Levetiracetam for Dogs: Dosage, Side Effects, and More

Levetiracetam for Dogs

Levetiracetam for Dogs: Levetiracetam is an anti-seizure medication used to control seizures in dogs with epilepsy. It works by slowing abnormal activity in the brain that causes seizures. Vets often prescribe levetiracetam for dogs when phenobarbital alone does not control seizures or causes unpleasant side effects.

Levetiracetam for Dogs

Uses of Levetiracetam for Dogs

Levetiracetam is most commonly used to treat seizures in dogs. Specifically, it’s prescribed for epilepsy and idiopathic seizures, which means seizures of unknown cause. If your dog experiences cluster seizures, frequent seizures, or prolonged seizures, levetiracetam may help get them under control.

Seizure Control

The typical dosage for seizure control in dogs is 20-30 mg per kg of body weight, given two or three times a day. At this dosage, levetiracetam is very effective at reducing seizure frequency and intensity in many dogs. For some dogs, it can decrease seizures by up to 100% when used alone or in combination with other anticonvulsant drugs.

Other Nervous System Disorders

In some cases, levetiracetam is used to treat other disorders of the nervous system, such as tremors, spasms, and muscle twitching. The dosage may need to be adjusted for your dog’s specific condition and symptoms. Levetiracetam can also be used short-term to treat anxiety and restlessness in dogs, though other medications are typically preferred for long-term anxiety treatment.

Levetiracetam comes as an oral tablet, liquid, or injectable solution. Tablets tend to be the most affordable and convenient option for most dog owners. The liquid formulation may be better for small dogs or dogs that have trouble swallowing pills. In emergency situations, an injectable form can be given intravenously by a vet to quickly control severe seizures or cluster seizures.

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Overall, levetiracetam can be a very effective treatment for controlling seizures and other nervous system problems in dogs. By following your vet’s recommended dosage and monitoring your dog for side effects, levetiracetam may significantly improve your dog’s quality of life and reduce the frequency of frightening seizure episodes.

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Levetiracetam Dosage for Dogs

Levetiracetam, an anticonvulsant medication, is often prescribed for dogs to help control seizures. The dosage your vet recommends will depend on your dog’s weight. Typically, dogs start with a low dose that is gradually increased to find the lowest effective amount.

1. Initial Dose

For the first week, most dogs will start with a dosage of 20 to 30 milligrams of levetiracetam per kilogram of body weight, given twice a day (every 12 hours). So if your dog weighs about 45 pounds (20 kg), the initial dose would be around 400 to 600 mg total per day, split into two doses. This usually amounts to one to one and a half tablets twice a day for an average sized dog.

2. Dosage Adjustments

Your vet will have you come back for follow up visits to monitor your dog and may increase the dosage incrementally. Dosage increases usually occur every 1 to 2 weeks. The target dosage for seizure control can be anywhere between 30 to 60 mg per kg, given twice daily. It may take some trial and error to find the right amount for your dog. The goal is to use the lowest dose needed to reduce seizure frequency by at least half while avoiding unwanted side effects.

3. Maintenance Dose

Once the right dosage has been found, your dog will continue on what’s called a “maintenance dose” long-term to help prevent future seizures. For most dogs, the maintenance dose ends up being somewhere in the range of 30 to 50 mg per kg of body weight, split into two doses given every 12 hours. Be sure to give the medication at the same times every day for the best results.

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By starting low and slowly increasing the levetiracetam dosage under the guidance of your vet, you’ll be able to find an effective amount for controlling your dog’s seizures while minimizing risks for side effects. Close monitoring, especially during dosage adjustments, is key. Stick to a regular feeding and medication schedule for the best seizure management.

Potential Side Effects of Levetiracetam in Dogs

1. Sedation and Dizziness

Levetiracetam can cause sedation, dizziness, and decreased activity in some dogs. Your vet may adjust the dosage or frequency to minimize these side effects. Make sure your dog has a quiet place to rest and avoid stressful situations during the initial period of treatment. These side effects are usually temporary, but talk to your vet if they persist or are severe.

2. Digestive Upset

Levetiracetam may irritate a dog’s stomach or intestines, causing nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Giving the medication with food can help reduce stomach upset. Your vet may also prescribe medication to relieve these symptoms. Staying hydrated and avoiding rich or fatty foods can further help an upset tummy.

3. Unusual Behaviors

Some dogs may experience unusual behaviors, restlessness, or aggression when taking levetiracetam. If your dog shows any unusual behaviors or a change in personality, contact your vet right away. They may want to adjust or change the medication. Closely monitor your dog for the first few weeks of treatment to watch for these behavioral side effects.

4. Lack of Appetite

A decreased appetite is another possible side effect of levetiracetam in dogs. Make sure your dog continues to eat by offering extra treats, wet food, or other tempting snacks. If your dog is not eating for more than a couple of meals, call your vet. Lack of food can quickly lead to other medical issues in dogs.

By working closely with your vet, staying alert for any side effects, and making appropriate adjustments, levetiracetam can be used safely and effectively to control seizures in dogs. However, if side effects are severe or persistent, your vet may need to change or discontinue the medication to ensure your dog’s health and well-being.

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FAQs

How much does levetiracetam cost?

Levetiracetam can vary in price depending on the dosage and brand. Generic levetiracetam tablets typically cost between $10 to $30 per month. Brand name Keppra tablets may cost $200 to $500 per month. The injectable form for dogs tends to be more expensive, ranging from $50 to $200 per vial. The exact price you pay will depend on your dog’s dosage and frequency, which your vet will determine based on their weight and condition.

What are the side effects of levetiracetam?

Levetiracetam is usually well tolerated in dogs, but some may experience side effects. The most common are drowsiness, dizziness and sedation. Your dog may seem overly tired or uncoordinated. Less often, dogs can develop gastrointestinal issues like decreased appetite, vomiting or diarrhea. Severe side effects are rare but can include aggression, restlessness or skin rash. If your dog shows any unusual symptoms after starting levetiracetam, consult your vet. Often, side effects will subside over time, but dosage adjustments or switching to a different medication may help.

Can levetiracetam be stopped abruptly?

No, levetiracetam should not be stopped abruptly without guidance from your vet. Ending treatment suddenly can cause withdrawal effects and increase the risk of seizures recurring or worsening. Your vet will develop a gradual discontinuation schedule to safely wean your dog off levetiracetam. This typically involves slowly decreasing the dose over weeks or months while monitoring your dog’s condition and seizure activity. Gradual discontinuation helps minimize withdrawal effects and ensures seizures remain controlled.

Is levetiracetam safe for long term use?

Levetiracetam can be used as a long term treatment for epilepsy in dogs when necessary to control seizures. However, as with any medication, long term use may increase the risks of side effects. Your vet will monitor your dog closely to ensure the benefits continue to outweigh any potential risks. Blood tests may be recommended periodically to check liver and kidney function. The lowest effective dose should be used, and discontinuation can be tried if seizures have been well controlled for an extended period. But for some dogs, lifelong treatment may provide the best seizure control with minimal side effects.