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A New Treatment for Canine Idiopathic Epilepsy: Pexion

A New Treatment for Canine Idiopathic Epilepsy: Pexion

We recently wrote about canine idiopathic epilepsy, a form of epilepsy where the cause remains unknown. Today we are looking at a new treatment; Pexion.

The severity of epilepsy can vary greatly between individual sufferers. Some dogs may experience a single, isolated seizure, whilst other can experience multiple seizures every week.

Recently Boehringer Ingelheim has announced their latest product for the treatment of canine epilepsy, Pexion® (Pexion) an alternative to the traditional phenobarbital or potassium bromide treatments given to epileptic dogs.

Are you using Pexion?

If you’re dog has been prescribed Pexion, let us know how your dog is getting on in the comments below. Join the discussion on how other dog owners are getting on with Pexion and keep the community updated with your progress. 

What Is Pexion?

Unlike other treatments for canine epilepsy, Pexion contains the active ingredient Imepitoin. Imepitoin acts in a similar manner to previous anti-epileptic medicines, potassium bromide and phenobarbital, in that it works to suppress electrical activity in the brain.

Imepitoin partially activates GABA receptors, which are responsible for reducing electrical activity between nerve cells. This partial activation of the GABA receptors is believed to reduce electrical activity and help prevent seizures. Specifically, Imepitoin also has a weak blocking effect on calcium channels that allow electrical signals to be propagated along nerve cells.

See here for more information about Pexion 

Does Pexion Work?

A study conducted on Pexion during its development compared it to the traditional anti-epileptic medicine phenobarbital. A 20 week study of 226 dogs taking the medications found Pexion matched phenobarbital in efficacy, reducing the occurence of seizures by around 50%. 1

Is Pexion a Better Alternative?

The Pexion study showed that it had an effectiveness equivalent to phenobarbital, however, Pexion may be considered a better alternative as it has less severe side effects.

Unlike phenobarbital, Pexion does not pose a hepatotoxicity risk (liver toxicity). This means the regular testing required to ensure that a dog’s liver remains healthy is not needed whilst being given Pexion.

Treating the Epileptic Dog

It is commonly cited that around 0.5 to 5% of dogs suffer from some form of epilepsy, the severity varying between breeds and individuals. In dogs where seizures occur infrequently  owners may consider not using any medication at all, avoiding the side effects associated with anti-epileptic medications.

In dogs where seizures occur more freqently, such as once a month or more, treatment should be considered.

The introduction of Pexion gives owners and vets a greater choice when it comes to treatment, but does not replace phenobarbital and potassium bromide.

Owners should consult their vet and explore all the possibilities when dealing with an epileptic dog.

Seizure Types That Require Immediate Veterinary Assistance

Cluster seizures – When multiple seizures occur in one 24 hour period
Status epilepticus – A persistent epileptic state that lasts for longer than 5 minutes

For more information about epilepsy, such as the causes, what to do during a seizure and more, see this article.

Disclaimer: This article was written as a response to the release of Pexion and as a follow up to a previous article concerning idiopathic epilepsy. I am not affiliated with the product (Pexion) or the manufacturer (Boehringer). 

Image Credit: Onkel_wart

About James Watts

BSc Bioveterinary Science. Editor of PetSci. When I'm not writing, learning, discussing, or reading about animals, you know it's the weekend!

468 comments

  1. I am a UK national living in Costa Rica, it is comforting to be able to share our experience with others, we have a three and a half year old male beagle who started experiencing seizures in May of last year, since then they have increased to cluster seizures every two or three weeks. I fear we are losing our battle with his seizures and that we are constantly one step behind, he was started on dilantin and then switched to primidone and then phenobarbitol because primidone is difficult to get here, I thought we had made a breakthrough administering him with hemp oil drops three weeks ago but then he suffered his regular bout of around nine cluster seizures two nights ago, we administer dizepan rectally, this is a brutal disease and we sense we are running out of time and options,

