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What is Pimobendan Poisoning ?

Pimobendan is a drug used for dogs to increase their heart’s pumping ability, which is usually given to dogs with certain kinds of heart disease. Some of these are congestive heart failure (CHF), dilated cardiomyopathy, and mitral valve insufficiency. It is an inodilator used for congestive heart disease and heart failure in dogs. Pimobendan works by slowing the function of phosphodiesterase enzymes that open the blood vessels and makes the proteins in the heart more sensitive to calcium, which helps it to contract more effectively. It is usually given with other medications like digoxin and ACE inhibitors. Because this medication has been made to taste good to your dog, and it comes in chewable tablets, a toxic dosage of pimobendan is likely if your dog has access.

Pimobendan (Vetmedin) is a commonly prescribed heart medication used by veterinarians. In some cases, pimobendan has been known to cause rapid heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea, nervousness, collapse, convulsions, and possibly death if not treated right away. In addition, if given to a dog without a heart condition, the effects can be life-threatening immediately. This type of drug toxicity can be mistaken for other illnesses, such as a virus, and may be overlooked until it is too late. That is why it is important to see your veterinarian right away if you even suspect that your dog has ingested pimobendan. There are two types of pimobendan poisoning, which are acute (taking a large dose causing immediate toxicosis) or chronic (taking small amounts on a regular basis, causing a gradual toxicosis).

Pimobendan Poisoning Average Cost

From 56 quotes ranging from $300 - $300

Average Cost

$650

Symptoms of Pimobendan Poisoning in Dogs

Your dog may not show any signs of toxicity right away, and some of the mild symptoms, such as stomach upset and weakness, may be overlooked as a virus or anxiety. However, if your dog has gotten into the medication, you are likely to notice that the bottle or blister pack the pills came in are on the floor or chewed on. Anytime you think your dog may have ingested a medication of any kind; it is vital that you call your veterinarian or get your dog to a pet hospital or clinic. Some of the most commonly reported symptoms are:

  • Allergic reaction (breathing difficulty, hives)
  • Collapse
  • Cough
  • Coughing
  • Dark sticky stool (melena)
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Fluid accumulation in the lungs and/or abdomen (ascites)
  • Gagging
  • Heart murmur
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Irregular pulse
  • Itchy skin (pruritus)
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of bodily movements (ataxia)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Restlessness
  • Seizures
  • Shaking
  • Staggering
  • Sudden death
  • Trembling
  • Urinary accidents
  • Vomiting
  • Weak pulse
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

 Types

  • Acute pimobendan poisoning is caused by an ingestion of a large amount of the drug at once (such as with accidental overdose or if your dog gets into the medication
  • Chronic pimobendan poisoning is caused by a small amount given on a regular basis
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Causes of Pimobendan Poisoning in Dogs

  • Accidental overdose by owner
  • Dog ingesting medication left out in his reach
  • Giving the medication to the wrong dog
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Diagnosis of Pimobendan Poisoning in Dogs

A full body examination will be done, which will include abdominal palpation, vision and hearing check, reflexes, heart rate, oxygen level, blood pressure, and body temperature. The veterinarian will also need your dog’s complete medical history, recent illnesses, injuries, abnormal behavior, and vaccination records.

Some laboratory tests will also be performed, such as serum electrolyte levels, protein and glucose, complete blood count (CBC), urinalysis, and fecal examination. The veterinarian will be looking for a decrease in the platelet count, increased phosphates, high blood glucose and liver enzymes, and an increase in protein in the urine and blood. The fecal examination will show the presence of pimobendan if it has been several hours since ingestion of medication.

Chest and abdominal images through radiographs (x-rays) will be done to get a look at the heart and lungs. If the veterinarian suspects damage, CT scans, ultrasound, and possibly an MRI will be used to get a better view. An electrocardiogram (ECG) will also be done to measure the heart’s electrical and muscular activity.

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Treatment of Pimobendan Poisoning in Dogs

The treatment for pimobendan poisoning is to induce vomiting and administer activated charcoal to bind with the medication so it can be eliminated more safely. In cases of chronic pimobendan poisoning, the damage from the toxicity has already been done, so the treatment will depend on which organs are affected by the drug. In the case of liver damage, the only treatment is a transplant, and these are still relatively new procedures with low success rates at a high cost. However, if this is your dog’s only chance of survival, you may wish to proceed. Otherwise, the only treatment will be to make your dog as comfortable as possible.

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Recovery of Pimobendan Poisoning in Dogs

If your dog gets treatment right away for acute pimobendan poisoning, chances for recovery are good, depending on the dose taken and health of your dog. However, in the case of chronic poisoning, recovery chances are not good and will depend on the amount of damage done by the medication. To keep this from happening again, be sure to keep this and all other medication out of your dog’s reach.

