Seizures and epilepsy are commonly diagnosed conditions in the dog and can occur in the cat as well. 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. In addition, some animals are not able to tolerate phenobarbital or potassium bromide well or the pet owner may simply wish to avoid the potential side effects associated with them. In these instances, an alternative anticonvulsant medication may be necessary and levetiracetam (Keppra®) may be a good choice.
Levetiracetam (Keppra®) for Seizures in Dogs and Cats
Levetiracetam can be used for treating seizures in dogs and cats. It can be used solely as an anticonvulsant medication. It can also be used in conjunction with phenobarbital and/or potassium bromide.
Levetiracetam appears to be relatively safe for both dogs and cats but studies are still ongoing to investigate any adverse effects it may have. It does not appear to affect the liver or liver enzymes (measured in the blood) as phenobarbital and potassium bromide can.
Levetiracetam does need to be dosed more frequently than other anticonvulsant medications. In many cases, the medication must be given three times daily.
Potential Side Effects of Levetiracetam in Dogs and Cats
Most dogs and cats seem to tolerate levetiracetam quite well. In dogs, side effects which may be seen are drowsiness, changes in behavior and gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea. In cats, a decrease in appetite can occur.
It is important to remember that levetiracetam has been used to date only in a limited number of pets and less in known about the effects in cats than in dogs.
As with any other anticonvulsant medication, levetiracetam should never be stopped suddenly. Doing so may place your pet at risk of life-threatening seizure activity.
(Source: Plumb's Veterinary Drug Handbook, 6th edition, Donald C Plumb)