Medically Reviewed by Taylor Froiland, PharmD, RPh
Written by Adam McCown, PharmD
Amlodipine for dogs and cats belongs to a class of drugs known as calcium channel blockers. They are predominantly used to treat high blood pressure in pets. Additionally, amlodipine is sometimes used to treat certain forms of heart disease in dogs, as well in cats who are suffering from kidney disease.
How Amlodipine for Dogs and Cats Works
Amlodipine works by slowing the rate at which calcium moves into your dog or cat’s heart and blood vessel walls. I know what you are thinking, what the heck does calcium have to do with my pet’s blood pressure? Well, in dogs, cats, and humans, calcium is an essential mineral that is required for a host of bodily functions including proper nerve transmission, muscle contraction, as well as influencing blood pressure.
In both our pets’ and in our own bodies, calcium is thought to influence blood pressure through the narrowing and widening (constriction and dilation if we want to use technical terms) of blood vessels. It accomplishes this through acting on the smooth muscle cells that make up the arterial walls in all of our bodies, feline, canine, and human.
Calcium is critical to the conduction of electrical signals in our pets’ bodies. When it comes to their cardiovascular system (heart, arteries, veins, etc.), it is what allows those electrical signals to pass from one muscle cell to another within the heart, signaling them to contract. This gives us their (and our own) heartbeat. In the arteries, the introduction of calcium also causes a contraction, constricting the blood vessels.
Calcium blockers like amlodipine for dogs and cats, inhibit calcium from entering the blood vessels, thereby reducing the electrical conduction, decreasing arterial contraction, and causing the dilation (widening) of the blood vessels.
Hypertension in Cats
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, in cats is far more prevalent than it is for dogs. This is especially true for cats who have kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, heart disease, and diabetes.
Hypertension in cats can be extremely dangerous and adversely affect their eyesight, kidney activity, and cardiac activity. Even worse, high blood pressure may be an indication of some potentially deadly underlying disease your cat is suffering from.
Whatever the cause, if your cat suffers from high blood pressure, then it is critical that you and your veterinarian find an appropriate medication, like amlodipine, to help reduce it before these adverse effects present themselves and make the problem worse.
How Amlodipine for Cats and Dogs Is Given
When giving amlodipine to your cat or dog, or any medication, it is important that you follow your vet’s directions concerning administration and dosage. This is especially true when administering a drug like amlodipine, which affects your pet’s cardiovascular system, as blood pressure being too high or too low can be deadly.
It is very important that you do not miss a dose of amlodipine because this can cause the animal’s blood pressure to dangerously spike, possibly leading to seizures, blindness, or kidney damage.
On the other hand, if you do miss a dose of amlodipine, never double up on the next dose. Doing so can lead to an overdose of the drug, causing symptoms like very slow heart rate, staggering or not able to keep balance, dizziness, or collapse. If you believe your pet may have overdosed on amlodipine, call your veterinarian immediately or bring them to an animal emergency medical center for assistance.
Side Effects of Amlodipine for Cats and Dogs
When administered correctly and under the supervision of an animal medical professional, amlodipine is typically safe and well tolerated. Side effects of amlodipine are rare, however it is possible that your cat or dog will experience the following:
· Weight Loss
· Loss of Appetite
· Increase in their Heartrate
· Decreased Kidney Function
· Swelling of the Gums
If any of these side effects of amlodipine become severe or cause your pet serious discomfort, then contact your vet as soon as possible. Furthermore, if your pet shows signs of an allergic reaction, like a sudden onset of diarrhea, swelling of the face, itching, vomiting, hives, pale gums, or cold limbs, then contact or bring them in to the vet right away.
Precautions and Drug Interactions of Amlodipine in Cats and Dogs
Amlodipine should not be used in cats or dogs who are pregnant or lactating. Furthermore, the medication should be used with caution with animals suffering from liver disease or other liver problems. Amlodipine is commonly used alongside other drugs that also lower blood pressure like diuretics, beta blockers, and vasodilators.
Be sure to inform your vet if your cat or dog is consuming any of these types of medications, as it is possible that they will cause their blood pressure to drop dangerously low when combined with amlodipine.
Conclusion: Amlodipine to Fight Hypertension in Cats and Dogs
Amlodipine can be safe and effective in treating hypertension in pets if administered properly. Always be sure to follow the vet’s instructions to the letter, and never give the medication to an animal that it was not prescribed to.
If the veterinarian prescribes amlodipine to your cat or dog, don’t forget that you can fulfill all your pet medication needs at ExpressVet Pharmacy.