Learn About Using Enalapril (Enacard, Vasotec) in Dogs and Cats

Uses and Side Effects of Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors

British shorthair cat sitting by a sleeping shar pei dog
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Enalapril, also known as Enacard® or Vasotec®, is used in dogs and cats to treat heart disease, high blood pressure, and even kidney disease, but it can cause a few side effects as well.

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 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.

In contrast, enalapril acts as a vasodilator because it blocks the production of angiotensin-ll. Essentially, by acting as a vasodilator, enalapril 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 and cats that are experiencing kidney disease. It is believed that enalapril and other ACE inhibitors probably decrease the amount of protein that is allowed to escape through the kidneys and into the urine.

Diseases Enalapril Can Treat in Pets

Enalapril is used in both the dog and the cat to treat heart failure, hypertension (high blood pressure), chronic renal (kidney) failure, and a kidney disease called protein-losing nephropathy 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 or cat in heart failure; however, it is not known whether the pet's life can actually be prolonged by using the enalapril and furosemide together.

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.

Side Effects of Enalapril Use

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

Dogs and cats receiving enalapril should be examined regularly by a veterinarian as well. 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 arise from the prolonged use of enalapril.

Please note that this article has been providing for informational purposes only and should not be used alone to determine the best course of actions for treating your pet's health concerns. If your pet is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible to determine the best individualized treatment plan for your cat or dog.