Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I’d like to share with you, Henry and Lucky’s experience with Flagyl.

Henry was prescribed Flagyl for diarrhea. Within hours of the first dose, Henry started having Flycatcher seizures. Flycatchers are a mild form of Focal seizures. Though I had seen Henry have Grand-Mals, I had never seen him have Flycatchers before this. He went from no Flycatchers ever, to having them very frequently all of a sudden. Within 24 hours of that first dose, (he had 3 doses in him by now) he had an earth shattering Grand-Mal.

I called the vet, because I was so upset by what I was seeing. I figured she would tell me if there was an increased risk of seizures from the Flagyl. The reason she never told me about any increased risk of seizures is because in the info the pharmaceutical company gives, it only lists seizures as a risk in the case of overdose or long term use. It is silent on the issue of pets with pre-existing epilepsy.

So I continued with the round of Flagyl, and Henry continued to have flycatchers. We increased his Potassium Bromide at the advise of the vet. (I cringe at what I did not know back then!) We finished the round of Flagyl, and his flycatchers reduced a bit, though still they still occurred almost daily. I had assumed the flycatchers were reducing because we increased his Potassium Bromide.

A month later, we put him on another round of Flagyl, and sure enough, same old pattern again! This time, I got on the Internet, and looked up Flagyl for use in epileptic humans, and discovered it needs to be used with caution in (human) patients with epilepsy. But it is silent on wether or not there are extra risks for pets with epilepsy I suspect it's not that there was a different finding for pets than humans, I suspect it’s that the same level of research done for humans simply was not carried out for dogs.

I immediately discontinued that round of Flagyl. Henry suffered longer than he should have from the Flagyl due to what is apparently either a lack of research on this, or the pharmaceutical company is not sharing all the facts.

Now to clarify, when I speak of there being no warning of increased risk of seizures in pets, I mean that the pharmaceutical company only warns of the increased risk of seizure in the case of overdose or long term use. My point is that, even with short term use and no overdose, there can be increased risk of seizures for the pet who has a pre-existing epilepsy condition.

Before I put Henry through those two rounds of Flagyl, he had a Grand-Mal on average once every three months. In the 4 months after those two rounds of Flagyl, he went on to have 13 Grand-Mals, and countless flycatcher seizures.

The research for dogs on Flagyl, shows that neurological signs can occur in the case of overdose. It is silent on how a dog with pre-existing epilepsy does on Flagyl. It stands to reason, that if a healthy dog suffers neurological signs when overdosed on Flagyl, that extra precaution should be taken in dogs who have been diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy.

It may be possible that not all epileptic dogs suffer adverse reactions from Flagyl, but it is still a very valid risk, and there needs to be more awareness on the extra risk for pets with epilepsy.

Now for Lucky’s story. Lucky joined his family in March of 2008. His medical record is spotty due to poorly kept records by previous owner. Lucky’s previous owner started Lucky on Flagyl for intestinal issues and diarrhea. By the time he came to Paul, he was on Phenobarbital, Potassium Bromide, a long term low dose of Flagyl, and another antibiotic as well.

Under the advice of his vet, Paul dropped everything except the seizure meds. Lucky is the reason the diet was born. It started out as a bland chicken and rice diet for Lucky‘s intestinal issues. I will be sharing in greater detail in a later blog entry more about the home-cooked diet that Paul worked so hard to come up with.

After the Flagyl was dropped, Lucky made definite improvement. Then when the Veggie Goop and Call Of The Wild supplement was added, he made remarkable improvement and went 4 months 17 days without a Grand-Mal.

Some people whose epileptic dogs have done just fine on Flagyl, I suspect likely in many of these cases, the seizure meds their dogs are on are at a high enough level to suppress the seizures. I will discuss the use of seizure meds and my mixed feelings and experience with them in a later post. I do all I can to not have to rely on seizure meds. However, I understand sometimes there’s just not much of a choice.

I highly suggest if your epileptic pet is ever prescribed Flagyl, that you ask your vet for an alternative antibiotic. And then make sure you research the alternative antibiotic as well! Research EVERYTHING! Or, if your pet has diarrhea, you can try a 24 hour fast like I do now. When Henry was on Potassium Bromide, I fasted him from that as well. All he got was pure bottled water. It has done the trick so far! If your dog is on Phenobarbital though, you will have to consult with your vet first before fasting your dog. Keep in mind, soft stools is not the same thing as true diarrhea. So do not treat soft stools as you would true diarrhea.

Also, if your dog is on Phenobarbital, you may be putting a double whammy on your pet’s liver, as both Phenobarbital and Flagyl are metabolized primarily by the liver. Definitely something to take into consideration.


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