Treating Heart Failure With Enacard for Dogs

Enacard is often used to treat cardiac failure in dogs. Heart failure can be of two types: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, when the walls of the heart chambers thicken, and dilated cardiomyopathy, when the muscles forming the heart chamber walls weaken. Dilated cardiomyopathy is more frequent and leads to congestive heart failure, which results in fluid accumulation in the lungs, chest or abdomen. The blood returning to the heart cannot be pumped in order to properly feed the tissues.

Symptoms of Heart Failure

Dilated carediomyopathy is more frequently seen in dogs. Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Cold extremities
  • Increased capillary refill time
  • Enlarged abdomen
  • Enlargement of veins, especially visible in the neck area
  • Fluid accumulation in the chest or abdomen
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Shallow breathing

What is Enacard?

Enacard is also known as Merial or Enalapril, and belongs to the angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor class of drugs, also known as the ACE inhibitors. Enacard inhibits the hormones and compounds that constrict the blood vessels, making it easier for the heart to pump.

When these hormones and compounds are produced in excess, they cause high blood pressure and decreased blood flow to the tissues and organs.

The ACE inhibitors are vasodilators and reduce the signs of heart failure and improve exercise tolerance, by remodeling the heart muscles that are weak.

Administration and Dosage

Enacard is available in tablets of 1 mg, 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg and 20 mg. The typical dosage is 0.25 mg per pound of body weight. The tablets should be administered once or twice per day. Enacard is available only through prescription, and you should never give your dog enacard without consulting with your vet first.

Enacard Side Effects

Enacard has a few side effects, especially when used in dogs with hypersensitivity. Enacard causes low blood pressure, so the dog will be very weak and lethargic.

You may also notice changes in the dog's urination behavior. The dog will lack appetite, lose weight and in rare cases even faint.

When administrated in high doses, the use of enacard has been associated with kidney failure, given that the drug diminishes the blood supply to the kidneys. The incidence of kidney failure in association with enacard is low, and dogs with kidney disease or under treatment with diuretics are more prone to kidney failure.

Enacard may interact with other drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, furosemides or spironolactone.

High Blood Pressure

Enacard is an efficient medicine to treat high blood pressure.

Treatment Options for Heart Failure

Heart failure is not a treatable condition. The aim of the medication is to reduce the signs and symptoms of heart failure and to help the heart pump blood to the tissues and organs. Besides the ACE inhibitors, there are other treatment options such as the furosemides, which reduce fluid accumulation. Digoxin, dobutamine or amrinone can help the heart muscle contract. However, these are only recommended as a short term treatment. L-carnitine and taurine may also be used to reduce the signs of heart failure.