Dogs and Phenobarbital: Is your pet whining?

Score for Seniors:
Activity Level:
Weight: Pounds


This article was updated on August 27th, 2023

Dogs and Phenobarbital may seem like an odd combination, but more and more, vets are prescribing the drug to help their furry patients with seizures. The drug’s side effects can be scary at times, but with the right information, you can better understand what’s going on with your dog.

What’s Phenobarbital?

Phenobarbital is a commonly prescribed medication to help treat your dog who is having seizures.

Dogs and Phenobarbital: why do they whine?

If your dog was just started on Phenobarbital or their dosage was increased, they may whine some after taking their medications. This medication is supposed to cause your dog to become calm. Some dogs it will have the opposite effect after starting them medication and they may become more agitated and whine.

What could this mean if my dog is whining after taking Phenobarbital? Is it serious?

Phenobarbital is supposed to cause your dog to become calm. You should never just stop this medication, or your dog could have more seizures. Usually after taking Phenobarbital for a few days your dog will adjust to their new dosage.

What should I do?

If every time your dog takes this medication, they start to whine it would be best to talk to your vet. Your vet may want to start your dog on a different seizure medication. Other common seizure medications in dogs are:

  • Keppra
  • Potassium Bromide
  • Zonisamide

Many times, dogs with severe seizures will be on a combination of these medications.

NEVER stop giving your dog seizure medication without consulting with a veterinarian first. Stopping seizure medication abruptly will cause your dog to be more prone to seizures.

What are the other side effects when dogs and Phenobarbital mix?

Phenobarbital can have other side effects that are more common than whining that you may also be noticing. These are:

  • Lethargic or sedated acting
  • Increased Liver values
  • Increase urination and drinking
  • Increase appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Agitated

If you notice any of these signs in your dog your vet can help advise you on whether your dog need to switch seizure medication or if these signs will subside after a few weeks.


  • Dr Sara Ochoa, Veterinarian

    Dr. Ochoa earned her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from St. George University in 2015, and completed her program with excellent scores. She has more than 7 years of experience practicing as a veterinarian for Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital in Whitehouse, TX.

Disclaimer: This website's content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian for healthcare decisions. Read More.

1 Comment

  1. Grace my 10 1/2 year old Bouvier started having seizures four (4) months ago. Oh Man are they scary to experience with your dog. My dog was prescribed Phenobarbital and it worked. What a miracle drug. Unfortunately after a few weeks the seizures returned; much less severe. I have become now used to the seizures and it appears that Grace post seizure has no idea that she had a seizure.

    We increased her dose by 50% and again her seizures stopped. However she now seems completely stoned with this new dosage. Lethargy, can hardly walk around the block, sleeps a lot which is nothing new for a Bouvier, her coordination is off she is wobbly. I am reading she might get used to this. My 1st instinct is to lower the dosage. Which I will not do for another week. My vet wants to add Keppra. I am realizing that too much Pheno might make Grace too drugged up.

    I think 🤔 can tell when a seizure might happen and I definitely understand now that the seizures really are harmless. My dog recovers after about 30 seconds post seizure. I try and get her outside to walk it off and she will usually urinate or have a bowel movement. She then will shake it off. I will give her some peanut butter or a popsicle and Grace then gets on with her day. I really think she has no idea a seizure has happened.

    The popsicle post seizure is the best. The popsicle seems to creat an interrupt in her pattern. It cools her down as well.

    Wish us luck; Grace is a very special dog is an amazing friend and it saddens me she has to deal with this at her age.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.