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Carbamazepine (Tegretol®)

By: Dr. Nicholas Dodman

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  • Seizure disorders or convulsions are the physical manifestations of uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain. Recurrent seizures are often classified as epilepsy (fits). While there are numerous causes of convulsions, treatments that control epileptic seizures are relatively limited. Commonly used anticonvulsant drugs include phenobarbital, diazepam (Valium®) and primidone.
  • Carbamazepine is an uncommonly used anticonvulsant drug. It can help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures.
  • Carbamazepine is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.
  • This drug is not approved for use in animals by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but it is prescribed legally by veterinarians as an extra-label drug.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • This drug is registered for use in humans only
  • Human formulations: Tegretol® (Novartis Pharmaceuticals)
  • Veterinary formulations: None

    Uses of Carbamazepine

  • Carbamazepine is used in the treatment of idiopathic epilepsy to control seizures, partial seizures and mixed seizure patterns. It is supposedly particularly effective for the treatment of simple or complex partial seizures.
  • Carbamazepine has also been recommended as part of the treatment for aggression in dogs, and as a possible treatment for canine obsessive-compulsive disorders.
  • Carbamazepine may be employed on its own or in combination with other anticonvulsants.

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, carbamazepine may cause side effects in some animals.
  • Carbamazepine should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug, or to any of the tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline, clomipramine).
  • Carbamazepine should not be given to patients with cardiac disease, hepatic disease, bone marrow suppression, glaucoma, or a serious blood disorder.
  • Carbamazepine may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with carbamazepine. Such drugs include MAO inhibitors (such as Anipryl®) and digoxin.

    How Carbamazepine is Supplied

  • Carbamazepine is available as 100 mg, 200 mg, 300 mg and 400 mg tablets or capsules.
  • It is also available in a 100 mg/5 ml suspension. Extended-release tablets are available in 100 mg, 200 mg and 400 mg sizes.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • The dosage in dogs varies and is adjusted to effect. Common dosages include the following:
    A. 2 to 6 mg/kg/day orally, divided and given over 8 to 12 hours
    B. 4 to 8 mg/kg every 12 hours
    C. 15 to 20 mg per dog orally every 12 hours
  • The dose of carbamazepine in cats is currently unknown.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, the response of the pet to the medication, and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian.

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