Zonisamide: A Powerful Antiseizure Medication for Pets


When it comes to treating seizures in pets, one medication stands out: zonisamide. As an anticonvulsant, zonisamide has proven to be highly effective in controlling seizures in both cats and dogs. Whether it’s used as an initial therapy or as an add-on drug for difficult-to-control seizures, zonisamide has shown great promise in improving the quality of life for our furry friends.

Understanding Zonisamide

Zonisamide, also known by its brand name Zonegran®, is commonly prescribed for epilepsy in humans. However, it’s important to note that its use in veterinary medicine is considered ‘off label’ or ‘extra label’. But don’t let that worry you. Many drugs are prescribed off label in veterinary medicine, and with proper guidance from your veterinarian, zonisamide can provide the relief your pet needs.

Administration and Dosage

Administering zonisamide is a breeze. The medication is usually given orally in the form of capsules or may even be compounded into an oral liquid. It can be administered with or without food, but if your pet experiences any discomfort or vomiting, giving it with a small treat or food can help alleviate those symptoms. In most cases, zonisamide starts working within 1-2 days, but remember, never stop the medication suddenly, as it may trigger seizures.

Missed Doses and Delayed Shipments

If you happen to miss a dose, don’t fret. Simply give the missed dose as soon as you remember, unless it’s within 12 hours of the next scheduled dose. In that case, you have two options: either skip the missed dose and continue with the regular schedule or give the missed dose and wait for the recommended interval before the next dose. However, never give your pet two doses at once or extra doses.

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Potential Side Effects

As with any medication, zonisamide may cause some side effects in pets. In dogs, common side effects include sedation, incoordination, vomiting, and lack of appetite. Although rare, more serious side effects such as liver disease, urinary stones, and aggression can occur. If you notice severe signs or any dramatic changes in your pet’s behavior, it’s essential to contact your veterinarian immediately. In cats, side effects may include lack of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, incoordination, and sleepiness.

Risk Factors to Consider

While zonisamide is generally safe for most pets, there are a few risk factors to keep in mind. It should not be used in pets that are hypersensitive or allergic to the medication, have liver disease, or are breeding or pregnant. If your pet has a hypersensitivity or allergy to sulfonamide drugs, it’s advisable to use zonisamide with caution. For nursing mothers, it’s currently unknown if zonisamide is excreted in maternal milk, so it’s best to exercise caution.

Medication Interactions

If your pet is currently taking phenobarbital, it’s important to note that zonisamide may be cleared from the body more quickly. This means that higher doses of zonisamide may be required or phenobarbital doses may need to be decreased. It’s crucial to inform your veterinarian about any medications, including vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies, that your pet is taking to ensure their safety and well-being.

Monitoring and Storage

During the course of zonisamide treatment, your veterinarian may monitor your pet’s blood zonisamide levels to ensure the medication is effective and well-tolerated. Additionally, it’s essential to observe your pet for any adverse effects and track the occurrence of seizures. This information will help your veterinarian assess how well the medication is working and make any necessary adjustments.

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When it comes to storage, zonisamide should be kept at a temperature of 25°C (76°F) and protected from light. Brief exposure to temperatures between 15°C (59°F) and 30°C (86°F) is allowed. Store the capsules in a dry place to maintain their integrity.

Handling Emergencies

In case of an overdose or adverse reaction to zonisamide, contact your veterinary office immediately. If they are unavailable, follow their instructions to reach an emergency facility promptly. Your pet’s well-being is paramount, and quick action can make all the difference.

Zonisamide, with its remarkable antiseizure properties, offers hope and relief to pets struggling with seizures. With proper care and guidance from your veterinarian, your furry companion can live a happier, healthier life. To learn more about zonisamide and its benefits, visit Katten TrimSalon today.