The mentioned medications are prescription only. Therefore, because this is allowed by the "Heilmittelwerbegesetz" (law on medicinal products) is forbidden, neither here, nor with a possible call in my practice the trade name of the means are called. However, your own veterinary practice may tell you everything you want to know, because your pet is registered as a patient there.
If your pet is suspected of having a heart disease or if you as the pet owner notice the disease. diagnosed one?
In essence, your veterinarian has certainly already been able to explain to you how to proceed. Here again the most important measures are to be clarified.
A healthy heart can be compared to a pump (the heart muscle), which has a valve system (the heart valves) and an electric cable (the conduction system). Since the pump is in operation without pause, wear and tear sometimes occurs. Especially often affected are the valves, the heart valves, on which scars form (cf. also info sheet dental care). They can then no longer close properly, and the blood is only partially pumped on into the body. The other part of the blood remains first in the valve atrium (upper part of the heart), later also in the intake part (the lung) and accumulates there.
Especially often heart valve problems occur in dogs of smaller and medium-sized breeds and their mongrels. Especially dachshunds, poodles, Yorkshire terriers and cocker spaniels are affected.
In larger breeds of dogs, such as Great Danes, Dobermans or St. Bernards, and in cats, the heart muscles themselves are more often diseased, and the pump is then "worn out". The symptoms, however, are the same: due to the congestion, after. After more and more blood than liquid in the lungs (this condition is called "water in the lungs"). Your pet can breathe harder and harder and becomes quieter and less efficient. It also often starts coughing or gagging, especially in the morning or after a period of rest, because then the lungs are particularly "flooded" is. The coughing disappears after a few minutes, because your animal cranks up its heart activity due to the breathing difficulties, the lungs are pumped free and the danger seems to be over.
Depending on the stage of the disease, the X-ray shows the enlarged, congested upper parts of the heart or even the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. You, as the owner of the animal, often only notice the disease when there are already massive problems with the heart and circulation.
What else can be done if the heart or the valves are already damaged??
Once a heart valve is damaged, or the heart muscle tie is broken, it cannot be repaired. The aim of cardiac treatment is to maintain the remaining capacity of the heart for as long as possible with a good quality of life. Therefore, we veterinarians try to relieve the heart with various graded medications.
The first drugs of choice are so-called "ACE inhibitors" , which cause a lowering of the blood prere. The heart then no longer has to pump against such high prere, valves and muscles are less stressed. In order to determine how far you can safely lower the blood prere, in most cases your pet's blood prere is first measured. However, the reduction in blood prere is unfamiliar to your animal's body in any case. So it can be that in the first days of the treatment it is still "limp" than before is – don't worry, the body needs a few days to adjust to the healthier, lower blood prere!
ACE inhibitors are sometimes broken down and excreted more by the liver and sometimes more by the kidneys. Since these two organs may already be damaged by the heart-related congestion, it is necessary to check the liver and kidney blood values before using this type of medication. They are controlled, just like the blood prere, in regular intervals again and again, because only in this way damages can be recognized in time and one can counteract them.
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If there is already a strong congestion of fluid in the lungs, drainage drugs are prescribed in addition to ACE inhibitors. They increase the activity of the kidneys, which excrete more water and "pull it out of the lungs", so to speak. Dehydrating agents such as "Furosemide", "Hydrochlorothiazide" or "Spironolactone are used either only as initial therapy or as permanent treatment, depending on the severity of the disease.
Relatively new in the therapy are so-called "Calcium – Sensitizer". These substances also lower the prere against which the heart works, but they also interfere with the work of the heart itself. They increase the force with which the heart muscle cells can contract, and as a result, the heart then pumps with greater force overall. With such a drug one kills "two birds with one stone" in case of advanced heart damages. Compared to the formerly more common digitalis (s.u.), calcium sensitizers have the advantage of not additionally damaging the heart through increased oxygen consumption, despite their strengthening effect. So they tend to increase life expectancy. Since they make the heart muscle stronger, they are used mainly in the larger dogs, which, after all, more often have a "worn out" heart.
For a long time, there was only one drug in cardiac therapy, the foxglove or "digitalis" , which also intervenes directly in cardiac metabolism. It makes the heart beat slower and therefore stronger, but, unlike the calcium – sensitizers, it also (unfortunately) increases the blood prere. By its directly at the heart existing mode of action the heart muscle consumes more oxygen, than otherwise, and it is also strengthened demanded. The total life expectancy of the heart, and thus also the remaining life time of your animal, becomes shorter. Your animal will be able to spend the remaining time with a good quality of life, and that is the most important thing!
A final note applies to all of these medications: They are prescription only. This means that they must not be mentioned by name, even if you call us, because they are subject to the so-called "Heilmittel – Werbegesetz". If you want to know more about one of the substances, please do not ask your pharmacist, but always your veterinarian.