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Potassium Bromide for Dogs

Controlling canine epilepsy is the primary use of potassium bromide. This medication is more effective than phenobarbital. This article provides more information about this medicine and its use.
DogAppy Staff
Last Updated: Oct 06, 2017
Epilepsy in dogs is a common problem which is treated with the help of potassium bromide, as this has proven to be more effective than phenobarbital. A sudden occurrence or recurrence of any disease because of a brain disorder, which involves abnormal electric activity in the brain, is termed as a seizure. Canine epilepsy is caused because of these seizures.

Potassium bromide is basically a salt which degenerates into potassium and bromide when it comes in contact with water. Once independent, the bromide turns into negatively-charged ions, compelling the brain cells to become negatively charged as well. This forbids them from firing in any random or sloppy manner, thus helping to control the seizures.

A couple of centuries ago, it was used to control seizures and epilepsy in humans as well. However, due to the advanced medicines which came out later on, people stopped using it. For dogs though, it still continues to be the best option.

Optimum Dosage
The medicine is available in a capsule as well as liquid form. If your dog has been taking phenobarbital for a long time before starting the potassium bromide dose, your veterinarian may suggest a loading dose of 5 days. 120 mg/kg is the initial loading dose, which is brought down to the normal 25 mg/kg per day, after 5 days. You must also ensure that it is not given to the dog on an empty stomach. You can mix the liquid in your dog's food. In case you miss one of the doses, you can always make up for it later on, as it is very flexible unlike phenobarbital. It normally takes around 4 to 6 months of medication to have an effect on the seizures. Do not start, change, or stop the medication without consulting your vet.

Possible Side Effects
This is a better medication alternative for seizures than phenobarbital. This is because it does not harm the liver. However, there are a few other side effects which could be caused by its use. They are listed below.
  • Nausea and vomiting are its common side effects, which can be avoided by administering the prescribed dosage with the dog's food.
  • Frequent urination and excessive thirst are usually observed with this medication.
  • Lethargy or drowsiness are the other side effects which are observed. In such a case, it is important not to give another dose even if it is due.
  • In case your dog has been prescribed a combined dose of phenobarbital and potassium bromide, he/she may experience exacerbation. Normally, in such cases, your vet would recommend you to reduce the dosage of either of the two medicines.
The side effects are common to all dogs, and generally disappear within 2 to 3 weeks. If he/she experiences side effects for a longer time, then you must consult your vet immediately.

Necessary Precautions
While using this medication for canine seizures, one needs to be careful about certain issues. The following are some suggested precautions.
  • Keep the salt intake constant and normal. An increase in salt consumption could expel the bromide quickly from the dog's body, while a decrease in consumption would increase the time span required to expel it from the dog's body, making it dangerous either way.
  • Instead of directly giving a liquid dose, it is advised that you mix it with the food. By doing this, the chances of side effects like nausea and vomiting are reduced.
  • You need to think thoroughly before deciding to discontinue with the medication. Since the therapy lasts for a long period, you may be tempted to stop it after some time, but don't. The major problem after discontinuation is the case of recurrence of seizures later on.
  • A proper treatment for about 6 months with regular dosage and monitoring should be sufficient to control the seizures and improve the health of your pet.
As is the case with all animal health related issues, kindly consult your vet for proper medication and treatment.