Collie and Seizures
Answered by: Kerry Hackett
Question from: Cynthia Dumdey
Posted on: March 13, 2007

My 6 year old Collie began having seizures late last summer. My vet put her on Phenobarbitol and Potassium Bromide. She continues to have seizures. Once she went for 11 weeks, but usually it is between 2 to 5 weeks between episodes.

The drugs cause her to be very groggy, and she has developed a "leaky" bladder, presumably as a result of the relaxing effect of the phenobarbitol. >I give her Milk Thistle to counteract any possible negative effects from the drugs. Are there any natural alternatives for controlling seizures? I would >appreciate any information you may have.

The use of Phenobarbital and Potassium Bromide is standard for seizures in conventional medicine. These are very strong pharmaceuticals and not ones to be taken lightly. Should you be contemplating weaning your dog off of these drugs, you must do it with the full knowledge and understanding of your veterinarian and in conjunction with a qualified practitioner who has experience in both animals and herbal medicine. Such a person may be found through the Veterinary Botanical Medicine Association (

One of the first questions you may want to explore is why your dog, after (I assume) five years of relatively good health, should develop seizures. Did anything change in her life sometime before or around their appearance? In addition, is there anything in your dog’s blood work out of range? Seizure activity can develop for a number of reasons and their occurrence can be very complex.

You may also want to investigate the implementation of a good, homemade diet to ensure your dog is receiving a broad base of bioavailable nutrition, often not available in commercial foods. Further information and recipes can be found in the work of Richard Pitcairn, "Natural Health for Dogs and Cats", "The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat" by Juliette de Bairacli Levy and "The Barf Diet" by Ian Billinghurst.

In regards to the Milk Thistle: this herb can have a profound influence on liver metabolism and hence may have an influence on the dose and effectiveness of the pharmaceuticals she is currently taking. If it hasn’t already been done, please ask your vet to run a blood test on the levels of these drugs to ensure the recommended dose is in her system. On the other hand, Milk Thistle can also have a protective effect on the liver, useful when this organ is metabolising such powerful pharmaceuticals. This is one of the many reasons I previously mentioned my preference in this case for a one-on-one relationship with a qualified practitioner. You and your dog both deserve the care and attention only a relationship of this sort can provide.

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