Procardia & Dogs

by Susan Paretts
A vet may prescribe Procardia for your pooch if he has high blood pressure.

A vet may prescribe Procardia for your pooch if he has high blood pressure.

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Procardia is a type of medication produced by Pfizer, which is also known by its generic name nifedipine. Nifedipine is a calcium channel blocker that is used to treat high blood pressure and heart problems in both people and pets. While this medication may be prescribed in small doses for your pooch, if Fido eats any of your Procardia pills, you'll need to get him to the vet right away to prevent poisoning.

What is it?

Procardia works by relaxing the blood vessels so that a human or pup's heart doesn't have to pump as hard to move the blood throughout the body. It does this by slowing calcium ions in the blood from moving across the nerve and muscle cell membranes of the body, thus reducing the heart rate and the blood pressure, according to the Newman Veterinary Medical Services website. Although it isn't approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in dogs, it may be prescribed "off label" for your pooch by your vet to treat a heart condition, usually administered in pill form.

Is It Safe?

If your pup is diagnosed with high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a calcium channel blocker like Procardia may help him, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. When given in a dog-appropriate dose, the drug may control Fido's heart issues, but an overdose can be deadly. Signs of an overdose include low blood pressure, a very slow heart rate, acute kidney failure and heart failure, warns the Pet Poison Helpline. A dose as low as 1 mg/kg of a dihydropyridine calcium channel blocker, which is the kind of calcium channel blocker that Procardia is, can produce mild poisoning symptoms in a healthy dog, warns the ASPCA.

Is This Right for My Dog?

While calcium channel blockers like Procardia can treat certain heart conditions in our canine companions, usually high blood pressure is considered a secondary health issue. This means that hypertension is commonly the result of a primary health issue such as a hormonal condition, kidney disease and hyperthyroidism, according to petMD. By treating these conditions, the high blood pressure should be resolved without medication specifically to treat it. If no primary cause is found, a drug such as Procardia may work for your dog to treat his high blood pressure. Without treatment, high blood pressure in dogs can lead to organ damage.

My Dog Ate My Procardia

When given correctly to your dog in a dose recommended by your vet, Procardia should be safe for your pup, but if he eats a human-sized dose, such as one of your pills, get him to the vet. Your vet may have to induce vomiting or pump your pup's stomach to get the medication out of his system. Afterward, your pup may need IV fluids or activated charcoal to reduce the effects of the medication. While the eMC website states that doses of 100 mg/kg of nifedipine were tested on dogs with no damage to their bodies, it's best to see the vet to determine if you believe that he's ingested any nifedipine, unless it is the dose his vet has recommended for him.

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About the Author

Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.