarbital for dogs forms are;

  • Tablets
  • Chewables
  • Paste
  • Liquid solution
  • Capsule
  • Injection (only at the clinic)

Side effects of phenobarbital for dogs

Like any other medication, phenobarbital for dogs can have potential side-effects. There is an interesting effect of phenobarbital for dogs; it can alter Cushing’s disease and thyroid gland tests. If your dog has an upcoming test, make sure the vet knows your dog is taking phenobarbital. Some of the most common side-effects of phenobarbital for dogs are;

  • Lethargy
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Sedation
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased urination
  • Incoordination (a side-effect of too large dosages)

Another possible side-effect is liver dysfunction. It is rare, but dogs prone to this side-effect should stop taking this drug and switch to something else immediately.

Just like humans, dogs can get epilepsy. Check out this article for more info - Epilepsy in dogs.

Are there any risks?

Most human medications can cause a bad reaction in dogs, so before you start phenobarbital treatment, you should make sure your dog is not allergic to it. There are other risk factors, but only for dogs with underlying conditions. Dogs with kidney or liver issues and Addison’s disease should not take phenobarbital. Dogs with breathing issues, heart, adrenal, and are dehydrated or anemic should avoid using this medication. As always, pregnant or lactating females should not take phenobarbital.

Phenobarbital for dogs dosage

There is no general guide for phenobarbital dosage in dogs. Your vet will determine the phenobarbital dosage for dogs. They will consider the dog’s weight, age, breed, and severity and frequency of the seizures. Generally, this medication is given to dogs every 12 hours.

doberman puppy laying

Usually, the vet will start your dog on a smaller dosage. They will start by prescribing 1-2 milligrams per pound of body weight. If your dog weighs 30 pounds, the vet can prescribe anywhere from 30-60 milligrams of phenobarbital.

Important notice

Sometimes, even the most responsible dog owners can skip a dose of medication. You mustn’t give the double dosage of phenobarbital at once. You don’t want to end up overdosing your dog. Skip the dosage and continue giving the medication on your regular schedule.

The second thing your vet will ask you to do is come for a check-up with your dog every four months on average. They will want to check the dog’s liver health. Phenobarbital for dogs can influence liver functions over long periods, so the vet will want to know how your dog’s body is taking the treatment.

World Dog Finder team

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