Phenobarbital is a prescription anticonvulsant (anti-seizure medication) that is available as an oral tablet, oral liquid, and injectable liquid. Veterinarians use phenobarbital as an off-label medication since it is not FDA-approved for use in dogs. Phenobarbital controls the electrical brain activity that happens during a seizure, helping to lower the number and severity of episodes.

Before prescribing phenobarbital, your vet may perform various blood tests to check your dog’s liver and kidney health. Vets do not typically prescribe this medication in dogs with known liver, kidney, or breathing problems, as the medication can worsen these conditions or cause dangerous side effects. If needed, phenobarbital can be used in combination with other seizure medications.


Phenobarbital is a controlled substance in the U.S., meaning there are more restrictions regarding how your pet’s prescription is filled at the pharmacy. This might include limits to the number of refills, limits to the amount of medication you can fill at once, and how long the prescription is valid. These regulations vary from state to state, so check with your local pharmacy for details.

Phenobarbital is an anticonvulsant that can prevent seizures in dogs. It is generally well-tolerated and a common first-choice treatment. There are side effects to watch out for as well as several drug interactions. Give your dog phenobarbital as instructed, and take them for any ordered blood tests on time. Be sure to keep a log of any seizures your dog has, and speak to your vet if you have any concerns about their behavior or how phenobarbital is affecting them.

Features of Phenobarbital For Dogs

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.

Side Effects Of Phenobarbital For Dogs

Phenobarbital is generally safe for dogs when prescribed in the correct dosage, however there are some short-term and long-term side effects that may occur. Short-term side effects typically clear up in a few weeks, and your veterinarian will have to monitor your dog for long-term side effects if they take the drug for an extended period of time.

Here are some of the common side effects:

  • Lethargy
  • Sedation
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Increased thirst or appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Increased urination
  • Anemia
  • Liver damage (long-term use)

Uses/benefits 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.

Dosage of phenobarbital for dogs

The FDA has not approved Phenobarbital for veterinary use, so you must follow your vet’s dosage recommendation (usually based on the dog’s weight, severity, and frequency of the seizures) and instructions carefully. You can only get a prescription for Phenobarbital from a DEA-licensed veterinarian since it is a controlled substance.

In general, Phenobarbital comes as a tablet to be given to your dog every 12 hours with or without food. Missing a dose can result in your dog having seizures. Overdose can cause depression in the nervous system. Therefore it is essential to give Phenobarbital to your dog as prescribed and instructed by your vet. Blood tests by your vet are essential every 2-6 months to monitor the level of Phenobarbital in your dog’s blood to make sure your dog is taking the proper and safe dosage.   

Prices of Phenobarbital For Dogs

$34.39 – $70.99

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