Potassium Bromide for Dogs: What You Need to Know

Potassium Bromide for Dogs: What You Need to Know

  • Kirsten Thornhill - 23.04.2020

One of the scariest moments for a pet parent is witnessing their four-legged pup experience a seizure. Each second can feel like hours when watching your fur baby convulse on the floor. You feel scared, uncertain on what to do next, helpless.


Once your pup stops convulsing and you rush them to the veterinarian, your vet will most likely recommend a conventional anticonvulsant medication. Dog owners should under the repercussions of these medications, including their potential side effects, prior to giving them to your favorite pup.


In today’s article, we will cover everything you should know about potassium bromide, chemically known as KBr. We’ll touch on the risks of the medications, how it works, and alternative options we’d recommend, Additionally, we’ll bring to light the wonders of holistic health remedies that can greatly reduce your dog’s seizure intensities and frequencies. Let’s go.


What Exactly are Dog Seizures


About 5% of all dogs experience a seizure in their lifetime, making them the most commonly diagnosed neurological condition in dogs. Often, it’s referred to as the ‘fitz’ or convulsions. Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain.



Symptoms of a seizure include:

  • Drooling
  • Twitching
  • Stiffening
  • Chomping
  • Collapsing
  • Chewing of the tongue
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Involuntary urination or defecation
  • Jerking


As you can only imagine, witnessing a dog’s seizure can be terrifying for a pet owner.


What Causes Seizures in Dogs


Identifying a seizure’s underlying cause is essential to diagnosing the condition, first and foremost. Some medications should not be given to dogs with certain health conditions, like liver disease, for example.



In other cases, the underlying cause of seizures is unknown. Many of these cases are diagnosed as canine idiopathic epilepsy. Epilepsy is when 2 or more unprovoked seizures occur.


Canine Idiopathic Epilepsy


Canine idiopathic epilepsy is an inherited disorder and is the most common type of seizures in dogs. Vets often prescribe KBr for dogs with this disorder.


Health Conditions that May Cause Seizures


The ailments below are often associated with seizures:


  • Brain tumor
  • Brain trauma
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver disease in dogs




Toxins can too cause seizures in your loveable pup. Tell your vet if you suspect that your dog has consumed any toxins. As part of the treatment plan for seizures, your vet will need to rid the toxin(s) from your dog’s body.




Certain dog breeds, unfortunately, are genetically predisposed to seizures and epilepsy:


  • Beagle
  • Keeshond
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Vizsla



If you pup is one of these breeds listed above, learn all you can about seizures and epilepsy. 


What the Heck is Potassium Bromide


Okay, now that we’ve touched on some of the essential background points, let’s jump into our main topic: KBr for doggos.



KBr is a prescription anticonvulsant drug that controls seizure activity. It is often combined with a medication called phenobarbital (this also helps control seizures).Vets may prescribe KBr alone for dogs who are resistant to phenobarbital (or if they’ve had a bad reaction to it previously).


Phenobarbital and Dogs


Phenobarbital for dogs is a commonly prescribed anticonvulsant that controls the frequency and severity of seizures. It can be used on its own and or combined with KBr. Phenobarbital has numerous side effects. Thus, KBr is often prescribed to either 1) substitute for phenobarbital or 2) lessen phenobarbital’s necessary dosage.


How Potassium Bromide Works


KBr works by controlling and decreasing seizure activity in the central nervous system (CNS) in the brain. However, it can take 3 - 4 months for KBr to start working effectively. Unfortunately, in some cases, KBr may not even work at all.


Vets may prescribe a ‘loading dose’ to kick-start the medication’s effects. A loading dose is a heightened dosage of the drug; after receiving a loading dose, your pup must be closely monitored for potential adverse effects. A loading dose of KBr, however, may not be enough to control your dog’s seizures. 


KBr Dangers


Like most conventional medications, KBr has its fair share of potential adverse reactions. Before giving your four-legged friend the durg, a dog owner must understand the risks involved and recognize how the medication may affect their dog.

Common Side Effects of KBr


1. Sedation


A common side effect of KBr is sedation, causing drowsiness and lethargy in your pup (it can be quite extreme). Although sedation doesn’t seem that serious, KBr and phenobarbital are daily, lifelong medications. Therefore, constant lethargy day after day, may be your dog’s new norm. For most pet owners, this change is unsettling for their dog’s personality. 


2. Increased Hunger and Thirst


Again, these may not seem that bad, but excessive hunger can lead to rapid weight issues and additional health issues/concerns.


3. Increased Urination


Increased urination isn’t necessarily life or death for your pup, but it can greatly alter a dog owner’s daily schedule because their pup will require more potty breaks. 


4. Loss of Coordination and Weakness of Legs


KBr can cause loss of coordination and hindlimb weakness. In severe cases, KBr can cause hindlimb paralysis. Predicting these side effects is difficult and impossible (sometimes).


5. GI Issues


Many dogs may experience nausea, constipation, abdominal pain, vomitting and blood, and diarrhea and blood. These issues can worsen and can lead to a loss of apetite. In some instances, KBr’s side effects can be so severe that a vet will replace KBr with sodium bromide (NaBr) to help control a dog’s seizures. NaBr is less harsh on the stomach (but has potential side effects too, unfortunately).


6. Bromide Toxicity


Toxicity can occur, even with KBr administered appropriately. Signs of toxicity include side effects described above, but much more severe. If you think your pup has bromide toxicity, call your vet right away.


Anticonvulsant Medications: The Risks


The list of KBr’s possible side effects leaves many pet owners hoping for an alternative option. Let’s take a look at a couple of other anticonvulsant options now.


Phenobarbital: Warnings and Adverse Effects


Dogs with conditions like Addison’s disease, kidney and liver disease, and respiratory issues should not take phenobarbital because this medication can worsen these conditions. 


Even dogs in great health can experience health problems, including liver damage, from long-term use of this medication. 


Levetiracetam and Dogs


Many dog owners prefer levetiracetam because it decreases the need for harsh medications like KBr and phenobarbital. However, levetiracetam has some negatives.


Levetiracetam typically has to be administered 3 times daily, which is most likley inconvenient for you pet owners. Second, it causes side effects like GI issues, behavioral changes, and lethargy. 


Zonisamide and Dogs


Zonisamide has short- and long-term potential side effects. Short-term effects may include loss of coordination, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting. Long-term effects may include skin reactions, blood disorders, and hyperthermia. 

How to Prevent Doggy Seizures


Finally, we want to share with you how pet owners can prevent seizures. If your dog is experiencing seizures due to toxicity, remove the toxin(s) from your home and your pup’s environment. Toxins like:


  • Golf balls
  • Batteries
  • Linoleum
  • Lead-infused paint
  • Plumbing or building materials


Sometimes, environmental changes can trigger a seizure in your pooch. If you can identify your dog’s seizure trigger, you can prevent a seizure by reducing your dog’s exposure to it. 


Potassium Bromide for Dogs: Final Thoughts


Many dogs and cats can find benefit from conventional anticonvulsant medications and have a better quality of life because their seizures are finally under control. Also, vets can closely monitor the health of dogs on these medications to keep an eye out for possible liver and kidney problems. 


Furthermore, removing seizure-causing toxins and triggers can help prevent the seizure from happening. Caine seizure disorders don’t have to be the end of your dog’s active and happy life. 

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