The goal of treatment in dogs is to provide pharmaceutical support in order to strengthen the remaining heart muscle and to alleviate the clinical signs associated with the disease. Inotropic agents (drugs that strengthen the tone of heart muscle) like digitalis have been used but many veterinarians are using Vetmedin® (pimobendan) for that same purpose in dogs. It is not approved for felines. Diuretics such as furosemide and spironolactone are used to clear pulmonary edema. Ace (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme) inhibitors (benazepril) and beta blockers are often used to decrease return blood flow pressure to the heart.
In cats, the goal is to treat underlying thyroid and taurine disease. Clam juice is an excellent source of taurine. All cats above 10 years of age should be screened for hyperthyroidism. It will prevent a lot of cats coming down with cardiomyopathy in the first place as well as screening them with the Idexx® Pro BNP test. Once the underlying disease is being treated, alleviating the clinical signs of heart disease are important. The use of Calcium channel blockers, ace inhibitors or beta blockers plus furosemide are routinely used to treat heart failure in cats.
Dogs and cats should both be placed on a low sodium diet. Hill’s® Prescription Canine h/d is appropriate for dogs while this list provides adequate dietary control for cats.