- Medication type: ACE inhibitor
- Form: Liquid, Tablet
- Prescription required? Yes
- FDA approved? No
- Life stage: All
- Brand names: Fortekor, Lotensin, Apex®, Benazemav, Benefortin®, Bexepril, Nelio, Prilben, Benzecare, Cardalis
- Common names: benazepril, benazepril hydrochloride, benazepril HCI
- Available dosages: Tablets = 5mg, 10mg, 20mg, 40mg; Liquid = 2.5mg, 5mg, 10mg
Benazepril is a type of drug called an ACE inhibitor. Along with similar drugs such as enalapril and imidapril, it works by causing blood vessels to relax or “dilate,” which reduces blood pressure.
Benazepril is the generic name of the drug—it is also known as benazepril hydrochloride. There are lots of brand names for benazepril. These are often more expensive than the generic benazepril.
What Is Benazepril?
Benazepril is a commonly used medication in both pet and human medicine, but it is not approved for use in animals by the FDA. This means its use in dogs is considered “off label.”
Despite this, it is used as a prescription-only medication to manage the symptoms associated with heart failure, chronic renal failure, and high blood pressure (hypotension) in dogs. While your usual vet can prescribe this medication, it’s also prescribed by cardiology specialists and internal medicine specialists.
What Does Benazepril Look Like?
Benazepril usually comes as tablets in various dosages. Depending on the manufacturer, the tablet can be any color and may be scored or unscored.
Benazepril may also come in a combination with other drugs, such as in the brand name Fortekor Plus, where benazepril and pimobendan are both in the tablet; or Cardalis, where benazepril and spironolactone are combined together.
This can be useful if both drugs are required as they’re easier to give, but it can also be difficult to adjust the doses of the drugs if necessary.
How Does Benazepril Work?
Benazepril is an ACE inhibitor. This means it blocks Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE). This enzyme normally converts Angiotensin I into Angiotensin II, a chemical messenger that causes blood vessels to narrow. By blocking the action of this enzyme, the Angiotensin I is not converted, meaning there is no Angiotensin II and blood vessels remain open or “dilated.”
Just like water through a pipe, if you force the water through a smaller tube the pressure is higher, so by encouraging the vessels to dilate you allow the blood to flow more easily and the blood pressure is lower.
Benazepril is therefore useful for several diseases that cause high blood pressure in dogs or where high blood pressure would be particularly damaging.
What Does Benazepril Treat in Dogs?
Benazepril is usually prescribed to treat congestive heart failure (CHF), which forms in dogs that are suffering from conditions affecting the heart such as mitral valve degeneration. This is the most common usage of benazepril, and it has been shown to increase survival times of dogs showing symptoms of congestive heart failure.
Benazepril may also be used in dogs to treat:
- Mitral valve disease
- Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
- Chronic renal failure
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
Benazepril Side Effects in Dogs
Benazepril for dogs has a good safety profile, with few pet parents reporting side effects. In clinical trials, symptoms that could be interpreted as benazepril side effects occurred less often in the group of dogs taking benazepril than they did in the comparison placebo group.
The most commonly reported side effect of benazepril is signs of gut disturbance, such as vomiting, diarrhea or a loss in appetite. Some incoordination also occured in clinical trials, although very rarely.
Other side effects of benazepril in dogs include:
- Syncope (fainting)
- Skin rash
- Increased urea (a colorless, crystalline compound) in blood
- Increased potassium in blood
All of these side effects are considered to be rare, mild, short-lasting, and reversible. If you notice any side effects, regardless of whether they are listed here, you should call your veterinary clinic for information and advice.
Reactions With Other Drugs and Medications
Benazepril interactions are rare, and benazepril can be taken with most other heart drugs, although careful monitoring is required if other diuretics such as spironolactone are also used, as spikes in blood potassium caused by both drugs working together can occur.
Benazepril should not be used at the same time as other ACE inhibitors, and care should be taken if it is to be used at the same time with drugs that lower blood pressure, as dogs can become dizzy or uncoordinated.
Pet parents should also be cautious about using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as meloxicam and carprofen if dogs are also on ACE inhibitors such as benazepril.
You should tell your veterinarian if your dog is taking any drugs, including vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies, so that they can determine if benazepril interactions are likely.
Benazepril Dosages for Dogs
The dosage of benazepril isn’t always prescribed entirely on your dog’s weight. It’s up to the veterinarian and the pet parent to find out the best dosage for each individual dog. This is achieved by starting at the lower end of the dose range and regularly discussing side effects, checking blood samples, and adjusting the dose until the dosage with the best effect and the fewest side effects has been found.
For this reason, you should always follow your veterinarian’s instructions and confirm the benazepril dosage each time you order more medication.
Benazepril is generally given once daily, with an empty stomach or with food. If your dog vomits if you give benazepril on an empty stomach, you should try giving it with food.
What If My Dog Misses a Dose of Benazepril?
If your dog misses a dose of benazepril, you should give your dog the missed dose as soon as you remember. The next dose should be given 24 hours later. Do not give two tablets together to make up for the missed dose.
Cost of Benazepril for Dogs
The cost of benazepril for dogs varies greatly according to location, drug dosage, drug brand and veterinary practice. The average cost is approximately $0.50-$1 for one tablet, and there may be prescription and dispensing fees on top of that.
Where the drug is prohibitively expensive, you can request that your veterinarian writes you a prescription for you to take to a human pharmacy.
Benazepril Storage Instructions
Benazepril should be stored at room temperature (no more than 85 degrees), in the dark, and inside the packaging until use. Tablets that are removed from the packaging or halved should be kept dry and given to your dog within 48 hours.