A seizure is a sudden episode of abnormal brain activity that may cause a loss of overall body control. Seizures are frequently seen in dogs and epilepsy is sometimes the cause. No matter the cause, seizures can be frightening to witness. Fortunately, there are medications that treat seizures in pets. Potassium bromide is one of these medications. Here’s what to expect if your pet needs potassium bromide treatment.
Potassium Bromide for Dogs
Potassium bromide, sometimes abbreviated as KBr, is one of the traditional anticonvulsant medications used to treat canine epilepsy. It can be used by itself to control seizures, but if needed, it can be combined with other anticonvulsants like zonisamide, levetiracetam, or phenobarbital to attain the desired effect.
When starting potassium bromide, your vet might recommend an initial dose that is higher than the recommended maintenance dose. This is called a “loading dose” and it may be given over a one-to-five day period.
Once your pet is started on potassium bromide, you should not suddenly stop giving the medication unless advised by your veterinarian. If potassium bromide can or should be discontinued, it is best to slowly taper the dosage.
Blood tests should be monitored periodically while your pet is receiving potassium bromide. Levels of bromide in the blood can be measured and may be recommended. Other blood tests to check liver enzymes and potassium levels may be recommended as well.
Seizure activity should be monitored. Side effects should also be monitored and your veterinarian should be notified of any seizure activity your pet experiences or any side effects that occur.
The diet of a dog receiving potassium bromide should not be altered without speaking first with your veterinarian. Altering the diet can affect the metabolism of potassium bromide and make dosing difficult.
As with any medication, potassium bromide does have the potential to cause side effects in dogs.
The side effects that may be seen with potassium bromide include:
- Increased appetite
- Increased thirst
- Increased urine production
- Lack of appetite
The toxic effects associated with a dosage of potassium bromide that is too high include:
- Profound sedation to stupor
- Paralysis of hind legs
- Other central nervous system symptoms
Pancreatitis has also been diagnosed in dogs receiving potassium bromide together with phenobarbital. However, it is not known how this is related to potassium bromide administration.
Be sure to talk to your veterinarian if you feel the side effects are impacting your pet’s quality of life. You should see your veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice signs of toxicity. If potassium bromide is not working well for your pet, remember not to suddenly stop it. Instead, contact your veterinarian to discuss other treatment options.
Understanding Canine Epilepsy. American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation.
Maintenance Anticonvulsant or Antiepileptic Therapy. Merck Veterinary Manual.
Bromides. VCA Animal Hospitals.
Fantinati, Marco, et al. Bromide Toxicosis (Bromism) Secondary to a Decreased Chloride Intake after Dietary Transition in a Dog with Idiopathic Epilepsy: A Case Report. BMC Veterinary Research, vol. 17, no. 1, 2021, p. 253. doi:10.1186/s12917-021-02959-x