My experience as a fellow dog owner who lost a pet due to a blood disorder shows me just how devastating losing a pet can be.
I simply could not put anyone to blame in situations such as this as I wasn’t looking to place blame on anyone.
In the loss of a loved one, we feel everything, as human beings we are.
In these uncertain circumstances, grieving with a mixture of boiling anger for your beloved dog’s sudden death can be a difficult process.
My first experience with this emotional roller coaster was one of the worst I have ever endured.
I’d like to reach out and lend a helping hand if you’re experiencing the same problem I did, which was putting the blame on a drug called Vetmedin.
Also Read: Can Cytopoint kill my dog?
What is Vetmedin?
In order to treat heart disease in your canine, Vetmedin comes in tablet form.
In essence, the drug delays the onset of heart failure prolongs the life of your pet
, and makes them more comfortable.
Depending on the severity of their initial health standing, each dog reacts differently to the drug.
The effects of Vetmedin are not immediate. In general, however, you will usually start to notice some positive changes within one week of taking the drug. (1)
During the recurring weeks, these changes should gradually improve.
What breeds are most susceptible to these heart conditions?
Dogs that suffer from heart problems include:
- Pit Bulls
- Cocker Spaniels
- Golden Retrievers
- German Shepherds
- Great Dan
Common Causes of Heart Failure in Dogs
Chronic valvular disease, which usually affects small breeds and older animals, and dilated cardiomyopathy, which usually affects dogs in their middle age, are the two leading causes of heart failure. Heredity, however, plays a key role in the development of these conditions.
In the U.S., primary care veterinarians diagnose heart disease in approximately 10 percent of dogs. A slightly higher proportion of males than females of the dogs have chronic valvulitis. This condition occurs when one of the heart’s valves slowly deteriorates and is no longer able to prevent blood from backing up. There is a high probability that the mitral valve will be affected, located between the left atrium and the left ventricle. There are four breeds that are more at risk: Cavalier King Charles spaniels, miniature and toy poodles, Chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers, Schnauzers, and cocker spaniels. (2)
The first sign is often a murmur in the heart. In addition to deteriorating valves, the volume of blood flowing backward grows over time. This can often be detected by a veterinarian using a stethoscope years before any outward symptoms appear.
American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine commissioned a panel of 10 cardiologists to develop a consensus statement because of conflicting information and unanswered questions about which therapies are most effective at what stage. In November/December 2009, the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine published a report entitled “Guidelines for Diagnosis and Treatment of Canine Chronic Valvular Heart Disease.”. Each stage of the disease was divided into four stages with specific treatments that they agreed and disagreed upon. Your veterinarian should consult the report if your dog is diagnosed with this disease.
Sonya Gordon, PhD, at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, among her many suggestions: Dogs with murmurs should have their condition staged through X-rays … so the severity of heart disease can be determined and we can prevent patients from needing emergency treatment. (3)
Tracking the Blood Flow in a Dog
It is the inability of the heart to pump effectively that causes heart failure. In the heart, there are two sides, called the right atrium and left ventricle. Each has an upper and a lower chamber. Blood is received from the right ventricle and pumped to the lungs, where carbon dioxide is exchanged for oxygen. After leaving the left atrium, oxygen-rich blood travels to the left ventricle, which forces it back into the body.
One-way valves are located in four areas of the heart to keep blood flowing forward as it pumps: two are located between the atria and ventricles, and two are found where blood leaves the ventricles for the lungs and body. The heart cannot pump blood at the required pressure, volume, and direction when there’s a breakdown in the pumping machinery – for example, when a chamber weakens or a valve degrades. In the vessels around the heart, blood builds up, causing a blockage that disrupts the delicate pressure balance between the inside of the vessel wall and the tissues it feeds.
A leak occurs when fluids from the blood seep from the vessels into the surrounding tissues, especially the lungs and abdomen. A number of symptoms are caused by this, including fainting, coughing, shortness of breath, labored breathing, appetite loss, lethargy, rapid and irregular heartbeats, abdominal distension, and discomfort when lying down. Neither prevention nor cure exists.
Also Read: Can Cerenia Cause Death in Dogs?
Does Vetmedin kill dogs? Is there any evidence to support this?
