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CBD Oil And Phenobarbital For Dog Seizures Explained

CBD Oil and Phenobarbital for Dog Seizures Explained

If your dog has experienced a seizure, your vet might prescribe a drug called phenobarbital. Not only does using phenobarbital for dog seizures have some serious side-effects, it also can get VERY expensive to buy.


If your dog has been prescribed phenobarbital, you might be concerned about the potential side effects or the on-going cost of the drug. Here some real facts about using phenobarbital for dog seizures and the possible option of CBD.


What Is Phenobarbital?

Phenobarbital is a drug that is commonly prescribed for dogs that suffer from seizures. It described as a barbiturate and it is what is known as a nonselective central nervous system (CBS) depressant. It is also sometimes called an anticonvulsant.


When a dog has suffered a seizure, a vet may prescribe phenobarbital on its own, or a combination of drugs may be prescribed if phenobarbital is not having the desired effect. Phenobarbital for dogs is only effective in 60 to 80 percent of cases of idiopathic epilepsy, which is a generalized form of epilepsy in dogs where there are no other brain abnormalities.


How Does Phenobarbital Work with Epilepsy in Dogs?

Seizures are caused by sudden abnormal brain activity that causes temporary loss of control over the body. That will usually cause a dog to fall over on its side and have muscle spasms, convulsions, and it will often cause frothing at the mouth and loss of bladder and bowel control.


A short seizure of no more than three minutes is not life-threatening and it is not thought to cause the dog any pain. It is, however, very unsettling to see. If the seizure lasts more than five minutes, it can become life-threatening.


Phenobarbital works by decreasing and stabilizing the activity of neurons in the brain. It increases the activity in The GABA neurotransmitter, which causes a calming effect on the dog, and it decreases activity in the glutamate neurotransmitter, which can reduce the incidences of seizures.




What Are the Side Effects of Phenobarbital?

Using Phenobarbital for dog seizures can cause some concerning side effects and if there is too much phenobarbital in a dog’s blood it can be toxic.


The potential immediate side effects of phenobarbital for dogs include a lack of coordination, lethargy, and the appearance of sedation. Some dogs also experience restlessness and anxiety. These initial side-effects are often only temporary and usually ease after a few weeks.


The long-term side-effects of phenobarbital include an increase in thirst and an increase in both the frequency and the volume of urination.


Some people have reported dog seizures phenobarbital not working, or report “my dog is on phenobarbital and still having seizures”. This is yet another reason one might consider an alternative to phenobarbital.


Phenobarbital has also been known to cause liver disease in dogs, although this is relatively rare. However, pets that are receiving phenobarbital for dogs will need to have regular blood tests to check for signs of liver disease. If the liver disease does develop, the first signs of it will be a loss of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting.


Phenobarbital for dogs will not always prevent seizures altogether, but it will usually reduce the frequency of them. If a dog that is prone to seizures only has one seizure a month, then that will be considered by a vet to be an indication that phenobarbital is managing the problem adequately.


phenobarbital dog behavior


Phenobarbital Price Has Increased

Phenobarbital used to be a relatively cheap treatment for seizures in dogs, but in recent years the price has increased dramatically, making the long-term treatment of dogs with seizures too costly for some pet owners to afford.


According to the records of one vet, the price of phenobarbital for dogs increased from just under $12 a bottle in 2001 to more than $250 a bottle in 2014. Phenobarbital is a controlled drug, so it should not be purchased on the internet from unknown sources.


Many vets have now taken to giving out prescriptions rather than providing the drug themselves in order for pet owners can try to find the cheapest legitimate and legal source of the drug.


Sadly, the rising costs of prescribed drugs for dogs has led to many people opting for euthanasia for their pets, simply because they can’t afford the cost of long-term medication for their dogs.


Phenobarbital for Dogs tabletsHow Much Does Phenobarbital for Dogs Cost?

The cost of phenobarbital for dogs will depend on the dosage required and the frequency that the dog will need to be given the medication. It can also vary considerably depending on where you buy the medication.


180 phenobarbital tablets can cost anywhere between $30 and $110. The price of phenobarbital can also vary considerably from one month to the next, depending on the current availability of the drug. Some pet owners have reported variations in the price of as much as $50 between separate prescriptions.


Because phenobarbital is a controlled drug, it will need to be prescribed by a vet. That means that there will additional vet fees to pay, on top of the cost of the phenobarbital. Regular blood tests will also have to be carried out to check for any signs of liver disease. Routine monitoring tests will cost between $75 to $125 each time.


The price of phenobarbital is very volatile and the price can vary significantly between different pharmacies. It is recommended that pet owners should be well advised and should check the prices at several different pharmacies before they purchase phenobarbital. This will ensure that they are getting the best price possible.




CBD vs. Phenobarbital?

Seizures in dogs are quite common. Although the problem usually manifests itself in dogs that are in their mid-life, dogs can have seizures from as young as six months old. In many cases, those seizures will need to be managed by medication for the rest of the dog’s life. Caring for a dog with seizures can become a long-term commitment for a pet owner.


Because of the spiraling costs of anticonvulsant drugs like phenobarbital for dogs and the potentially serious side effects of barbiturates, many pet owners have been looking into alternative treatments for seizures that will be cheaper and that will give the dog a better quality of life.


One alternative to phenobarbital for dogs that a lot of pet owners have tried is CBD oil, which is a natural compound that is derived from the hemp plant. CBD oil is also used by many people who suffer from epilepsy, many of whom have reported positive outcomes from their use of CBD to treat their condition.


CBD Oil comes in many forms such as CBD Dog Treats, CBD Oil in a Dropper Bottles or CBD Pills for PetsFor a list of Approved CBD products and how to use them, please check out our CBD Buyers Guide.


Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural compound of the hemp plant that works with your pets’ Endocannabinoid System to regulate many functions of the body and brain.


The anticonvulsant properties of cannabidiol (CBD) have been known about for a long time. Research that was conducted as long ago as 1947 at the University of Sydney showed that compounds related to CDB had an anticonvulsant effect on mice.


However, there is often confusion between CBD and marijuana, because both come from the same family of plants. However, unlike marijuana, CBD is non-toxic and causes no side-effects.  It is not psychoactive and doesn’t cause a high.


If your dog is suffering from seizures, it is important that you take your pet to a vet. The seizures may have been caused by exposure to chemicals or medications. Or they have been caused by other underlying medical issues.


There is a growing number of pet owners who are looking at CBD as a potentially safer and cheaper alternative to phenobarbital for dog seizures.


It’s a difficult choice to make, but if your dog is suffering from epilepsy, CBD may provide an alternative treatment to phenobarbital for dog seizures. It is sometimes used in conjunction with it to reduce the incidence of seizures even further.


Can You Mix CBD Oil With Phenobarbital?

CBD is a natural plant compound. There have been no reports of negative side effects when using CBD oil with Phenobarbital or any other vet prescribed medications. CBD can be used in conjunction with phenobarbital and it also can be used to replace it. Some people are starting to utilize CBD oil and phenobarbital for dogs together for a stronger treatment.


There is only one mild side effect that comes from using CBD with other pharmaceutical drugs. If given big dosages, CBD can alter how our bodies metabolize a wide range of drugs. This will make the other drugs less effective and is the same for pets as well. This problem is compared to eating a grapefruit before taking medication as doctors always warn you not to do. That’s because grapefruits also can slow down the metabolism of other drugs.


Best CBD Products For Dog Seizures:

How to Get My Dog off Phenobarbital and on CBD oil?

You must learn how to help your dog through phenobarbital in order to determine that it is not the right choice for you. Once this is determined, it is time to start getting your dog off of the medication. It’s important to always follow your veterinarian guidelines when reducing any medication.  Phenobarbital is a barbiturate so dogs develop a dependency for it. This is why you can’t just abruptly stop the medication or this might trigger a seizure.

It is recommended to reduce phenobarbital at a rate of 10% every few weeks because the blood level takes about 2 weeks to equalize at that new level. At the same time, you should increase CBD at a 10% rate every few weeks as well.


READ NEXT: Best CBD Oil for Dogs with Epilepsy - Your Full Guide




Marcin Ossowski

Marcin Ossowski is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from UCLA in 2007 with a major in linguistics and a minor in biology. During his time there, he undertook original research in neurolinguistics and cognitive science, specifically focusing on language disorders and dementia. Over the past decade, he has worked as a writer and researcher for several political consulting firms, taught English abroad in Poland, and ghostwritten two books. In his downtime, Marcin spends a lot of time outdoors and actively pursuing his passion for writing fiction, creative nonfiction, and satire.

This Post Has 11 Comments
  1. Found this information very helpful.
    My boxer has been maxed out on phenobarbital since 4/19/17 for epilepsy. Started cbd 3/16/18 on his meals. No seizures since 2/22/18 but had experienced head bobbing in March. Started reducing phenobarbital. Good so far.

    1. Hey Jo that’s good to hear! We have been getting a really good response from other customers resorting to the use of hemp CBD instead of phenobarbital. The horrible side effects that come with the drug are often too much.

      Also we just released a compiled list of scientific research and studies on CBD and it’s effectiveness with seizures. You can view it towards the bottom of the page here: https://www.holistapet.com/pet-seizures-epilepsy-full-guide-dogs-cats/

      Let us know if we can guide you or help in any other way 🙂

  2. I am going to start giving my dog cbd and reducing the phenobar this coming weekend 7/6/18. I am going on the rectamendation you offer I am so ready to stop the phenobar. I hope everything goes well for my dog.

    1. Thanks for commenting. I hope everything works out for you I know how bad the side effects of the phenobarbital can be. For this reason alone Cannabidiol can be a great alternative.

  3. Thanks for the info. My 5 (almost 6) year old golden retriever was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy after having 2 seizures roughly a month a part and then had another today. The vet wanted him on phenobarbital but I’m not a fan of the side effects and long term issues it could cause. I would much prefer putting him on cbd but I’m not sure where to start dosage wise. I do live I. Oregon so finding cbd oil is super easy here

  4. Greetings,
    Ihave a 120 lb female newfoundland that will be 11 in Oct. She has been on phenobarbital for. About 3 yrs. My husband recently passwd away and I notice she os a bit more lethargic an shaking her head alot in the mornings. (They wwre always together) I would like to give her cbd. I read you cn give them both. Is that possible and gradually wean her off the phen? She looks and moves around really well but hips are becoming a bit stiff.

  5. My 4.5 year old Yorkie has started having seizures. His neurologist unfortunately gave us the diagnosis that he has idiopathic epilepsy. He is currently being treated with Keppra (250mg) 3x a day. Unfortunately he is still having seizures 2-3 times a week. After doing much research I would like to switch him to using CBD oil. A lot of my research online says you should not use CBD with Anticonvulsant medications as it can effect the way the liver metabolizes the drug. Is this in fact true? Can I use the CBD oil on conjunction with Keppra? Or how do I slowly get him off Keppra and using solely CBD oil. Please help! My vet and neurologist wont advise me on CBD oil. Thank you!

  6. My dog has seizures and I have tried the pet cbd oil and it has worked amazing. I,just bought my second bottle and am very pleased with tye results. I have a very happy, hungry, playful dog back. She sleeps with peace now and so do her adult parents with no worries of waking up to a seizure. Thank you for making my 21 month old doggy back into a playful puppy. I recommend this product to all my pet friends!

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