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Dog Heart Atrial Fibrilation - Interaction of Digoxin and Hawthorne

by Judy G.
(La Honda, CA)

We have a Turkish Kangal 2 year old female puppy that is over 100 lbs. She is not fully grown yet but developed heart afib. She is on Digoxin, and it is helping somewhat. She cannot be without it or she is not able to exercise--go on short walks on our ranch.


Prior to the Digoxin her heart rate was 180+. After the Digoxin was started, it lowered her heart rate somewhat. Digoxin does not help the arhythmias. Her heart rate when resting is between 120 and 140 now, above the normal range. When walking or playing with the other 2 puppies, her heart rate ranges from 150 - 170.She does not always get the arhythmias when exercising. Prior to being put on Digoxin she had dry coughs each day. Now the dry coughs are infrequent. She does not seem to be benefiting from the Digoxin as much as when she was first put on it. She is taking 1 0.25 mg tablet twice/day--every 12 hours.

Digoxin is no longer used in humans. Usually beta blockers and/or calcium channel blockers are the first and better choice, e.g., Diltiazem.

We found a natural alternative whole treatment that uses herbs from Five Leaf Pharmacy-- caninehearthealth.com . A big part of this is using hawthorne as well as the other herbs and feeding a diet of meats, vegetables, etc, either cooked or raw. We feed her about 48-56 oz of food/day across 4 feedings. She does not like to eat in the morning much but will eat something every other morning--about 4-6 oz. The rest of her food she prefers from 4:30 pm at the earliest until 11 pm. She only seems to like eating when it is cool outside. We also give her natural dog treats. Previouly to the diagnosis she would not eat any natural/organic dog treats. Now she looks forward to them. Yet with all this food, she is anorexic. She does not gain weight. We think it is because 80% of it goes for her heart.

Issue: I've read that in humans hawthorne and digoxin are mutually exclusive. A later study found that it was ok to use them both in trying to change over completely to hawthorne but again this is for humans and was based on a limited study.
1-How do we phase out Digoxin and phase in hawthorne without adversely affecting this puppy?
2-Do you know of any alternative medicine vets that focus on canine hearts?

We live in the SF Bay area, but there still are not many dog cardiologists around.

Comments for Dog Heart Atrial Fibrilation - Interaction of Digoxin and Hawthorne

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Mar 01, 2015
My Online Vet Response for: Dog Heart Atrial Fibrillation-Interaction of Digoxin and Hawthorne
by: Dr Carol Jean Tillman

March 1, 2015

Hi Judy,
As I am not a certified cardiologist, and your dog will need to be monitored regarding her arrhythmias, if the digoxin is to be changed, I would refer you to SAGE Vet Center in San Mateo. http://www.sagecenters.com/cardiology.php

I am located in Walnut Creek, and I am familiar with the SAGE Center in Concord. I am also familiar with the Walnut Creek group at the East Bay Veterinary Specialists, http://www.ebvs.com/internal-medicine/. Although, they do not list cardiology at the top, they are board certified in internal medicine, and treat a variety of cardiac conditions.

I am not familiar with any holistic veterinarians that 'specialize' in cardiac disease. As a holistic veterinarian, the goal is to treat the entire patient.

You wrote,
"Digoxin is no longer used in humans. Usually beta blockers and/or calcium channel blockers are the first and better choice, e.g., Diltiazem."

Digoxin is actually a drug that is not used much in veterinary medicine either.

The Herbal combination from Five Leaf Pharmacy-- caninehearthealth, you mentioned looks like a very good one:

They describe the Hawthorne as being similar to Digitalis, but the Motherwort Herb is actually the active ingredient to help with the arrhythmias, which is what your dog needs to stabilize her heart.

***HAWTHORNE (berry, flower and leaf):
• Increase the contractions of the heart muscle
• Improve left ventricle ejection fraction
• Reduce peripheral vascular resistance by dilating the blood vessels
• Be a mild diuretic
• Powerful antioxidant
Overall Hawthorne helps the heart pump more easily, but with more force and protects the heart from any future damage.
This herb is considered to be the user friendly Digitalis.

***MOTHERWORT HERB:
• Helps with cardiac arrhythmia and tachycardia
• A strong influence over the regularity of the heart
• Strengthens weakness of the heart

You wrote,
We feed her about 48-56 oz of food/day across 4 feedings.

I am not sure how many calories you are feeding her. A 100 lb dog needs at least 1,400 calories per day. A 120 lb dog needs at least 1,600 calories per day. Make sure you are feeding her enough calories.

You wrote:
**She does not like to eat in the morning

**The rest of her food she prefers from 4:30 pm at the earliest until 11 pm.

**She only seems to like eating when it is cool

These symptoms, including her irregular heart beats, coughs from heart disease, fit several homeopathic remedies, the top one is: Natrum muriaticum, then Arsenicum album, and also Nux vomica.

You wrote,
"How do we phase out Digoxin and phase in hawthorne without adversely affecting this puppy?"

I do not know if you will be able to 'phase out' the Digoxin completely with this dog. I suspect this is a congenital defect. You may be able to decrease the dose, possibly combine it with another drug, and use the herbal combination along with the conventional drug (s). But I would only do this under the supervision of a cardiologist who is monitoring her heart.

I would continue the Five Leaf Pharmacy Canine Heart Health formula. And, you could certainly start her on one of the homeopathic remedies, perhaps the Nux vomica to help her appetite. Although, I usually find that heart disease when not stabilized will cause decreased appetite.

A holistic veterinarian in your area would be able to help with dose and potency for using the homeopathic remedies. And would be able to write an exemption form for vaccinations, as I would NOT give her any vaccinations.

Click here to find a holistic veterinarian in your area. Another resource for vets knowledgeable in homeopathy is AVH.org.

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

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DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.






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