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Phenobarbitone-induced haematological abnormalities in idiopathic epileptic dogs: prevalence, risk factors, clinical presentation and outcome
  1. E. Bersan, DVM, MRCVS 1,3,
  2. H. A. Volk, DVM PhD DipECVN FHEA MRCVS 2,
  3. C. Ros, DVM, MRCVS3 and
  4. L. De Risio, DVM PhD DipECVN MRCVS3
  1. 1Department of Veterinary Science, Small Animal Teaching Hospital, University of Liverpool, Wirral, UK
  2. 2Department of Clinical Science and Services, Royal Veterinary College, University of London, London, UK
  3. 3Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Kentford, Newmarket, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence: erika.bersan{at}


The aim of this retrospective study was to assess prevalence, risk factors, clinical presentation and outcome of phenobarbitone induced haematological abnormalities (PBIHA) in dogs. The medical records of two veterinary referral institutions were searched for dogs diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy and treated with PB as monotherapy or polytherapy between March 2003 and September 2010. Sixteen dogs had PBIHA; the median age at diagnosis was 69.5 months. Phenobarbitone was administered at a median dose of 3 mg/kg twice a day for a median period of 100.5 days and the median serum phenobarbitone level was 19 μg/ml. Two dogs had neutropenia, three had anaemia and thrombocytopenia, two had anaemia and neutropenia; the remaining nine had pancytopenia. All dogs were referred for non-specific clinical signs. Phenobarbitone was discontinued after diagnosis, and the median time to resolution of PBIHA was 17 days. The prevalence and risk factors for PBIHA were evaluated from a questionnaire survey of referring practices to obtain more detailed follow-up on cases diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy. The prevalence rate of PBIHA was 4.2%, and the condition occurred in dogs treated with standard therapeutic doses often within the first three months after starting treatment. Serial haematological evaluations should be therefore considered from the beginning of phenobarbitone therapy to allow early diagnosis and treatment of PBIHA.

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