Enalapril, trade name Enacard or Vasotec, is used in dogs to treat heart disease, high blood pressure, and even kidney disease. As with many drugs, it can cause a few side effects.
Mode of Action of Enalapril
Enalapril is an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (or ACE inhibitor), which means that enalapril stops the angiotensin-converting enzyme from producing a compound called angiotensin-ll, a potent vasoconstrictor. These vasoconstrictors normally cause the narrowing of blood vessels, which ultimately leads to an increase in blood pressure and a need for the heart to work harder to pump the blood through the body.
Because it blocks the production of angiotensin-ll, enalapril acts as a vasodilator, as it acts to increase the diameter of the blood vessels instead of narrowing them. This increase in the diameter of the blood vessels results in a decrease in blood pressure and makes it easier for the heart to push the blood through the blood vessels to the body.
Enalapril also increases blood flow to the kidneys, which may be helpful for some dogs that are experiencing kidney disease. It is also believed that enalapril and other ACE inhibitors probably decrease the amount of useable protein that is allowed to escape through the kidneys and into the urine.
Diseases Enalapril Can Treat
Enalapril is used in the dog to treat heart failure, hypertension (high blood pressure), chronic renal (kidney) failure, and a kidney disease called protein-losing nephropathy (kidney disease) that results in protein loss through urination.
When enalapril is used to treat heart failure, it is most often used together with furosemide (Lasix). The two medications used together can increase the quality of life for a dog in heart failure. However, it is not known whether the pet's life can be prolonged by using these drugs together.
Side Effects of Enalapril Use
Pet owners using enalapril for their dog should be aware that side effects, though relatively rare, can occur. These side effects may include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, weakness, or the development of rashes.
Because so many systems in the body are affected, dogs receiving enalapril should be examined regularly by a veterinarian. Periodic blood screening may be necessary to monitor for signs of kidney disease and increased blood potassium levels. The pet's blood pressure should be monitored periodically, too, as complications can potentially arise from the prolonged use of enalapril.
Considerations Before Using Enalapril in Dogs
When using enalapril together with furosemide, it may be necessary to use a lower dosage of furosemide to avoid decreasing the blood pressure to a dangerously low level.
Be aware that you should not administer enalapril to your pet in conjunction with spironolactone, a diuretic used to treat conditions where the body retains too much fluid. Enalapril should also not be used at the same time as any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory.
Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and should not be used alone. If your dog is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible to determine the best-individualized treatment plan for your dog.