  2. My 7 year old Labrador is currently on 1000mg Keppra 3 times per day, 400mg Pexion 12 hourly and 3.6ml of Potassium bromide daily. Her seizures definitely improved in the 1st year on Pexion and then as many are saying they have increased drastically where she has had 6 grand mal seizures this month. She was taken off the PB as had liver issues and vet isn’t willing to use it again. I am feeding Eukanuba Dermatosis, adding vegetables and giving Krill oil, Vit D3, Vit B complex and grape seed extract daily and still no joy. She is ravenous for 3 days after a seizure and eats anything -paper, skirting boards, her bedding and will snap at your hands if she thinks there is food there plus giving her tablets is a nightmare as she grabs and has punctured my skin frequently. I am running out of options with medication and am feeling so disheartened as I don’t know how to help her anymore.

    • Anyone needing help and support from other people around the world who are dealing with canine epielpsy can join a great group with hundreds of members worldwide who are in the same situation. Here is the link:

      http://www.canine-epilepsy.com/ From there you can join the group.

      • To all who are struggling to get the right treatment for their dog, please look at what food you are giving them. I give my border collie dry food from The Natural Dog Food Company plus Omega 3,6 & 9 from Treasure your Health. He weighs 18kgs and he has 400mg of Pexion twice a day and nothing else apart from a dentastix, no other treats and his last seizure was the 10th December last year.

        • Each dog with idiopathic epilepsy is unique and triggers are different. Further more if you go look on websites regarding epilepsy, American ones especially are recommending a natural raw diet. Chicken bones are a natural source of taurine which helps brain function in epileptic dogs. My dog Izzy was among the first to pass away in 2013 after using Pexion and to be honest her natural diet had her looking fantastic, I have found that epileptic dogs fit into 2 categories the first can be controlled by medication and with trial and error there will be meds or diet that works, the other group of dogs will gradually get worse but will pass away young. Human poisons like lawn fertilzer can be triggers that start the disease. Love your fur babies and help them as best you can, sometimes there is nothing you can do.

          • So true Amanda, I could not agree more. The dog either responds or there is nothing you can do to stop progression to clusters, status etc. Distressing disease and pure bad luck….

  3. My Alsatian Sin was diagnosed epileptic a couple of years ago. He was originally prescribed a low dose of epiphen but that’s been increased a lot. Few months ago he deteriorated (cluster seizures and one terrifying bout of status.) .He’s now on pexion as well and though he still seizes from time to time I’d say it’s helped him

  4. My Weimaraner had two seizures in 12hrs and the vet put her on 400mg of Pexion. (32kg dog)
    She has been very good we are unsure if seizure stopped because of pexion or on their own however a little scare to stop tablets now!
    Any advice welcome as to how I can buy Pexion cheaply. currently quite expensive via our vet!!
    melanie

    • So sorry about your Weim. Your alternative to obtaining your Pexion from your vet is to ask him/her for a prescription. Vets normally charge for this so you need to make sure that you are not going to be paying just as much in the long run – some vets seem to charge an awful lot for a prescription. When I get prescriptions for my dog’s epilepsy (she is on three different AEDs) they are for three months’ worth of medication. I get them from an online pharmacy. You can shop around to see where you get the best price.

    • It’s so good to finally read some positive posts about Pexion. My dog has been on it for 21 months and is doing brilliantly on it. He is 25kg and has 800mg twice a day. He went six months with no seizures last year and hasn’t had one since 11 January.

      I also feed a raw diet which I am sure helps.

  5. Hello, just to say that i have a 6 year old lab called Leo. We got Leo 2 1/2 years ago and were unaware of his medical history, on his first long walk with us he suffered a bad seizure and i thought we’d lost him, having no experience with epilepsy in dogs before i was extremely worried, we brought him to the vet and he was diagnosed that day and prescribed pexion 400mg twice daily. He has never looked back and apart from a very occasional mild fit he is in great form. Leo is such a happy beautiful natured dog and it broke our hearts that day to see how that first seizure affected him. I have only praise for Pexion, we havent noticed any side effects and it really does control the epilepsy. If your dog is diagnosed and Pexion is recommended please use it.

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