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Pimobendan is a medication that is designed to assist canines that have CHF, or congestive heart failure. Other names for Pimobendan on the current market include Vetmedin©, Heartmedin©, and Acardi©.
Keep reading to learn more about pimobendan uses, side effects, and dosage information.
- What is Pimobendan Used for in Dogs?
- Pimobendan Side Effects
- Pimobendan Dosage & Administration
- Pimobendan Safety
- Pimobendan Alternatives for Dogs
- Preventing Heart Disease
- Final Notes
What is Pimobendan Used for in Dogs?
Pimobendan helps to treat CHF in dogs, regardless of age, by opening the blood vessels. The medication works by dilating the blood vessels throughout the pup's body while simultaneously working to strengthen the overall function of the heart. Pimobendan is ideal for dogs who have been diagnosed with CHF due to valvular insufficiency or cardiomyopathy. It is best to speak to your veterinarian directly to determine if pimobendan is right for your dog.
There are two major clinical diagnoses that are considered when a veterinarian prescribes pimobendan, including DCM, or dilated cardiomyopathy (stage B2) as well as DMVD, or pre-clinical degenerative mitral valve disease. Both of these conditions can be addressed and managed with pimobendan, as the drug works to improve overall heart function and blood flow throughout the body.1-3
Pimobendan Side Effects
Pimobendan is relatively safe as side effects are often considered rare and uncommon with the medication. However, it is not extremely uncommon for pets to experience gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea, after beginning the medication. Ensure your dog remains well-hydrated if they begin experiencing diarrhea at any time.2
In some instances, your pet may begin to experience additional GI issues on top of diarrhea, such as a lack of appetite. General lethargy, weakness, and a lack of energy may also be noticeable for pets that are just starting pimobendan.
More serious side effects to watch for that may indicate the need for assistance from a veterinarian include:
- Rash or increased redness of the skin
- Difficulty breathing, increased wheezing
- Racing or abnormal heartbeat
- Fainting or collapsing
- Bruising or bleeding
- Distended or painful abdomen
- Yellowing of the gums or the whites of the eyes
If these pimobendan for dogs side effects appear after you begin administering the medication to your dog, call your veterinarian immediately.3
Pimobendan Dosage & Administration
Currently, pimobendan is prescribed as a chewable tablet or capsule. The pimobendan dosage for dogs varies and includes the following dosages: 1.25 mg, 2.5 mg, 5 mg, and 10 mg. The exact pimobendan dose for dogs in need of the medication will vary based on weight, age, as well as the issue that is being addressed.3
In most cases, pimobendan is given to dogs in need twice a day. It is best to administer pimobendan on an empty stomach at least one hour before providing food to your dog. Additionally, if you miss a dose, it's important to avoid doubling the next dose. Instead, stick to the same schedule that your veterinarian recommends and monitor your dog's overall health.3
Keeping pimobendan out of the reach of children is imperative. Pimobendan is not designed for human use or consumption at any age. Pimobendan should only be administered to your canine as prescribed. While pimobendan can be used for cats in various situations, it is designed to assist canines with CHF, or congestive heart failure.3
If your dog has been diagnosed with aortic stenosis or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, pimobendan is not likely to be the ideal solution for their needs. In these instances, dogs do not require increased cardiac output, which is what pimobendan provides.3
In some reports, dogs may see an increase in arrhythmia, also known as an abnormal heartbeat. It is not yet determined if pimobendan is responsible for the increase in arrhythmia or if there is an underlying cause in the canines contributing to the abnormal heart rhythm.3
Note: It is important to note that the use of pimobendan has not been tested on young animals or on nursing and/or pregnant animals. Speak to your veterinarian if your animal is younger or is currently pregnant and/or nursing and you are considering pimobendan.3
If you have any concerns about administering a new drug to your dog and want to learn more about the medication and your options, schedule an online vet appointment. Scheduling an online vet appointment will help you to connect directly to your veterinarian without having to leave your home.
If your dog is currently being prescribed additional beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers, the effects of pimobendan may be decreased or limited. If your dog is currently taking any additional medications or vitamins, it is best to speak directly to the veterinarian treating them before determining if pimobendan is right for your dog.
