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Effects From Phenobarbital


Guest sonomagirl
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Guest sonomagirl

 

I am new to the group and looking for advise, suggestions and a place to vent!

 

Our 7 year old male, Red, recently started having seizures. He had 3 GM seizures in 6 days. Doc put him on pheno. 60 mg twice daily. The side effects were dreadful! We expected some of the effects but some were worrisome to us. The sedation started out as mild and progessed over 4 days to this: sleeping all the time; drinking less; not eating well; dehydrated (skin lost elasticity, nose dried up, mouth dried up); a "hollow" gaunt look; dark urine; glazed eyes and the whites of his eyes were blood red; he could not stand by himself; had to hold him up to potty; and the worst was irregular breathing. His breath became shallow and irregular with moments of apnea. He looked like he was on his way out. Here is my venting...I called the doc and she said to skip his next dose and drop him to half in the morning and we'd see how he is and go from there. He improved significantly with that. The next morning I called the ofc. and the doc who we've been seeing wasn't there (5 docs in this practice). I made an appointment to bring him in even though he seemed better on the half dose because I wanted some hand holding, I guess. We suspect something more sinister than a late onset of idyopathic epilepsy but since we don't know exactly what, we don't know what to look for so I look at everything and wonder if it's something. I wanted clearer instruction on what to do with this drug dosage (keep it at half?), I wanted him weighed and I wanted a refill on his Rimadyl. I could have done this over the phone, but I used to work at this clinic as a vet assistant so coming in to chat seems like a normal thing to do and I like for the vet to observe him. Well, this doc did not agree with the half dose. She said, in her opinion, we were not going to have good seizure control on half dose and we were just prolonging the ordeal. We need to give him the whole dose and just deal with the side effects..."he will adjust to it." She also implied I'm a worrier and said I'm "watching him too closely. You need to go take a walk." Prior to seeing her, I felt we were sedating the poor dog to deaths door but after talking to her, I doubted myself. Maybe I am just being overly worried and leaving him undermedicated and at risk. So, we sadly put him back up to the full dose. He has had two full doses and the more I think about it, the angrier I get and the more confused I get. I want to feel confident about how we're treating this and right now, I don't.

 

I say all this to ask, has anyone else's grey gone through this on phenobarbital?? If this is "normal", then I can suck it up and deal with it. I worked as a vet assistant for 4 years and in the human medical field for several years before that, so I'm used to dealing with medical situations and by no means consider myself as an over reactor. However, I realize my emotions will play into this situation and might "skew" my view of things, so if you think I am "overly concerned", you can tell me that too. I can take it! Right now, I'm just feeling confused :wacko:

 

Thanks for the place to vent!

 

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Guest herdmom

Not my greyhound but my beagle was on phenolbarbital and his effects were nothing like you describe, nor did the vet or anything I read lead me to expect any of the side effects your grey had. Darwin drank more and urinated more for a day or so. His back legs were wobbly for a day or so, both when we started the medication and then when we had to increase it. But the vet warned us to expect both and the effects stopped after a couple of days. A great site for information on canine epilepsy is http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-angels.com/ They answered my questions very promptly and were very understanding.

Again, mine was a beagle and I know greyhounds have different vet needs but your experience doesn't sound quite normal.

Hugs to you as you go through this.

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Those are not your typical phenobarbital side effects. I'd seek another vet - neurologist possibly?? My Natalie was on pheno and would get latherigic/sleepy on it while her body adjusted. Nothing like you described at all. Good luck and email me if you want more help or someone to talk to... gencfg@gmail.com

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What you describe sounds far more dramatic than the side effects most dogs experience with Pb. It is true that after a couple of weeks dogs seem to acclimate to the drug but I'm with you--those symptoms do sound worrisome. The Guardian Angels website posted above has a a great overview article and a section on the various things that can cause seizures. Another good site is www.canine-epilepsy.com and another is www.canine-epilepsy.net. The information on these sites can go a long way to helping you help your dog.

 

I think you have to trust yourself and your instinct that the full 1 grain dose of PB was causing problems. You will always be your dog's best advocate. Those web sites will help you look at what sorts of things you may want to have checked--thyroid and TBD for starters. There are a host of different issues and conditions that can cause seizures and it can take some work to figure out what is going on with your dog. Stick with it and find a vet whom you trust and who will work with you without ego issues.

 

The other drug that is sometimes prescribed first for seizures is Potassium Bromide (KBr). Perhaps you dog will do better on it or on a lower dose of Pb in combination with KBr (very common). Take heart and stick to you guns on your dogs behalf!

