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Beginning Zonisamide For Ernie-Side Effects And/or Success Stories?

Guest laura150

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Guest laura150

Hi All-Ernie had two grand mal seizures in a 12 hour period and after seeing the e-vet and neurologist (along with getting the ridiculously expensive MRI and spinal tap to rule out other issues) they decided on a diagnosis of idiopathic epilepsy (Ernie is 4 and 3 quarters).

Since the seizures were close together, the neurologist and doctor suggested starting meds and not waiting to see if it got better/worse so we decided on Zonisamide, 200 mgs twice a day. No other drugs.


Now, he's been home from the hospital for 12 hours and was put under to complete the tests. He's very groggy and lethargic. Appetite is good, ate breakfast and dinner but is turning down his usual milkbones.


For the people who've chosen this drug for their pups, did you notice at the beginning that they were lethargic and if so, did that eventually go away. We chose this drug b/c that wasn't supposed to happen. Now, I realize, he's had a very active 48 hours with everything that's gone on and also b/c he was put under and is recovering from that as well.

Looking for experiences of people who've chosen this drug.

Ernie has the BEST personality and I'm going to patiently wait for it to return.


Thank you!!

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You can't evaluate the effect of the drug unitl the sedation is completely out of his system. FWIW, our foster boy had no issues with Zonisamide, and it really helped keep his seizures under control. But he was on three other meds for his seizures (pheno, potassium, and one other I can't think of right now), so side effects were hard to separate.

Chris - Mom to: Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

52592535884_69debcd9b4.jpgsiggy by Chris Harper, on Flickr

Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom, Lilly

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Our whippet (weight 30lbs.) has epilepsy and we didn't go the MRI spinal tap route. Our vet put her on phenol and it worked for several years but last summer, she started having seizures again.


This time, our vet put her on 100mg zonisamide twice a day as well as the pheno and she had zero seizures until this weekend. She had been stressed about her iggy brother being ill and we think his illness....and recovery...triggered her seizures. Her zonisamide has been increased to 150mg.


She had a whopping 9 grand mal seizures over the weekend as well as several smaller ones. As soon as the zonisamide was increased, the seizures stopped.


Yes, they can be a little groggy for a couple of days but considering what they've been through with the seizures, etc...that's pretty much to be expected. He should be back to normal in a few days. We've not noticed any change in her activity level. She plays hard and takes her naps seriously :)

Edited by greyhounds1234

Mom to BridgeGreys~~STORM 07/99-02/08/11, VICKI 12/15/00-01/12/11, BAY 02/00-10/25/10 and CASHEW 10/99-2/23/10

and cats ~~ IRISH, MUMBLES, MUFFIN, TJ, PUNKIN and Bridge cats SARAH (07/29/97-07/07/06) and BRIE (04/11/96-01/22/12)

a very lively Whippet, OLIVIA and JAKE, the Iggy

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My Lucy was on Zonisamide for about 1 year before we had to add another drug. She is on 3 now - Zonisamide, Keppra, and Sodium Bromide. She also takes rectal valium after a seizure because she has had clusters (more than 1 seizure in 24 hours).


It takes about 4 to 12 weeks for the medicine to get settled into the system and for side effects to get minimized (at least that has been the case with Lucy).


She has been seizure free for more than 1+ years.


As a side note, Zonisamide as well as Keppra, can have a honeymoon period - they work for about 1 or so years and then they loose their effectiveness. This is what happened to Lucy.


I debated about the MRI and spinal but, it turns out that the results do not typically change the treatment which is putting the dog on drugs. We decided to use Dr. Sisson at Angel after checking out all the other major centers because he seemed to be the only one that would prescribe the rectal valium which allows for the at-home treatment for the seizures (serious cases, you would bring in).


It helps the seizure post period to give a tablespoon or so of vanilla ice cream (real stuff, no funny sugars). The convulsions from a sugar will cause a drop in blood sugar and this will usually be balanced out by the body eventually but, it can take some time for the sugar stores to be released.


There is an yahoo group for seizure dogs that is great. Stay away from the facebook groups - too many dogs have died on those groups from listening to the members and not using medical solutions.

Edited by MaryJane
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Just my personal experience... Henry took 200mg Zonisamide for many years. His seizures were extremely well controlled, and we never had to experiment with dosages or adding other meds in. If it makes you feel better, the meds didn't make Henry a zombie or change his personality in any way. He was fun and silly and energetic until the day he died (from cancer- completely unrelated to the epilepsy). :)

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Also, he's had the double-whammy of sedation on top of 2 seizures. The seizures alone could well account for some of his symptoms of tiredness and lethargy. Seizures are really quite physical events. Piper actually lost weight when he had multiple seizures and he was certainly sleepy and noticeably "off" for a couple of days.


Good resources:




Lucy with Greyhound Nate and OSH Tinker. With loving memories of MoMo (FTH Chyna Moon), Spirit, Miles the slinky kitty (OSH), Piper "The Perfect" (Oneco Chaplin), Winston, Yoda, Hector, and Claire.

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Rainey was on Zonisamide, Keppra and a bunch of other stuff to try - -nothing really worked BUT she was 10 so it was most likely a brain tumor.


using an ice pack as soon as the seizure starts helped IMMENSLY!!! http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-angels.com/icepack.htm

Kim and Bruce - with Rick (Rick Roufus 6/30/16) and missing my sweet greyhound Angels Rainey (LG's Rainey 10/4/2000 - 3/8/2011), Anubis (RJ's Saint Nick 12/25/2001 - 9/12/12) and Zeke (Hey Who Whiz It 4/6/2009 - 7/20/2020) and Larry (PTL Laroach 2/24/2007 - 8/2/2020) -- and Chester (Lab) (8/31/1990 - 5/3/2005), Captain (Schipperke) (10/12/1992 - 6/13/2005) and Remy (GSP) (?/?/1998 - 1/6/2005) at the bridge
"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -- Ernest Hemmingway

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