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Levetiracetam is used in humans for partial-onset and generalized seizures. It may be used as monotherapy or as an add-on for refractory epilepsy. There is some experimental work in humans using intravenous levetiracetam for refractory status epilepticus.
This is a relatively new drug in veterinary medicine and there is little long-term information available. There are indications that some animals may develop a "tolerance" to levetiracetam and, after the initial honeymoon, the seizure frequency may rebound. Although it has a relatively short half-life in dogs and cats, the pharmacodynamic effect is thought to exceed the half-life. Most authors recommend dosing every eight hours.
Based on experience in human medicine, levetiracetam generally is well tolerated. The most-likely side effects include changes in behavior, drowsiness and GI upset. In studies performed with children, the behavior changes included hyperactivity, somnolence, and aggression.
No drug interactions were found in humans or dogs in the literature.
Dr. Barbara Forney is a veterinary practitioner in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She has a master's degree in animal science from the University of Delaware and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1982.
She began to develop her interest in client education and medical writing in 1997. Recent publications include portions of The Pill Book Guide to Medication for Your Dog and Cat, and most recently Understanding Equine Medications published by the Bloodhorse.
Dr. Forney is an FEI veterinarian and an active member of the AAEP, AVMA, and AMWA.
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