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Vetmedin (Pimobendan) For Cardiac Conditions In Dogs

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#1
Esylum

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So yesterday I took Biko in for his annual Cardiac exam, and we got overall good news that his disease is slowly progressing with his age. this year Biko's regular vet ( An amazing man with super experience in Cardiology) is away on sabbatical so we had a new vet who was just filling in for a few weeks on a rotation, She was very nice, and seemed very thorough. But in the past few years his regular vet has said that Biko doesn't need any medication at this point. This year the new vet has mentioned that I do not need to put him on meds, but said that this medication called Vetmedin can be very beneficial to dogs with heart enlargement.

 

She mentioned that she was not 100% sure why Biko's regular vet wouldn't have mentioned it to us last year, in August when we attended his annual appointment then. She said the study for this drug came out in October, but all Vets were aware of the study results in June of that year...  I really trust Biko's regular vet. I cannot help but wonder why he didn't recommend the meds... Does he really need them?

 

The new vet mentioned that I didn't have to put Biko on the meds, but there is study evidence that they could prolong Biko's life living with this disease. Deep down, I don't want to make the wrong choice... 

 

I'm going to do as much research as possible online and am going to try and make an educated decision on this before I start him on it... but honestly right now I'm looking for any information on this medication that has been given to our kids... Does any one have any experience, good or bad with this drug?

 

 

 


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#2
Queen of Sheba

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Two years ago Sheba was found to have a grade 2 heart murmur. At that time he said to wait and see if she would need medication. Last year she got a very bad case of pneumonia and my vet recommended she see a specalist . So last August 2016 we saw a cardiac specialist and she was diagnosed with Myxomatous Mitral Valve Degeneration (MMVD) she was placed on 1.25 mg of Pimobendan(Vetmedin) then. She has done very well, in fact she will have a check-up tomorrow. The pills are flavored and she eats them with no extra stuff. She seems to tolerate this medicine very well. It has cut down on her coughing and lack of energy. I know this is not a cure for her problem. I know someday she will eventually go into congestive heart failure. But this does seem to slow the progression of the MMVD. It will hopefully give me a few more years with her.
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#3
Esylum

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Thank you for sharing this with me! I too hope you get many more years with Sheba, It is hard, he is so important to me, I need to be optimistic!

Do you mind if I ask if your went over any risks, or cons to the drug with you?

The only thing they told me was about the possible GI upset, and she just said that if he had any trouble she would just say to stop the drug at this time... 


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#4
jakksmum

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my Chihuahua had an enlarged heart for quite a few years , and was not put on any meds for it . She lived to be almost 17 years old. I don't know if this helps to know . Also....she didn't die of heart related issues.



#5
Davyde

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The pills are flavored and she eats them with no extra stuff.

Rosie would like to inform Sheba that she is missing a trick there, and ought to demand her tablets in something tasty (paté is Rosie's favourite)

 

In fact we ran out of paté yesterday morning, and despite Rosie getting her tablet wrapped in ham, she stayed grumpy all day and hung around the corner of the kitchen where she gets her tablet until I bought more paté in the evening for her.

 

Spoiled much, Rosie?

 

(To be fair, Rosie is on gabapentin for her back problems, and that does taste really foul)


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#6
Queen of Sheba

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For me the benefits outweighed the risks. Sheba does have an occasional GI upset. But her vet has me give 5mg of Pepcid every day and that does seen to help. I also give her some Pumkin a couple of times a week. She is fed grain free Fomm and I add Stella and Chewy's meal mixers for some extra protein.



#7
GrandCynth

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My Harley's heart disease history sounds just like Biko's.  Before the "EPIC" Trial, Vetmedin was only prescribed once the dog actually became clinical for congestive heart failure. The results of this large study, which was done internationally, and over a 5 year period, showed that starting a dog on pimobendan (Vetmedin) before it went into congestive heart failure, could on average, give the dog an extra 15 months of healthy life before the onset of clinical CHF.  Harley has been on Vetmedin only, since the beginning of January 2016. Her last echocardiogram was this past May 2017, and while her disease has slowly progressed, she is still free from CHF. Her next echo will be in November. 

 

She has had no side effects from this drug, and eagerly gobbles it down twice a day!  It's made me a believer. I trust her cardiologist with her life. He told me that the patients/owners that he sees most often tend to live longer with this disease. She was diagnosed with it at the age of 6, and will be 10 this November. She was doing well enough that her echos only needed to be done once a year. After this last one in May, he wanted to echo her again in 9 months, as she's definitely progressing. Even her murmur is a grade 4 now, but she remains symptom free. Fingers Crossed!!  

 

Oh, and I researched the heck out of it, too! That's how I found out about the EPIC Trial. He put her on Vetmedin before the results were made public last October. Even my vet couldn't understand why he did it. Obviously she wasn't in the know, either! lol


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#8
Esylum

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This is all huge for me to hear! Thank you all for sharing this info with me! here in Canada we don't have the flavored tablets, we can only get the capsules, so I am hoping that if I do start him on them he decides that he will take them easier. He loves his hydroxizine and will eat those capsules right out of the bottle, but they smell like vanilla... I'm guessing a powder filled capsule isn't going to be as appealing to him lol...


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#9
Davyde

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That's where the paté comes in!
:-)

(Or you can hide it by squidging a pinch of grated cheese around it.)
Put a sane man alone in a room with a teacosy, and it is only a matter of time until he puts it on his head.

#10
Esylum

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Well I made the decision to start Biko on Vetmedin 1 week ago as a trial. He had started coughing a little bit and sounding like he has phlegm in his throat at bed time. I am just getting over a cold/flu and was "hoping" that he might have just caught my cold/flu, but I'm starting to think that it is the CHF. 

He has perked up a bit this week and he seems brighter in general, but the phlegm is still present and I have really started to notice some weightloss along his spine and hips.

I'm not going to lie... I'm terrified. 


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#11
GrandCynth

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Has Biko had a chest X-ray recently? That would show if he has fluid in his lungs. If he does, he would need other meds to get rid of the fluid. The Vetmedin helps the heart muscle pump stronger, but doesn't get rid of the fluid build up.

When Harley was coughing, she had a dry cough. I always imagined that a cough associated with pulmonary edema would sound "wet," but her cardiologist said no, it's a dry cough.

I don't blame you for being frightened. I now have two dogs with heart disease, and this is still so new to me.....I'm frightened too.
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#12
Esylum

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Thank you for sharing Cynth, I will be making an appointment for Biko this week. At this point I would rather know for sure one way or the other.

We are so emotionally bonded I know it is stressful for him too, knowing i'm worried and sad. 


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#13
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I think that's a good plan! The earlier we catch this disease and begin treatment, the better the outcome for our kiddos. And our own piece of mind, as well! Sending huge hugs your way! ❤️ Please update how Biko is doing if you get a chance? I'll be thinking of you guys.

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#14
Queen of Sheba

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Hi Esylum,

Sheba had some weight loss and looked like skin and bones. My vet had me feed her more protein, like grilled chicken or another protein source. She looks a lot better now. Sheba does still have an occasional cough, (it always seems to happen in the middle of the night) My vet said as long as it isn't constant I shouldn't be too concerned. But if it gets more frequent then we may need to discuss adding a med to help drain the extra fluid.

Hang in there, I know this is scary and it is very hard to see him uncomfortable. Good luck with your vet.

Hugs,
Sheba

#15
Esylum

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Thank you both! Biko was in for his annual cardiac checkup in September were I know they did some xrays and an ultrasound... so we should get a good idea if things have changed when I get him in. I know the Pimobendan says to feed him about an hour after the pill... Do you guys know if that is just to help with stomach upset issues or if it is required for the drug? I wasn't giving him any extra dinner after the pill but have started since the weight loss that I noticed... There are so many things that could be at play here, and I know I would much rather assume it is anything other then his CHF, I wish that he was able to get in to see his regular cardiac vet who has been handling his case for the last 3 years... I have so much trust for that man, but he was on sabbatical this year when we went in... If you both don't mind me asking how long have your kids been on the PImobendan? and did they have other symptoms when you started, or have they had any progression along the way?


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#16
GrandCynth

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Harley has been on it since January 2016, so coming up on two years. She had been diagnosed in 2014, but had no symptoms until January 2016, when she started coughing. She only coughed for two days, but I had already scheduled an appointment. My vet did a chest X-ray. The radiologist read the X-ray as possible aspiration pneumonia, and her cardiologist said early congestive heart failure, start her on heart meds! She was put on three heart meds, and my vet put her on antibiotics to be safe. Long story short, in the end, it was in fact aspiration pneumonia, and not CHF. We did another echocardiogram, and her heart disease had slightly progressed and the cardiologist said stop all heart meds BUT the Vetmedin. I was scared and couldn't understand why, since the drug manufacturer says not to start them until they show clinical signs of CHF. My vet refused to go against the cardiologist's orders, but said she understood my fear and that she was okay if I didn't want to keep Harley on it! That's when I turned into Google Girl, and tried to learn everything I could about the subject. Subsequently came across the EPIC Trial, and then it all made sense! I printed out the trial and results, and gave them to my vet so she could know, too!

Harley's last echocardiogram showed more progression of the disease, but no CHF. Her cardiologist says it's his goal to never let her go into CHF. I guess he will do that by starting the proper meds before she becomes clinical? She just turned 10 on Thanksgiving, so there's a chance she might still live out her life expectancy. He said he has the best outcomes with the owners/patients he sees the most often. That means staying one step ahead of this awful disease.

I might add, Harley suffers from occasional gastric reflux. She will be asleep, and I can actually hear her stomach contents rush up her throat. This causes her to awake coughing, and is most likely how she got the aspiration pneumonia. On two occasions, the resulting coughing spell caused her to faint! The first time it happened I almost fainted, as I thought she had died in my arms! I didn't even know dogs could faint! Syncope I believe is the medical term. She is given Pepcid now and that really helps.

Also, I was never given any instructions about giving on an empty stomach or not, so I give with meals. I did see what the manufacturers website says, and I'll ask her cardiologist the next time we see him what he thinks.
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#17
Esylum

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This is great to know! Thank you again! Biko just turned 10 as well on October 3rd. We had a vacation at the end of October and there was a lot of driving with the kids, and so Biko had some stress GI Upsets where he was passing blood called hemorrhagic gastroenteritis and the vet felt it might have been from a bug/stress so he was started on some meds, (maybe the cause of the weightloss) I have been fighting a really bad cold/virus and he has been spending a great deal of time taking care of me. At some point he started getting phlemy and then like a croupy kind of cough, that's when I panicked and started him on the Vetmedin thinking oh $%#! I waited too long and now he is going into failure... My insides hurt thinking that I made the wrong call to wait in starting the heart meds.   


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#18
GrandCynth

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The sooner you can get his heart and lungs checked out, the better. Vetmedin really is a wonder drug, but if he has any fluid, it's not going to take care of that.

I'm no stranger to HGE. My Ruby was hospitalized with it a number of times when she was younger. Glad Biko got over it! Ruby was always treated with antibiotics and a prescription diet for GI disorders. Interestingly enough, once she was diagnosed with Addison's Disease (8 years ago) she never had another bout of it, thankfully!
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#19
Esylum

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So we had Biko's Appointment this week, I'm just getting to up date you right now! Our Vet is being cautious and she is sending his X-rays to a specialist to check over, there is a faint area that could or could not be related to his Heart problems, the vet doesn't feel that it is viral, but she isn't sure. We are waiting to hear back next week and in the mean time she wants him on rest and restricted activities, which has been tough because he has pepped up a bit. He is also not sounding as "croupy" so fingers crossed ... please keep us in your thoughts! We are hoping that the Vetmedin will do the trick on its own. He is my everything... I love to see him pepping up, its hard to keep him calm because he has wanted to run around, but I think that is a good problem to have right now!

 

Thank you again for all your support! We really appreciate it! 


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#20
GrandCynth

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So happy to hear he has perked up! Keeping my fingers crossed that the radiologist doesn't find anything troubling on Biko's x-rays. ❤️

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#21
jakksmum

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hoping all goes well



#22
Esylum

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*** Update*** Well we heard back from the vet about the Xrays they took of Bikos Lungs. She says the specialist had a chance to look at them and feels that there is some lung activity there, but they feel it is probably bronchitis, and not cardiac related... I am so relieved I cannot even begin to explain... fingers crossed that he continues to improve on the vetmedin. He has shown some GI troubles but I don't know if that is related to the pills or stress...He just threw up all his supper so we are going to fast tonight and snuggle... hopefully fingers crossed his tummy is just upset from all the travel back and forth. 


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#23
GrandCynth

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So happy to be reading this update!! Big sigh of relief for sure!
Hoping his tummy settles quickly. The Vetmedin never bothered Harley's stomach, but you might want to ask your vet about that? I mean, if it turns out to be related to the drug.

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#24
Davyde

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Sorry I am late getting to this, but I am very pleased to hear Biko is doing so well.

:-)


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#25
Esylum

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I am happy to update that Biko is almost done his first bottle and *fingerscrossed* he seems to be doing well, he has a bit of GI upset occasionally but I have really noticed that he has perked up a bit, he sees to want to play more which is SO nice to see!

 

The pills are expensive here, it costs me $110 for 100 capsules, and he takes 2 a day... so they don't last as long as I would have hoped, but hopefully the price might come down a bit the more the demand increases... I hope anyways. :) Even if they don't though, the cost is completely worth it!

 

We haven't been back to see his Cardiologist, so I am curious what he will say when we do, but I don't think he is back until August.


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