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Keppra for Dogs

By | Last Updated : 3rd March 2018

What is Keppra (levetiracetam) used for

Keppra is a relatively new anticonvulsant drug used for controlling generalized and partial seizures [1, 2]. It may be prescribed as an add-on medication to cats and dogs when seizure and epilepsy cannot be managed properly by more traditional anticonvulsants like potassium bromide and phenobarbital [1, 3].

It may as well be used for treating seizures caused by loss of brain function as a result of hepatic encephalopathy (when the liver cannot function properly to get rid of toxins and wastes from the blood) or liver damage induced by phenobarbital [4].

Is Keppra safe for use in dogs

It is believed to be a safer option than other anticonvulsants for dogs with liver disorders, as it passes directly into the urine instead of the liver breaking it down [3]. Although the FDA does not approve it for veterinary use, vets may prescribe it as an extra-label medication [1].

Quick Information

 

Keppra for Dogs

Generic name

Levetiracetam (active ingredient) [1, 7]

Brand name

Keppra®, Keppra XR [1, 3]

Type

Anti-seizure or anti-epileptic drug (AED) [5, 6]

FDA approved

No [1]

Availability

On prescription [1]

Who can use it

Dogs, cats, and humans [1]

Form

Tablets (250, 500, 750, 1000 mg), extended-release tablets (500, 750 mg), oral solution (100 mg/mL) [1, 3]

How does Keppra work

Although further studies are needed to understand the mechanism of action, it was recently found that intake of Keppra causes its active ingredient to bind with the SV2A or Synaptic Vesicle Protein 2A, a membrane-bound integral protein, found at the junction of a neuron terminal and another cell [9], in the brain [1, 8]. Levetiracetam targets SV2A, interfering with the functioning of the calcium channels (entry-way of calcium ions into neurons) and lessening the rate by which the vesicles release neurotransmitters [8]. Therefore, it helps in reducing the excitability of neurons in the brain and lessening seizures [1].

Keppra dosage: how much to give to dogs

Consult your vet first and follow the dosage accordingly. For dogs, the typically prescribed dosage is 5-10 mg/lb given thrice daily (with or without food) every 8 hours, or as extended-release tablets twice daily [1, 3]. Emergency management of canine seizures may need the higher doses, towards the 10mg mark [1]. Depending on your dog’s response to the medicine, your vet may alter the dosage a week after the treatment starts. and then in every 6 months to 1 year [1].

Levetiracetam is broken down quickly in the body and starts working within 4-6 hours of giving the first dose [3]. Research studies have shown that Keppra is well tolerated in dogs and can effectively reduce seizures [5].

In rare cases, missed doses or sudden cessation of the drug may cause successive epileptic seizures (status epilepticus) [10]. So if you have missed a dose, give it as early as possible, unless it is time for the next dose.

Side effects of Keppra in dogs

While most dogs can safely take levetiracetam, the following side effects may occur in some cases, with or without an overdose:

  • Drowsiness [3]
  • Gastrointestinal problems indicated by diarrhea, vomiting, decreased appetite, changes in stool volume, and weight loss [3]
  • Behavioral changes (hyperactivity, restlessness) [3]

Some people have reported that their dogs have had excessive thirst, increased hunger, and lethargy after they were given Keppra.

Contact a vet if your dog shows any of these symptoms.

Contraindications: When not to give Keppra to your dog

Talk to your vet about any health issues your dog has had in the past or is currently having. Keppra is generally not prescribed to dogs that are:

  • Pregnant or nursing
  • Hypersensitive to levetiracetam

Tell your veterinarian if you are giving any medications to your dog. Currently, no drug interactions have been reported in pets under this medication.

References

    1. Levetiracetam (Keppra®) for Dogs and Cats – Petplace.com
    2. Seizure disorders in dogs (and cats) – Spack Attacks – Ava.com.au
    3. Keppra (Levetiracetam) in Dogs and Cats – Thespruce.com
    4. Levetiracetam For Veterinary Use – Wedgewoodpetrx.com
    5. Assessment into the usage of levetiracetam in a canine epilepsy clinic – Ncbi.nim.nih.gov
    6. Levetiracetam for Seizures in Pets – Diamondbackdrugs.com
    7. Keppra – Rxlist.com
    8. Levetiracetam in the treatment of epilepsy – Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
    9. The synaptic vesicle protein SV2A is the binding site for the antiepileptic drug levetiracetam – Pnas.org
    10. The Canine Seizure Patient: Four Important Questions – Todaysveterinarypractice.navc.com
    11. Levetiracetam – Vcahospitals.com

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