Levetiracetam (Keppra): A Medication for Both Humans and Pets!

You and your dog do everything together. You go on walks, you snuggle, you watch the news. But did you know, you might even take the same meds? 

At Honeybee Health, one of the most common prescriptions we fill for dogs is levetiracetam (Keppra) which is used to treat seizures that result from epilepsy. But it’s also a well-known anti-seizure medication for adults and children. Read on for how the medication works in both humans and our furry friends. 

How does levetiracetam work? 

Levetiracetam is used to control certain types of seizures and belongs to a class of drugs known as anticonvulsants. The medication is typically taken by mouth once or twice a day and comes in the following dosage forms: tablet; tablet extended-release; tablet for suspension; and solution.

What is similar?

Overall the medication interacts with our respective bodies in the same way and most of the rules are the same. The following applies to both humans and dogs: 

  • Take the medication regularly to get the full effect; 
  • Do not crush the extended-release tablets, which will release the drug all at once and increase the risk of side effects; 
  • Do not stop taking this medication suddenly as it may increase the risk of seizure. If you or your pet need to stop this medication, taper down slowly as instructed by your doctor or vet; 
  • Consult with your doctor or vet about any other drug interactions, including vitamins;
  • Do not chew the regular tablets as there is a bitter taste (this one may be hard for dogs to follow!).

What is different for dogs? 

Using levetiracetam to treat a dog’s seizures is technically  “off-label” or “extra-label,” which just means it’s being prescribed beyond its original purpose. 

The main side effect you’ll see in your dog is sleepiness and incoordination.

What is different for humans? 

Given a human’s range of activities compared to that of a dog’s, there are some additional safety precautions patients will want to take. These include:

  • Talk with your doctor before you use alcohol, marijuana or other forms of cannabis, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs that may slow your actions;
  • In extended-release tablet formulations, you may see something that looks like the tablet in your stool. This is normal! If you have questions, talk with your pharmacist or doctor. 
Dr. Jessica Nouhavandi