General Description: Digoxin is used to treat pets with congestive heart failure or heart rhythm disturbances. It will help the heart beat more strongly and regularly, and moves blood through the body better, thereby reducing fluid buildup in the lungs.
What is this drug?
A cardiac glycoside; it slows down the heart rate and increases the contraction strength of the heart
Given by mouth
Reasons for prescribing:
For the initial and chronic treatment of heart failure
For the control of various irregular heart beats (atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter)
Occasionally used to treat dilated cardiomyopathy
What dogs/cats should not take this medication?
Pets with ventricular fibrillation or digitalis overdose
Cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Use with caution in Collie-breed dogs as they may be more sensitive to Central Nervous System effects
Use with caution in obese pets and those with kidney or thyroid disease, severe lung disease or those with an electrolyte imbalance
Safety has not been determined in breeding, pregnant or nursing animals
If your pet has had an allergic reaction to digoxin or like products
Read and follow the label carefully. Give the exact amount prescribed and only as often as directed.
Initial doses are often low, and increased gradually to a maintenance dose based upon blood levels and effects. Carefully follow your veterinarian’s directions as to dosage and the need to monitor signs and check blood levels.
Dogs usually receive this drug two times a day.
Cats usually receive this drug once daily or once every 2 nd or 3 rd day. Do not give with food.
Give on an empty stomach. Ideally, give the medication at the same time(s) daily.
Ensure your pet has access to plenty of fresh, clean drinking water.
As the difference between the treatment dose and the dose that causes side effects is so small, do not adjust medication without contacting your veterinarian first.
Do not skip doses or stop giving the medication without consulting your veterinarian. Stopping suddenly can make the heart condition worse.
Baseline blood work is suggested to assess your pet’s general health prior to initiating treatment.
Periodic blood work to monitor this drug’s effect will be required. Blood is drawn 4-10 hours after the dose is given. Schedule your appointment accordingly.
Differences exist between various brands and forms (ie. tablets vs. capsules). If there is a need to change, your veterinarian may need to monitor your pet closely, recheck blood levels and adjust dosing accordingly.
Call ahead for refills.
What if a dose is missed?
If a dose is missed, give it as soon as you can. If it is time already for the next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to the normal schedule. Do not give two doses at the same time. Contact your veterinarian if you miss giving doses two or more days in a row.
What to tell/ask veterinarian before giving medication?
Talk to your veterinarian about:
When will your pet need to be rechecked
What tests may need to be performed prior to and during treatment with this drug
What are the risks and benefits of using this drug
Tell your veterinarian about:
If your pet has experienced side-effects on other drugs/products
If your pet has experienced digestive upset now or ever
If your pet has experienced liver or kidney disease now or ever
If your pet has experienced any other medical problems or allergies now or ever
All medicines and supplements that you are giving your pet or plan to give your pet, including those you can get without a prescription. Your veterinarian may want to check that all of your pet’s medicines can be given together.
If your pet is pregnant or nursing or if you plan to breed your pet
Storage and Warnings:
Store in a tight, light resistant, childproof container in a cool, dry place at room temperature away from heat and direct sunlight.
Keep this and all medication out of reach of children and pets. Not for human use.
Call your physician immediately if you accidentally take this product.
Potential side effects:
Digoxin is used less frequently now that there are less toxic drugs available
Cats can be more sensitive to side effects than dogs
Potential complications include fatal abnormal heart rhythms and kidney failure
Most side effects are due to too much digoxin in the bloodstream and can be very serious. Watch for mild gastrointestinal effects (decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea), to fatigue, changes in urination, weight loss or behavior changes to serious heart rhythm abnormalities. Contact your veterinarian if your pet develops any of these symptoms or your pet’s heart condition seems to worsen.
Can this drug be given with other drugs?
Yes, but possible interactions may occur with amphotericin B, antacids, anticholinergics, beta-blockers (ex. atenolol), calcium channel blocker (ex. diltiazem), chemotherapeutics, cimetidine, corticosteroids, diazepam, diuretics, erythromycin, laxatives, metoclopramide, neomycin, penicillamine, quinidine, succinylcholine, tetracycline, thyroid replacement therapy drugs and verapamil
If your pet experiences any unusual reactions when taking multiple medications, contact your veterinarian
Contact your veterinarian immediately if pet receives more than the prescribed amount.
What else should I know?
Notify your veterinarian if your animal’s condition does not improve or worsens despite this treatment.
As with all prescribed medicines, digoxin should only be given to the pet for which it was prescribed. It should be given only for the condition for which it was prescribed.
This is just a summary of information about digoxin. If you have any questions or concerns about digoxin or the condition it was prescribed for, contact your veterinarian.