As a fellow dog owner who lost a dog due to a blood disorder, I, too, know how painful and raw it feels to lose a beloved pet can truly be.
In situations like this, there was nothing I could possibly do other than grieve for my loss as I was simply not looking to put the blame on anyone.
But like the emotional beings that humans are, we feel everything after losing a dear friend.
Grief mixed with a blend of boiling anger to point the finger at someone for your beloved dog’s sudden death in these uncertain circumstances is one challenging process to go through.
One of the worst emotional roller-coaster rides for anyone to possibly endure, I must say.
In this article, I would like to reach out and lend a helping hand if ever you are going through what I have, that is, putting the blame on a drug called Vetmedin.
So, whenever you are ready, let’s get to it.
What is Vetmedin?
Vetmedin is a prescribed medication that comes in tablets to treat your canine’s heart disease.
The drug essentially delays the onset of heart failures and prolongs your furry friend’s survival time, and keeps their lives more at ease.
Every dog reacts differently to the drug as these depend on the severity of their initial health standing.
Vetmedin takes some time to work its effects. Still, typically, you should be able to see some positive changes within a week of intaking the drug.
These changes should get gradually better for the recurring weeks.
What heart conditions does it treat?
Mitral valve disease is caused when the mitral valve begins to leak or ‘wear out’ over time. This is usually indicated by a heart murmur where blood flows backward through the leaking mitral valve to your dog’s left atrium.
Dilated cardiomyopathy primarily affects the cardiac muscle that causes the heart to become less able to create enough pressure to pump blood through our canine’s vascular system.
Vetmedin treats both of these diseases in two different ways:
- Opens up blood vessels that transport blood to and from the heart. This decreases your dog’s heart workload to pump blood around the circulatory system.
- Boosts strength and efficiency of heartbeats. This promotes better pumping action.
Note: Your local vet can prescribe other medications if your dog is experiencing heart failure.
What breeds are most susceptible to these heart conditions?
While both MVD and DCM may happen to any dog breed, particular breeds are more susceptible to these diseases than others.
MVD primarily affects 8 years or older dogs and small-breed dogs. These breeds include:
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
- Miniature poodles
- Shih Tzu
- And more
In contrast, DCM mainly affects larger dog breeds. However, other factors come to contribute to this, including nutrition and genetics, for example. Breeds that are susceptible to DCM include:
- Doberman Pinschers
- Great Danes
- Cocker Spaniels
So, you must regularly get your furry friend check-ups to your local vet if you have any of these breeds. As well know, health and wellbeing have never been more critical than it is today.
What evidence is there that Vetmedin might kill dogs?
A study on Pimobendan (PB) found in Vetmedin, conducted by the World Small Animal Veterinary World Congress Proceedings, went on to test whether PB slows down the onset of heart failure and improves life quality in dogs.
In the study of 76 chosen and screened dogs with DCM, 19 of the dogs had sudden deaths or went to heart failure in the group that got PB, while 25 had sudden deaths in the placebo group. 7 dogs in the PB group and 8 in the placebo group died suddenly. In contrast, 12 on the PB group and 17 on the placebo group went into heart failure.
Though it is evident that the combined endpoint of time to heart failure and time to sudden death shows that it does prolong the survival time, it says otherwise when analyzed individually. The time to sudden death and the onset of heart failure are varied tremendously, and neither of the two was statistically significant. In short, the study states that PB did not prolong the time to onset of heart failure, nor did it extend the time to the sudden death of dogs.
In the case of improving the quality of life in dogs, a study from QUEST concluded that PB did not enhance the quality of life for the studied group. Not to mention that it also decreased free water retention. When PB is administered to a dog with mitral regurgitation (or MVD), it does not increase the shortening fraction in the left ventricle (this is not supposed to happen). However, it did produce smaller LVIDs (end-systolic diameter of the left ventricle) and smaller LVIDs (Left ventricle diastolic diameter) as they should.
The study was focused on Doberman Pinschers with DCM. Though PB does prolong a dog’s survival, there is still a 50:50 chance of effectiveness of the drug as studies so far have proven insignificant statistical findings.
What is the ideal dosage for Vetmedin?
Vetmedin can come in two forms: a chewable tablet or capsule. Your dog should intake it orally two times a day, exactly an hour before their breakfast and another before dinner in the evening (about 12 hours apart). Dosage may vary (1.25 mg, 2.5 mg, 5 mg, or 10 mg) from one dog to another and will be indicated by your local vet.
What are the possible side effects of Vetmedin?
Like most medications, there is always a possible chance for your dog to have some side effects. In this case, however, Vetmedin is relatively tolerable for dogs, and side effects are deemed rare. Some of these rare side effects may include:
- Diarrhea (yikes)
- Lethargy (weakness)
- Increase in mitral valve regurgitation
- Lower appetite
- Slightly increased heart rate
If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, please seek professional medical advice from your local vet on the phone or simply book an appointment.
