At this year’s BSAVA congress, Boehringer Ingelheim, the makers of Vetmedin, announced that this drug (pimobendan) is now licensed to treat dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) before the onset of clinical signs. This drug has been proven to prolong the time before the onset of clinical signs in Dobermans with DCM.
What does this mean for me and my dog?
If your dog is diagnosed with DCM, they can usually live a normal life up until the point that they go in to heart failure. Once in heart failure, however, they will usually have problems with breathing, and find exercising difficult, and most dogs die of their condition quite quickly (in weeks to months). Vetmedin can prolong the time before Dobermanns go in to heart failure or die as a result of their DCM, and hopefully this can be extrapolated to other large breeds that develop DCM. This is the first time that a drug has been specifically licensed to treat any heart disease in dogs before the signs of heart failure start.
If you have a dog of a breed predisposed to DCM, it could be well worth getting them checked out, as we can now do something about it!
Wonderful, how do I get hold of some?
Pimobendan is a prescription-only drug. Some heart conditions will not respond to pimobendan, and this drug is also contraindicated in other heart conditions, so it is really important that your dog has a definitive diagnosis from your vet or a cardiologist.
Are you a vet?
Check out this handy algorithm for diagnosing preclinical DCM in first opinion practice!