Seizure Medications for Dogs

You may have heard that some human medications can be given to dogs in the right dosage. And you might think it can’t hurt to give your dog a dose of the same medication you take. But while humans may be able to safely take a wide range of medications, the same can’t be said for our furry friends. In fact, some human drugs are downright dangerous for pets.

Some human medications can be given to dogs, but others have severe side effects.

If you think your dog has a seizure, the first thing to do is make sure that nothing is in his mouth. Then, open his mouth and look for any foreign material in there that could injure him or impede breathing.

After checking for items in the mouth, try to roll your dog on her side to protect her airway and keep her from swallowing her tongue. If she’s not breathing well or acting normally after regaining consciousness, take her to the nearest vet immediately.

If you’re not sure if it was a seizure or something else entirely (like an allergic reaction), call your vet right away anyway—they may want to see what’s going on with more information than just what you’ve observed with your own eyes.


Phenobarbital is a barbiturate, which means it’s a sedative that slows brain activity. This can be helpful when treating certain seizure disorders, such as epilepsy and certain other seizure disorders. It can also be useful in treating insomnia and alcohol withdrawal.

Phenobarbital can cause sedation, lethargy and ataxia (loss of balance).

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Potassium Bromide

Potassium bromide is used for the treatment of seizures in dogs. Although it can be given to cats, its use is limited because it causes kidney damage when given directly into the bloodstream.

In high doses, potassium bromide may cause liver damage and heart problems; in lower doses, these side effects are rare. Low-dose potassium bromide may also cause nerve damage; gastrointestinal problems like vomiting or diarrhea; skin reactions such as redness, scaling and itching; and other internal organ changes like weight gain or loss.

Levetiracetam (Keppra®)

Levetiracetam is an anticonvulsant drug used to treat seizures in dogs. It is not FDA approved for use in dogs, but it has been used successfully off-label to treat seizure disorders. Levetiracetam does not cause sedation or drowsiness and may be a good choice for dogs that have difficulty tolerating other medications (e.g., phenobarbital). Side effects include vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy and cognitive impairment (memory issues).

Zonisamide (Zonegran®)

Zonisamide (Zonegran®) is a synthetic drug that was originally developed to treat epilepsy in dogs. Side effects can include vomiting and loss of appetite, but these are often mild or temporary.

Like other drugs used to treat seizures in dogs, zonisamide should not be given with valproic acid (Depakote®). It also interacts with several other medications, so you should always check with your veterinarian before starting any new medications for your pet.

Zonisamide works by binding to voltage-gated sodium channels in the brain, which reduces seizure activity by blocking fast nerve impulses from reaching the muscles that cause muscle contractions (twitching).

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Per Rectal Diazepam

Diazepam is a benzodiazepine that is used to treat seizures and anxiety in dogs. It’s also used to treat muscle spasms, including those associated with tetanus.

Diazepam is a short-acting medication that must be given on an as-needed basis. For example, if your dog has a seizure, you may give your vet diazepam before the seizure starts (prophylactically) or during the seizure to stop it from progressing too far (rescue treatment). Diazepam should only be given for one episode of seizures or anxiety at a time; you should not give diazepam daily for long periods of time because this can lead to tolerance and dependence on the drug.


Premidone (generic name: phenobarbital) is an anticonvulsant that works by stabilizing the excessive electrical activity in your dog’s brain. Its purpose is to prevent seizures from occurring.

The most common side effects of premidone include sedation and loss of appetite, but it can also cause more serious problems like liver damage or bone marrow suppression if used for extended periods of time.

Benefits include helping to treat epilepsy, which is why it’s often prescribed to dogs with this condition. It’s important not to give premidone without a veterinarian’s guidance or approval because there are many factors involved when determining whether this medication is appropriate for your pet—including its age, weight, medical history and current health conditions


Experts agree that the best course of action is to consult with your vet before giving any medication. Even those that are considered safe may be harmful in cases where you don’t know what else is going on with your dog.