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Side Effects Of Phenobarbital For Cats and Dogs

Updated on October 8, 2011

Phenobarbital For Dogs and Cats

Many popular dog breeds have a tendency towards epilepsy, including German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Irish Setters; however, epilepsy is a condition that any beloved pet could succumb to - including cats.

Phenobarbital is a barbiturate prescribed to treat this condition. It's been prescribed to us humans for years for the same purpose with good results, but this article will focus its attention on the world of dogs and cats. Epilepsy in dogs and cats is a serious condition. Knowing this to be true, my reason for writing this article is to offer you hope and to try my best to aside some of your fears.

To being this article, we will first look at how to protect your pet during a seizure attack and then we will move onto treating the underline problem.

Preventative Medicine, But Not A Cure

Phenobarbital is not a cure for epileptic seizures, though some pet owners who have seen the miraculous results may testify otherwise. The fact is, phenobarbital helps prevent seizures but it doesn't actually treat the underlying cause of the problem. As such, this isn't a medication you will give your pet for a week and then stop.

Phenobarbital works by reducing neuron activity in the brain. A possible analogy to this is looking at the brain like a switchboard, back in the olden days of telephones.

Back then, people called switchboard operators connected all of the phone calls and when things got really busy they would sometimes mis-connect a call, which was then called a crossed call. You would then find yourself telling the sad story of Aunt Bertha's gall stones to some complete stranger that was often very horrified.

The same thing can happen with your brain, with the neurons becoming overloaded and crossing signals, This is what causes an epileptic attack. Phenobarbital works by mellowing out the switchboard operators so they relax - instead of crumbling under the stress.

Is Phenobarbital Safe For Cats?

As stated at the beginning of this article, phenobarbital is as safe for cats as it is for dogs. Bear in mind that there are risks to any treatment for any pet, so always consult with your vet first and let them recommend proper treatment.

As much as I could recommend the best treatment today, another better treatment could exist the next day or information could be discovered linking a treatment considered safe to some very undesirable effects.

I make it a point to update my articles as I discover these things, but one person can only do so much. That's why I insist that your vet be included in all health decisions involving your pet.

Phenobarbital Side Effects

As you can imagine, anything that relaxes the mind will typically relax the body. Such is the case with phenobarbital. Typical side effects include:

  • laziness
  • sleepiness
  • uncoordinated movements

Oddly enough, sometimes the side effects go to the other side of the scale:

  • restlessness
  • hyperactivity

These are acceptable side effects and they typically disappear within a few weeks; however, there are other side effects that could lead to more serious conditions:

  • frequent urination
  • weight gain

The side effects of biggest concern are:

  • anemia
  • liver damage

As such, you need to have your pet checked by your vet regularly if they are taking phenobarbital.

How Do You Know If Your Pet Is Having A Seizure?

It's a difficult video to watch this video, but it helps one identify with what it's like to see their pet have a seizure. Fortunately, there are treatments for this condition. If you have a pet that suffers from seizures, consult with your vet to find the proper treatment.

We all hate to see any pet suffer, but know that there is hope. Through proper treatment and regular veterinary checkups, most pets with epilepsy can go on to live very ordinary lives. Don't try to treat this condition on your own - meet with your vet to help your loved one achieve a brighter future.

May your pet live a long and healthy life!

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