Is Potassium Bromide Safe for Dogs?

Posted by Christy Caplan
Dog Taking Medicine

Potassium bromide (sometimes abbreviated KBr or Bromide) is an anticonvulsant medication that's been used for a long time. For dogs (and cats) that have seizures, the drug is a traditional medication used to treat epilepsy. Often times Phenobarbital is used in conjunction with potassium bromide to help control and treat seizure activity.

But is it safe? And what are the side effects? Many pet parents have questions about this medication and seizures are scary, so let's explore why these happen.

What are seizures?

Seizures are one of the most frequently reported neurological conditions in dogs. VCAHospitals.com explains that "a seizure may also be called a convulsion or fit and is a temporary involuntary disturbance of normal brain function that is usually accompanied by uncontrollable muscle activity."

What causes them?

There are many causes of seizures. Idiopathic epilepsy among dogs is the most common cause, but its exact cause is unknown. Other causes include liver disease, kidney failure, brain tumors, brain trauma, or toxins.

Is Potassium Bromide safe for dogs?

Best Friends Vet tells us that Bromide is extremely safe for use in pets. It is eliminated from the body through urine, stool, and sweat. Because it isn't metabolized by the liver or kidneys,  there aren't toxic effects on a dog's organs, and it can be used for years with minimal side effects.

Their experts provide tips:

  1. Give the potassium bromide with food. If your dog seems particularly sensitive to the bromide and vomits after taking it, give a small amount of yogurt or cottage cheese with each dose.
  2. See your vet three weeks after starting the potassium bromide for blood testing.
  3. See your vet every three months for blood tests during the first year.
  4. It takes some time for potassium bromide to work; do not become discouraged if there is not an immediate improvement!

What are the side effects?

The Spruce Pets tells us that in dogs, the side effects that may be seen with potassium bromide include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urine production
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation

Potassium Bromide is a very important seizure medication for seizure disorders and seizure control. Note these above adverse effects and work with your vet if you notice anything after starting bromide therapy.

If you think your dog is urinating (increased urination is common) more than normal or has a loss of appetite and you're worried about the levels of bromide than contact your vet immediately. Even a skin rash!

Veterinary medicine has been using antiepileptic drugs for a long time! The use of potassium bromide is often seen in combination with other drugs.

Your dog's blood levels will be checked routinely after they start the drug. Adverse neurologic signs include sedation, ataxia, and behavioral changes.

Best Friend Vet provides some advice on bromide use

  • Potassium bromide does not begin working right away.
  • It may take six to twelve weeks before you see improved seizure control with potassium bromide.
  • Do not become discouraged by this fact.
  • Your DVM (and you) will monitor blood levels 3 weeks and 3-4 months after starting the medication. Once the bromide is working you may be able to decrease the dosage of other seizure medications.

You'll also want to look out for any drug interactions and always check their body weight to ensure they're not losing weight. It comes in a chewable tablet, capsules or a vanilla-flavored liquid and it's given twice a day. This medication is given for life once it's started.

Despite both potassium bromide and Phenobarbital being commonly used, neither is approved by FDA to treat seizures in either people or animals.

Always watch out for clinical signs of epilepsy! Your vet will talk to you about the loading dose and maintenance dose of all the drugs you're starting.

Brand names to know: K-BroVet, Libromide also known as KBr

Do you take your dog in for blood work annually? Does your dog take this drug for seizures? Please let us know in the comments if your dog benefits from regular lab work. 

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