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Pimobendan Poisoning Average Cost

From 56 quotes ranging from $300 - $300

Average Cost

$650

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Pimobendan Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Schnoodle

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Six Years

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Unknown severity

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4 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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My younger dog accidentally got my older dogs medication. It was in a pill pocket so either 2.5 mf vetmedin or 50 mg theophylline. Wt is 15 lbs. is it dangerous?

Dec. 18, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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4 Recommendations

The highest dose of Vetmedin we usually would give would be 0.3mg/kg, so a 2.5mg tablet would be a slight overdose. This should be well tolerated as long as the dog is healthy as this drug has a wide safety margin, but do watch for an abnormally fast heart rate or other abnormalities. 50mg of Theophylline is a small amount and the tolerated dose goes up to 20mg/kg, so this is well within normal. Realistically, we wouldn't expect any significant adverse reactions assuming your younger dog is healthy and not on any medicine. Do monitor closely and call your vet if any concerns.

Dec. 19, 2020

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Toy Poodle

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Sixteen Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Seizure, Weight Loss

Hello! I’m a critical care MD (For humans). My ancient toy poodle has been VERY healthy/active for a 16 yr old. She suddenly had new onset murmur (wide open MR) with acute CHF a few weeks ago. On Lasix and Pimobendan, she has been home and stable, but now with frequent seizure-like activity with loss of bladder control, and profound weight loss, neither of which were a problem prior to Pimobendan. I suspect the Vetmed may be the problem. Electrolytes on CMP, all other labs normal. What other inotrope would you recommend! In humans, digoxin and milrinone ... but in dogs ...?

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Those are certainly not typical reactions to Pimobendan. With out more information or being able to see x-rays, an ECG, or an echo, I cannot comment on other appropriate medications - it may be best to consult a cardiologist, and your veterinarian can provide that referral for you.

Oct. 14, 2020

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Chihuhua/jack russel

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Fifteen Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None

My small dog takes vetmedin. She is 15yrs and 13 lbs. My other dog ate 1/2 of a 2.5 vetmedin. She is 80lbs and 3years.. Will it hurt her?

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I do not think that that small dose in a large dog will have any effects, no.

Oct. 15, 2020

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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Nine Years

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Unknown severity

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32 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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None

I just accidentally gave my dog twice her normal dosage of Vetmedin tonight at dinner. She is suppose to get 2.5 and I gave her 5 mg

July 31, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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32 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Thankfully, that medication has a wide safety range, and that dosage should not cause a problem for your dog. If you do notice any GI upset, it would be best to call your veterinarian in the morning, but I do not think that you will notice any side effects. I hope it all goes well with your dog.

July 31, 2020

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Yorkie

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Twelve Years

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Unknown severity

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7 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Renal Failure

Is the any supplements that I can use for Renal failure that I need to be careful of interacting with Vetmedin?

July 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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7 Recommendations

Hello, A common supplement that I prescribe for dog with kidney failure is Epakatin. There are other over the counter supplements that would also help. I am unaware of any that would not be able to be used with a dog who is taking vetmedin.

July 26, 2020

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Juicy

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Chihuahua

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12 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Weakness
Vomiting
Sick
Trembling
Inappetance

My dog was diagnosed with Stage C degenerative mitral valve disease suspect minor chordae tendinae rupture and Stage B1 degenerative tricuspid valve disease. She had CHF in October 2019 for the first time and was put on Pimobendan (2 tablets a day) & Fursomide (3/4 tablet a day). She had CHF again on February 5, 2020 and went into the hospital for labored breathing. I was told she would need to stay over night. The next morning the doctor called and told me "there was an accident in the ER and one of the nurses gave Juicy (my dog) 11 times the amount of Pimobendan she should have received." By the time he realized, poison control said it was too late to give her charcoal and have her throw up. He said they would need to monitor closely for the next 24 hours and make sure her heart rate & blood pressure didn't drop/change drastically. It didn't (according to him). However they kept her in the hospital an additional 2 days and said it was because her breathing was still labored and they suspected she still had fluid in her lungs. They wanted to keep her additional days but obviously this was all adding up financially so I brought her home. She came home on Feb 8th so weak she could barely stand or keep her eyes opening. In discharge, they added two additional meds Spironolactone 25mg and Hydrochlorthiazide 25mg which we quickly removed because she couldn't stop vomiting. She didn't poop for 2 days and when she finally did she had diarrhea and then blood in her stool. She continues to have an extreme lack of appetite on Feb 19th almost 2 weeks since she came home from the hospital. What I want to know is - are there long/er term effects of pimobendan poisoning? I'm wondering if 1) her hospital stay was prolonged because she was poisoned and her body needed to recover and 2) are there other areas impacted by pimobendan poisoning? Like in impact to the kidney, liver, abdomen etc...?

