Cardalis for Dogs with Congestive Heart Failure

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the approval of Cardalis for managing congestive heart failure in dogs. Cardalis contains spironolactone and benazepril in a chewable tablet. Spironolactone is a potassium-sparing diuretic type medication that helps remove excess salt and fluid from the body and prevents potassium levels from getting too low. Benazepril is an ACE Inhibitor type medication that lowers blood pressure by relaxing veins and arteries.Cardalis at VetRxDirect

When used with other medications, Cardalis is approved to manage the symptoms of mild, moderate, or severe congestive heart failure in dogs due to atrioventricular valvular insufficiency (AVVI). AVI is a form of heart disease in dogs that can lead to congestive heart failure.

What is Congestive Heart Failure?

AVVI commonly occurs in older dogs typically over the age of 8 years and smaller breed dogs. When dogs suffer from heart failure, their hearts are unable to pump sufficient blood to the rest of the organs in the dog’s body. In congestive heart failure, blood backs up in organs and causes them to function abnormally, become swollen with fluid, or both. The most common signs of congestive heart failure include, but are not limited to:

  • Persistent coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Reduced energy & stamina
  • Excessive panting
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Restlessness
  • Pale or bluish gums
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss and/or muscle wasting


As with any heart problem, diagnosing congestive heart failure requires a thorough exam from a veterinarian and typically involves multiple tests. Although heart failure is a chronic disease, it can be medically managed with early diagnosis and a veterinarian-guided treatment plan.


It is important to treat heart failure in order to improve heart performance, control arrhythmias, and blood pressure, and improve blood flow. All of these can further damage the heart and blood vessels if not controlled.

Why is Cardalis New?

Human-approved benazepril and spironolactone have been used extra-label to treat AVVI in dogs. With this approval, the FDA has determined the combination of drugs in Cardalis is safe and effective for dogs. Learn more.

What Should I Know about Cardalis?

The safety and effectiveness of Cardalis were demonstrated in a 12-month field study in the United States involving 569 dogs. Cardalis requires a prescription because a veterinarian is needed to diagnose congestive heart failure in dogs due to AVVI, design an appropriate treatment plan, and monitor the safe use of the medication.

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 Accessed 05/01/2014.

Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs

Congestive heart failure is a silent killer of adult dogs. The condition almost always arises in the aftermath of a damaged or weakened heart muscle. While there is no current cure for canine congestive heart failure, the condition can be managed effectively via treatment so your dog can continue to lead a happy and productive life.

Almost 1 out of every 10 dogs will develop congestive heart failure.

Canine congestive heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to effectively circulate blood with adequate oxygen to supply the entire body. Without proper levels of oxygen, cells and organs cannot function as they normally should, disrupting the body’s internal systems.The scary thing about a weakened heart is it can go undetected in your pet for many months.

Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs – Symptoms:

During the early stages of heart disease, it may be difficult to tell if your pet is sick as many afflicted dogs show no outward signs of being unhealthy. As time passes and the disease starts to advance into the heart failure stage, owners will often see a noticeably deterioration in their pet’s health.

Symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Decreased Energy and Stamina
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Abdominal Swelling
  • Intermittent Coughing
  • Fainting
  • Excessive Panting
  • Restlessness

Keep in mind these symptoms are nonspecific and can also indicate a whole range of other health problems outside of heart failure, some of which may even be considered normal depending on a dog’s age.

Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs – Treatments:

Thanks to advancements in veterinary science, treating this form of heart disease is now easier and more effective than ever. There are several prescription medications available on the market that work to increase the force and contraction of the heart as well as help to decrease the muscle’s overall workload. Remember to always administer heart medication to your pet exactly as directed by your pet’s veterinarian. Even if you feel your dog is doing better, do not stop giving the medicine without first consulting with your veterinarian.

VetRxDirect offers many of the most popular congestive heart failure medication at great prices.

Salix for Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs

A diuretic used to treat high blood pressure and reduce the workload on the heart and surrounding arteries.

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Vetmedin for Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs

This Chewable tablet helps strengthen the muscular contractions of the heart and dilates blood vessels.

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Benazepril for Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs

Treats heart failure, high blood pressure, and chronic kidney failure. Enalapril is also an ACE inhibitor.

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Spironolactone for Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs

A diuretic prescribed to increase the amount of urine produced and excreted from the body.

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