Pimobendan Alternatives for Dogs
Currently, there is no alternative to pimobendan, Vetmedin, or any other medication on the market with the same name, according to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).4
Although there are no medication alternatives for dogs on the market, it is still advisable to ensure your dog receives nutritious dog food, adequate exercise and maintains a healthy and active lifestyle. You can also turn to your trusted veterinarian for additional diet and nutrition advice that may work for your dog. Not all dogs have the same metabolism or dietary needs. Speaking directly to your veterinarian can help you to navigate the diagnosis of congestive heart failure in your dog while determining the best foods and routines possible for your pup's future.
Preventing Heart Disease
Preventing heart disease and heart failure in dogs (as well as in humans) is possible by maintaining a healthy lifestyle with food and exercise. Leading an active lifestyle and consuming the right diet can have a significant impact on your dog's overall health, even once they have been diagnosed with CHF. Incorporating weight management dog food and food designed to be heart-healthy is also advisable to help prevent heart disease and/or the progression of CHF.
If your dog is overweight or obese, consider weight management programs that are designed for overweight canines. These programs can help your dog to become more disciplined when it comes to eating and living a healthy lifestyle.
Scheduling regular check-ups at the vet is imperative for anyone with a dog who is predisposed to potential heart issues or has already been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Visiting your canine's vet regularly and conducting bloodwork and traditional checkups is a way to ensure your dog remains healthy for years to come while also maintaining your own peace of mind.
To recap, a few ways to help prevent heart disease in dogs of all ages include:5
- Learning about heart disease, triggers, and prevention methods in canines
- Incorporate weight management food as well as food with whole ingredients that are heart-healthy into your dog's daily eating routine
- Maintain a healthy and active lifestyle by walking, running, or working out alongside your dog
- Consider weight management programs for dogs that are overweight and/or obese and are also at risk for heart disease
- Visit your veterinarian regularly for checkups and bloodwork, as this will inform you of potential issues or health concerns that require further investigation
What does pimobendan do for the heart?
Pimobendan, commonly known as Vetmedin on the market, is designed to assist with improving the heart's overall function and actions. The medication works to open blood vessels throughout the body, making it easier for blood to flow freely and without constraint. Additionally, pimobendan works to help improve the overall pumping function and strength of the heart. For dogs that have been diagnosed with a weak heart muscle, also known as dilated cardiomyopathy or a bad heart valve, commonly referred to as myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVS), pimobendan can provide significant improvement and ultimately, relief.
Although pimobendan is designed specifically for canines, it has a historical record of being utilized in felines that have also experienced a form of cardiomyopathy. However, it is important to note that pimobendan is only prescribed for canines and is only technically useful for canines. It is not for use at home for cats or humans of any age.
Can pimobendan prevent heart failure?
There have been various indicators that the use of pimobendan can be extremely beneficial in reducing signs and symptoms that are most commonly associated with CHF, or congestive heart failure. Just days after taking the prescribed pimobendan (for 7 days), dogs have shown significant overall improvement as well as the improvement of any cardiac enlargement that has occurred in the dog as well. Although it may not cure CHF or prevent congestive heart failure from progressing entirely, pimobendan has been proven safe for dogs by the FDA, or the Food and Drug Administration. It has also demonstrated its ability to improve heart function and blood flow throughout the body.
Why does pimobendan need to be given on an empty stomach?
Pimobendan is not absorbed very well when given with a stomach full of food. In order to maximize the rate of absorption and increase the efficacy of the medication, it is recommended that pimobendan be given an hour before a meal.
Pimobendan is a leading medication for dogs who have been diagnosed with CHF, or congestive heart failure. Understanding the benefits that pimobendan provides can help to ensure your dog receives the care they deserve when they need it most.
To learn more about pimobendan and to determine if it is right for your pup, visit Dutch today.
eighner3. “Pimobendan Updates: When and Why.” Veterinary Medicine at Illinois, 15 Sept. 2021, https://vetmed.illinois.edu/2021/07/07/pimobendan-updates-when-and-why/.
“Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure.” HeartSmart, https://heartsmart.vet.tufts.edu/treatment-of-congestive-heart-failure/.
Medicine, Center for Veterinary. “FDA Helps Improve Availability of Vetmedin in the United States.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/cvm-updates/fda-helps-improve-availability-vetmedin-critical-heart-drug-dogs-united-states#:~:text=There%20is%20no%20FDA%2Dapproved%20alternative%20to%20Vetmedin.
“How to Keep Your Dog's Heart Healthy.” Www.heart.org, 24 Jan. 2023, https://www.heart.org/en/news/2022/04/11/how-to-keep-your-dogs-heart-healthy.