Though it may not feel like it at first, learning that your dog is living with high blood pressure or heart failure is often a blessing. Now that you know your dog has a problem, you can take steps to treat it and help her feel better. With proper management, dogs can live several happy years beyond a heart failure diagnosis, and the drug enalapril is a very effective tool for helping them do it. Like all drugs, however, enalapril has potential side effects of which you should be aware.
What is enalapril?
Often sold under the brand names Enacard and Vasotec, enalapril is an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor. In plain English, that means enalapril stops your dog's blood vessels from absorbing a certain enzyme produced by his body. When absorbed, this enzyme causes the blood vessels to constrict and tighten. This makes your dog's heart work harder to push blood through his body.
Enalapril keeps your dog's blood vessels relaxed and open to reduce the stress on his heart. Vets, therefore, use this drug to treat heart failure and high blood pressure. It's sometimes used to treat kidney disease as well.
Enalapril dosage for dogs
Typically, vets prescribe 0.25 milligrams of enalapril per pound when medicating dogs. You'll give your dog one dose a day, preferably on an empty stomach. Although generally safe when used as directed, understand that enalapril is a potent drug. Read the label instructions very carefully and contact your vet if you have any questions about this medication.
If you forget to give your dog a dose of enalapril, give it to her when you remember. Skip it, however, if it's soon time for her next dose. Never double a dose or give your dog more medication than your vet recommends. Doing so can result in a life-threatening overdose that lowers your dog's blood pressure to unsafe levels.
If you think your dog received too much medication, watch for the enalapril overdose symptoms in dogs. These include fainting, a slow heartbeat, and collapse. Get your dog to the vet right away if you notice these symptoms or if you suspect your dog has overdosed.
Potential side effects
Many of enalapril's side effects in dogs prove minor and manageable. Dry mouth and dehydration are common, so make sure your dog has access to water at all times. Your dog may also vomit or develop diarrhea. Though not fun for you, an upset stomach should prove temporary and occasional; however, call the vet if this side effect doesn't resolve.
Dogs on enalapril can also develop an itchy skin rash. This, too, is usually temporary. In the meantime, a soothing oatmeal bath can help alleviate any itch. Your dog may also seem a bit drowsy or have trouble sleeping for a few days.
Act on serious side effects
Although rare, some dogs can experience serious side effects when taking enalapril. An allergic reaction can swell a dog's face, tongue, and throat. This swelling can cause breathing issues and requires emergency treatment. Hives also indicate an allergy and the need for immediate veterinary intervention.
Other serious side effects include excessive urination, a lack of urination, and fainting. If your dog develops a fever or gets chills, take her to the vet right away. Also take note if your dog bruises or bleeds easily. Some dogs quickly gain weight on enalapril, which also indicates the need for veterinary intervention.
Enalapril can sometimes affect a dog's liver and kidneys. The only way to know if this happens is to monitor the dog through blood, urine, and other lab tests. If your vet asks you to bring your dog back for a follow-up appointment after starting enalapril, make sure you do so.
It's absolutely worth it
Given that enalapril is a strong drug with some potentially potent side effects, you may wonder if giving it to your dog is worth the risk. The answer is a resounding yes. Enalapril has repeatedly proved effective at both slowing the progression of heart failure and improving its symptoms. Enalapril may help your beloved pet feel better while significantly lengthening his life.