Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pill popping

Stella is on a steady diet of drugs because of her dilated cardiomyopathy. I expect this to be a preview of my own life when I hit post retirement except you can be damn sure my pill cocktail will include more of the recreational variety.

Sotalol is for keeping her heart rate steady. Sotalol is given at a dosage of one quarter tablet every 12 hours.


Pimobendan is the only one of the bunch made specifically for dogs which I have to buy at the vet's office. All the others can be bought at a regular drug store as they are human meds. I wouldn't be surprised if this one becomes a human med once enough dogs have been subjected to it and it's deemed safe (already being used by people in Japan). Pimobendan is a bit of a wonder drug. It makes the heart's muscles more efficient at pumping and increases the survival time of most dogs with DCM by several months. Stella gets three capsules of Pimobendan every 12 hours.


Benazepril seems to be only available these days as a brand name drug, Lotensin, which means it costs way more than it would otherwise. Benazepril lowers blood pressure to ease the strain on the heart. Benazepril is one tablet every 12 hours.


Furosemide is a diuretic which helps keep Stella's lungs clear of fluid build up. Without this drug, Stella would basically drown. Unfortunately, it also makes her drink a lot of water, three or four times more than normal and of course that means many more washroom breaks. Stella's always also had a slight problem with incontinence because she was spayed too young (at 6 months) but before she'd just leave behind little dribbles. Now she ends up lying in big puddles without even realizing it. This drug will also ruin her kidneys so it becomes a balance between preserving one organ and destroying the other. She gets 2 of these pills every eight hours.


Diltiazem should lessen the strength of Stella's cardiac arrhythmias. If the arrhythmia gets out of control, she could collapse and die. This might actually be the best outcome considering some of the other possibilities. Diltiazem is given every 8 hours.


Pill times are:

8:00 AM
Sotalol, Pimobendan, Benazepril, Furosemide, Diltiazem

4:00 PM
Furosemide, Diltiazem

8:00 PM
Sotalol, Pimobendan, Benazepril

12:00 AM
Furosemide, Diltiazem

Pills for one week


Gibby said...

Hey Fred,

I know what you mean! Pepper's epilepsy and other conditions mean she gets:

- phenobarbital 120mg BID
- potassium bromide 600mg BID
- thryotabs 0.4mg BID
- gabapentin 200mg BID
- levetiracetam 750mg TID
- propalin 0.5ml TID

plus her post seizure cocktail.

I have accounts with a human pharmacy, two compounding pharmacies and my vet. Thank goodness all the drugs have gone generic, though. I could never afford the brand names!

But the good news is, these meds have kept her alive - with a good quality of life - for eight years since her diagnosis of refractory epilepsy. That's what I focus on.

Here's hoping Stella's drugs do the same for her.


PS Stella's pills are prettier than Pepper's! ;-p

Meaghan Edwards said...

Bless you for taking such great care of her! While it always upsets me when I hear about animal abuse, it really, really makes my day when I know there are animals who are being spoiled (in the best way).

Meaghan Edwards

Erin said...

Stella is lucky to have you, not every owner would do all you are doing for her.

I don't know if she can take another med, but if the incontience is a huge issue we use Propalin around these parts. Molly has Cushings Disease which one of the side effects is massive thirst and she was having the same issues as Stella. I believe the Propalin helps firm up the bladder muscles and thusly helps with the leaking. She still pees an absolute river everytime we're out, but they don't happen in the house anymore. We jokingly call it "Piss Off".

Anonymous said...

I feel for was always such a monumental chore to get my dog to take 1 pill...this looks like a nightmare... but Stella is definitely worth it.
I know you are all too aware, because of your work at TAS, that this is the point in some dog's lives where they would be surrendered to a shelter.
I think, on some level, Stella knows and appreciates everything you are doing for her...I believe dogs have a sixth sense (of course I also believe aliens are contacting me through my tin foil helmet...just kidding).
Btw, love the new picture...Stella is so adorable...give her a big hug for me.

hopy said...

as much as it's a bit of a drag she has to have such a battery of meds to keep her ticker ticking, Stella's the luckiest dog in the world because she has folks who love her enough to look after her so well.

and there really aren't enough synonyms for AWESOME to describe that new shot of her: the ghostly trees, the eerie stick-man in the distance, the vintage x-files feel to it all. my favourite thing, i think (besides Stella's noble, patient face), is the confluence of angles her legs and tail make: i especially love the way her tail and hind paw line up to make a perfectly straight plane.

