Levetiracetam for Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide

Levetiracetam for Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide
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Does your beloved dog suffer from seizures? If so, you have most likely taken one or two emergency trips to the vet trying to figure out what is wrong and what you can possibly do to ease this unexpected trauma. First of all, there are a number of medications out there for such an ailment (more on that later).  However, your vet is likely to prescribe your furry friend “Levetiracetam”.  Can you say “Levetiracetam” three times fast? Trick question, you can’t. Even if you can pronounce that medical jibberish, you likely don’t know what is in it, or what it actually does to your dog. Fortunately, we are here to tell you everything you need to know about Levetiracetam for dogs.

What is Levetiracetam for DogsLevetiracetam for Dogs

The prescription-only drug, Levetiracetam, is a popular anticonvulsant medication recommended by veterinarians for both cats and dogs. Levetiracetam is often referred to as “Keppra” and is used to alleviate the symptoms of epilepsy and seizures. Keppra for dogs is considered safer than many other similar medications due to the fact that passes through the urine as opposed to being metabolized by the kidney’s or broken down by the liver. This process proves especially beneficial to patients suffering from pre-existing liver or kidney diseases.

What is Keppra vs. Levetiracetam for Dogs

As mentioned before, you may have seen the name “Keppra” show up on your pets prescription bottle. Keppra and Levetiracetam are one in the same! Keppra is simply the brand name, while Levetiracetam is the medical name more commonly used by doctors and pharmacists.

The Case for Levetiracetam for Dogs

Levetiracetam is one of many anti-epilepsy medications out there for dogs and cats. Levetiracetam does, however, stand out amongst the competition. Some benefits you can expect include:

  • Helping to control seizures brought on by epilepsy
  • It can be combined safely with other medications
  • It comes in small tablets that can easily be consumed in treat pockets
  • Appropriate for both cats and dogs
  • Safe for pets suffering from pre-existing liver or kidney issues

Levetiracetam for Dogs Explained

Levetiracetam tablets are often used in conjunction with other common seizure medications, such as phenobarbital and potassium bromide. However, often pet owners often choose to solely utilize Levetiracetam because many animal’s bodies cannot tolerate phenobarbital or potassium bromide.

Levetiracetam is given in small doses, two to three times a day. This is due to the fact that the medication breaks down very quickly in the body, passing through the urine thus protecting vital organs. Additionally, this method of absorption does not require you to monitor your pets blood levels, as many similar medications on the market do.

Dog Seizures & Canine Epilepsy

If your dog has suffered from a seizure, you know first hand how scary it can be to witness. Seemingly out of nowhere, your beloved dog has collapsed and is jerking uncontrollably. Due to the traumatic body convulsions associated with seizures in dogs, you may not realize that the issue truly lies inside the brain. Medically referred to as “ictus”, a dog seizure is a short-term blip in normal cognitive function, which causes uncontrollable muscle spasms. Many dogs suffer from seizures as isolated incidents. However, if your dog is experiencing clusters of seizures more frequently, you should have them tested for canine epilepsy.

Common Causes of Dog Seizuresdog seizure

A common cause of dog seizures is simply anxiety, often brought on by thunderstorms or the infamous villain… the vacuum cleaner. However, the deeper medical issues often associated with the onset of canine seizures are:

  • Low blood sugar
  • Stroke
  • Anemia
  • Liver disease
  • Renal Failure
  • Hypertension
  • Head injuries
  • Poisoning

Consequently, you should consult your vet immediately if and when your dog experiences a seizure. If it is a symptom of a bigger issue, you want to tend to it as soon as possible. We understand that is a scary list, but you should also take comfort in the fact that seizures are an incredibly common neurological condition in dogs. You and your fur baby are not alone.

How to Spot a Seizure

Seizures happen in three phases, according to VCA Hospital.

