New anticonvulsant drugs show promise in dogs, cats

New anticonvulsant drugs show promise in dogs, cats

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Mar 01, 2008

Please review management of refractory seizure activity in dogs and cats.

Dr. C.W. Dewey gave an excellent lecture at the 2007 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum on “Recent and Upcoming Developments with the New Anticonvulsant Drugs.” Here are some relevant points:

During the past 10 to 15 years, a number of new anticonvulsant drugs have been introduced for the treatment of human seizure disorders, some of which have been shown to be safe and effective for use in dogs. These drugs include gabapentin, felbamate, zonisamide and levitiracetam.

These anticonvulsant agents currently are used as an “add-on” drug for dogs with refractory seizure disorders. With the exception of levitiracetam, information on the use of such drugs in feline seizure disorders is anecdotal. But as these drugs get older and begin to emerge as less-expensive generic products, their clinical applicability in veterinary medicine continues to expand.

In general, these drugs have fewer side effects than the standard drugs, phenobarbital and potassium bromide, and are being considered more frequently as first-line anticonvulsant therapy for canine epilepsy. In addition to expanded use as maintenance anticonvulsant agents in dogs (and to a lesser extent in cats), two of these drugs (levitiracetam and zonisamide) have potential use in emergency settings (i.e., for status epilepticus and cluster seizures).