PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial on Nov. 7, 2012

Drug Info

  • Common Name: Cardoxin®, Lanoxin®
  • Drug Type: Cardiac glycoside
  • Used For: Congestive heart failure, Heart murmurs or arrythmia, Tachycardia
  • Species: Dogs, Cats
  • Administered: Tablets, Capsules, Oral liquid, Injectable
  • How Dispensed: Prescription only
  • FDA Approved: No

General Description

Digoxin is often prescribed by veterinarians for the treatment of heart disease. This includes congestive heart failure (heart pumping an insufficient amount of blood), heart rhythm abnormalities, and dilated cardiomyopathy (weak and enlarged heart). It is often used in conjunction with other drugs- typically diuretics and ACE inhibitors.

How It Works

Digoxin increases the amount of calcium available to the heart. It does this by inhibiting a sodium-potassium pump, thus allowing sodium to flow in and displace calcium in the heart wall. This moves the calcium into the heart and makes it available to the muscles responsible for contraction. This strengthens the heart’s contractions, as well as slows down the heart and shrink it’s size. This increases the amount of blood pumped and reduced the amount of fluid build-up in the lungs (typically associated with congestive heart failure and other heart abnormalities).

Storage Information

Store in a tightly sealed container at room temperature.

Missed Dose?

Give the missed dose as soon as possible. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose, and continue with the regular schedule. Do not give your pet two doses at once.

Side Effects and Drug Reactions

Digoxin may result in these side effects:

  • Heightened serum levels
  • Worsening heart failure
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea

The collie breed of dog may be more susceptible to the central nervous system effects of Digoxin. Use with caution in this breed.

Digoxin may react with these drugs:

  • Antacids
  • Anticholinergics
  • Chemotherapy
  • Furosemide (and other diuretics)
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Laxatives
  • Thyroid hormones
  • Amphotericin B
  • Cimetidine
  • Diazepam
  • Diltiazem
  • Erythromycin
  • Metoclopramide
  • Neomycin sulfate
  • Penicillamine
  • Quinidine
  • Spironolactone
  • Succinylcholine
  • Chloride
  • Tetracycline
  • Verapamil

USE CAUTION WHEN ADMINISTERING THIS DRUG TO PETS WITH SEVERE HEART OR PULMONARY DISEASE - giving this drug to pets with certain heart problems- ventricular arrythmias, digitalis intoxication, idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis, acute myocarditis, acute myocardial infarct, ventricular tachycardias, chronic constrictive pericarditis, or AV block- may do more harm than good. Be sure your veterinarian has an extensive history of your pet’s heart problems.


USE CAUTION WHEN ADMINISTERING THIS DRUG TO CATS - Use with extreme caution and only with the recommendation of an experienced veterinarian when giving this drug to cats, especially those with feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Digoxin has a tendency to consistently cause an increase in oxygen requirements and serum levels.

Pets with high sodium, low potassium, or high calcium in the blood may need to be given lower doses. Also, lower doses may be necessary in pets with thyroid disorders.

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