Potassium bromide killed my dog Will potassium bromide hurt my dog?

Dogs can safely be treated with potassium bromide, an antiepileptic drug. To avoid severe side effects such as kidney failure, this medication should be used sparingly and only under the guidance of a veterinarian. Is potassium bromide toxic to dogs?

I am writing to inform you about potassium bromide, a medication used to treat seizures in dogs. Our dog was killed by it, and we don’t want any other animals to die from it. During the two years, we had our dog, it was epileptic and suffered from severe anxiety.

Potassium bromide should help with seizures, so we gave him that. Our veterinarian didn’t mention any side effects of the medicine. According to my research on the internet, many dogs have died after taking potassium bromide.

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A brief background

Human seizure disorders were historically treated with bromides, but once phenobarbital was introduced, it completely eclipsed the human market for bromides. The FDA has not yet approved potassium bromide, as it was introduced before modern pharmaceutical laws.  Although pharmaceutical companies and regulators are trying to speed up the approval process, drug approval is slow and costly. 

Veterinary compounders prepare potassium bromide because there is no approved product. Individual states regulate compounding to varying degrees; however, one commercially available form of potassium bromide (K-BroVet) is prepared by a company licensed by the FDA and adheres to FDA manufacturing standards. 

Dogs can safely take potassium bromide as an anticonvulsant. The side effects of potassium bromide appear to be similar to those of phenobarbital and aren’t as extreme. A combination of potassium bromide and other anti-medications can be used as a monotherapy or as monotherapy alone.

In order to gain access to brain tissue, potassium bromide competes with chloride ions. Electrical activity in the central nervous system is inhibited by the increase in bromide levels in the brain and the decrease in chloride levels, making seizures more difficult to initiate.

The medication was initially reserved for dogs whose phenobarbital side effects were unacceptable or whose additional seizure control medication exceeded the effects of the phenobarbital medication. With potassium bromide, seizure control has become so effective that many practitioners no longer use phenobarbital when treating seizures.

Can dogs be poisoned by potassium bromide?

Veterinary medicine does not offer approval for the use of potassium bromide; however, it is generally accepted that veterinarians prescribe this medicine for dogs. A prescription is required for its use.

A dog’s seizures are controlled with potassium bromide, an antiepileptic drug. A similar antiepileptic drug, phenobarbital, is usually prescribed along with it. Dogs need different amounts of potassium bromide depending on their size and condition.

When a dog has liver or renal disease, potassium bromide should not be used. If an animal is hypersensitive to it or to other bromides, it should not be administered.

You should stop giving the drug to your dog if you suspect it is causing an allergic reaction. Itching, swelling of the face, hives, itching, sudden onset of diarrhea, vomiting, shock, seizures, pale gums, cold limbs, or coma are signs of an allergic reaction.

Potassium bromide can cause pancreatitis, which is the most serious side effect. Potassium bromide can also cause gastrointestinal irritation, skin irritation, and death if it’s taken in too high a dose.

It is not advisable to abruptly discontinue potassium bromide. To avoid the risk of seizures, the dosage should be gradually reduced over a period of one month or longer.

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Is it a Good Idea to Put My Dog on Seizure Medication?

Even though the decision to put your dog on seizure medication should be made by you and your veterinarian, I believe that a better-informed dog owner will make a better decision. You will find in this article some information about the medications available and guidelines you might want to follow.

A grand mal seizure in a dog is a horrible experience. A dog may lose consciousness, fall down, all of the muscles twitch, and even lose control of his bowels and bladder when its neurons fire all at once. However, seizures may be a one-time occurrence.

Before a dog is considered epileptic, he must have experienced more than one seizure. After a patient is cured of another disease, he may not experience further seizures after the disease has been cured.

You may not even notice that your dog is having an absence seizure. Human beings are more susceptible to seizures since epileptics cannot drive or work around machinery. When he has a seizure, is the brain damaged? Yes, but perhaps not significantly.