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Unfortunatley, I went through this with Hans. He was so out of it and it was unbelievable. I thought we were going to kill him. He was so drunk, couldn't walk, focus or anything. Finally they agreed to lower the Pheno and give a combo of Pb and KBr. This was a wonder combo. He did beautifully on this for a long time. Trust your gut and never let it slide if you feel it's not right. Good luck. I would ask about the combo of Pb and KBr. I know what your going through, it is stressful enough with the seizures and then to see your dog like this is horrible.

 

as a side note Hans was 7 as well, almost 8 when this started and his came on quickly with several GM in a few days as well.

Edited by Devotion

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I don't recall strong side effects when we started Ryan on Pb. But I do remember holding him upright when we added KBr to the mix. We gave it a while to let him adjust, but he never did so we called the vet and told him we had to reduce the dose. I'd rather have a seizure here and there than a dog that can't stand up on his own.

 

I'd stick with the Pb, but drop the dose to half on your own and see if that works. The first dose is a guess at what will work anyway. It is going to take a while to figure out if the dose is at a good level for him.

 

You know your dog and as an old vet used to say, what's the point of fixing the problem if the side effects give you a dog that is just a "blob" - they aren't able to enjoy their life that way.

So, if the side effects are too much with 60mg 2x a day, drop it down a little until he's not quite so bad. If you have to later after he is used to it, you can up the dose gradually if he's not in a therapeutic range.

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Guest tricolorhounds

My LabMix Cecily is on Pheno... 64mg twice a day... She weighs 100#... 60 might be too much for your guy. Cecily is 13 1/2 years and has hip dysplasia. She started taking the Pheno 4 days after surgery to remove a grapefruit size hematoma from her spleen. Even with all her other issues, the only side effects we noted were: wobbly in the rear and excessive thirst and urination.

 

I'd consult with another Vet if you have ANY concerns.

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Stick with what you know (your hound) and don't let people (or vets) try to intimidate you. My Rose is on 200 mg of Potasiom Bromide a day, but that wasn't doing the trick. Last Thursday, Doc added 60 mg of phenobarb - 2x a day. Rose is peeing a but more, but we've had NONE of the other things you are going through!! BTW - she turned 7 in June and her seizures began about the same time. She has cluster seizures, the Valium always stops them (Doc said to administer as soon as the second seizure hits within 24 hours...) You might want to avoid the condescending vet in the future.

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Saint suffered pretty dramatic side effects from the phenobarbital and again when we added the potassium bromide. It took about 3 weeks for his body to start adjusting to his meds. My question is, could there be a possibility of drug interaction with the Rimadyl?

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It sounds to me like your dog has a very bad reaction to Pheno, I have never personally heard of such a severe reaction. When my seizure pup went on Pheno (he actually was on a combination of Pheno and Potassium Bromide from the start) I was told he may be lethargic, but I actually noticed very little difference in him (he was on 60mg twice a day plus the K/Br which I can't remember the dosage of) the only noticable thing was an increase in thirst (which may have been caused more by the K/Br).

 

Personally, if my own dog had such a severe reaction I would refuse to give it to him, or try a lower dose in combination with K/Br. After all, the point of medicating him is to improve his quality of life not reduce it.

<p>"One day I hope to be the person my dog thinks I am"Sadi's Pet Pages Sadi's Greyhound Data PageMulder1/9/95-21/3/04 Scully1/9/95-16/2/05Sadi 7/4/99 - 23/6/13 CroftviewRGT

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My question is, could there be a possibility of drug interaction with the Rimadyl?

 

That's exactly what I was thinking. Worth checking into I think.

Edited by galgrey

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  • 13 years later...

I know that this is a post from 2007 and I’m posting in 2021, but this is one of the top results if you google “red eyes dog phenobarbital,” and the original poster never clarified what was wrong with their dog. My dog suffered the EXACT same symptoms. My dog, who would have been 4 years old this year, was found to have lung cancer. The seizures were caused by the lung cancer, but the vet assumed idiopathic epilepsy because he lacked other symptoms and he was in the age range for idiopathic epilepsy. Though it seemed like the phenobarbital was the thing that was killing him, it was the undetected lung cancer all along. We tried to wean him off the phenobarbital as we thought that’s what the problem was, but he just kept getting worse and we discovered it was lung cancer, and he had to be put down that same day. 
 

I hope this helps anyone else who comes across this post in the future. The phenobarbital may be causing lethargy, but the weight loss, seizures, red eyes, loss of motor function, diarrhea, are symptoms of lung cancer. Unfortunately, by this point it is likely incurable. I’d also like to add that if your dog is having seizures, even mild ones, request an x-ray to check for cancer along with the bloodwork that they’ll do first. If we’d had an x-ray done, he wouldn’t have suffered for two more months. 

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