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Seizures can be scary, but its the duration and frequency that you need to be concerned with. One short mild seizure (duration) every 3-4 months (frequency) can be tolerated with out meds. Once they start having them close together, in clusters, or they last longer than 10 minutes, then you have serious chance of brain damage or worse. Meds are required at this point.

Our Murphy has seizures, but they are far enough apart and short in duration, so he doesn't require phenobarbitol. At one point he was on it, but his frequency spread out again and we were able to get him off it.

Here are a few notes that I posted many years ago:

Quote:
When your dog has a seizure, you need to do a few things:

1. Remain calm
2. Note the time and duration of the seizure, from onset to stopage of shaking to fully recovered.
3. Keep your dog from hurting itself.
4. Let your dog know you are there.
5. Do not put anything in its mouth!
6. Give all the info to your vet.

If your dog's seizure lasts longer than 10 minutes or doesn't start coming around after the episode stops, get to a vet fast.
 

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Our Spook, who we believe is an Australian Shepherd/Lab mix has seizures or, maybe I should say, had seizures. His weren't that close together until last Thanksgiving when he had cluster seizures. He's been taking phenobarbitol since, and is doing great. He hasn't experienced any of the negative side effects that you listed for Buddy, thank goodness. Twice a year, he gets bloodwork to monitor all his levels. Our vet insists on that, and that's a good thing.
 
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