Did you know? The White Rhino is on the endangered species list for one primary reason—its horn is prized as a potent aphrodisiac. I’d venture to guess this horrible trade in animal-product sex potions would dry up mighty quick if Pfizer would just spread the love around. For the love of God just send the Viagra to China! Who would drink a dubious rhino horn tea when a little blue diamond can effectively keep you going for hours?

This bit of information (and environmentalist propaganda) I offer by way of introduction to a topic I’m not sure even the doggiest among you know: Viagra is now used for pets.

No, it’s not what you’re thinking so stop it right now! This is a legitimate, non-breeder (albeit off-label) use of the drug. Veterinary cardiologists have discovered that Viagra is a potent blood pressure medication (as anyone who has experienced it knows) with the power to manage certain heart conditions in pets.

Viagra (AKA, sildenafil) is a vasodilator, which means it opens up vessels (not just those in the human penis), thereby decreasing the stress on the heart that results from pumping blood. If the heart doesn’t have to work so hard, it doesn’t get all big and hard like an overused muscle. Ahem.

(I have to restrain myself here, Dear Readers. Forgive me if I seem to take this topic lightly it’s just that it’s so rife with opportunities for scandalous commentary I can barely set a word down before the double entendres attack.)

Its most common use in dogs is for those that have life-threatening arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). Only dogs with these very specific kinds of heart disease are best treated with Viagra, so don’t assume Fluffy`s vet will provide a great way to try the product out without having to suffer a doctor’s rapt attention and potential ministrations.

Furthermore, just because it’s used in dogs don’t assume the process of securing it is a straightforward one. Because the doses are smaller than for humans (we wouldn’t want our unneutered dogs receiving a full-on dose, would we?) and also because the dogs we treat for these cardiac conditions can be quite tiny, Viagra must be specially formulated as a liquid in most cases.

And guess what? Most clients don’t exactly warm to the concept of a sex drug for their pet.

After reviewing a cardiologist’s recommendation that I use Viagra for one of my patients, her owner patently refused. (But I know the pharmacist and he’ll tell so-and-so and no one will ever believe it’s for my dog and…) Drama queen. Who else would own a three-pound maltepoo? (Just kidding!—sort of.)

So I offered to get it for her myself. Again, one of those above-and-beyond things I do just for kicks. Don’t you know the Drama Queen was right? I had to fish out my veterinary license card and explain the need for the drug before the pharmacy staff would stop laughing. I then had to drive it over to the dodgy compounding pharmacist (who didn’t even carry Viagra) and go through the process all over again so he could turn the pills into a liquid dilute enough for this miniscule dog.

Last time I do that. Now I order it by phone from a compounding pharmacy in Nevada (everything’s easier in Nevada, apparently). And it comes in liver flavor! Not only does that suit Fluffy, it’ll also keep wayward owners from dipping into her stash whenever they want a little pick-me-up. Brilliant!