Vetmedin Dosage Chart for Dogs: Risks, Side Effects, Dosage, and More

Written by Amber LaRock
Updated: November 22, 2023
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Has your vet prescribed Vetmedin to your dog with heart disease? If so, you likely have questions about what this medication is and how it can help your canine companion.

In this article, we break down everything you need to know about dosing, side effects, risks, and more! Let’s dive in.

What Is Vetmedin?

Hand giving chihuahua a pill

Vetmedin can slow the progression of cardiac disease in dogs and offer a better quality of life.

©Alexsander Ovsyannikov/

Vetmedin is a prescription medication that manages mild, moderate, or severe cardiac disease in dogs. The active ingredient in Vetmedin is pimobendan, and it helps to offer dogs with cardiac disease more longevity in their condition. Vetmedin works by opening up the blood vessels that carry blood to and from the heart, ultimately reducing how hard the heart has to work. It also increases the pumping action of the heart.

The above functions help to alleviate stress from the dog’s compromised heart muscle. This ultimately offers dogs with cardiac disease due to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and mitral valve disease (MVD) a better quality of life, and it can even slow the progression of their disease into congestive heart failure. It is often combined with other heart medications as well.

Vetmedin is formulated for use in dogs only, but it can be used ‘off-label’ in cats. While the active ingredient, pimobendan, manages heart disease in humans as well, Vetmedin features dog-safe dosing and administration.

Is Vetmedin Safe for Dogs?

Vetmedin is safe for use in dogs when following your veterinarian’s guidance. Just keep in mind that it is only safe in the form and dose that your veterinarian prescribes. Human forms of pimobendan are not dog safe. Pimobendan prescribed to humans can contain doses too high for dogs to take safely, so you want to be sure to stick to Vetmedin.

Why Do Dogs Take Vetmedin?

A veterinarian checks a golden retriever's heartbeat

Dogs with heart disease and cardiac failure often experience a slew of symptoms.

©Tatyana Vyc/

Dogs take Vetmedin to slow the progression of cardiac disease and relieve symptoms of cardiac failure. This medication helps the heart pump more effectively and facilitate blood flow to and from the heart, which ultimately decreases the amount of stress on the heart muscle itself.

Dogs with heart disease and cardiac failure often experience a chronic cough, exercise intolerance, lethargy, decreased appetite, weight loss, difficulty breathing, blue or purple gums, and abdominal and leg swelling. Vetmedin can help to manage these symptoms with the help of other cardiac support medications.

How Is Vetmedin Given to Dogs?

This medication comes in a chewable tablet or capsule form. It should be given without food and at least one hour before or after any food is given. It will not absorb into the body properly if it is given with food. Vetmedin is usually given every 12 hours and should take effect within one to two hours of administration when given regularly. However, keep in mind that it can take up to one week to see the full effects if your dog is just starting the medication.

What Is the Dose?

Golden retriever taking meds or vitamins from owner's hands, one hand holding a weekly pill box

Dogs take Vetmedin to slow the progression of cardiac disease and relieve symptoms of cardiac failure.

©Donna Ellen Coleman/

We should state again that you should never give your dog Vetmedin (pimobendan) without your veterinarian’s approval. With that in mind, there is a standard Vetmedin dose that most veterinarians follow.

The standard dosing range of Vetmedin for dogs is 0.23mg per pound of body weight. This amount should be divided into two daily doses and given without food. It is easy to halve Vetmedin to allow for easy administration.

Your vet will prescribe a dose that is appropriate for the severity of your pup’s condition, and this is why the dosing range is so wide.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Vetmedin is generally safe and well-tolerated, but there are a few side effects associated with the medication. The most common side effects involve gastrointestinal upset symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and a decreased appetite. These symptoms often resolve quickly, but we encourage reaching out to your vet if they last more than 48 hours.

Dr. Amy Nicole Lewis, a veterinarian with Worldwide Veterinary Services, told A-Z Animals that the use of Vetmedin will need to be closely monitored in dogs with kidney disease. Vetmedin can increase kidney enzymes, so blood values should be monitored regularly in dogs with renal disease.

How Long Will My Dog Need to Take Vetmedin?

Dogs with cardiac disease will need to take Vetmedin for the rest of their lives once it is prescribed. Unless your dog develops severe side effects or complications with their renal disease, Vetmedin will become a part of your pup’s daily health care routine.

Just keep in mind that while Vetmedin can offer dogs longevity, it cannot stop the progression of their disease completely. Most dogs will eventually lose their lives to cardiac failure.

How Do I Get Vetmedin for My Dog?

Vetmedin is a prescription medication that you can only purchase from a vet’s office or a veterinary pharmaceutical company. We always suggest reaching out to your vet if your dog is experiencing a chronic cough, exercise intolerance, lethargy, decreased appetite, weight loss, difficulty breathing, blue or purple gums, and abdominal and leg swelling. Your vet will perform the necessary diagnostics and prescribe a cardiac disease management plan.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tikhonova

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About the Author

Amber LaRock is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics surrounding pet health and behavior. Amber is a Licensed Veterinary Technician with 12 years of experience in the field, and she holds a degree in veterinary technology that she earned in 2015. A resident of Chiang Mai, Thailand, Amber enjoys volunteering with animal rescues, reading, and taking care of her two cats.

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