Digoxin for Dogs

Digoxin for dogs is a medication that is generally used to treat congestive heart failure. It is normally used in combination with other medications, such as enzyme inhibitors and diuretics. Digoxin works by affecting the electrical conduction of the heart and increasing cardiac activity. Using digoxin should reduce your pet's heart size, blood volume, heart rate, and blood pressure. Digoxin is also commonly used in cats suffering from congestive heart failure. 

Digoxin is a highly effective drug when used the correct way, but it is still a drug that will require extreme monitoring from the pet owner. Digoxin is very powerful, and can cause harm when used the incorrect way or when dosages are too high. Digoxin may absorb differently depending on your pet's diet and other factors, and it can be toxic to certain animals. 

Overview of Digoxin for Dogs

As mentioned earlier, Digoxin is a drug used for congestive heart failure in both dogs and cats. When used correctly, it will help control your pet's heart rate, size, pressure, and blood volume. The drug also lessens sympathetic tone, which will reduce edema and stimulate diuresis. Digoxin can also be used to treat atrial fibrillation, cardiac arrhythmias, and supraventricular tachycardia. 

Digoxin must always be used with extreme care, as overdose is common with this powerful drug. Digoxin may also interact with other medications, so it is important for pet owners to discuss every drug the dog is taking before administering digoxin. Animals taking digoxin must be monitored closely for possible side effects or reactions to the drug. 

Possible Side Effects of Digoxin for Dogs

Like most drugs or medications, digoxin carries a slight risk for certain side effects in dogs. The most common adverse side effect of digoxin is toxicity. This drug can be toxic to certain animals, and may cause the heart disease and all symptoms associated with the condition to worsen. 

Other side effects may include the following:

  • Nausea 
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Heart block
  • Unsteady gait
  • Depression
  • Balance problems

Dogs who are suffering from ventricular fibrillation or digitalis intoxication should not be given digoxin as treatment. Digoxin should be used with caution in dogs with the following conditions:

  • Idiopathic subaortic stenosis
  • Heart failure with glumerulonephritis
  • Myocarditis
  • Acute myocardial infarction
  • Ventricular tachycardias
  • Chronic obstructive pericarditis
  • Incomplete AV block
  • Premature ventricular contraction
  • Pulmonary disease
  • Carotid sinus sensitivity
  • Hypoxia
  • Renal disease
  • Thyroid disease
  • Hypokalemia

Drug Interactions and Overdoses of Digoxin for Dogs

Digoxin can interact with certain medications, and should always be used with caution because of this. It is important to discuss all of the medications your pet is taking with a veterinarian before giving digoxin as a treatment. Digoxin can also lead to an overdose if used incorrectly, and sometimes, the drug is just toxic to certain animals. 

If your pet has overdose of digoxin, he may show the following signs and symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Depression
  • Lethargy 
  • Lack of energy
  • Convulsions

An acute overdose of digoxin can be fatal. If you notice any of the above signs of an overdose or believe your pet has overdosed on digoxin, seek emergency veterinary care immediately.