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Pimobendan for Dogs

Pet owner holds out pill to dog
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Medication details

  • Medication type: Cardiac medication
  • Form: Capsule, Tablet
  • Prescription required? Yes
  • FDA approved? Yes
  • Brand names: Vetmedin, Cardisure, Acardi, Pimocard, Pimotab
  • Common names: Pimobendan
  • Available dosages: 1.25 mg, 2.5 mg, or 5.0 mg capsules; 1.25 mg, 2.5 mg, 5.0 mg, 10.0 mg, or 15 mg chewable tablets
  • Expiration range: 3 years

If your dog is suffering from congestive heart failure, your veterinarian may prescribe a medication called pimobendan to help your dog’s heart pump more efficiently. This medication is well-tolerated by most dogs and it can be safely combined with other cardiac medications, such as diuretics, digoxin, and enalapril.  

Read on to learn more about how pimobendan can help your dog, and how to safely use and store this medication at home.

What is Pimobendan?

Pimobendan is a prescription veterinary medication that is used in the management of congestive heart failure in dogs. It is an inodilator, which means it works by strengthening contractions of the heart muscle (contractility) and by dilating the blood vessels that take blood away from the heart. This combination helps the heart to pump more efficiently.  

Pimobendan is currently FDA approved for the management of signs of mild, moderate, or severe congestive heart failure in dogs due to atrioventricular valvular insufficiency or dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Pimobendan is not FDA approved for use in cats, but is sometimes used off-label in this species.

Pet owners can get a prescription for pimobendan through their primary care veterinarian or through a specialist, such as a cardiologist or an internist.  

What Does Pimobendan for Dogs Look Like?

Pimobendan typically comes in the form of a chewable tablet, which is oblong, brown, and scored in the middle. Pimobendan is also available in the form of capsules. The exact appearance of pimobendan can vary depending on the manufacturer that makes the product. If you have trouble giving your dog tablets or capsules, ask your veterinarian about alternative dose forms, such as oral liquids and soft chews.

How Does Pimobendan Work?

Canine heart anatomy

Pimobendan is a positive inotrope, which means that it increases contractility of the heart. It also acts as a vasodilator, making small blood vessels called arterioles open, which decreases resistance to blood flow and reduces the heart’s workload.  

Uses of Pimobendan for Dogs

Pimobendan is used for dogs with the following conditions:

  • Mitral valve disease
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)
  • Congestive heart failure

Pimobendan is used to manage heart failure in dogs. This medication prolongs survival in dogs in left heart failure due to mitral regurgitation. It is hypothesized that pimobendan also prolongs survival in dogs with heart failure due to DCM, but there is little data available on this subject to date. Pimobendan also prolongs the time to onset of congestive heart failure in dogs with advanced subclinical mitral valve disease.  

How to Give Pimobendan to Dogs

Pimobendan is administered by mouth in the form of a capsule or chewable tablet. (If you’re having trouble giving your dog a capsule or tablet, ask your veterinarian about alternative dose forms that may be available through a compounding pharmacy, and whether they are appropriate for your pet.) Pimobendan is best absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract in the absence of food, and should be given on an empty stomach at least 60 minutes prior to feeding.  

Pimobendan for Dogs Side Effects

Lethargic dog

In most dogs, pimobendan is well-tolerated. Side effects that have been reported with pimobendan include:

  • Poor appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Trouble breathing
  • Weakness
  • Pleural effusion
  • Syncope

Reported side effects in patients may be related to pre-existing cardiac disease. If your dog experiences side effects while taking pimobendan, stop giving the medication and contact your veterinarian right away.

Reactions with Other Drugs and Medications

Certain drugs, such as calcium channel blockers and beta blockers, may diminish the effectiveness of pimobendan for dogs.  

Pimobendan Dosage for Dogs

The dosage of pimobendan for dogs varies depending on your dog’s size and the type and severity of your dog’s heart condition. Your veterinarian will determine the best dosage of pimobendan for your dog’s individual needs. Always follow your veterinarian’s dosing instructions closely.

What If My Dog Misses a Dose of Pimobendan?

If your dog misses a dose of pimobendan, give the dose as soon as you remember. If it’s too close to the next dose, do not give two doses at the same time. Simply skip the missed dose and continue on with the dosing schedule as prescribed. Never increase your dog’s dose of pimobendan unless directed to do so by your veterinarian.

Pimobendan for Dogs Cost

The cost of pimobendan varies depending on the size of the tablet or capsule your pet is prescribed. In general, you can expect to spend $50-$150 on a 50-count bottle of pimobendan tablets or capsules.

Pimobendan Storage Instructions

Pimobendan should be kept in its original container and stored in a dry place at room temperature, between 59 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.