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What Are the Uses of Furosemide for Dogs?

The prescription drug furosemide is used to treat congestive heart failure in dogs.
A veterinarian may prescribe furosemide to treat a dog for congestive heart failure.
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  • Written By: Nicole Etolen
  • Edited By: M. C. Hughes
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2014
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Furosemide for dogs is a type of diuretic, called a loop diuretic, which is primarily used to treat congestive heart failure and the symptoms it causes. It may also be used to help lower high calcium or potassium levels. The medication is available by prescription only.

A loop diuretic is a type of medication that helps the kidneys eliminate excess salt and other electrolytes by assisting the "loop of Henle," a structure in the kidney responsible for reabsorbing water while eliminating excess salt. An imbalance of salt in the kidneys can cause a buildup of water in the body, resulting in swelling known as "edema." Furosemide for dogs helps keep the kidneys balanced and relieves pressure on the other organs.

When using furosemide for dogs, it is important to follow your veterinarian’s directions carefully. The prescribed dosage will vary depending on the weight of the dog being treated, but it typically starts at 1 mg per pound (2mg per kg). While some dogs may only need to take the medication once per day, others may require up to four doses each day. Coating the pill in peanut butter is a popular method of getting dogs to swallow the pills, but pet owners should talk to their veterinarians about the best ways to dose their dogs, as some dogs may be on special diets that limit the foods the tablet can be mixed into.

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This medication is typically considered safe, but may cause some serious side effects in some dogs. Stomach irritation and vomiting are among the most common side effects; these should be evaluated by a veterinarian. If a dog loses weight while taking the medication, the dosage will need to be adjusted, especially in smaller dogs for whom the loss of a just a few pounds can significantly alter correct dosages. Furosemide may cause birth defects and should not be used in pregnant dogs. In rare cases, it can cause deafness and anemia in dogs.

The diuretic nature of furosemide for dogs can significantly increase urine output. Pet owners will need to take their dogs for more frequent walks or allow them more time outside to avoid accidents. If the dogs are allowed on furniture, owners may want to consider placing waterproof covers on cushions and mattresses in case of accidents. In excessive dosages, furosemide for dogs can cause serious dehydration, so it is important for pet owners to follow dosing instructions carefully.

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