Epilepsy is treated differently depending on the cause. There are side effects to every drug, and some of the best medicines for controlling seizures have the most side effects.

This medication is used in the following ways:

Once daily, either a pill or an oral liquid is used to administer potassium bromide. It can be taken with or without food, however, its bitter taste is usually masked if it is taken with food. 

Many doctors recommend a loading dose to shorten the time it takes to achieve a stable blood level of potassium bromide and to start the blood level at a therapeutic level earlier. It is possible for patients to reach therapeutic blood levels sooner if they are given a loading dose, but in the loading phase, the patients can be extremely sedated.

Due to this reason, many doctors prefer to do the loading in a hospital setting. In the beginning, additional seizure medications may be needed, at least until a stable blood level of bromide is reached.  

In cats, potassium bromide is effective, but it can cause life-threatening inflammatory lung disease, so it is considered a last resort.

It is recommended that a blood level be drawn six to twelve weeks after starting potassium bromide and every year after that unless there are breakthrough seizures or suspicions of toxicity. 

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If I give my dog too much potassium bromide, what will happen?

Taking too much potassium bromide can have severe side effects for dogs, but the drug is not toxic to them. Sedation is one of the most common side effects of potassium bromide overdose.

Symptoms of depression and lethargic behavior, nausea and vomiting, and confusion and disorientation may also occur in dogs. Overdoses of potassium bromide result in comas or death in serious cases.

If your veterinarian has prescribed potassium bromide for your dog, never give him more than he has been prescribed. Potassium bromide dosage will vary depending on your dog’s weight and size, as well as its condition. To avoid side effects, make sure you administer potassium bromide according to your veterinarian’s instructions.

Common Side Effects

Potassium bromide is associated with some nausea. This can be controlled by taking it with food.

Because potassium bromide is a salt, it can cause excessive thirst and urination.

During a loading period when potassium bromide therapy is started, drowsiness or grogginess, which can be marked, is normal. In spite of the need for another dose, do not give potassium bromide to a groggy pet.

There are times when a dog develops a cough that resolves when potassium bromide is discontinued.

Bromism is a toxicity syndrome that occurs when blood bromide levels are too high. It is commonly reported to cause drowsiness, weakness, muscle pain, loss of appetite, constipation, and rash. Because of this, bromide levels are monitored periodically. In dogs, bromide levels can become too high, causing a similar syndrome.

Using potassium bromide to treat seizures can worsen seizures in dogs with a history of pancreatitis. This is especially true for patients taking both potassium bromide and phenobarbital.

Medications for controlling seizures in dogs

Among the most common drugs, phenobarbital is very effective. Phenobarbital is not without its risk, however. You will notice your dog acting tired, peeing excessively, constantly hungry and thirsty, and being wobbly and restless. While some of these side effects disappear after a short time, others return whenever you change the dose.

Phenobarbital may cause liver damage to your dog if you keep him on it for a long period of time. This can sometimes be detected on a blood test, and it can sometimes be treated with milk thistle or other medications. Some dogs will die from liver failure.

When used with Phenobarbital, potassium bromide is effective in some dogs. Additionally, it may cause your dog to become uncoordinated, drowsy, weak, and even develop skin problems. If you notice that your dog has behavioral changes, you may want to reduce his dosage. Potassium bromide can also cause GI problems like vomiting or nausea.

You might want to give the drug with food, you might want to divide the dose, or you might need to stop giving the drug altogether. If a dog’s kidneys are damaged, he may have difficulty excreting the drug, causing toxic levels to accumulate in his blood.

Some dogs will benefit from diazepam as an anti-anxiety medication as well as a seizure management medication. It can make your dog drowsy, disoriented, and incoordinate, so he may just lie around except for when he eats or drinks.