  1. Pre-Ictal Phase – The initial phase of a seizure can happen as quickly as mere seconds, or last as long as several hours. Typical symptoms associated with this phase are excessive salivation, unusual jumpiness,  uncontrollable shaking, hiding, and general uncharacteristic nervousness.
  2. Ictal Phase – Simply put, this phase is the seizure itself. It can last anywhere from a few seconds to five minutes. During this time, your dog may temporarily lose consciousness or experience hallucinations, all the while convulsing frantically. Your pet may lose control of bodily functions, often resulting in urination or defecation. If the episode lasts longer than five minutes, your dog is considered to be in “status epilepticus” and will require emergency medical attention.
  3. Post-Ictal Phase – The moments following a seizure leave your dog disoriented, restless, and in some cases temporarily blind. Length of the Post-Ictal phase varies but is not conclusively tied to the length of the Ictal phase.

How to Prevent Canine Seizures

With a number of causes that can lead to a seizure, there are a variety of ways to prevent an episode. First of all, safely store any and all toxic products in your home. This includes, but is not limited to,  batteries, lead paint, golf balls, foil on the top of bottles, poisonous cleaning products, and linoleum.

Furthermore, with anxiety being a leading trigger for epileptic canine occurrences, find ways to proactively prevent anxious situations. Loud thunderstorms come to mind as one of dogs biggest enemies. Consider turning all the lights on to mask the bright flashes that come with lightning. Additionally, you can play calming music to drown out the loud cracks of thunder.

If your dog is especially prone to the occasional seizure, be sure to have them tested regularly for epilepsy and other associated cognitive diseases.

Managing Canine Seizuresdog seizure

There were a lot of scary scenarios in that last section, but we want you to know that seizures are not nearly as painful for your pet as they appear. However, it is important to know how you can make your pet as comfortable as possible. There are a few ways you can ease the trauma during an episode, such as:

  • Removing nearby hazards (give your dog space to safely work through the seizure)
  • Dimming the lights and/or closing the curtains
  • Quiet the room (turn off the TV/Radio)
  • Stay Calm (dogs pick up on your energy)
  • Resist the urge to pet/comfort your dog

That last one is tricky! It is incredibly hard to stand back and watch your beloved dog in such a horrific state, but they need space. Seizures are sourced from a heightened cognitive state, therefore dogs are highly susceptible to touch, light, sound, and smell during an episode. Too much of stimulation from any of the above triggers during a seizure could lengthen the episode. Be strong and stay calm and you and your dog will get through it safely.

We are delighted to enlighten you on the basic in’s and out’s of canine seizures, but should you have more questions visit this comprehensive guide on dog seizures.

Keppra Dosage

Keppra tablets are available in two different doses, 500 mg and 750 mg extended-release tablets. These levels of Levetiracetam require a minimum of 2-3 doses daily, depending on your Rx. Having to give your dog medication is no treat, and three times a day is a big commitment! However, it is worth choosing Keppra over common single daily dose anti-convulsion medications because it is proven to be safer for your dog.

Levetiracetam 500 mg

The 500 mg dosage of Levetiracetam requires three pills over the course of the day. It is important that the pills are given intact, not crushed or split, or else too much medication will release at one time. If you are worried your pet will chew them, ask your Vet to prescribe the 750 mg dosage for safety.

Levetiracetam Side Effects | Keppra Side Effects

With every medication, comes a host of potential risks. Keppra is no exception to that rule. Side effects of Keppra (aka Levetiracetam) can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Behavioral Changes
  • Tummy Issues (Vomiting and Diarrhea)
  • Suppressed appetite (more common with Cats)

Other Epilepsy Medications for Dogsdog medication

As aforementioned, Epilepsy and seizures are incredibly common amongst canines. Naturally, that means you have a number of choices when it comes to anti-seizure medications. Below are some medical alternatives to Levetiracetam.

Zonisamide for Dogs

As if one seizure medication is not enough – Zonisamide is most commonly used in conjunction with other antiepileptic drugs. According to Diamond Back Drugs, “the exact means by which Zonisamide helps prevent convulsions is currently unknown”. Translation: it is a mystery even to veterinarian professionals how this medication is processed. Therefore, the long-term side effects are still coming into focus and could be detrimental to your dog.

Phenobarbital for Dogs

The most common prescription drug for canine seizures is Phenobarbital. Interestingly enough, Phenobarbital is considered an “extra-label” drug. Which means, it is legal for your vet to prescribe it for seizures, but it is not actually FDA approved for that purpose. If that isn’t enough to scare you silly, common side effects can include:

  • Excessive Vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Anemia
  • Depression
  • Ataxia (loss of coordination)
  • Weight Gain

…and the list goes on! Phenobarbital cannot be used in dogs suffering from a number of pre-existing conditions such as liver, heart, or kidney disease. Always be sure your vet is familiar with your dog’s full medical history before starting a new medication.