The World Small Animal Veterinary World Congress Proceedings published a study examining Pimobendan (PB) and its effects on heart failure and quality of life in dogs.
Nineteen dogs with DCM in the study that got PB died suddenly or went into heart failure, while 25 dogs in the placebo group died suddenly. The PB group had seven dogs die suddenly, while the placebo group had eight. Comparatively, 17 people in the placebo group and 12 people in the PB group went into heart failure.
It is clear that the combined endpoint of time to heart failure and time to sudden death shows that it does lengthen survival times, but the results are opposite when analyzed individually. A great deal of variation exists in the time to sudden death and the onset of heart failure, and neither factor was statistically significant. The results of this study indicate that PB does not prolong the time it takes for dogs to experience heart failure or the time it takes to die suddenly.
A study published by QUEST concluded that PB had no effect on improving the quality of life in dogs. Additionally, free water retention was decreased. It is not expected that PB increases the shortening fraction in the left ventricle of a dog with mitral regurgitation (or MVD). As a result, LVID (left ventricle end-systolic diameter) and LVID (left ventricle diastolic diameter) were smaller as expected.
Doberman Pinschers with DCM were the focus of the study. The drug does prolong a dog’s life, but studies to date have shown insignificant statistical findings indicating that the drug is ineffective. (4)
What types of heart conditions does it treat?
The drug Vetmedin is used to treat congestive heart failure (CHF). It is used in the treatment of MAV and DCM, both of which cause congestive heart failure.
Mitral valve disease is a result of leaking or ‘wearing out’ of the mitral valve over time. Blood flows back through your dog’s left atrium through a leaking mitral valve, causing a heart murmur.
It is primarily the cardiac muscle that is affected by dilated cardiomyopathy, which means our dogs’ hearts are unable to pump enough blood through their vascular system.
The two diseases are treated by Vetmedin differently:
Transmits blood to and from the heart by opening blood vessels. Your dog’s heart workload is reduced as a result of this.
Heartbeats become stronger and more efficient. Consequently, the heart pumps more efficiently. If your dog suffers from heart failure, your veterinarian could prescribe other medications.
Diagnostic Testing for CHF in Dogs
An eagle’s heart and lungs are listened to by a veterinarian with a stethoscope for irregularities and his blood pressure is checked. In addition to a chest X-ray to look for fluid accumulation in the lungs, an electrocardiogram can measure the electrical activity in the heart; blood tests can determine how the disease is progressing and the effects of medications on organs; and an echocardiogram can offer a detailed view of the heart’s structure.
New blood tests can detect NTproBNP, a protein released into the bloodstream as a result of the presence of significant heart disease and in greater quantities as a result of heart failure. A test of this type may be able to detect early asymptomatic heart failure and dilated cardiomyopathy.
These and other tests might not be required at the same time, but the costs can add up. Cummings School charges about $250 for an echocardiogram and $180 for X-rays. There is a $2000 charge for dogs already in heart failure if they visit the emergency room there.
Can Vetmedin cause any side effects?
Whenever your dog takes medication, there is always a possibility that it will experience some side effects. The side effects associated with Vetmedin are relatively rare in this situation, however. For example:
- Increase in mitral valve regurgitation
- Lower appetite
- Slightly increased heart rate
- Diarrhea (yikes)
- Lethargy (weakness)
Please call your local vet on the phone or make an appointment if your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms.
Is there a recommended dosage for Vetmedin?
Vetmedin comes in two forms: chewable tablets and capsules. It should be fed to your dog orally twice daily, one hour before breakfast and one hour before dinner (about 12 hours apart). Veterinary offices may recommend a different dosage (1.25 mg, 2.5 mg, 5 mg, or 10 mg) for each dog.
How to treat dogs with congestive heart failure
Veterinarians treat heart failure by removing excess fluids from the body, but there is no cure for most cases. Medication is usually required to treat this. In addition to furosemide, a diuretic which blocks kidneys’ ability to hold onto salt and water, dogs with kidney problems may also be prescribed ACE inhibitors such as enalapril, which can help furosemide work more efficiently, and pimobendan, which strengthens and expands the heart’s contractions.
Food and Drug Administration approved pimobendan for use in dogs in 2007, and many dog owners, including Barb Hoorman of Plano, Texas, has called it a “wonder drug.” When she was about 10 years old, her companion spaniels – Stormy and Midori – both suffered heart failure within two weeks of each other.