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New Medications for Controlling Canine Seizures

The anti-epileptic felbamate is used to control seizures when combined with phenobarbital or potassium bromide since it will not make your dog drowsy. It may cause hyperactivity or nervousness in the dog, it may cause liver damage, and it is expensive and has to be given three times a day.

The drug zonisamide seems to be effective in controlling seizures in many dogs, although it hasn’t been used very often so there aren’t many side effects.

It is possible to try other anti-epileptic medications, but unfortunately, everything has a side effect, even if it hasn’t yet been discovered.

Each drug has a side effect. You can find a drug or combination of drugs that will prevent your dog from having any more seizures. Obviously, he might stop climbing the stairs, stop playing with his family, and just sit around when he is not eating.

Holistic treatment is also available. In an article published in the Journal of Holistic Veterinary Medicine, an ice pack was used on a dog’s spine just before or during a seizure (The area of the back treated is just over the abdomen). Several dogs stopped having seizures, and owners who recognized a pre-seizure aura were able to prevent seizures.

Can you afford to use drugs and sacrifice your dog’s quality of life? Think carefully before deciding.

Other drugs and interactions

As a seizure control agent alone, potassium bromide is no longer uncommon; however, concurrently using potassium bromide and phenobarbital allows for a reduction in phenobarbital use by 30 to 50 percent, which usually alleviates the negative effects of phenobarbital. Phenobarbital can often be tapered off completely without causing seizures to return. 

The use of diuretics (medications that cause an increase in urine production) can wash potassium bromide out of the body, causing blood levels to drop and potentially inducing seizures.

Potassium bromide can cause pancreatitis in dogs?

Yes. Potassium bromide therapy can cause pancreatitis in dogs as a side effect.

The prevalence of pancreatitis in dogs receiving potassium bromide/phenobarbital combination therapy is at least 10 percent.

Usually, pancreatitis resolves without long-term consequences once the drug that caused it is discontinued. If exposed to potassium bromide or phenobarbital for an extended period of time, some dogs may develop chronic pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, an organ that produces enzymes and insulin for digestion and blood sugar regulation. Vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and diarrhea are signs of pancreatitis. In severe cases, pancreatitis can be fatal.

When should I give my dog potassium bromide?

Your veterinarian prescribed potassium bromide to help control your dog’s seizures. The drug potassium bromide must be taken orally, usually once a day.

In some dogs, potassium bromide may be administered with phenobarbital for a few months while potassium bromide builds up in the system.

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Potassium bromide receives positive reviews

Potassium bromide is controversial in veterinary medicine as an anticonvulsant. Veterinary pharmacology experts, however, suggest that potassium bromide may be used as a seizure treatment in dogs who have not responded to phenobarbital or other first-line anticonvulsants.

As a seizure treatment for dogs, potassium bromide should be dosed correctly and monitored for effectiveness.

1. It is a true blessing to have this product. I have been giving this medication to my epileptic dog for three months without incident. Any dog owner with a seizure-prone dog should try this.”

2. This is the first drug that keeps my dog’s seizures under control.

3. The vet recommended potassium bromide for my dog because he had seizures. It has given her a much better quality of life.

4. My dog has epilepsy and he’s 2 years old. The vet put him on phenobarbital after he had three seizures in one month. My dog gained weight, and he became lethargic as a result. The potassium bromide solution worked better for him instead of phenobarbital.

He loves it! He is back to his old self. He is more active and alert than he was when he was taking phenobarbital. It is a great product for dogs with epilepsy!

Cautions and concerns

Potassium bromide interferes with the laboratory measurement of chloride, so any test for chloride will be falsely elevated.

When given with food, potassium bromide does not have to be swallowed with food, but food can help mask the bitter taste and prevent nausea if that is a concern.

A third of cats with asthma develop severe lung conditions similar to asthma. For seizure control in cats, potassium bromide is not a good choice.

