Using Enalapril (Enacard, Vasotec) for Dogs

Sick Dog On Exam Table

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Enalapril (trade name Enacard or Vasotec) is used in dogs to treat some kinds of heart disease, and some forms of kidney disease. As with many drugs, it can have a few side effects.

Mode of Action of Enalapril

Enalapril is an ACE inhibitor. This means that it blocks the action of Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE), which normally plays a role in blood pressure by narrowing blood vessels and affecting how much fluid, sodium and potassium is retained by the body. All of these mechanisms normally work to maintain a healthy blood pressure. However, in certain diseases, there is a need to prevent this. For example, in heart disease like congestive heart failure, narrowing the vessels and retaining fluid and sodium can make the heart work even harder and lead to unwanted fluid accumulation in the body. In certain forms of kidney disease where protein loss is a concern, this same mechanism can lead to additional protein losses. By using an ACE inhibitor as part of the treatment plan, these normal mechanisms can be turned down, reducing some of the strain on the heart or kidneys.

Diseases Enalapril Can Treat

In dogs, Enalapril is used to treat heart failure, and a kidney disease called protein-losing nephropathy that results in protein loss through the kidneys and into the urine.

When enalapril is used to treat heart failure, it is most often used alongside additional medications such as diuretics like Lasix (furosemide) and Pimobendan, a medication that is used to improve contractions of the heart muscle. These medications used together can improve the quality of life for a dog in heart failure.

Side Effects of Enalapril Use

Pet owners using enalapril for their dog should be aware that side effects, though relatively rare, can occur. These may include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, weakness, or rashes.

Dogs receiving enalapril should be examined regularly by a veterinarian. Periodic blood screening may be necessary to monitor for increased blood potassium levels as well as to monitor kidney values and other measures of systemic health. The pet's blood pressure should be monitored periodically, too, as complications can potentially arise with the use of enalapril.

Considerations Before Using Enalapril in Dogs

Be sure to check with your veterinarian if you are using enalapril together with other medications. Make sure to follow the instructions from your veterinarian carefully and to schedule all follow-ups as recommended.

Be aware that you should not administer enalapril to your pet in conjunction with spironolactone, a diuretic that also affects potassium levels. Enalapril should also not be used at the same time as any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory as this may increase the risk of side effects.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.
Article Sources
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  1. Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure. Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

  2. Angiotensin-converting Enzyme Inhibitors. Merck Manual Veterinary Manual.

  3. Enalapril. VCA Hospitals

  4. Schröder, J., et al. Combined use of an ACE-inhibitor and spironolactone in patients with heart insufficiencyMedizinische Monatsschrift Fur Pharmazeuten, 2017;40(1): 24–26.