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Pimobendan is a new and important drug that is used to treat congestive heart failure (CHF) in dogs. Large clinical studies support the use of pimobendan in dogs that have clinical signs of CHF and in breeds of dogs (Doberman pinschers and others) that are at risk for developing CHF. Pimobendan both strengthens the heart's ability to contract, and dilates blood vessels throughout the body. It is an oral medication and in most cases is given with other cardiac medications and diuretics such as furosemide. Recent studies have shown that dogs that receive pimobendan (with other cardiac drugs) both survived longer and had better quality of life scores than dogs receiving alternate cardiac treatments. For some breeds, including Doberman Pinschers, the increased time until the onset of clinical signs and the increase in survival time is dramatic. Dogs with clinical signs of CHF may show improvement within seven days of starting treatment. Cardiac enlargement may be improved within the first month of treatment. Pimobendan is a sufficiently well researched and important new drug. In 2009 the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine included pimobendan in their consensus statement regarding the treatment of chronic valvular heart disease. Pimobendan is FDA approved for use in dogs. It is sold under the trade name of Vetmedin®. When the appropriate form or dose of this drug is not available through a veterinary pharmaceutical manufacturer, it may be compounded by a specialty pharmacy.
Give this medication to your pet exactly as your veterinarian prescribes. If you miss giving your pet a dose of pimobendan, give the next dose as soon as you remember or, if it is close to the next scheduled dose, return to the regular schedule. Do not double dose to catch up.
Pimobendan should be given on an empty stomach, preferably an hour before feeding.
Wash your hands after giving your pet this medication.
Be sure to discuss any side effects with your veterinarian immediately.
Side effects that were identified as a part of the field study for FDA approval include loss of appetite, low energy, diarrhea, difficulty breathing. Less common side effects include change in kidney function, weakness and balance issues, fluid accumulation in the lungs or abdomen, cough, and changes in heart rhythm.
Keep this and all drugs out of reach of children. This drug should only be given to the animal for which it was prescribed. Do not give this medication to a person.Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.
Pimobendan and other cardiac drugs may improve heart function but they do not cure the underlying disease process. In all likelihood, your animal will remain on treatment for the rest of its life.
There are cardiac conditions where pimobendan is not an appropriate medication. These include any cardiac condition in which increasing cardiac output is not desirable: for example, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or aortic stenosis.
Pimobendan has been associated with an increased incidence in abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) but the progression of CHF is also been associated with an increased incidence in abnormal heart rhythm. It is not completely understood at this time if the use of pimobendan in animals with CHF is causing an increased incidence of arrhythmia independent of the underlying heart disease.
Pimobendan has not been evaluated in pregnant animals, nursing animals or very young animals.
Be sure to review with your veterinarian any medications or supplements your pet may be receiving.
Calcium channel blockers and certain beta blockers may decrease the effects of pimobendan.
If you suspect your pet or another animal was overdosed accidentally or has eaten this medication inadvertently, contact your veterinarian or the A.S.P.C.A.'s Animal Poison Control Center at 888.426.4435. Always bring the prescription container with you when you take your pet for treatment.
If you or someone else has accidentally ingested this medication call the National Capital Poison Center at 800.222.1222.
Different strengths or dosage forms of pimobendan may have different storage requirements. Read the labeling or ask your pharmacist for the storage requirements of the prescription you receive.
Dr. Barbara Forney is a veterinary practitioner in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She has a master's degree in animal science from the University of Delaware and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1982.
She began to develop her interest in client education and medical writing in 1997. Recent publications include portions of The Pill Book Guide to Medication for Your Dog and Cat, and most recently Understanding Equine Medications published by the Bloodhorse.
Dr. Forney is an FEI veterinarian and an active member of the AAEP, AVMA, and AMWA.
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This content is intended for counseling purposes only. This content is informational/educational and is not intended to treat or diagnose any disease or patient. No claims are made as to the safety or efficacy of mentioned preparations. The compounded medications featured in this content have been prescribed and/or administered by prescribers who work with Wedgewood Pharmacy. You are encouraged to speak with your prescriber as to the appropriate use of any medication. Wedgewood Pharmacy’s compounded veterinary preparations are not intended for use in food and food-producing animals. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.