Potassium bromide can cause severe seizures if abruptly discontinued. A veterinarian can give you instructions on how to stop giving it. However, if a single dose is missed, it is unlikely to cause a problem since blood levels change so slowly. You do not need to double up on the next dose, even if you miss the dose all together. If the dose is not given at the usual time, simply give it later in the day.

Bromide blood levels can be affected by salt in food. A low-salt diet can lead to retaining the drug and increasing blood levels; conversely, a salty diet can lower bromide levels. Keeping bromide levels stable requires avoiding changes in salt content in the diet.

Store potassium bromide at room temperature and away from light. It should not be refrigerated.

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How long does potassium bromide stay in the system?

A dog’s body retains potassium bromide for 24 days, and a cat’s body retains it for 11 days. The effects of potassium bromide begin to take effect after several weeks of taking the medication.

Is potassium bromide harmful to my dog?

Potassium Bromide can cause nausea, vomiting, and stomach upset in dogs. When given without food, dogs are most likely to experience this side effect.

Can a dog overdose on potassium bromide?

A chronic overdose of potassium bromide causes profound sedation, muscle pain, signs of the central nervous system, lack of coordination, stupor, and tremors.

Does potassium bromide cause seizures in dogs?

As a result of diuretics (medications that increase urine production), potassium bromide levels can drop (and seizures may increase).

How much potassium bromide should a dog take?

Start with 22 to 40 mg/kg orally per day for KBr. Although side effects are reversible, the maximum dosage is determined by the animal and owner’s ability to tolerate them. The half-life of KBr in dogs is approximately 25 days (range 15 to 45 days).

Do seizures shorten a dog’s life span?

Dogs with epilepsy can have a shorter lifespan, estimated between 2.07 and 2.3 years, where poor seizure control and high initial seizure frequency are associated with shorter lifespans (Packer et al., 2018).

What are too many seizures for a dog?

If your pet’s seizure activity is very intermittent, medication may not be required. In contrast, if the seizures occur in clusters (2 or more near each other), are very long, or occur more often than once a month, treatment may be necessary.

When does potassium bromide start to work?

Potassium bromide does not begin working immediately. Taking potassium bromide may take six to twelve weeks before we see improvement in seizure control. Please don’t let this discourage you. The blood levels will be monitored for three weeks and three to four months after starting the medication.

Does age affect dog seizures?

Seizures may become more severe over time. These seizures may last for more than five minutes (status) or occur one after another within a short period of time (cluster).

Does potassium bromide cause pancreatitis in dogs?

A few cases of clinical pancreatitis have been reported in dogs treated with potassium bromide, but the risk of elevated serum canine pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity concentrations in dogs treated with potassium bromide and/or phenobarbital has not been well studied in a large group of dogs.

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Final thoughts On potassium bromide killed my dog

There are a few issues you should be aware of when using potassium bromide for dogs with epilepsy:

A therapeutic level is reached after several weeks. If you are just starting to give it to your dog, make sure that he is not having seizures.

The addition of potassium bromide may take months to take effect. In order to achieve a good effect, sometimes potassium bromide has to be added to phenobarbital.

It is important to monitor blood levels and side effects. The blood levels of both drugs should be monitored on a regular basis (every 6-12 months) if potassium bromide is added to phenobarbital. Also, keep an eye on your dog’s behavior frequently; if you see any side effects, stop the medication.

In susceptible dogs, it may cause pancreatitis. Hospitalization may be required. The condition is more common when the drug is combined with phenobarbital, but it can also occur on its own. The condition is more common in certain breeds, including miniature schnauzers and cocker spaniels.

Potassium Bromide may cause side effects, just as any other drug. Some of these include: Breathing problems, Hair loss, Diarrhea, Stomach upset, Constipation, Loss of appetite, and Pancreatitis.

The drug may cause an allergic reaction in very rare cases. If your pet experiences difficulty breathing or hives after taking Potassium Bromide, seek emergency medical attention right away.

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