Phenobarbital Skin Hypersensitivity in Dogs

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Dogs and cats which develop seizures are often prescribed phenobarbital, a long-acting barbiturate which is frequently prescribed for humans with epilepsy.
Dogs and cats which develop seizures are often prescribed phenobarbital, a long-acting barbiturate which is frequently prescribed for humans with epilepsy. (Image: dog image by jeancliclac from Fotolia.com)

Phenobarbital is a barbiturate that has been frequently prescribed for humans in treatment and control of epileptic seizures. Although it is not approved by the FDA for use in dogs or cats, it is frequently prescribed off-label by veterinarians for seizures.

History of Phenobarbital

Both humans and animals can experience seizures. Phenobarbital was first used as a anti-seizure medication for humans in 1912, according to No More Seizures.org. While it was once a primary drug for treatment of seizures, it is now considered a second-line drug in humans because of its strong side effects.

Phenobarbital has commonly been prescribed in the past and present, for house pets which develop seizures. Some other commonly used anticonvulsant drugs used in treating dogs and cats with seizures are Valium and primidone.

Research

Researchers from Coimbra University Hospital in Portugal have documented, what many have experienced, that humans (both adults and children) can frequently develop skin hypersensitivity with the use of phenobarbital. Research indicates that close to half of those who use anti-epileptic drugs can develop this skin hypersensitivity. Skin hypersensitivity can also be a side effect of anti-epileptic drugs in dogs or cats.

Animal Research

Skin hypersensitivity in various dog species has been observed from various causes. One of these causes is described as "an overreaction to allergens from the external environment produced by protective systems of the body," according to veterinary researchers, S. Pocta and M. Svoboda. According to their research, various breeds of dogs showed different predispositions towards skin hypersensitivity reactions to various external stimuli.

Reactions in Animals

Skin hypersensitivity and allergic reactions in animals can take the form of facial swelling, hives and excessive irritation to the skin. A dog or cat might scratch itself excessively or manifest hypersensitivity to touch.

Both dogs and cats can experience skin hypersensitivity from reactions to phenobarbital.
Both dogs and cats can experience skin hypersensitivity from reactions to phenobarbital. (Image: Gray Cat image by Lucid_Exposure from Fotolia.com)

Recommendations

For owners of pets who manifest strong reactions such as skin hypersensitivity to phenobarbital, discontinue use of the drug and research other solutions along with your veterinarian.

According to researchers Laura Lee Sartor and Lauren A. Trepanier from the University of Wisconsin, phenobarbital is "not recommended for maintenance seizure control."

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