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Xavier

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Toy or Miniature Poodle

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12 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing

My toy poodle, Xavier has a heart murmur. The vet has prescribed 3 medications one of them is Vetmedin, 1.25. He is prescribed 1/2 pill 2 times a day however because of timing of the 3 meds I give him a whole one in the morning. He has started coughing quite a bit in the past 24 hours. I'm wondering if I could be overdosing him at this point. He seemed much better when I did this originally. He also seems to have coordination issues, will sit or lie down and then a few minutes later he fine. Your advice is greatly appreciated!

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Shadow

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King Charles Spaniel

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Wobbly Rear Gait

I have a 10 1/2 year old King Charles Cavalier that has been diagnosed with a grade 2 murmer, enlarged heart that is pushing up on his trachea. Was prescribed 1/4 tablet of a 10mg Pimobendan 1/2 tablet of Enalapril 10mg. Twice a day. We are in day 3. He is confused, weak, scared. I had to give him water by tablespoon which was much appreciated. 5 Hours later he drank some water out of his bowl. Little victories give you hope. We went for a walk and he crossed the street wobbly. He peed squatting but his back legs gave out at the end. I carried him home. He is not lying on his stomach to sleep but sitting all night. I rocked him in my arms for comfort and put his 25 lbs on my lap where he may have slept for 30 minutes. His tail did wag in acknowledgment briefly. He's fighting this but I feel like I don't have the meds right for him. 3 bights of food this evening and trying to poop tonight is out of the question. I want to give these meds a shot cause it's his only hope but getting it right is difficult. Caughing did stop. Is it wrong to cut back a bit on the meds so he can regain some strength to poop ?

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JJ

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Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

12 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Kidney And Liver Failure

I was wondering where the “source” of this article came from. My little guy has been on Pimobendan for 10 months now and to make a LONG LONG story short he has been on a dose for a dog twice his size. My “new” vet and the current emergency vets have determined that he had gotten into something toxic. He presented to the “old” vet with full blown jaundice and I was told he had cancer. Not so, as he started to respond to a “let’s see” if this helps (vet said probably wouldn’t) antibiotic. He also sent us home and booked a recheck for “5 weeks out”!!!!! I felt very uncomfortable with this situation because his numbers were exceeding their in-house lab work. I then contacted another veterinarian for a consultation and was immediately told to go the emergency/specialist hospital. I am VERY fortunate to have done so.......it’s been an unbelievable roller coaster ride for weeks now and has become very very costly. His initial values were as follows (upon arrival at emergency hospital and AFTER being on an antibiotic, only the abnormal results are listed):IDEXX SDMA - 19, Na:K ratio - 42, ALT - 2426, AST - 405, ALP - 3788, bilirubin - 7.9, bilirubin unconjugated - 2.4, bilirubin conjugated - 5.5, cholesterol - 611. Since these results his liver tests are s..l..o..w..l..y improving but his most recent kidney labs are worsening. My vets are unable to find any info regarding Pimobendan poisoning, but I found this info here. I feel that being on twice the dosage for his size must have contributed to this in some way.....NONE of my other dogs (4 more) have experienced ANY of this. The vets definitely think it was a toxin of some sort. He’s under my supervision while outside and isn’t allowed to roam. Since the “new” vets have “lowered” his DOSE there is NO more head bobbing, appetite is increasing and labs are improving for the liver albeit slowly. Hopefully the kidneys will also respond positively.

dog-name-icon

Posey

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Shih Tzu

dog-age-icon

12 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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3 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Every Allergic Side Effect Listed

My just turned 12 years old Shih Tzu was put on Vetmedin for a heart murmur and enlarged heart. Doctor provided no written literature on harmful affects and spoke only glowingly about it's effectiveness. After on it 3 days with labored breathing,lethargy,impaired coordination, black diarrhea, lack of appetite for food and water, I finally realized something was really wrong and stopped the Vetmedin. An emergency visit to the Vet,the ultrasound showed fluid in her abdomen and around her lungs, not present in the original ultrasound before administering Vetmedin. Her liver was swollen and her pancreas was affected. I have had this poor baby at additional emergency clinics, an emergency appointment with a heart specialist who said Vetmedin was prescribed prematurely, an emergency hospital to see an internist, and no one has helped with the after affects this drug has had on my dog. After a week off Vetmedin, she is a vastly changed dog, her breathing continues to be labored and fast, she is restless and can't settle down to get comfortable, is listless, sleeps constantly, is depressed, has no appetite, and can barely walk in from going outside. I don't know what else to do for my dog as she struggles to get through this and tries to live. She should have never been given this harmful drug.

Pimobendan Poisoning Average Cost

From 56 quotes ranging from $300 - $300

Average Cost

$650

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