Keppra, also prescribed under the name Levetiracetam, is a seizure medication often prescribed for dogs with epilepsy. Approved in 1999 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Keppra had shown positive effects in human patients and has since been prescribed for canines. Like most other medications, Canine Keppra for dogs has its positive uses and side effects.
Uses for Keppra in dogs
The main use for Keppra in dogs is seizures. Not all dogs that experience seizures qualify for treatment with Keppra. Most often, the dog should be between 1 and 5 years old and experience at least 4 seizures a month. This drug is fairly new to the canine world so many studies are still being conducted on its effectiveness and dosage recommendations.
The two most common drugs prescribed for canine epilepsy are Phenobarbital and potassium bromide – both of which have harsh side effects. Phenobarbital has been linked to liver damage and potassium bromide can cause sedation. Many dogs do not respond to standard seizure medications. The use of Keppra for canine epilepsy is a promising drug for dogs suffering with seizures.
The downfall is the cost. Keppra can cost into the hundreds of dollars while Phenobarbital and potassium bromide are far less expensive. Canine Keppra averages $100 for 50-500 mg tablets.
Side effects of Canine Keppra
Because studies are still ongoing for Keppra in dogs, the side effects are not fully known. Side effects in people have included headaches, drowsiness, fatigue, and dizziness. The side effects of Felbamate (another similar epilepsy drug for dogs) include loss of appetite, dizziness, insomnia, nausea, and vomiting.
In studies, Keppra appears to have very little side effects or less than those found in other anti-seizure medications. The drug is excreted through the urine which helps lower the risk of side effects. How Keppra works to control seizures in dogs is still a mystery. The drug can be given as a sole medication for treatment or in conjunction with other seizure medications. Typically dogs that have seizures that cannot be controlled by conventional medications like Phenobarbital will be prescribed Keppra as an addition to the dog’s prescription routine.
Canine Keppra can only be obtained legally in the United States by prescription. A qualified veterinarian must provide a prescription for the medicine. It is not recommended to purchase Keppra or a generic equivalent on the Internet from an unknown source especially if the company offers the medication without requiring a valid prescription.