1. Contact your veterinarian immediately.
  2. Your veterinarian may instruct you to induce vomiting, however, do not induce vomiting unless instructed to. Vomiting can be dangerous if your pet is already starting to show clinical signs of changes in demeanour or behaviour.


Pentobarbital, phenobarbital, primidone, Solfoton, Luminal, Nembutal



Barbiturates are fatal at high doses.


Clinical signs are dose dependent, but signs usually occur within one to eight hours after oral ingestion.

  • Progressive central nervous system depression: depression/lethargy, dullness, stuporous, anesthetised to coma
  • Uncoordinated gait (ataxia)
  • Changes in heart and breathing rate, especially decreased breathing rate (cats are very sensitive to this effect)
  • Low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Weakness, lethargy, collapse (due to low blood glucose)
  • Vomiting (due to reduced gut motility)
  • Death


Barbiturates depress the central nervous system and also act on the gut, reducing gut motility.


Treatment of barbiturate intoxication consists of decontamination and removal of ingested products from the gut and providing respiratory and cardiovascular support until the absorbed drug is metabolised.

Your veterinarian may induce vomiting or flush the stomach to remove any unabsorbed toxin. In conscious animals, activated charcoal may be administered.

Supportive care includes intravenous fluids and close monitoring. In severe cases, artificial ventilation and/or dialysis may be required. Warming measures may also need to be taken.


MalouinA&Boller M (2009) Sedatives, muscle relaxants and opioids toxicity. In: Small Animal Critical Care Medicine. Silverstein DC & Hopper K (eds.). Missouri, USA: Saunders Elsevier.

Plumb DC (2011) Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook 7thEdn. Iowa, USA:Wiley-Blackwell