Keppra for Dogs

Keppra, a prescription-only medication sold under the brand name Levetiracetam, is a latter-day drug prescribed for controlling convulsions in cats and dogs.  Epileptic fits or seizures are very common in dogs and have been traditionally treated with drugs such as potassium bromide and Phenobarbital. However, many dogs may not respond positively to these traditional anticonvulsants thereby necessitating the use of unconventional anticonvulsants like Keppra.

There are two other good reasons why some pet owners may want to opt for alternative anticonvulsant medications. Firstly conventional veterinary anticonvulsive drugs like Phenobarbital or potassium bromide have grave side effects that pet owners would want to avoid. Secondly, and more importantly, these traditional anticonvulsants may not suffice as standalone drugs for effectively managing seizures.

Therefore most vets nowadays prescribe Keppra in combination with a more traditional anticonvulsant for effective control and management of canine epilepsy. Keppra works best when combined with conventional medication for treating seizures typically caused by heightened electrical activity in the brain. This newer anticonvulsant is also used for dealing with fits and attacks resulting from brain function loss due to Phenobarbital-induced hepatic encephalopathy.

Keppra at a Glance

Brand name

Keppra®, Keppra XR

Generic name (active ingredient)


Drug type

Anticonvulsant (antiepileptic or anti-seizure medication)

Is it FDA approved?



Cats and Dogs


Strictly on prescription

Available in form

Oral solution; tablets (250, 500, 750, 1000mg), extended-release tablets (500, 750mg)

How safe is Keppra for Dogs?

Keppra is considered to be relatively safer compared to conventional anticonvulsants as the drug doesn’t include Phenobarbital or potassium bromide. Vets prescribe Keppra especially for dogs experiencing epileptic fits owing to a damaged liver or other hepatic issues. This medication following intake is introduced directly into the canine’s urinary tract thereby relieving the liver from the hassle of breaking it down.

Vets generally prescribe Keppra as an add-on or off-label drug even though FDA has not sanctioned it for veterinary applications.

How Keppra Works in Canines?

Medical scientists and vet pharmacists still do not fully know how this anticonvulsant works in dogs. Nevertheless, researches continue to be undertaken to fully the action methodology of this medication. Recent studies indicate that the active ingredient Levetiracetam attaches with a membranous protein known as ‘Synaptic
Vesicle Protein 2A’ (SV2A).

SV2A is found at the synapse or the junction between two nerve cells through which electrical impulses travel in the brain following diffusion by a neurotransmitter. Levetiracetam interferes with the calcium channels in SV2A which in turn decelerates the rate at which vesicles secrete neurotransmitters. Consequently, the stimulation of neurons in the brain receives a setback eventually lessening the incidence of epileptic seizures.

Recommended Dosage and How to Administer the Medication

Your vet is the right professional to prescribe the appropriate dosage of Keppra for your dog. Hence you must abide by the dosage recommended by your vet. The typical dosage of Keppra is 5-10mg/lb, to be administered three times a day every 8 hours. In case you’re offering extended-release tablets, then you should administer them twice daily.

The vet may increase the dosage if your dog undergoes epileptic attacks frequently. Your vet may change the dosage within a week of starting the therapy based on how the dog responds to treatment. Keppra breaks down rather quickly following intake and stats acting within hours of administering the first dose.

Usual Side Effects of Keppra in Dogs

Current studies have demonstrated that most dogs tolerate Levetiracetum quite well. Nevertheless, side effects are somewhat common in many cases and may take place even with normal dosage. The following adverse effects are most likely to occur with an overdose (or even without):-

  • Sudden and abrupt changes in behavior (restiveness, agitation, and hyperactivity)
  • GI issues such as reduced appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Drowsiness, stupor, and lethargy

When Not to Offer Keppra to Dogs?

Do not give Keppra if your dog is lactating, pregnant or allergic to the medication. Discuss with your vet about your dog’s medical history, medicines you may have given in the past as well as drugs you may be offering currently.

Disclaimer: The above content is based on multiple research articles referred to online. Global Dog Breeds intends to share information, but it's strictly advised to consult a veterinarian and seek advice before using any medications described. We believe each condition and dog is unique, and only after careful evaluation from a qualified professional should you be offering any medications to your pet.

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