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Pimobendan (Vetmedin®)

By: Dr. Nicholas Dodman

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  • Pimobendan is a phosphodiesterase III inhibitor with calcium sensitizing properties. It has been shown to improve the quality of life (lowered syncope, dyspnea, exercise intolerance, and ascites) in dogs suffering from congestive heart failure. (CHF).
  • Pimobendan has also resulted in significant improvement in signs of heart failure when added to standard therapy for dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy and has contributed to improved survival in some dogs (Doberman Pinschers).
  • Phosphodiesterase inhibitors block the inactivation of cyclic AMP increasing sympathetic tone and thus cardiac output.
  • Following oral administration of pimobendan to a pet with CHF, the heart rate decreases and the contractility of the heart increases.
  • Pimobendan is approved in Europe and Canada to treat dogs with heart failure due to dilated cardiomyopathy or valvular insufficiency (mitral and/or tricuspid regurgitation).
  • Pimobendan is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.
  • This drug is has recently been approved for use in animals by the Food and Drug Administration.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • Veterinary formulations: Vetmedin® (Boehringer Ingleheim)
  • Pimobendan may also be registered under the trade names UDCG-115 or Acardi®.
  • Human formulations: None

    Uses of Pimobendan

  • Treatment of heart failure due to dilated cardiomyopathy or valvular insufficiency.

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, pimobendan can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Pimobendan should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Also, it is contraindicated in hypertrophic cardiomyopathies and clinical conditions where an augmentation of cardiac output is not possible for functional or anatomical reasons (e.g. aortic stenosis).
  • Doses of pimobendan over 0.8 mg/kg/day over a period of 2 to 4 weeks may be associated with exaggerated myocardial contractility and jet lesions to the myocardium.
  • Dogs in CHF should be monitored for arrhythmias during therapy.
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, and inappetance are possible side effects of treatment with pimobendan.
  • Nervous system signs, including incoordination and seizures may also occur. Behaviorally pimobendan may cause uneasiness.
  • Renal side effects include polyuria and polydypsia.

    Drug Interactions

    Pimobendan may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with pimobendan.

    Such interactions may include:

  • Pimobendan should be employed with caution with other positive inotropes.
  • Because it is highly protein-bound, careful monitoring is necessary if it is to be used with other drugs that are highly protein bound.
  • Concurrent use of beta-blockers or calcium-channel blockers may decrease pimobendan-induced effects on myocardial contractility.

    How Pimobendan is Supplied

  • Pimobendan is available in 1.25 mg, 2.5 mg and 5.0 mg capsules.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • The dosage prescribed may vary depending on the reason for prescribing.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse.
  • In dogs, the dose is may range from 0.05 to 0.15 mg per pound (0.1 to 0.3 mg/kg) every 12 hours. It recommended that each dose be given 1 hour before food.

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