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Phenobarbital administration every eight hours: improvement of seizure management in idiopathic epileptic dogs with decreased phenobarbital elimination half-life
  1. F. Stabile, DVM, MRCVS, PhD1,
  2. C. R. Barnett, BSc, PhD2 and
  3. L. De Risio, DVM, MRCVS, PhD, DECVN1
  1. 1Centre for Small Animal Studies, Animal Health Trust, Newmarket, Suffolk, UK
  2. 2Euram Limited, 6 Musters Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham NG2 7PL, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence: fabio.stabile{at}


Estimated prevalence of canine idiopathic epilepsy is 0.6 per cent in the first-opinion canine population in the UK. Phenobarbital monotherapy has been reported to reduce/eradicate seizure activity in 60–93 per cent of idiopathic epileptic dogs (IEDs). The objective of this study was to evaluate safety and efficacy of the administration of phenobarbital orally every eight hours in IEDs with phenobarbital elimination half-life less than 20 hours. Medical records of 10 IEDs in which steady state trough serum phenobarbital levels were within the reference range and phenobarbital elimination half-life had become less than 20 hours following prolonged administration every 12 hours were reviewed. Side effects and seizure frequency when phenobarbital was administered every 12 hours or 8 hours were compared. In all dogs the side effects of the antiepileptic medication treatment improved. When phenobarbital was administered every eight hours, 9/10 dogs experienced improvement in seizure frequency and 8/10 dogs maintained seizure freedom for a period three times longer than the longest interictal interval period previously recorded. Reduction in the severity and number of clusters of seizures was recorded in one of the remaining two dogs. The administration of phenobarbital orally every eight hours in IEDs with decreased phenobarbital elimination half-life appears safe and can improve seizure management. The results of this study were presented in abstract form (poster) for the 28th symposium of the European Society of Veterinary Neurology – European College of Veterinary Neurology (ESVN), September 18–19, 2015, Amsterdam, Netherlands

  • Idiopathic epilepsy
  • phenobarbital
  • half life
  • side effects
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