Managing Canine Epilepsy With Epiphen

Epiphen is a brand of phenobarbital, a prescription drug used in the management of canine epilepsy. Dogs with the disease typically experience sporadic seizures, or involuntary movements or behaviors caused by moments of rapid electrical activity in the brain.

Epilepsy is among the most frequently occurring neurological diseases in dogs. Although there is no cure for the condition, anti-convulsant medications like Epiphen can help control seizures, allowing epileptic dogs and their owners to enjoy a more predictable daily routine. If you're considering medication to help manage your dog's epilepsy, learn more about how Epiphen works, including its recommended use and potential side effects.

How Epiphen Works

Epiphen is a kind of phenobarbital, or barbiturate, that works by reducing over-excited electrical activity in the brain associated with seizures. As one of the oldest anti-epilepsy drugs, phenobarbital is believed to help increase GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) function in the brains of affected animals. GABA is an essential amino acid that helps regulate the passing of electrical signals between brain cells. Many human and animal medical experts believe some forms of epilepsy are connected to reduced GABA levels. Lack of this chemical may contribute to periods of rapid, uncontrolled firing of neurons in the brain, resulting in seizure activity like temporary unconsciousness, involuntary movement of facial muscles and limbs, and loss of bladder or bowel control. As a Central Nervous System depressant, Epiphen and other barbiturates help reduce the likelihood of unregulated electrical surges, which can limit the occurrence of seizures.

Epiphen Use and Side Effects

Epiphen is frequently prescribed for the long-term management of idiopathic, or primary, canine epilepsy. These terms describe epilepsy that is unrelated to illness or injury, including inherited forms of the disease. The drug may also be given to help control seizures related to sickness, brain damage, or underlying disorders. Epiphen is licensed and marketed for general use in dogs in the UK by manufacturers Vétoquinol UK. It is typically administered in the form of 30 mg and 60 mg white circular tablets. A liquid form of the drug designed to be mixed into food is also available.

Equivalent brands of this barbiturate anti-convulsant, like Solfoton and generic phenobarbital, may be available by prescription from your veterinarian, Epiphen and other brands of phenobarbital are not intended for use in pregnant dogs or those who have liver problems, since extended use of the drug has been associated with liver damage. It may take your dog a few weeks to adjust his new medication. In the initial phase, he may experience Epiphen side effects like tiredness, sedation, extreme hunger and thirst, loss of coordination and excessive urination. Such effects are often reduced over time.

With Epiphen and all anti-epileptic drugs, it is extremely important to follow the dosing instructions provided by your veterinarian. Skipping a dose may increase the chance of your dog having seizures, while giving too much of the drug can have potentially lethal consequences. Animal care experts also advise against discontinuing the drug without your veterinarian's instruction and supervision.

Although there is no cure for canine epilepsy, many dogs with this widespread neural disorder can live happily and more comfortably when their seizures are under control. One of the most common methods of managing the disease is through anti-convulsant medication like Epiphen. Understanding how to use this drug to help reduce seizures is an important step toward establishing a more predictable routine for you and your pet.