A seizure is an uncontrolled and sudden electrical problem in the brain. Seizures can last for less than a minute or continue for several minutes. If you have ever seen your dog experience a seizure, it can be concerning and scary. Some dogs can appear distant or unresponsive and then suddenly fall to the floor. Your dog may also lose consciousness, look like they are trying to swim, or convulse.

While a seizure is a single event, epilepsy is when two or more seizures happen without a clear cause. Caring for a dog who has epilepsy can be stressful. Fortunately, veterinarians can prescribe medications to help control seizures in dogs. Phenobarbital is usually the first-choice medication for treating epilepsy. However, it may take some trial and error to decide whether it will work for your pet.  


Phenobarbital (brand names: Luminal Sodium®, Solfoton®, Tedral®; alternative generic names: phenobarbitone, fenobarbital, phenemalum, phenobarbitalum, phenylethylbarbituric acid, phenylethylmalonylurea) is a barbiturate used to treat seizures and as a sedative in cats, dogs, ferrets, and horses.

Its use in small and large animals to treat seizures or as a sedative is ‘off label’ or ‘extra label’. Many drugs are commonly prescribed for off label use in veterinary medicine. In these instances, follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions very carefully as their direction may be significantly different from those on the label.

Uses Of Phenobarbital For Dogs

Phenobarbital is primarily used to treat seizure disorders such as epilepsy in dogs. Diazepam, more commonly known as Valium, is another anticonvulsant drug that vets sometimes prescribe to dogs for seizures. There are other drugs available that have fewer side effects, though they are more expensive. Phenobarbital is one of the most commonly used drugs to treat seizures in dogs because it is so effective and inexpensive compared to other options. Occasionally, veterinarians can use phenobarbital as a sedative, as well.

Phenobarbital Dosage for Dogs

Absorption of phenobarbital varies greatly among breeds, therefore dosage should be determined by your veterinarian based on your dog’s weight, and the frequency and severity of seizures. Generally, this medication should be given every 12 hours, and it is important not to miss a dose. If this happens, do NOT give your dog two doses at once–skip the missed dose and continue with the regularly scheduled dosage. Your veterinarian will likely want to take blood tests frequently, about every 2-6 months, to monitor your dog’s liver function, as phenobarbital can negatively affect it over long periods of time.

Side Effects

Because Phenobarbital may also decrease other neurotransmitters, common side effects may include lethargy and loss of coordination, as well as:

  • Increased appetite, which may lead to weight gain
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Anxiety
  • Anemia

Prices of Phenobarbital For Dogs

$34.68 – $261.34

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