Vetmedin for dogs


Tablet / Capsules

Active ingredient




What is Vetmedin?

Vetmedin is a brand name for the medication pimobendan. It belongs to a class of drugs called inodilators. These drugs are designed to help the heart function more efficiently. It is used to treat congestive heart failure (CHF) in dogs, and is also used to help slow the progression of the heart conditions Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) and Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM).

What does Vetmedin do?

Vetmedin works by enhancing the heart’s ability to pump blood. It does this by:

  • Improving contractions: Vetmedin strengthens the contractions of the heart muscle, improving its pumping efficiency. It does this by making the heart muscle more responsive to calcium. This improves the heart’s pumping without speeding up the heart rate.
  • Dilating blood vessels: The medication also dilates blood vessels, reducing the workload on the heart and improving blood flow. It does this by blocking an enzyme called phosphodiesterase III.

What is Vetmedin for?

Vetmedin is primarily used to manage heart conditions in dogs, including:

  • Congestive Heart Failure (CHF): Helps alleviate symptoms such as difficulty breathing and lethargy.
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM): Supports heart function in dogs with this condition.

What are the side effects of Vetmedin in dogs?

While generally well-tolerated, Vetmedin may have side effects, including:

  • Loss of Appetite: Some dogs may experience a temporary loss of interest in food.
  • Increased heart rate: A mild increase in heart rate is sometimes noted, but can usually be returned to normal by reducing the dose. This happens in less than 1 in 1000 dogs.
  • Vomiting and Diarrhoea: Less than 1 in 1000 dogs experience mild digestive upset. This can usually be reversed by reducing the dose.
  • Lethargy, wobbliness and weakness: Some dogs experience sleepiness and decreased energy levels. This may be reduced with a lower dose
  • Bleeding disorders: In less than 1 in 10,000 dogs, bleeding gums and bruising may occur. These go away when Vetmedin is stopped.

Which pets is Vetmedin not suitable for?

The following pets should not have Vetmedin, or extreme caution should be used. Make sure your vet is aware of your dog’s other health conditions and medications when they’re prescribing Vetmedin:

  • Vetmedin should not be given to dogs with severe liver problems
  • Vetmedin should not be used in hypertrophic cardiomyopathies or aortic stenosis
  • Vetmedin should not be used in dogs with allergies to any of the ingredients

Vetmedin should be used in caution in:

  • Dogs with DCM and ventricular tachycardia
  • Dogs with DCM and atrial fibrillation
  • Dogs with MVD and significant tachyarrhythmia
  • Pregnant or lactating dogs

How to give Vetmedin safely

  • Follow vet instructions: Always use Vetmedin exactly as your vet has prescribed. This includes the right dose and frequency. Never adjust the dose on your own, even if your pet seems to be feeling better or worse. If you aren’t sure of the dose prescribed, please call your vet to confirm.
  • Give Vetmedin on an empty stomach: Aim for about 60 minutes before feeding to ensure optimal absorption.
  • Check with your vet if giving anything else: Your vet should be aware of other drugs your pet is on, but it’s always worth double-checking in case there’s been a miscommunication somewhere. If your dog is on supplements or non-prescription treatments you should also tell your vet when they prescribe Vetmedin, as they may not be suitable to be given together.
  • Storage and handling: Store Vetmedin in a cool, dry place below 25C. Make sure it’s out of reach of children and other pets. Use any divided tablets within 3 days.
  • Report any accidental overdose to your vet immediately: If you have mistakenly given too much Vetmedin, report it to your vet as soon as you realise the error. An overdose can have serious complications. Emergency treatment is often necessary depending on the severity of the overdose.

How much monitoring do dogs on Vetmedin need?

  • Medium


    While there are no specific blood tests needed, dogs on Vetmedin will need monitoring for deterioration and need for other drugs

Vetmedin doesn’t have particular blood tests required like some drugs do, but your vet will need to re-assess your pet periodically – usually at a maximum of every 3 months, unless they’re in preclinical stages and very stable. This might involve a clinical exam, a heart ultrasound, blood pressure checks, or other tests. However, these tests are needed due to the condition Vetmedin is being prescribed for, rather than the drug itself.

What does Vetmedin cost?

  • pound

    £££ – Expensive

    Vetmedin can cost £20-180 per month

As with all drugs, the cost of Vetmedin depends on the size of your dog and the dose, as well as whether they’re on hard capsules or chewable tablets. For a small, 5kg dog, they might be costing as little as £0.50 per day, not counting prescription and dispensing charges. A large, 40kg dog can cost up to £6 per day.

Remember, Vetmedin is a prescription-only medicine so you will need a prescription from your vet, but you can purchase it from any pharmacy once you have this. This can keep costs down, although you should consider the cost of the prescription and postage before you make a decision.

Vetmedin FAQs

Does Vetmedin work immediately?

Vetmedin starts working approximately 1-2 hours after administration, reaching its peak effect in about 6-8 hours. However, noticeable improvements in your dog’s symptoms may take several days or even weeks.

Can Vetmedin be crushed or split?

It’s important never to crush or split Vetmedin tablets. You may affect the accuracy of the dosing by crushing or splitting the tablets leading to an under or overdose. It is not recommended to crush or split any tablets without consulting your veterinarian first.

How long can my dog live on Vetmedin?

How long your dog lives on Vetmedin depends on the stage of disease they were at when they started treatment. That said, dogs can live for a year or more after starting Vetmedin treatment for Mitral Valve Disease.

For more information about the prognosis of dogs with MVD, especially at different stages of the disease, see our mitral valve disease e-learning course.

Can Vetmedin be used in cats?

Vetmedin is not currently approved for use in cats. It is specifically formulated for use in dogs. However, vets may use drugs ‘off-license’ under the prescribing cascade when they feel there is a clinical need and there are no suitable licensed drugs. In most cases, other drugs are better for cats.

Does Vetmedin have to be given exactly 12 hours apart?

Vetmedin is usually given in two doses, 12 hours apart. This doesn’t have to be exact to the minute, but you should try not to vary it more than an hour each way as this can lead to over and underdose. Don’t forget, Vetmedin should be given an hour before food.

Can my dog miss a day of Vetmedin?

Ideally, stabilised dogs should receive their doses on time for maximum efficiency. If you forget a dose, give it as soon as you remember, unless it’s nearly time for the next dose in which case skip the missed dose and continue with the routine as planned with the next dose. Your dog is unlikely to have any ill effects from missing a dose or two of Vetmedin, but it could cause their heart condition to worsen if the Vetmedin has been supporting them.

Is Vetmedin used for heart murmur?

Vetmedin doesn’t specifically treat heart murmurs, but it has positive effects on the heart that can slow progression of some heart diseases. For instance, Vetmedin is often prescribed to dogs with Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) which is the most common cause of a heart murmur in dogs. In these dogs, Vetmedin can slow progression to heart failure.

For more information about MVD, please visit our e-learning course Mitral Valve Disease in Dogs

Vetmedin Datasheet

All drugs have a manufacturer’s datasheet, which gives information about the drug’s use and possible side effects. There is usually one in your Vetmedin box, but if you have lost it you can click on the button below to be taken on an online version.

Courses related to Vetmedin

If your dog has been prescribed Vetmedin, you might be interested in one of these e-learning courses. These have all been written by vets to help pet owners manage these conditions in their pets. They’ll help you understand what your dog’s condition is doing to them, how they’ll change as time goes on, and what you can do at home to help.

Please note that the information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only. Although it has been written by a vet, we cannot consider the individual nature of your pet’s problems so it does not constitute veterinary advice. If you have questions about your pet’s medication or their health you should contact a vet, who will be able to help.