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Bromides are a type of anticonvulsant and antiepileptic drug. The term “bromides” generally refers to potassium bromide or sodium bromide, which are the most commonly prescribed in veterinary medicine. 

Bromides have been used for decades to treat animals and humans with epilepsy and other convulsive disorders. Despite this long history, there are many things you'll need to consider when treating your pet with bromides. Complications, including interactions with other medications, can arise, particularly for dogs with preexisting conditions.

Dosage

Bromides are typically used in combination with phenobarbital to help control seizures and muscle spasms. Bromides can take as long as 4 months to begin working. As a result, your vet will give your dog an initial dose much higher than usual, known as a ”loading dose”. This loading dose will help the bromide take effect quicker.

A veterinarian administers a loading dose of bromide orally over a period of 1 to 5 days. Once the loading dose has been given, your vet will want to monitor your dog for a day or two, as side effects can be more severe due to the high dosage.

After the initial loading dose, bromides are taken orally through a chewable tablet, capsule, or liquid solution. You should give your dog this medication with food, as bromides can cause an upset stomach if ingested on its own. 

Liquid solutions should be measured carefully with a syringe and either injected directly into the dog's mouth or put into their food. You'll need to make sure your dog eats all their food in one go for the medication to be effective. Bromides are usually taken daily; however, if this medication upsets your dog's stomach, your vet may split the dosage into smaller, more manageable amounts. 

If your dog takes too much bromide by accident, it could result in bromide toxicity. Bromide toxicity can result in the severe side effects mentioned below. If you suspect your dog is suffering from bromide toxicity, contact your vet immediately.


Dosage instructions

The initial load dose of potassium bromide for dogs is between 400 and 600 mg per kg of body weight. Follow-up doses should be between 15 and 35 mg per kg, which are taken with food. Always consult with your veterinarian before medicating your pet, as they may have a different treatment plan in mind.

Efficacy

Bromides are highly effective but can take up to 4 months to yield results, hence the loading dose. While bromides are considered highly effective at controlling seizures, they are normally used in addition to phenobarbital. Phenobarbital is the most commonly used anticonvulsant drug. Bromides are used to either reduce sensitivity or enhance the effects of phenobarbital. 

If your dog is taking bromides and needs to stop, you shouldn't suddenly stop treatment. Your vet will likely advise you to wean your dog off the medication so it doesn’t shock their system.

Side effects

Possible common side effects of bromides include:

  • Sedation

  • Vomiting

  • Lack of appetite

  • Increased appetite

  • Constipation

  • Increased thirst

  • Restlessness

  • Increased urination

Bromides can also result in some more severe side effects, which may include:

  • Twitching

  • Shaking

  • Continuous vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Rashes

  • Loss of coordination

  • Yellowing of the skin, eyes, or gums (jaundice)

Whether your dog has mild or severe side effects, you should always discuss these with your vet as soon as possible.

Considerations

Salt will lower the level of bromide in a dog's body, so you should avoid giving your dog any salty snacks and maintain a steady diet. Giving your dog salty foods or increasing the amount of sodium in their diet could increase the risk of seizures. 

Drug interactions

Several classes of drugs may change bromide's effectiveness. These drugs include:

  • Diuretics

  • Other anticonvulsants

  • Sedatives

  • IV fluids with a high sodium content

You should also advise your veterinarian if your dog is on any supplements or vitamins which may affect their treatment. 

Allergic reactions and sensitivity

Dogs with a bromide allergy should not take this medication. Because bromides are removed from the body through the kidneys, dogs with kidney disease should take another anticonvulsant. Use bromides with caution in pregnant, elderly, and chronically ill dogs.

Frequently asked questions

What should I do if I forget to give my dog a dose of bromide?

Missing a dose of bromides may cause seizures in your dog. If you do forget, give your dog the dose as soon as possible. However, if your dog is already due another dose, skip the dose you missed. You shouldn't double up on doses, as this can cause bromide toxicity or severe side effects. 

Will my dog's bromide levels need to be monitored?

Your vet will want to monitor your dog's bromide levels via regular blood tests. These blood tests will be frequent to begin with, and then will take place 2 to 4 times a year.

What should I do if my dog continues to have seizures after taking bromide?

You shouldn't adjust your dog's medication or try to give another loading dose on your own. If your dog starts suddenly having more seizures, it could be due to their diet. You should contact your vet as soon as possible to discuss treatment options and changes to medication.

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