Benazepril, also known as Fortekor® and Lotensin®, is used in the dog and cat relatively frequently. It has several uses, including treating heart and kidney disease in both the canine and the feline.
Benazepril is part of a class of drugs known as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or ACE inhibitors. Their primary effect is vasodilation (dilation of the blood vessels).
What Does an ACE Inhibitor Like Benazepril Do in the Dog and Cat?
The angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) is part of a system in the body that produces a compound known as angiotensin-ll.
Angiotensin-ll is a powerful vasoconstrictor, meaning that it narrows the blood vessels throughout the body. This narrowing of the blood vessels causes increased resistance within the vessels, which in turn increases the amount of work that the heart has to do to pump the blood through the blood vessels.
When benazepril is given to a dog or cat, it inhibits the angiotensin-converting enzyme, resulting in less angiotensin-ll being produced. Lower levels of angiotensin-ll, in turn, lead to vasodilation, an increase in the diameter of the blood vessels located throughout the body. This has several effects:
- Benazepril effectively causes vasodilation, which makes it easier for the heart to pump blood through the vessels and to the rest of body. This is an effective way to take some of the load off of the heart.
- Benazepril also helps to lower blood pressure by causing vasodilation.
- In addition, benazepril increases the blood flow to the kidneys, which in some animals with kidney disease may help the kidneys to function more efficiently.
Benazepril Uses in Dogs and Cats
Benazepril, because of its action as a vasodilator, is commonly used to treat congestive heart failure in both dogs and cats. In most cases, benazepril is used together with furosemide (Lasix®). When these two drugs are combined, the quality of life a dog or cat in congestive heart failure can be improved considerably in many cases.
It is worth noting though that the dosage of furosemide may need to be lowered so that your pet's blood pressure does not drop too low.
Benazepril is also used to treat canine and feline kidney disease, specifically chronic kidney (renal) failure and kidney diseases in which abnormal quantities of protein are being filtered through the kidneys and into the urine (protein-losing nephropathies.)
Benazepril is also sometimes used to treat high blood pressure in dogs and cats.
Side Effects to Watch for in Dogs and Cats Receiving Benazepril
The most common side effects are gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite and possibly weakness. However, more serious side effects such as hypotension (low blood pressure), an elevated blood potassium level (hyperkalemia) and kidney damage can also occur. Dogs and cats receiving benazepril should be monitored closely at home and should be examined periodically by their veterinarian.
Benazepril is known to pass the placenta to any developing fetuses. When using benazepril in pregnant animals, the benefits of its use must be weighed against the risks of losing or damaging the unborn puppies or kittens.
Benazepril (Fortekor®, Lotensin®) in dogs and cats is effective in treating congestive heart failure and is also used to treat kidney disease and hypertension (high blood pressure.)