Heather B said...

Your new background picture of Stella is beautiful. It`s full of feeling and she looks very proud and regal, almost mystical. This picture makes me feel at peace for some reason. Thank you for sharing her with all of us, Fred.

Fred said...

Thanks all. Glad you like the new background pic.

Erin, I'm trying to keep Stella off the Propalin for now. We've sort of got into a not so bad pee schedule so she's not wetting her bed as much these days. If the diurectic dosage goes up at some point, though, I don't know.

Lynn said...

Boy, that is a lot of pills. I was curious how you give them to her? Peanut butter? Meat? Just the 'ol toss and hold method?

I was also wondering about your comment about Stella's problem with incontinence because of being spayed at 6 mos. I coordinate our shelter's low-income spay/neuter clinic (which, BTW, doesn't mean I'm an expert on s/n...just on coordinating!). But most shelters now s/n dogs at as young as 2 mos., and 4 mos is extremely common. So I was just wondering what other shelter and rescue people were doing regarding s/n. Shelter logic may be that's it's the lesser of two evils. I don't know, but now I'll have to start asking around.

LOVE the new pic of Stella. I always kind of missed her mug when you took the other picture off. (Not that you aren't equally handsome Rocky).

Ian said...

Love the new picture of Stella.
Stella found the right person alright.
I really hope you and Stella have many more good times.

Michelle said...

Wow - and I thought that it was a pain in the ass giving Dingle 2 different eye drops every 12 hours...

Stella is lucky to have you - you take very good care of her.

Fred said...

Lynn, pediatric spay neuter does have problems associated with it especially in females (possible incontinence) and large breeds (over growth in size leading to joint problems for one).

You're right about having to decide between the lesser of two evils although it would be nicer, and probably too idealistic, to trust that all new adopters of puppies will not breed them and will speuter them when they reach the appropriate age.

Social Mange said...

Oi. You're right, this is what we have to look forward to in old age! So many pills, so little room left for food! *LOL*

Bless you for taking such good care of Stella...she's a special soul, I'm so glad she found you. Fabulous new pic, too!

Cathrine said...

Gee, that looks like my daily pill box! Bette Davis was right when she said "Growing old is not for sissies." On the other hand/paw, it is better than the only alternative.

As for getting pills into Stella, try Feline Greenies Pill Pockets. Supposedly, they are for cats, but they fooled mine exactly once: thereafter, they were even less interested in the treats than in the pills they contained.

But dogs gobble them down, pills and all, every time. It takes more than one pocket to cover some of the pills that Jimmers has to take, but as long as the pill is surrounded, he practically snatches it out of my hand.

And, yes, great new photo. Beautiful and telling, too...

Amy said...

Wow, Stella is on quite the pill regimen. I hope that the meds help to keep her comfortable and as healthy as possible for as long as possible She is extremely lucky to have such a loving, diligent owner.

The new picture in your blog header is gorgeous. Stella is such a regal dog, and it really shows in that amazing photo.

selkie said...

wow, that's commitment - and love - lucky Stella - and she is such a sweet soul. new pic is incredible. I agree about the early spay - it can cause problems. As you say however, which is the lesser of two evils? Ensuring the dogs ARE neutered or courting some issues. Keeping in mind, the type of person I would think who wouldn't neuter might possibly DUMP an animal for incontinence or similar problem.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful bittersweet image, Fred.

Anonymous said...

Apotex makes a generic benazepril, there are also other drugs of this class that work the same way.

Fred said...

Thanks, Anonymous for the Apotex tip. I'll look into it. At Shopper's they've got a generic, but not sure from which company, on back order for several weeks now.

Anne said...

Who doesn't love Stella?

As for the pediatric speuter comments, don't forget that spaying after the first heat significantly increases the chance of mammary cancer in dogs- i'd rather chance the incontinence (which we dealt with for 9 years with one of our dogs)