Vetmedin Side Effects in Dogs

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Getting a diagnosis of heart disease or a heart condition for your dog can be scary to put it mildly. Even worse, hearing your veterinarian diagnose your pup with congestive heart failure (CHF) can sound as if you might have very little time left with your dog. While heart disease diagnoses are quite serious, there are treatments and therapies that can help lessen the symptoms and add precious time to your dog's life. A primary treatment for CHF is Vetmedin, a chewable medication taken daily.


If your dog responds well to Vetmedin, he'll likely take it for life.
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What is Vetmedin for dogs?

Vetmedin is the brand name for the drug pimobendan. It is a heart medication that is often given to dogs who are diagnosed with congestive heart failure that may be caused by valve issues, such as mitral valve regurgitation, or dilated cardiomyopathy. The drug gained favor in Europe for its favorable effects, including quick resolution of symptoms and improved longevity, and it has quickly become a popular treatment choice for CHF in dogs.


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How is pimobendan administered in dogs?

Vetmedin are chewable tablets that are available in 1.25-milligram, 2.5-milligram, 5-milligram and 10-milligram tablet sizes.​ The dosage needed is determined by your dog's size and condition. Typically, the medication is administered every 12 hours, ideally on an empty stomach one hour before mealtime. In some areas, pimobendan may be administered as an oral liquid or even as an injectable in a hospital setting. It should be stored at room temperature and away from bright lights.


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Vetmedin for congestive heart failure treatment in dogs

If your dog has congestive heart failure related to dilated cardiomyopathy or degenerative mitral valve disease, your vet may prescribe pimobendan or Vetmedin. This heart medication is an inodilator that helps keep your dog's heart pumping efficiently by opening the blood vessels leading to and from the heart. After taking the medication, the dog's heart rate and blood pressure decrease, and their heart's contractility — the ability to contract — increases. Vetmedin also relieves pressure on the heart.


What are Vetmedin's possible side effects in dogs?

Vomiting is a rare potential side effect of the drug. Diarrhea and loss of appetite may occur.​ Other potential side effects include loss of coordination, possible seizures, and uneasiness. The heart's ability to contract also may be affected, so the dog taking pimobendan should be monitored for arrhythmia.


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What is the effectiveness of Vetmedin in dogs?

It doesn't take long for the drug to make its effectiveness known. The benefits of pimobendan can begin within hours of being given, but continued benefit can increase for up to a week. If your dog experiences improvement, which usually builds over the course of several weeks, long-term use is almost always instituted. The benefits of taking pimobendan included having their life span or survival time extended by a median of 15 months compared to dogs taking other conventional cardiac medication alone.



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What are the contraindications for pimobendan for dogs?

Despite the promise of Vetmedin, it's not for every dog. It's not recommended for dogs with aortic stenosis or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Any dog taking a phosphodiesterase inhibitor should not take pimobendan, though there are no known drug interactions with it. It is also not advised to administer this medication if your dog is using either beta-antagonists, such as atenolol or propranolol, or calcium antagonists, like diltiazem, so make certain to inform your veterinarian if your dog is prescribed either.


You'll also want to make sure your dog's veterinarian knows of any over-the-counter supplements or vitamins your dog may be taking. If your dog experiences side effects or shows signs of allergic reaction, such as hives, facial swelling, or difficulty breathing, contact your veterinarian immediately.


The bottom line

If your dog suffers from congestive heart failure, they may benefit from the drug Vetmedin or its generic counterpart, pimobendan. It is used to increase the life of dogs with CHF as well as to quickly treat the symptoms of the disease. Though there are potential side effects, Vetmedin is generally safe for dogs and is often part of a lifelong treatment regimen if it improves the quality of life for a dog with heart failure.



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