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Study offers heart drug breakthrough for dogs

DOGS SUFFERING from heart failure can gain an extra nine months of life over conventional treatments by using a newer therapy, according to a new study.

The most common heart disease in dogs is caused by degeneration of the heart valves, causing them to become leaky.

The study found that dogs with congestive heart failure, due to valve problems, treated with a conventional Angiotensin-converting Enzyme (ACE_ inhibitor lived on average for 128 days – some four months. However those who started on the newer drug, Pimobendan (Vetmedin, Boehringer Ingelheim), lived on average 415 days – around 13 months.

The study also found a rapid response to the newer treatment. Boehringer claims that within seven days over 50% of dogs were symptom-free.

Around 20,000 dogs a year in the UK develop a type of heart failure called Mitral Valve Disease. The problem is most common in small breeds, with Cavalier King Charles spaniels being especially vulnerable.

Overall, of the 6 million dogs in the UK around one in ten (10%) will be diagnosed with various forms of heart disease during their lifetime.

Mr Simon Swift, a veterinary cardiologist from Liverpool University, who has a special interest in canine heart problems, said the latest study added to a growing pool of data that Pimobendan increased longevity as well as improving quality of life.

‘The evidence increasingly pointed to Pimobendan being used as first-line treatment for canine heart failure rather than an ACE inhibitor, instead of being kept in reserve as rescue therapy,’ he said.