• Open Access

Evaluation of Levetiracetam as Adjunctive Treatment for Refractory Canine Epilepsy: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial


  • This work was performed at the Veterinary Teaching Hospitals of North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC; the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN: and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Blacksburg, VA.

  • Findings from this study were presented at the 2010 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum, Anaheim, CA.

Corresponding author: Karen R. Muñana, North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary Health Complex Room 2569, 1052 William Moore Drive, Raleigh, NC 27607; e-mail: karen_munana@ncsu.edu.



There is little evidence-based information available to guide treatment of refractory epilepsy in dogs. The antiepileptic drug levetiracetam (LEV) is administered to dogs, although its safety and efficacy are unknown.


To evaluate the safety and efficacy of LEV as adjunctive therapy for refractory epilepsy in dogs.


Thirty-four client-owned dogs with idiopathic epilepsy.


Randomized, blinded trial involving dogs resistant to phenobarbital and bromide. Dogs received LEV (20 mg/kg PO q8h) or placebo for 16 weeks, and after a 4-week washout were crossed over to the alternate treatment for 16 weeks. Owners kept records on seizure frequency and adverse events. Hemogram, chemistry profile, urinalysis, and serum antiepileptic drug concentrations were evaluated at established intervals.


Twenty-two (65%) dogs completed the study. Weekly seizure frequency during the 1st treatment period decreased significantly during LEV administration relative to baseline (1.9 ± 1.9 to 1.1 ± 1.3, P = .015). The reduction in seizures with LEV was not significant when compared to placebo (1.1 ± 1.3 versus 1.5 ± 1.7, P = .310). The most common adverse event was ataxia, with no difference in incidence between LEV and placebo (45 versus 18%, P = .090). No changes in laboratory parameters were identified and owners reported an improved quality of life (QOL) with LEV compared to placebo (QOL score 32.7 ± 4.3 versus 29.4 ± 4.5, P = .028).

Conclusions and Clinical Importance

Adjunctive treatment with LEV appears safe in epileptic dogs. Efficacy of LEV over placebo was not demonstrated, although the power of the study was limited. Further evaluation of LEV as treatment for epilepsy in dogs is warranted.