“I’m impressed with the diagnostics and treatments we have today for treating congestive heart failure,” says Michael Andrews, DVM, president of the American Animal Hospital Association and owner of Woodcrest Veterinary Clinic in Riverside, Calif. “Compared to 15 years ago, the outlook is much, much better.”
That improved outlook is partially due to new drugs. “Recently, a new medication called pimobendan has become widely used for heart failure in dogs in the European Union, Canada, and Australia,” says Rebecca L. Stepien, DVM, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine diplomate and clinical professor of cardiology at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in Madison. “This medication has proven to greatly improve quality of life and prolong life in affected dogs. Pimobendan has not yet been approved for use in the United States by the FDA, but is currently being prescribed by some veterinarians via waivers for importation provided through the FDA.” Approval of pimobendan for use in dogs may come next year, she adds.
“Current trends in management of congestive heart failure emphasize using medications for long-term support of cardiac function,” Stepien continues. “Medications like beta-blockers (for example, carvedilol) and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (for example, enalapril) may prolong survival in dogs with congestive heart failure if given throughout the course of disease.”
Marcia King is a DOG FANCY contributing editor who lives in Ohio.