What factors should be considered before taking Vetmedin?
Before choosing to give your furry pal Vetmedin, there are several factors for you and your vet to consider. Particularly when it comes to underlying health conditions and drug interactions.
Underlying health conditions
Pimobendan (found in Vetmedin) should be avoided when your dog has any of the following conditions:
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
- Aortic stenosis
- Any other condition that causes irregular cardiac increase input
In addition, though no studies have confirmed its safety for young dogs, breeding, pregnant, lactating, or diabetic, it is best to be extra cautious and consult with a professional vet.
Medications such as calcium antagonists (verapamil and diltiazem) and beta-antagonists (propranolol, atenolol) should be used with extra care and caution. Also, if your dog is taking any form of vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies, ensure that you have noted them down and let your vet know about all of them.
Is Vetmedin prescription or over-the-counter?
Vetmedin is deemed a prescription medication and requires your vet’s approval before being authorized to purchase and give it to your dog. Doses may vary between 1.25 mg, 2.5 mg, 5mg, and 10 mg, or 0.25 to 0.3 mg per kg PO q12h.
Are there alternatives to Vetmedin?
Vetmedin (Pimobendan) is the only drug that does what it does, as there are no other FDA-approved alternatives that relieve symptoms of heart failure like Vetmedin. Vetmedin is FDA-approved in their countries of origin, but imported Vetmedin will typically come with a client information sheet for the pet owner stating the key differences in labeling between the US-approved and imported goods.
However, there are non-drug-related things you can do to help them through their health condition. Limiting their exercise to just the right amount until they are happy is one way to go. Do so a few times a day to help them stay fit to avoid the risks of being overweight.
Should you consider suing your vet?
Suppose you believe or suspect that your vet has made a mistake and harms or kills your dog due to carelessness or negligence. In that case, this counts as veterinary malpractice. There are a couple of ways to deal with this, which include:
- Sending a complaint to your state veterinary licensing board, as the board has the authority to suspend or revoke a vet’s license.
- Sue the vet in a court of law
- Negotiate for a settlement or bring a lawsuit with a lawyer’s assistance
- Pursue your case in a small claims court. Though you don’t have to hire a lawyer for this, the compensation or money return you get is relatively smaller than in other courts.
A civil lawsuit is usually the recommended option by most lawyers when going against veterinary malpractice. Below are the steps of how the stages occur:
- The plaintiff files a complaint to initiate the lawsuit
- The defendant files an answer to the filed complaint
- The judge in charge will issue a scheduling order with a timeline of important dates and deadlines, including the date and time of trial.
- Both parties engage in discovery (exchange of relevant information), so ensure all records are in place and ready.
- Motions and other pleadings can be filed
- A jury will then be selected to start the trial
- The jury will then make a decision
- Either party may appeal the decision
Veterinary malpractice claims have been relatively low in the past, but laws are currently changing to turn that around. Some courts are gradually recognizing that an animal is unique and is irreplaceable. Hence courts are starting to allow more significant compensations with respect to the animal’s intrinsic value, aside from their economic value.
What to do if your dog died from Vetmedin?
The first thing you can do is to take an autopsy of your dog. Though this may be difficult, it is one of the best ways to determine the exact cause of their sudden deaths. Causes of death can indeed be Vetmedin, or other factors such as underlying health issues aside from heart failure or a toxic environment may very well contribute to the cause of death.
If Vetmedin turned out to be the true cause of death, you could file a complaint to the drug company that manufactured the Vetmedin prescribed. Ensure you have all the medical records and documentation of events that occurred before their sudden death. To file a report on severe drug cases, check out the FDA to report a serious medical product problem.
Pet bereavement services and support groups
Dealing with the loss of your beloved companion is one tough pill to swallow, but it doesn’t mean you should go through it alone. Pet bereavement services provide a safe space where you can connect with other pet owners who have gone through the same thing you have and talk about it (it really helps). Here are some resources to help:
Rainbowsbridge offers a forum and a chat room open 24 hours with caring volunteers between 8 and 12 pm EST ready to help you out for more personal contact with those who have also lost their furry friends.
Lap of Love offers pet loss support groups organizes weekly sessions on zoom throughout the week led by their Pet Loss Support Team. Here is where you can find yourself in a safe and compassionate space to listen and share each other’s stories and help one another through loss.
Another is the Pet Loss Support Group that you can find on Facebook. The group was created and led by Anne. She is a professional grief counselor with over 30 years of experience with a Master’s in Counselling Psychology and a certified trauma specialist.
Vetmedin can be a helpful drug to help fellow canines with their heart failure symptoms as they can prolong their overall survival time. However, it is always a wise move to consult with your local vet on any other medications or underlying health condiitons your dog may have. As we all know, dealing with their loss is never easy. There are ways to give your beloved pets the justice they deserve and help yourself heal by reaching out to communities, and support groups are the best way to deal with loss. I hope this article serves you well, and please reach out and take good care of yourself.