There are several different alternatives for pet parents to consider when it comes to controlling seizures in their dogs. Phenobarbital is one of the most widely administered anti-epileptic medications by veterinarians nowadays.
Despite its extensive use, phenobarbital has potentially fatal adverse effects for dogs. While it is generally effective at preventing seizures, Phenobarbital is known to have a substantial negative impact on our dogs’ quality of life by putting significant pressure on their liver.
CBD from a full spectrum hemp extract, on the other hand, has potent anti-epileptic capabilities. It is an effective technique to control seizures in dogs while avoiding the various severe side effects associated with pharmaceutical medications such as Phenobarbital.
Why Do Seizures Occur?
The catalyst for epileptic occurrences will be defined first by veterinarians. This is used to specify whether the episodes are caused by internal or external forces.
- Primary brain illness causes structural seizures (e.g. degenerative disease, brain tumor, stroke).
- Proven-genetic (breed-related) epilepsy, suspected-genetic epilepsy, and epilepsy of uncertain origin are the three types of idiopathic epilepsy.
- Metabolic, systemic, or other non-primary brain diseases can cause reactive seizures.
- Seizures are frequently induced by a combination of underlying and extrinsic circumstances.
In many cases, seizures are caused by underlying conditions including:
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Vascular disease
- Traumatic injury to the head
- Electrolyte imbalance
- High or low blood sugar
Which Dog Breeds are Prone to Epilepsy?
Dogs who are prone to epilepsy include Australian Shepherds, Beagles, Belgian Tervurens, Border Collies, Collies, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Dachshunds, English Springer Spaniels, Finnish Spitz, Irish Wolfhounds, Lagotto Romagnolos, Shetland Sheepdogs, Standard Poodles, and Vizslas.
What is Phenobarbital?
Phenobarbital belongs to the barbiturates family of medications, and it’s sold under a variety of brand names, including Lumina, Solfoton, and Tendral.
It was created for human use for the first time in 1911. It’s one of the first synthetic medications, and it’s still in use today. It was first developed as a hypnotic and sedative, but a young clinical assistant discovered its anti-epileptic qualities in February 1912.
Since then, it has been widely used as an anti-epileptic in both humans and pets, but it comes with its own set of side effects and hazards.
How Does Phenobarbital Work?
Phenobarbital works by lowering the central nervous system and inhibiting electrical impulses in your dog’s brain.
Barbiturates, such as phenobarbital, are predominantly processed by the liver and excreted by the kidneys, making them potentially dangerous when coupled with other medications.
Phenobarbital takes a few weeks to attain stable blood concentration levels, and it is not always effective right away. Missed doses might lead to a return of seizures, therefore consistency is very crucial with this medication.
This medicine has varied degrees of effectiveness depending on the case. It may not always result in a complete cessation of seizures.
Side Effects of Phenobarbital
As with most medications, especially pharmaceuticals, there are side effects. Have you ever heard a prescription commercial and, at the end, there’s a long list of “side effects include…?” Phenobarbital is no exception. The side effects include:
- Sleepy or Lethargic: One of the clear consequences of this method is that it decreases our dogs’ mental function. They are frequently described as sleepy, sluggish, and depressed-looking. This is a significant loss in terms of quality of life.
- Excessive Hunger and Weight Gain: When dogs are given phenobarbital, many dog lovers notice that they gain a lot of weight. This not only affects their quality of life, but it also has the potential to have a cascading effect on other aspects of their health and well-being.
- Nausea and Vomiting: Many dogs treated with phenobarbital experience vomiting and stomach distress, especially in the beginning. After a few weeks of treatment, this usually goes away.
- Excessive Urination: The heightened thirst drive in dogs given phenobarbital causes polyuria, or excessive urination. It is not uncommon to notice messes around the house when your dog is on this medication.
- Neurotoxicity: Phenobarbital is not suggested for younger animals since clinical research has shown that it has neurotoxic effects and can harm cognitive development. Brain function suppression is detrimental for any dog, but it’s especially bad for puppies’ developing brains.
- Liver damage: When dogs are treated with phenobarbital, one of the most common side effects is liver damage. Long-term harm develops in the majority of cases after three months. Depending on how closely they are followed by your veterinarian, it can start with liver scarring and progress to considerable loss of liver function.
CBD as an Alternative to Phenobarbital
In a double-blind study conducted by Colorado State University in 2017, 89 percent of dogs in the clinical trial who took CBD had fewer seizures. Additionally, they discovered a link between the degree of seizure reduction and the level of CBD in the dog’s blood.
CBD is well-known for its high level of seizure control efficiency as well as the safety of its use. There is a lot of evidence that CBD is safe for our dogs, even at extremely high doses considerably over the standard recommended levels, according to research.
Many CBD skeptics will point to a research that says CBD use can cause an increase in one specific liver enzyme, APL. According to veterinary specialists like Dr. Gary Richter DVM, this is not a major increase and should be treated as such.
It’s worth noting that numerous other studies have found no increase in liver enzymes like ALP in dogs treated with CBD derived from a full-spectrum hemp extract.
What we do know is that the small increase in liver enzymes caused by CBD pales in comparison to the substantial increases reported in dogs given phenobarbital. Although CBD is not known to harm the liver, it is metabolized by the liver.
CBD Interaction with Other Medications
Though additional research into CBD’s interactions with other drugs is needed, it is usually thought to be extremely safe and stable with the majority of routinely given medications.
CBD is simply one component of a complex interaction between components in a full-spectrum hemp extract. CBD may boost or decrease the potency of another medicine, or have no effect at all, depending on the drug. It’s always a good idea to check with your holistic veterinarian to see if CBD may mix with any medications your dog is currently on.
Making the Decision: Pharmaceuticals vs. Natural Options
When choosing between phenobarbital and CBD for the treatment of seizures, the quality of life is the most crucial factor to consider. When attempting to minimize seizure intensity and frequency, the primary goal is to make our dogs feel better.
The trouble with so many of these traditional pharmaceutical medications is that they replace one condition with a slew of others that can be even more harmful than the original.
Though the effects of a holistic approach may not be as fast, you can rest assured that they will be better tolerated and more supportive of your pet’s wellness.