Pimobendan is a medication used in veterinary medicine for the treatment of heart conditions in dogs, specifically congestive heart failure (CHF) resulting from dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and degenerative mitral valve disease (DMVD). It is marketed under various brand names, including Vetmedin and Cardisure. This article covers some of the basic information about this medication, including uses, dosages, side effects, and more.
How much Pimobendan should I give my dog?
Like many veterinary medications, the dosage your vet will recommend will vary based on the size of your dog, the condition being treated, and other health considerations. Vets most commonly prescribe Pimobendan to be given orally twice per day. Over time and after follow-up visits, they may adjust the dosage to better fit your pet’s needs.
How should I give my dog Pimobendan?
Unless otherwise instructed by your vet, you should give your dog Pimobendan on an empty stomach. This is because the formulation is less bioavailable when taken with food.
Many dogs will have trouble taking the pill alone, so we suggest giving it with a small snack. However, you should try avoiding giving it with a meal.
Signs a dog may be suffering from heart issues
There are a number of symptoms that indicate your dog may be suffering from heart disease. We’ve split them into two categories: early signs that are lower urgency but should be addressed with your regular veterinarian within a couple days, and symptoms that indicate your pet may be having a medical emergency and should receive immediate attention from a vet.
Early Signs (Lower Urgency):
- Coughing (especially during exercise or at night)
- Mild exercise intolerance or decreased stamina
- Reluctance to engage in physical activities or play
- Mild weight loss or poor appetite
- Lethargy or decreased energy levels
It's important to note that while these early signs may not appear immediately life-threatening, they still indicate the presence of heart disease and should be addressed by a veterinarian in a timely manner. Early detection and treatment can help manage the condition and potentially slow its progression.
Urgent Issues (Requiring Immediate Veterinary Attention):
- Difficulty breathing or rapid, labored breathing
- Persistent coughing with pink or frothy mucus
- Fainting, collapse, or weakness
- Bluish discoloration of gums, tongue, or other mucous membranes (cyanosis)
- Abdominal distension, bloating, or swollen limbs due to fluid accumulation
- Sudden onset of severe lethargy or weakness
- Sudden and significant weight loss
- Intense restlessness or discomfort
- Irregular or rapid heart rate (arrhythmia)
These urgent issues may indicate a more advanced stage of heart disease, heart failure, or a cardiac emergency. Immediate veterinary attention is crucial to assess and stabilize the dog's condition.
Can Pimobendan be given to cats?
While pimobendan is primarily used in dogs, there have been some instances where it has been prescribed "off-label" for the treatment of certain heart conditions in cats. Off-label use refers to the use of a medication for a purpose not specifically approved by regulatory authorities. You should only give the medication to your cat under direct instructions from your veterinarian.
If you have an existing stock of pimobendan, you should not give it to another pet for whom it is not prescribed. This can be dangerous and lead to severe health consequences.
Dosage & Formulation
Pimobendan comes in a chewable tablet with 1.25mg, 2.5mg, 5mg, and 10mg strengths. Currently, there is only one commercially available formulation of the drug, most commonly sold under the name Vetmedin. If your dog has trouble taking pills, pimobendan can be compounded into a liquid oral solution.
While Pimobendan is generally well-tolerated in dogs, some potential side effects may occur. Not all dogs will experience these side effects, and their severity can vary. It's important to note that the benefits of using pimobendan to manage heart disease often outweigh the potential risks. A licensed veterinarian will take the risks of side effects into consideration before prescribing any medication. Here are some possible side effects associated with Pimobendan:
Gastrointestinal Upset: The most commonly reported side effect is mild gastrointestinal upset, including decreased appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Arrhythmias: In rare cases, pimobendan may trigger arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). If your dog shows signs such as weakness, collapse, or fainting, it could be indicative of an arrhythmia.
Allergic Reactions: Although uncommon, dogs can develop allergic reactions to medications, including pimobendan. Signs of an allergic reaction may include facial swelling, hives, itching, or difficulty breathing.
Many initial side effects are transient and will resolve naturally after some time. If you observe any concerning side effects that persist or worsen, or have any questions or concerns about your dog's response to the medication, consult your veterinarian for guidance. They can provide personalized advice based on your dog's specific condition and medical history.
This article is intended to provide information on Pimobendan for the general public. If you are a veterinarian, please visit the manufacturer's instructions for detailed and up-to-date information and prescribing instructions for this medication. Information for Vetmedin, manufactured by Boehringer Ingelheim, can be found here: Medication Information.
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