A Series About Heart Failure: Vetmedin

Why is Vetmedin used in heart failure?

Heart failure is a very complicated disease in dogs and often requires multiple medications. The medications used in heart failure can be difficult to understand. This article aims to address one of the medications used in congestive heart failure, called Vetmedin. Vetmedin is the brand name product for the drug pimobendan but there is no generic currently available. It is important to thoroughly discuss all aspects of Vetmedin and the other medications used in heart failure, so the series will be broken up by class for each article.

Vetmedin for Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs

Vetmedin belongs to a class of drugs called phosphodiesterase III inhibitors (also known as PDE III inhibitors). Along with the human drug, milronone, it is used in dogs with congestive heart failure. PDE III is an enzyme found in the body that usually degrades cAMP. By inhibiting the breakdown of cAMP, PDE III inhibitors increase the force of contraction the heart has each time it beats, as well as relaxes the blood vessels  it pumps blood to. Vetmedin can also slow down the heart so the ventricles can fill with more blood. Vetmedin can help in two different ways;  helps the heart get more blood out to the rest of the body and decreases the resistance it has to pump against. By doing this, it helps with the symptoms of heart failure in dogs, but it does not cure it. Vetmedin has a benefit of not increasing the calcium levels inside the heart cells, making it safer compared to other drugs like milrinone. This is why Vetmedin is used much more commonly in dogs, and VetRxDirect does not carry milrinone.

What are some important things I should know about Vetmedin?

Since Vetmedin increases the force the heart has, it can also cause the heart to get off rhythm which is also called arrhythmias. Vetmedin also relaxes the arteries which may cause low blood pressure leading to falling or fainting. Less serious side effects of Vetmedin include hyperactivity, drooling, and constipation, rash, and anemia. There are also a few reports of Vetmedin causing diabetes. As with most drugs, but especially drugs for heart failure, it is important to weigh the benefits and risks of taking the medication. If you are concerned about the side effects of Vetmedin, consult your veterinarian to see if they think the side effects are likely to happen.

How should I monitor my dog while they’re on Vetmedin?

While your dog is on Vetmedin you should monitor their general mood. Often times, owners can tell if their pet isn’t feeling well. Since this could indicate worsening heart failure or side effects of Vetmedin, it is important to keep in contact with your veterinarian about their overall mood. Vetmedin has a narrow dosage range and overdosage can occur somewhat easier than other medications. Signs your dog may be overdosed on Vetmedin include vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. If your dog experiences any of these symptoms you need to call your dog’s veterinarian.

What’s new about Vetmedin?

Vetmedin is now available in more dosages from VetRxDirect to tailor to more dogs and thier needs. Vetmedin now comes in 1.25mg, 2.5mg, 5mg and 10mg doses!

This article only addresses one of the medications your dog might be on for congestive heart failure. Tune in for articles about all of the other medications used to better understand the medications your dog may use.

Is your dog on Vetmedin? How has it helped with his or her congestive heart failure? Please leave any remaining questions you have by leaving a reply below. Thank you.


  • Plumb, D. Pimobendan. Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook 7th ed. Pharma Vet Inc. Stockholm, WI. 2011. Pages 637-638
  • Vetmedin www.Vetmedin.com. Accessed 05/01/2014.

14 thoughts on “A Series About Heart Failure: Vetmedin

  1. How much pimobendan would a 17.8 lb. Dog take daily? Also it says not to feed with food can this powder be mixed with water?

    • My 12 pound dog started on Pimobendan (along with 2 other heart failure meds) early this week and they had increase some of his meds last night, including the Pimobendan. He had his new doses this morning and has vomited twice since then. I called our Vet too… just doing some Googling and found this while waiting for a call back. Its probably the increased Pimobendan causing it.

  2. My 10 yr old chihuahua was just diagnosed with am enlarged heart. A pretty vague diagnosis. He was lo ut on the 2.5 dose of this medicine. He is about 11 lbs. , a little big for his size. I feel lost. After 8 days of taking the medication he seems to be breathing heavier. Panting a lot more for sure and more lethargic. With it being Friday my Vet is closed and my other option is the ER Vet but I’m worried that I am overthinking it. I worried that I should stop giving the medicine until I see a Vet again. Anyone else have this med. have this effect and then have things kind of calm down?

  3. started my dog on vetimed yesterday and this morning he collapsed when he got excited at going out! never done this before! connection??

  4. My 10 lb 11 yr old Chihuahua suddenly has a 5 level heart murmur, & was prescribed ½ a 5 mg pill. It’s half her size! She hates the taste of it, & for 80 days I’ve been grind it to a powder & hiding it in Cottage cheese. Now she’s refusing it. I have experience getting pills down Dachshunds, but there’s no snout to hold closed. I’m so frustrated! She seems about the same, she’s incredibly happy & energetic, & lives to play fetch. But she starts coughing, more than the new normal. Is there a liquid? It’s annoying that they say it’s chewable, because it looks like it’s 98% binders & fillers. I got it down her tonight wrapped in a little turkey breast. But I need advice on what to do. She’s the love of my life.

    • Curious, How are you doing with getting your baby to take this? My 7yo Japanese Chin was diagnosed with stage 4 heart murmur and is taking 1.25mg am, noon & In the pm (3.75mg) & he HATES IT!! I cut the pill into 4 pieces, and cover each piece with a tiny bit of cheese and then wrap each piece with low sodium deli meat. Chin have a reputation for being ULTRA picky and it’s been a challenge, but it seems to be working… ps. We just saw a canine cardiologist & got the ok to give his Vetmedin with food

      • I’m not a vet.. just a pet owner. I could never get pills into my little dogs mouth and her swallow without trouble. I use a syringe with no needle. I cut the pill into pieces and partially fill the syringe with warm water and add the pieces of the pill. And replace plunger into syringe. I have small cups used for other over counter dosing filled with water. And I slowly administer the mixture into the back corner of my little dogs mouth. Slowly so she doesn’t choke. Don’t go fast ..Stop and start and pull more water from cups and shake up the contents till all gone. This works great..hope this helps.

    • Hi, just lost my little Tsi Shu due to heart failure and uncontrolled seizures. She took Pimobendin (Vetmendin) wrapped in chicken and cheese (former into capsule size. I never tried peanut butter. Very possibly you have already tried these methods. I am sorry for your little friends problem.

    • My dog been on the pill form for over 2 months now not wanting to take it and has been vomiting our vet did blood said thinks pancrities said try giving pullbwith food not working anyone else had this issue dog still not wanting to eat

  5. Charlie
    My vet prescribed my flatcoat retriever with vet medin, having suggested that she would have only 6 months, a year at best to live, due to a very large heart,due to disease. Four years later she is still with us. Only just, because it seems cancer is finally going to take her from me. I feel that her fitness, plenty of free running, and not overweight has contributed to her survival. However Thankyou to Vetmedin for extending her survival time unexpectedly.

  6. I do notice once in a while when my dog takes Vetmedin he starts panting and rapid breathing. If i give him half a tablet of the 2.5 mg he is fine. He is about 20lbs Jack Russell with heart disease and Pulmonary hypertension. He is not doing too good so i do not know what the outcome will be in the next month or so. He was also put on sildenafil and albuterol sulfate hfa.

  7. My wee dog seems to be so much worse on vetmedin.He’s coughing panting in the 4 days he’s been on twice a day pill- I can’t stand it I’m thinking of halving the dose and pulling him off it I mean I know he has a murmur and now heart disease but I feel that medication has made things worse.Anyone else had the same experience.

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