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Should Dogs Take Medications for Petite Mal Seizures?

Vet Blog readers may have noticed that lately Im not posting pictures with my articles, and that my posts have become somewhat infrequent. There is...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Jun 27th 2011


Vet Blog readers may have noticed that lately Im not posting pictures with my articles, and that my posts have become somewhat infrequent. There is a reason: I am in Bolivia, uh, er, studying feral dogs and cats. Or maybe Im just goofing off and traveling. But either way, Im in Bolivia. And it turns out that Bolivia has really poor internet connections, and even worse computers. Im posting when I can, but I have to look hard and get lucky in my internet cafe searchin in order to get a blog post up. Today I have gotten somewhat lucky: it looks like Ill be able to write a post. But adding a picture is out of the question! Now, on to the post.

My 2 year old boxer has been diagnosed as having petite-mal seizures. She takes Phenobarbital 64.8 mg 1 tab 2x a day, Gabapentin 400 mg 1 tab 2x a day, Potassium Bromide 250 mg/ml 300ml 3.25 ml once a day. We started with the phenobarbital for a almost a year increasing dose. Then added the Bromide a few months ago. She started the Potassium Bromide a week ago. She is still having seizures and I’m concerned with the interactions she may have with the meds.

I’m not even sure if they are seizures. Sometimes I can get her to stop one with food or just by yelling stop. Is there anything known seizures and Boxers?

Kelli
Springfield, VA

I think you should reconsider your dogs medication regimen. I dont think it makes sense to be pumping her full of drugs that, over time, almost certainly will cause side effects when youre not even convinced that youre treating the right thing.

Whenever a medication is prescribed to a pet, it is necessary to compare the risks and the benefits. Phenobarbital can cause weight gain, liver problems, tranquilization and behavior changes, and possibly pancreatitis. Potassium bromide can cause pancreatitis and a host of other side effects. Gabapentin has few side effects, but it also isnt very effective against seizures in dogs.

These side effects are worth the risks for pets that suffer frequent, massive, grand mal seizures. But ypur dog isnt having these types of catastrophic episodes, so Im not convinced that the benefits outweigh the risks.

Id recommend instead that you get a second opinion. Seek out a veterinary neurologist, and see what he or she has to say. It wouldnt be a bad idea to make a video of one of the events to show the neurologist. You should be able to find a neurologist in the Washington, DC area or at the vet school at Virginia Tech.

To answer your final question: yes, Boxers sadly are predisposed to seizures. Boxers have been cursed by humans — they are wonderful dogs, but they suffer relatively higher rates of almost every disease known to veterinary medicine.