- Pimobendan is usually given to dogs that already have heart disease
- It opens up the blood vessels that carry the blood to and from the heart
- New research suggests that dogs with enlarged hearts should be preemptively given the drug
The treatment delays the onset of mitral valve disease (MVD), which is the leading cause of death in many species of dog.
The drug, pimobendan, is usually given to dogs that already have heart disease, and only costs £1.20 a day.
The research comes from the Royal Veterinary College in London, where researchers have tested the drug over seven years in 360 dogs from 11 countries.
The results suggest that giving the drug to high-risk dogs with enlarged hearts - a known warning sign of the condition - delays the onset of heart failure by an average of 15 months.
Pimobendan is usually given to dogs that have already been diagnosed with heart disease.
The drug works by opening up the blood vessels that carry the blood to and from the heart.
This reduces the work the dog's heart has to do to pump the blood around its body, and increases the strength of the dog's heart beat, improving the pumping action.
It costs 60p per 1.25mg tablet in the UK (the price varies from around 60 cents to $1.20 per 1.25mg tablet in the US), which small dogs will need to take twice a day.
Professor Adrian Boswood, from the Royal Veterinary College, who led the study, said: 'This is a major breakthrough in treatment and could extend the lives of dogs around the world.
'Up until now, vets and dog owners had no choice but to wait until their dog developed heart failure before they could receive effective treatment.
'This ground-breaking research and treatment offers a lifeline to millions of dogs, by delaying heart failure for up to 15 months.'
MVD mostly affects small dog breeds including cavalier King Charles spaniels, dachshunds, miniature poodles and terriers.
Cavalier King Charles spaniels are about 20 times more vulnerable than average to the disease.
Broadcaster Gloria Hunniford, who owns two cavalier King Charles spaniels, Roxy, four, and eight-year-old Gemma, said: 'Our beautiful dog Gemma was diagnosed with a heart condition after she collapsed earlier this year, but before that we saw no real signs that she might be unwell.
'Thankfully, she's doing well with the right medication.'
Pimobendan is not a statin so I presume Big Pharma is eyeing another lucrative market for them.
Just checked and nope it's not April 1st