Hey again. I found my old post about Keely's meds, so I'm going to paste it here and then just update it. Sorry if this is repetitive.
The first medication that Keely was given was phenobarbital - the "go to" drug for epilepsy/seizures in dogs. It took some time to get her to the therapeutic level and we had to go to a specialist to get the correct information. The therapeutic levels given by the drug company are not always what a neurologist would recommend. Our specialist recommends 100 umol/L as the minimum.
Keely is currently at 145. She was even higher at 160 before, but we're weaning her down now due to elevated liver values. We never did have any luck controlling the seizures with the phenobarb on its own. I'm hoping that now we're going to be able to take her off it completely. The only issue with that is that most of the other drugs are meant to be supplements to the phenobarbital.
The first addition we tried was potassium bromide. This option is supposed to be much easier on the liver and we were really anxious to have her on this one. Some vets do use it by itself as the only preventative for seizures, though most use it in conjunction with the phenobarb for dogs with refractory (hard to control) seizures. For Keely, it had no noticeable benefits and it made her extremely stomach-sick, to the point where she was vomiting almost every day. The vet took her off of it very quickly... maybe a month.
The next thing we tried was adding levetiracetam (Keppra) with the phenobarbital. Like potassium bromide, this one is meant to accompany the phenobarb for dogs with refractory seizures. She was on this one for about four months or so. We enjoyed a honeymoon period of two months seizure free in the beginning, then it seemed to make things exponentially worse. She was having seizures pretty much every week after that, which was much more frequently than before she was on the levetiracetam. We decided to abandon this medication as well.
Now Keely is on another drug called zonisamide with the phenobarbital. She's doing extremely well on it and there are little side effects... the only thing that we have noticed is that she lost a lot of hair on her underside. As hair loss is a human side effect of the drug, the vet assumed that this was the case with Keely as well. She's regrown a lot of this fur now though.
She has only had one seizure in the past seven months (and that one was induced by her rabies vaccine, so I barely count it) which is the best she has ever done. There is a study about the use of zonisamide in dogs that I read about... it had a fairly small experimental group, but about 58% of the dogs reacted favorably to the medication. And, for those who did, they seen an average 81% reduction in seizures. It gives me the impression that this is an "all or none" type of medication. It has been working for Keely amazingly, so I'm glad of that at least.
I really wish you luck if you do try it. It's a newer drug for use in pets. We've just moved home to Newfoundland and have had an initial visit with a vet here that was recommended to us by our old one. She had never even heard of it before. Our vet in Ottawa got the suggestion from the neurologist at St. Hyacinth though, so I think it's coming from a good source. We get the drug from a pharmacy in the United States, Diamondback Drugs. It's in AZ. (MODERATOR - Please delete this info if it's not allowed). Our vet faxes the prescription and we get a copy of it as well. We need the copy to clear customs. Fedex does this for us, but we have to fax or email the prescription and they clear it through customs for around $10. I'm trying to remember the price for the zonisamide, but it's just escaping me at the moment. I think it's roughly $150 for Keely's 180 40mg capsules. That will last us three months. Obviously Nookie is a lot bigger than Keely and would probably need a higher dose.
That's all the info I have about the meds for now. Please ask me any questions you have and I'll try to check this periodically over the next couple of days. Oh, one other tip. Along with the valium, we use an ice pack on Keely's back to stop the seizures. I was given this tip on another canine epilepsy forum and it really works. Because it takes two of us to administer the rectal valium, we often use the ice pack to stop the seizure while the other person rushes home to give the valium. It's been a great tip. Maybe that could help Nookie if he gets into another long seizure situation, as well.
Okay, talk soon! Hope this doesn't confuse you too much! Good luck
Kisses for Nookie and Montana! They have the best parents!