Phenobarbital for Dogs: Uses, Safety & Side Effects

One of the most fear inducing events in your pet’s life can be suffering a seizure, whether it be an isolated incident or an ongoing one. It is equally terrifying as a pet owner, as you feel helpless against this seemingly uncontrollable condition that is taking over your beloved friend.

Thankfully, veterinarians have an answer in the form of Phenobarbital. This barbiturate medication is prescribed to dogs (and cats) as a seizure medication.

What is Phenobarbital? 

As we mentioned, Phenobarbital is a barbiturate medication. Barbiturate medications usually carry with them a calming, sedative effect. Phenobarbital comes in a variety of different names and brands, including Luminal Sodium, Solfoton and Tedral.

In small animals like cats and dogs, it is used mainly to treat seizure conditions. And as is the case with a majority of medications, when used in the animal health industry, veterinarians will prescribe this medication as “off-label”. Off-label or “extra-label” medications are used differently on a case-by-case basis, meaning the dosing amounts and frequency may be much different from what is listed on the actual product. This makes it imperative to follow your veterinarian’s directions accurately.

Common Causes of Seizures in Dogs: 

  • Head Injury
  • Brain Cancer 
  • Kidney Disease
  • Liver Disease 
  • Poison 
  • Epilepsy 

How is it given to dogs? 

Phenobarbital comes in several forms. It is available as a tablet, liquid, paste and chewable. If you’d like to have your veterinarian administer your dog’s dose and no other form seems to work, Phenobarbital is also available as an injection. It is metabolized differently by different breeds, so exact dosing amounts can also vary based on weight, breed and severity of seizures.



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