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
Any narrowing of blood vessels normally leads to an increase in blood pressure and a need for the heart to work harder to pump blood through the body. Enalapril is an ACE-inhibitor drug that blocks an enzyme from producing a compound which constricts and tightens these blood vessels.
Because it blocks the production of the "tightening" enzyme, the effect of enalapril is to widen the diameter of the blood vessels. This increase in their diameter results in a decrease in blood pressure, making it easier for the heart to push blood through the vessels of 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
In dogs, Enalapril is used to treat heart failure, hypertension (high blood pressure), chronic renal (kidney) failure. It can also treat 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 alongside Lasix (furosemide). These 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 may include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, weakness, or 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 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.