top of page

Monitoring your Dog with Epilepsy on Phenobarbital

Monitoring your Dog with Epilepsy on Phenobarbital

If your epileptic dog has been prescribed phenobarbital and they are tolerating the medication well with good control of their seizures we can now embark on a longer term plan. Monitoring your dog's response to phenobarbital is a crucial part of their treatment journey. In this blog post, we'll explore the importance of monitoring, what to expect, and how you can support your dog through the process with ease.

Why Monitoring Matters

Monitoring your dog's response to phenobarbital is essential for several reasons:

  1. Ensuring Effectiveness: Regular monitoring allows your veterinarian to assess whether phenobarbital is effectively controlling your dog's seizures.

  2. Adjusting Dosage: Monitoring helps determine if adjustments to the medication dosage are needed to achieve optimal seizure control.

  3. Detecting Side Effects: Monitoring enables early detection of any potential side effects or adverse reactions to phenobarbital.

What to Expect

  1. Blood Tests: Your veterinarian will likely recommend periodic blood tests to measure the concentration of phenobarbital in your dog's bloodstream. These tests are typically performed 10-14 days after starting treatment and may be repeated every 6-12 months or after any changes in dosage.

  2. Veterinary Visits: Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for assessing your dog's overall health and monitoring their response to phenobarbital. Your veterinarian may also inquire about any changes in your dog's behavior or seizure activity so please keep a good log. We recommend the RVC Pet Epilepsy Tracker App app for doing so.

  3. Communication: Open communication with your veterinarian is key. Be sure to report any changes or concerns you notice in your dog's behavior, appetite, or overall well-being. Your veterinarian can provide guidance and adjust the treatment plan as needed.


Want hassle-free care for your epileptic dog?

Start building your personalised care plan below.


Further information on the Blood Testing

The typical method for assessing the concentration of phenobarbital in the bloodstream involves taking a blood sample approximately 10-14 days after initiating treatment.

Additionally, it's recommended to monitor blood levels every 6-12 months or two weeks after adjusting the dosage, as well as during periods of inadequate seizure control, such as when unexpected seizures occur.

While some veterinarians prefer to measure the lowest blood levels of phenobarbital (known as "trough" concentrations) just before a dose is administered, this practice isn't mandatory. However, it's considered good practice to utilize the same laboratory for sample testing (so please stick to one veterinary practice for continuity), collect blood samples at consistent intervals after medication administration, and ensure your dog fasts for at least 12 hours prior to blood sample collection.

Note that chronic use of this medication can lead to alterations to the liver's metabolism (induction of the hepatic microsomal enzyme system if you are curious!), which decreases the half-life of the drug and, therefore, dose increases may be needed.

What happens if it isn't Working?

If either:

  • the seizures are still not controlled despite the blood tests confirming levels are within the therapeutic range

  • your pet cannot tolerate phenobarbital due to side effects

then your veterinarian will consider adding or changing to another drug.

How can you Stop Phenobarbital if Needed?

It is essential not to stop phenobarbital suddenly as this can cause worsening of seizures. Typical guidelines after chronic use are to reduce the dose by 25% of the original dose every month until finishing but please be guided by your veterinary surgeon in your specific case.

Tips for Monitoring Your Dog: Here are some tips to help you effectively monitor your dog on phenobarbital:

  1. Stay Consistent: Stick to a consistent schedule for administering phenobarbital and collecting blood samples for testing. Consistency helps ensure accurate monitoring and reliable results.

  2. Follow Pre-Blood Test Guidelines: Before collecting a blood sample for testing, ensure your dog fasts for at least 12 hours. Fasting helps prevent interference with blood test results.

  3. Ensure your dog has had regular doses of medication during the week(s) prior to the test.

  4. Monitor for Side Effects: Keep an eye out for any potential side effects or changes in your dog's behavior, such as increased thirst, lethargy, or changes in appetite. Promptly report any concerns to your veterinarian.

  5. Monitor the Effectivity of the Treatment: is your pet still having seizures? How often?


Need Support?

Join our online community of epileptic pet owners who can help you through this journey. We know how stressful it can be caring for an epileptic dog, and we are here to help.


Conclusion: Monitoring your Dog with Epilepsy on Phenobarbital

Monitoring your dog on phenobarbital is a vital aspect of their epilepsy management plan. By staying vigilant, communicating with your veterinarian, and following recommended guidelines, you can help ensure your furry friend receives the best possible care and enjoys a happy, healthy life. Remember, you're not alone on this journey – your veterinarian is there to support you every step of the way.

35 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page