Her breeding protocol involves screening her dogs each year at Texas A&M. A trial involving pimobendan was being carried out by Dr. Gordon in the U.S., so he asked her if she would like to take part. Hoorman says that her dogs were acting like puppies again within 36 hours. This was an extraordinary experience. I had a lifesaving drug.
Furosemide and enalapril are both eligible for the $4-prescription programs offered by large retailers such as Walmart and Target now that their generic versions are available. Pimobendan, however, is more expensive due to Vetmedin’s brand name.
On average, furosemide and enalapril will cost you approximately $12 per month, and pimobendan will cost you $60 per month – more if your dog is large. It will cost you approximately $200 to $300 every three or four months to take your pet to the veterinarian.
In addition to beta-blockers, veterinarians may recommend them. In humans, they improve the prognosis of heart failure, but they aren’t proven to be effective in dogs. As well as natural supplements, veterinarians might prescribe amino acids or omega-3 fatty acids, which have proved beneficial for dogs.
There are currently limited surgical options for dogs with heart failure. Heart bypass surgery is no longer available at Cummings School and other universities. Depending on the procedure and hospitalization, costs can range from $10,000 to $15,000. Between 20 and 30 percent of dogs die during surgery, and many of them are simply too small for the procedure.
Her veterinarian says that, with the help of medications, a balanced diet with moderate sodium, and regular checkups, Stormy lived to be 12 while Midori lived to be 13 – significantly longer than the average survival time for dogs with heart failure, which is six to nine months.
Dr. Cunningham says it’s difficult to discuss survival in dogs because it’s so owner-dependent. There have been dogs that have lived for 12, 15, or 18 months after diagnosis. The owners of these dogs were extremely motivated.
Vetmedin should be taken after considering the following factors?
You and your veterinarian should consider several factors before you decide whether to give your furry friend Vetmedin. This is particularly important if your pet has underlying health conditions or drug interactions.
Conditions underlying health problems
It is recommended that your dog not take Pimobendan (found in Vetmedin) if he has any of the following conditions:
Atypical cardiac increase input
It is advisable to consult a veterinarian if your dog is young, breeding, pregnant, lactating, or diabetic since no studies have confirmed its safety.
Interactions between drugs
A calcium antagonist (verapamil, diltiazem) and a beta-antagonist (propranolol, atenolol) should be administered with caution and care. Make sure you inform your vet about all vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies your dog is taking.
Vetmedin alternatives: Are they available?
The only FDA-approved alternative to Vetmedin (Pimobendan) that treats symptoms of heart failure is Vetmedin (Pimobendan). In the countries of origin, Vetmedin is approved by the FDA, but imported goods will usually include a client information sheet that explains the difference between the labeling of the FDA-approved products and imported goods.
If they have a health condition, there are things you can do that are not drug-related. A good way to ensure they are happy is to limit their exercise to the right amount. Encourage them to do this several times a day to stay fit and avoid becoming overweight.
Can I get Vetmedin over-the-counter or on a prescription?
In order to purchase and administer Vetmedin, you must first obtain your vet’s approval. The dose may range from 1.25 mg, 2.5 mg, 5 mg, and 10 mg, or 0.25 to 0.3 mg per kg PO q12h.
How do you handle a dog that died after taking Vetmedin?
An autopsy of your dog is the first thing you should do. Despite its difficulty, this is one of the best ways of determining the exact cause of their sudden deaths. Besides Vetmedin, other factors such as underlying health problems or a toxic environment may very well be responsible for the death.
A complaint could be filed with the company that manufactured the Vetmedin prescribed if it turned out to be the cause of death. Document the events that led up to their sudden death, including all medical records. To report a serious medical product problem, contact the FDA.
Conclusion Vetmedin killed my dog
Canines that have heart failure symptoms can benefit from Vetmedin as it prolongs their overall survival time. A vet should, however, be consulted on any additional medications or underlying health conditions your dog may have. Losing a dog can be very difficult.
By reaching out to your communities and joining support groups, you can give your beloved pets the justice they deserve and help yourself heal. Take good care of yourself and reach out to me if you have any questions or need help.