Diazepam for Dogs

Better known by its brand name “Valium”, Diazepam is most commonly used to treat anxiety, as well as seizures. Diazepam does not mix well with other medication. In the case of treating seizures, Diazepam has to be administered rectally. If you choose to put yourself and your dog through that back door torture, some side effects you may encounter include:

  • Aggression or changes in normal behavior
  • Loss of Coordination
  • Reduced energy
  • Slow heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

And that doesn’t even cover the long-term side effects! Liver damage, bleeding, and anemia is all documented in dogs using Diazepam for an extended period of time.

Prescription Anti-Seizure Medication: Take Caution

Aside from the long list of possible side-effects, arguably the most important fact to note is that once your pet starts taking any anticonvulsant medication, including Levetiracetam, they should never stop. Ceasing dosage of this type of medication can worsen the original problem, causing more seizures than they had before. Additionally, the long-term side effects of some of these medications have not been fully researched. Therefore, you may want to think twice before committing to a lifetime of prescription drugs for Fido.

Clearly, you have several medical options when it comes to treating your fur baby’s seizures. However, if you are feeling queasy from the extensive list of side-effects and the lifelong commitment to medication, you may want to consider a holistic approach to your pet’s health.

Levetiracetam for Dogs Alternatives

Fortunately for you and your furry friend, we live in a time where a holistic approach to health is rapidly becoming commonplace. Research is surfacing everyday proving the benefits of homeopathic medicine. Consequently, there are dozens of options for dogs and owners alike who want to embrace a natural approach to wellness.

CBD for Dogs

For those of you who have not heard of the so-called “miracle herb” CBD, we are so excited to introduce it to you! CBD is rapidly becoming the go-to healing agent for pet-parents due to its impressive list of benefits with virtually zero side-effects.

cbd oil for dogs

What is CBD?

Cannabinoid, aka “CBD”, oil is derived from the cannabis plant. Yes, you read that right, cannabis. No, that does not mean we are suggesting you get your puppy high! CBD comes from the hemp plant, which is a species of the cannabis plant. More than likely, your brain reads “cannabis” and naturally associates it with Marijuana. However, Marijuana is a different species of the cannabis plant known for levels of 20% or more THC. THC is the psychoactive property which gives people the feeling of being high. The hemp plant, on the other hand, has less than .3% THC. Consequently, CBD oil is derived from the hemp plant, therefore is perfectly safe and non-psychoactive for dogs.

Benefits of CBD for Dogs

The list benefits to using CBD for dogs is ever growing as scientific research continues to surface. Some proven benefits of using CBD for dogs include:

  • Treatment of seizures and epilepsy
  • Reducing anxiety
  • Decreasing a variety of chronic pain issues
  • Easing pain of cancer treatment
  • Helping stop the growth or spreading of cancer (effectively preventing cancer!)
  • Boosts immunity
  • Fosters healthy skin and coat
  • Promotes overall physical wellness

This list just scratches the surface of the ever-evolving health benefits.  Check out this article to learn more about the pros of using CBD for dogs.

CBD for Canine Seizures

As you read, CBD boasts an impressive array of benefits when used in your dog’s holistic wellness plan. Chief among them, treatment of canine seizures and epilepsy is an impressive perk of CBD oil. With so many horrific side-effects tied to conventional prescription medications used for seizures, CBD oil is giving pet owners everywhere a piece of mind. Using CBD oil to treat your dog’s seizures is perfectly safe on their vital organs, unlike many of the aforementioned prescription drugs. Additionally, CBD oil has been found effective in dogs that did not respond to more traditional anti-epilepsy medications.

CBD Side Effects

Simply put, CBD has virtually no side effects on your precious fur baby. Studies have shown that CBD oil interacts with the biological system in both dogs and humans in the same way. However, the side effects humans have displayed (drowsiness, weight changes, diarrhea), have not been observed in pets.

Naturally, when introducing anything new into your pet’s diet you should keep a close eye on their mood and behavior. Should anything arise, you can take the necessary action. In very rare cases, pet owners have reported drowsiness or lethargy in their dog post-CBD. However, the overwhelming majority of CBD-using pet parents are singing the praises of the miracle holistic oil.

Where can I get CBD for Dogs?

Now that you are sufficiently interested in using CBD Oil for the treatment of your four-legged friend’s seizures, where can you find it? Lucky for you, with the rapid increase in popularity of CBD for dogs, you have several options to choose from. However, we are delighted to point you in the direction of our favorite brand, Honest Paws. With a wide range of all-natural, soy-free, lab-tested CBD products, Honest Paws is sure to have the right fit for your precious dog. You can choose from an impressive array of options such as:

  • Pure CBD Oil – Choose Level 1, 2, or 3 based on your dog’s weight. This method of treatment is ideal for pups suffering from epilepsy and seizures.
  • CBD Infused Treats – Your dog is sure to love these tasty treats. Choose from Calming, Relief, or Restore treats based on your individual pet’s needs.
  • CBD Infused Coconut Oil – This amazing creation can be used directly on your dog’s skin or incorporated into their diet.
  • CBD Soft Chews – For dogs that prefer a chew to a crunchier treat, the soft chews are for them! Great for joint support and anxiety.
  • CBD Infused Creamy Peanut Butter – Did you know peanut butter is paws down the most popular flavor across all dog brands? So what could be better than CBD infused peanut butter? It has never been easier to give your beloved dog medicine.

As you can see, CBD oil is, for good reason, quickly becoming pet owners top choice in holistic pet wellness. However, there are a few other ways to achieve a homeopathic approach to treating your pet’s seizures or epilepsy.

Acupuncture for Dogs

While CBD oil for dogs is a brilliant holistic choice for treating your seizure prone pup, there are several other homeopathic options. Believe it or not, your dog can get acupuncture. If you are unfamiliar with acupuncture, it is the practice of inserting small, sterile needles at specific points in the body. This process triggers a physiological response which can relieve pain, stimulate the immune system, decrease inflammation, and treat seizures. Talk to your vet about whether or not acupuncture is a good choice for your dog.

dog acupuncture at vet's office

Chinese Herbs for Dogs

Often used in tandem with acupuncture, some pet owners have found relief for their seizure-ridden dog with the aid of Chinese Herbs. The art of Chinese Medication is centuries old and can take many forms. Therefore, consult your homeopathic vet about what formulation of herbs would best suit your dog’s needs. Additionally, you should know that Chinese herbs often have the side-effect general stomach upset in dogs, sometimes leading to nausea and diarrhea.

Food Therapy for Dogs

Epilepsy, like many ailments, can be managed with the help of a specific diet. When it comes for seizures, it has been found that Ketogenic diets (high fat, low carb) can be beneficial. Interestingly enough, a high-fat diet is known to decrease neuron excitability, which is convenient in the case of patients suffering from epilepsy.

Furthermore, incorporating Fish Oil into your pet’s diet has proven helpful to seizure prone dogs. Fish oils contain DHA (an Omega-3 fatty acid), which can promote brain regulation and processes. Seizures are sourced from over-stimulation in the brain, so anything that regulates healthy brain activity can prove helpful!

Levetiracetam for Dogs: A Final Thought

Whether your beloved dog suffers from canine epilepsy or just the occasional seizure, rest assured that you are not alone. Epilepsy in dogs is one of the most common cognitive ailments amongst our four-legged friends. Fortunately, you have many ways you can alleviate your dog’s pain. You can choose from an extensive list of prescription drugs, or opt for a more natural approach. Whichever method you choose, be sure to consult your veterinarian before introducing anything new into your dog’s health plan.

Sources

https://www.thesprucepets.com/levetiracetam-keppra-in-dogs-and-cats-3384713

Dog Seizures: What Every Pet Owner Should Know

https://www.1800petmeds.com/Levetiracetam-prod11841.html

https://www.petrescuerx.com/index.cfm/product/405_137/levetiracetam.cfm

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/seizures-general-for-dogs

https://www.petmd.com/dog/wellness/natural-remedies-epilepsy-and-seizures-dogs

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