The goal of most canine heart medicine is to reduce the stress on the heart so it doesn't have to pump as hard. Depending on the type of heart disease, often multiple drugs are used and may require frequent changes in dosage until there is the desired effect. The heart muscle is a complex organ requiring some trial and error in administering types and doses of heart medicine. Treatment is similar to treatment in a human.
Types of Heart Medicine For Dogs
ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme Inhibitors)
A class of drugs called ACE inhibitors reduce blood pressure and block
the body's instinct to beat faster when blood flow declines. With the
heart not having to beat as hard, the life of the heart and your dog is
increased. These drugs have been extensively tested and are safe. ACE
inhibitors can be the only drug prescribed if your dog has been
Common brands of ACE medicines are:
- Enalapril (Enacard ®, Vasotec®)
- Benazepril (Lotensin®)
- Lisinopril (Prinivil®, Zestril®)
Possible side effects of these types of heart medicines for your dog include vomiting and diarrhea.
Works on your dog's kidneys and helps to remove water. Other diuretics include Spironolactone and Chlorthiazide. Common drug brands are Lasix® and Disal®. Side effects include weakness and dehydration.
This drug enlarges the veins, allowing blood to flow easier through your dog's body. It is given to your pet with a patch on the skin either in the groin or armpit or in a pill. Nitroglycerin is only effective for two days. Common brands are NitroBid®, Nitrol®, Isordil® and Sorbitrate®.
The drug digitalis is used to slow a racing heart. The drug is very powerful and requires monitoring.
This type of drug is used to stimulate a heart that is failing and helps regulate a heart that isn't beating regularly. Common drug brands are Lanoxin®, Cardoxin® and Cardoxin LS®. Side effects include diarrhea, appetite loss and vomiting.
Used in dogs to treat an irregular heartbeat this drug will slow the beat. Drug brands are Cardizem®, Cardizem CD® and Dilacor XR®. This drug usually does not have side effects. If any, they include reduced appetite or a slower heart rate.
Atenolol and Propranolol
These types of heart medicines are called betablockers.
They work on the part of the nervous system (sympathetic) that affects
the heart rate. Treatment reduces the heart rate, allowing your dog's
heart to work with less oxygen and can calm abnormal heart beat
Common drug brands are Tenormin® Inderal®. Side effects include changes in attitude and low blood pressure. Note they can also mask signs of diabetes such as blood sugar measurement.
Herbal and Natural Remedies
Homeopathic approaches have been successfully used to support the heart
and circulatory system. Herbs such as hawthorne, Arnica montana, Kalium
phosphate, Calcium fluoride are all associated with improved heart
health. PetAlive makes a supplement designed for heart health that is worth exploring.
Discuss this option with your veterinarian before combining with other
"Home Care of the Heart Failure Patient"
Washington State University
"Canine Heart Disease"
Dukes, Joanne, MRCVS Department of Veterinary Medicine University
Glasgow Veterinary School, Scotland, UK
Hearty Dog, http://www.heartydog.co.uk/index.html
Heart Disease in Dogs and Cats
Hines, Ron DVM, PHD
Heart Conditions: Dilated Cardiomyophaty (DCM) "Treatment for Rapid Heart Beat"
Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue
"His Heart is In Your Hands"
Canine Cardiology, New Hope Animal Hospital
"Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy and Heart Failure"
Pawprints & Purrs, Inc.
"Hole in Dog's Heart Repaired", Advances in the Management of Canine Heart Failure
Dr. Clarke E. Atkins
Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences