By Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is benazepril?

Benazepril (brand names: Fortekor®, Lotensin®, Apex®, Benazemav®, Benefortin®, Bexepril®, Nelio®, Prilben®, