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Breakthrough research on treating heart disease in dogs

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Posted on November 10, 2016: Heart disease is one of the top five reasons of death for dogs in the UK. Many of the elderly small breed dogs, with a typical heart murmur are prone to suffering from Preclinical Mitral Valve Disease (MVD). Many in this category may also be afflicted with cardiomegaly secondary (an enlarged heart). These dogs will now get a new lease on life, thanks to the findings of latest research.

Scientists have found a medicine which may enable your dog to increase their lifespan by postponing the commencement of cardiac failure by one year and three months on an average. This UK-based breakthrough may be bringing about a change in the conventional treatment module that vets embark on to treat MVD. The Evaluation of Pimobendan In Cardiomegaly (EPIC study) discovered that the medicine Pimobendan increased the asymptomatic phase of a dog by 15 months.

Adrian Boswood, a professor at the Royal Veterinary College of the UK, who helmed the research commented that because of the EPIC study research, vets no longer need to abide by the wait and watch method to preclinical MVD cases that they suspect. He suggested that instead when a valve murmur is discerned, vets should conduct further investigations to detect the enlargement of the heart. He added that Pimobendan is backed by a plethora of safety data apart from the EPIC study. He feels that vets can now safely prescribe it.

This EPIC study was conducted over seven years. 360 canines from four continents in 11 nations were involved in this research. The researchers who were a part of this study have advised that vets should now think of testing early for symptoms of preclinical MVD. The Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine published this study.

Indian Implications

Dr D G Dighe, a vet who practices in Vasai is happy with the discovery made in this research. He explains, “The other medicines to treat conditions like these contain a Digitalis preparation which causes many problems in dogs. Long term use of Digitalis preparations leads to vomiting and dehydration. Discontinuing Digitalis means that the animal will not survive. Pimobendan is a good substitute for Digitalis, as it doesn’t come with side effects.”

Pimobendan happens to be an inhibitor of phosphodiesterase 3 (which regulates heart muscle) and a calcium sensitizer. It has emerged as effective in treating feline heart diseases as well. This medicine induces stronger contractions in the heart muscle. It widens veins and arteries and lessens blood clots. The benefits of Pimobendan have been found to outweigh its risks. Pimobendan tablets are chewable and come with a delightful meaty flavour. It is strictly a veterinarian medicine.

Pimobendan must not be used in cases of aortic stenosi, cardiomyopathy or situations where the heart rate shouldn’t be increased further. It needs to be stored at room temperature in a tight and light childproof container to prevent your dog from overdosing on it. For more information, contact your local vet.

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