Keppra, the brand name for levetiracetam, is a newer medication that can be used for treating seizures in dogs and cats. Seizures and epilepsy are commonly diagnosed conditions in dogs. A seizure happens when the brain’s neurons are quickly and continuously discharging, causing increased electrical activity. Seeing your dog go through a seizure can be upsetting, but it’s not usually life-threatening. Medications traditionally used to treat seizures and epilepsy include phenobarbital and potassium bromide.
However, in some pets, these medications alone may not always adequately control seizures.1 Also, some animals are not able to tolerate phenobarbital or potassium bromide well, or the pet owner may wish to avoid the potential side effects associated with them. In these instances, an alternative anticonvulsant medication may be necessary, and Keppra may be a good choice.
Levetiracetam (brand names: Keppra®, Elepsia®, Spritam®) is an anticonvulsant used to treat seizures and epilepsy. In dogs, it is typically used in combination with other anticonvulsants, while in cats, it is used alone or in combination.
Its use in cats, dogs, and horses to treat seizures and epilepsy is ‘off label’ or ‘extra label’. Many drugs are commonly prescribed for off label use in veterinary medicine. In these instances, follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions very carefully as their directions may be significantly different from those on the label.
Features of Keppra For Dogs
Levetiracetam is given by mouth in the form of a tablet, extended release tablet, liquid oral solution, or an injection that is typically used in the clinic. It may be given with or without food; however, if your pet vomits after dosing on an empty stomach, give future doses with food. Do not crush extended-release tablets. Measure liquid forms carefully. Do not stop this medication abruptly in order to prevent withdrawal seizures.
This medication should take effect within 1 to 2 hours; however, effects may not be visibly obvious and therefore laboratory tests may need to be done to evaluate whether the medication is working. If you miss a dose, give it when you remember, but if it is close to the time for the next dose, skip the dose you missed and give it at the next scheduled time, and return to the regular dosing schedule. Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.
Dosage of Keppra For Dogs
As a prescription drug, your veterinarian will direct you on the proper dosage of Keppra for dogs. Keppra comes in a tablet form ranging from 250mg to 1000mg, the extended-release pill comes in either 500mg or 750mg, and it is also available in an oral or injectable solution.
The liver doesn’t process Keppra in the same way as traditional anticonvulsants, and it leaves the body more quickly. Because of this, it has a half-life of around four to six hours, meaning that it usually has to be dosed three times a day. While giving medication this often can be difficult, receiving each dose on time is important for controlling seizures. Like many drugs veterinarians prescribe to animals, Keppra is off label, meaning that the dosage and directions probably won’t match those on the label; this is common as drugs are usually developed for humans and then used on animals.
Levetiracetam Side Effects
Based on experience in human medicine, levetiracetam generally is well tolerated. The most-likely side effects include changes in behavior, drowsiness and GI upset. In studies performed with children, the behavior changes included hyperactivity, somnolence, and aggression.
- Levetiracetam has been shown to cause increased embryonal and fetal losses in laboratory animals. It should be used during pregnancy only when the benefits outweigh the possible risks.
- Levetiracetam should be used with caution in animals with decreased kidney function. Adjustments in dose and dose frequency may be necessary.
- When discontinuing use of levetiracetam, a gradual withdrawal is recommended to guard against the possibility of withdrawal seizures.
Prices of Keppra For Dogs
$42.99 – $108.00