Pimobendan for Dogs – Use, Dosage, Side Effects

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Pimobendan for dogs is a drug prescribed if your dog has heart problems. Everyone dreads a heartbreak. It makes your chest stuffy and heavy and feels like the world is about to collapse on you. But what if your dog’s heart actually breaks (like, for real). Is there anything to do to mend it? 

Let’s explore to see the wonders of Pimobendan and what it can do for your dog’s heart. But first of all, what is pimobendan?

Dog Heart Rate

What is Pimobendan for Dogs?

Pimobendan for dogs is a heart medication used to treat Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). It is pronounced as Pi·moben·dan and sold under the brand name, Vetmedin. Therefore, the generic for Vetmedin is Pimobendan. 

This heart medication is a benzimidazole-pyridazinone derivative. It is usually not prescribed on its own but given in combination with other heart drugs like digoxin, furosemide, and/or enalapril.

Why Pimobendan is a Veterinary Medicine Prescription

Pimobendan as a prescription is to help dogs with congestive heart failure live a happy and comfortable life. But what does pimobendan do for dogs?

This heart medicine for dogs works by making the systolic efficiency better without increasing intracellular calcium levels negatively. This increases cardiac output and reduces the preload and afterload of the heart. It is also used as an inodilator when its positive inotropic effects are added to arteriovenous dilation.

In summary, pimobendan helps open up blood vessels leaving the heart and reduces the work of pumping blood to the body. It also increases the strength of the heartbeat of your dog. 

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is when the heart is not able to pump enough blood to the body and this causes an increase in blood pressure, and the lungs to be filled up with fluid. CHF can be caused by dilated cardiomyopathy or valvular insufficiency. 

After one week of administration, most animals with CHF show a rapid response to the drug. The cardiac enlargements decrease by day 30. The change increases the life expectancy of the animal. 

Pimobendan Dosage for Dogs

This dog heart medicine can be given either orally (tablet or liquid) or as an injection in the hospital. Your vet would advise you to give on an empty stomach, an hour before food, and the effects of the drug should start between one to two hours for fast action. For chronic cases, the pill can be given with food.  

The pimobendan dosage for dogs is 0.25-0.3mg/kg (0.09- 0.11 oz/kg) every 12 hours. This means that for each kilogram of your dog’s weight, 0.25-0.3mg (0.09- 0.11 oz) of the drug should be given every 12 hours. 

Pimobendan for Dogs – Side Effects

Like every drug, there are side effects to this heart medication for dogs, Pimobendan. Side effects are the secondary effects of the drug aside from the main target, which is not useful to us at that time. Note that not all side effects are bad. Some are good, actually. The side effects of pimobendan in dogs are not severe in nature. 

The main pimobendan side effects in dogs are gastrointestinal such as reduced appetite and diarrhea. This is related to the tablets mostly. Other possible pimobendan side effects in dogs are difficulty in breathing and feeling restless (lethargy), increased nitrogen waste in the blood (azotemia), and unsteady movement (ataxia). 

Pimobendan toxicity (overdose) shows severe tachycardia (fast heartbeat) and changes in blood pressure.

Pimobendan should be metabolized in the liver and cleared from the body through the kidneys within 24 hours, but this is prolonged in dogs with liver and kidney issues

What if I Forget to Give my Dog Pimobendan?

If you forget to give your dog the Pimobendan pill, don’t panic. You can administer it when you remember you missed a dose and go back to your regular dosing timeline. However, skip the missed dose and continue with the regular dose if it is close to the next dose time. Do not give two drugs at a time to make up for the missed one or give extra drugs as compensation.

A vet is examining the dog heart

Canine Pimobendan and Potential Drug Interactions

Some drug interactions prevent the pimobendan pill from lasting long in the body to reach its effects, others also simply prevent it from working, and others can prolong its effects in the body to your pet’s harm.

Potential drug interactions include verapamil and diltiazem (calcium antagonists) and propranolol, atenolol (and other beta antagonists). If your dog is taking any other drugs, inform your veterinarian during the prescription and remember to tell them about their dosing schedules.

How to Store Pimobendan for Dogs

Storing pimobendan pills is done at room temperature, away or protected from sunlight, moisture and heat. Do not store the drug in a refrigerator or the freezer. Dispose of the drug properly if you no longer administer it.

It is essential to store the drug at the correct temperature to achieve its maximum effect when it is administered.

What to do in Case of Emergency

In case of an emergency such as an adverse effect (harmful side effects), contact your veterinarian immediately or an animal emergency clinic.

Remember to follow the prescription of your veterinarian when giving this heart medicine to dogs.  

Pimobendan should not be given to dogs with aortic stenosis, any disease which increases cardiac input inappropriately, ascites resulting from pericardial flow, or dogs with abnormal heart rhythm. 

It should not also be given to dogs who are allergic to the drug. It should be used with caution in young, lactating, or breeding dogs and dogs with metabolic diseases. Contact your veterinarian before administering it. 

FAQ by Pet Owners:

How Long Can a Dog Live on Pimobendan?

This depends on the stage of CHF, underlying medical conditions, and adverse effects. Pimobendan is likely to be given for the rest of your dog’s life, as long as it responds to treatment. Your veterinarian is the right person to determine this.

How to Get My Dog to Take The Pimobendan Pill?

The Pimobendan pill commonly comes in chewable tablets, which can be split into two. It is usually given by mouth. The capsule, however, cannot/should not be opened or divided. One can use a pill pusher to push the drug to the back of the throat.

What if a Healthy Dog Takes Pimobendan

Healthy dogs can tolerate pimobendan well. However, some dogs may experience vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, a slight increase in heart rate, and decreased appetite. Read our article and find out 6 Appetite Stimulants for Dogs and How They WORK.

If your dog has accidentally taken pimobendan, take the remains of the packet together with the dog to the nearest veterinary clinic or emergency unit. 

Dog in bed and Vetmedin

The Final Bark 

Congestive heart failure doesn’t have to be a death sentence now for dogs. With the advancement of veterinary medicine, dogs can live a normal, happy life on pimobendan and other cardiac drugs after their diagnosis.  

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Currently a Veterinary House Officer at the University of Ghana, Akosua plays a pivotal role in disease diagnosis, treatment, and student supervision. Akosua's educational journey in veterinary medicine has been instrumental in shaping her commitment to public education and awareness. Her veterinary training equips her to communicate complex topics for public understanding. Her online presence on Instagram reaches a wider audience. She actively engages in public speaking, inspiring a deeper understanding of responsible pet care and the role of veterinary professionals in fostering a healthier coexistence between humans and animals.