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With more than 5% of dogs suffering from seizures at some point in their life, there is a constant push to find safer and more effective ways to treat them. Seizures tend to occur when there is a change in brain activity, e.g. waking up, excited, and dog seizures while sleeping are also possible. Seizures are most common in dogs with epilepsy, which involves abnormal brain activity.
Keppra for dogs is a relatively new drug often used alongside conventional anti-seizure medications, and it presents some benefits.
We will explore Keppra's side effects in dogs and how they compare to those of traditional anticonvulsant drugs.
WHAT IS KEPPRA FOR DOGS?
Keppra is one of the brands which manufacture the drug Levetiracetam, a relatively new anticonvulsant used for dogs, cats, and people.
Keppra for dogs is often used in combination with Phenobarbital or Potassium Bromide to treat seizures or epilepsy that is not responsive to these drugs, or for animals that have an adverse reaction to these drugs.
Keppra differs from traditional anti-seizure medication in the fact that it does not contain either Potassium Bromide or Phenobarbital, which means it has a wider margin of safety, especially for dogs suffering from a damaged liver, or liver problems.
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.
HOW LONG FOR KEPPRA TO WORK IN DOGS?
Keppra starts to work almost right away, and the regular tablets last around 8 hours. The extended-release tablets can last as long as 12 hours.
Be aware that you cannot split the extended-release tablets; if you do, they will be absorbed too quickly and could lead to potential problems.
SIDE EFFECTS OF KEPPRA
Similar to other anti-seizure medications such as Gabapentin for dogs , the most often experienced side effects of Keppra in dogs are drowsiness and loss of coordination.
Unlike these drugs, Keppra isn't thought to harm the liver or liver enzymes and is generally believed to have a better safety profile.
Here are some other side effects to watch out for:
- Decrease Appetite
- Sudden Changes In Behavior
DRUG INTERACTIONS TO BE AWARE OF:
You should always make your veterinarian aware of any other drugs your dog is taking, as Keppra can have potentially harmful interactions when used with the following medicines:
- Central nervous system depressants
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
KEPPRA OVERDOSE IN DOGS
You mustn't stop giving Keppra (or other traditional anticonvulsants) to your dog suddenly, as this can cause withdrawal seizures. Always follow your veterinarian's recommendations for dosage and on how to taper your dog off of this drug.
Don't give Keppra to dogs who are allergic to Levetiracetam and give cautiously to animals that are pregnant or suffer from kidney problems.
HOW MUCH DOES KEPPRA FOR DOGS COST?
According to a popular discount prescription drug website, the average retail price of one 500mg tablet of Keppra is $41.99, with the lowest price being $15.97.
However, there is a generic version of this drug, which is significantly cheaper; its average price comes in at $13.87, with the lowest price being $1.19 for a 500mg tablet.
ARE THERE ANY NATURAL ALTERNATIVES?
As with many drugs for the treatment of animals, we often look to human medication to see what the latest medications are; this is also true for natural alternative medicines.
The FDA recently approved a drug called Epidiolex to treat people with seizures caused by two rare and severe forms of epilepsy. This drug's active ingredient is CBD, which is an entirely natural hemp-derived compound.
CBD has become widely available in recent years, in part due to its anti-seizure properties, and lack of severe side effects.
CBD oil for dogs with seizures may assist in restricting attacks, but as with any serious health problem, you should never attempt to treat it without the guidance of your veterinarian.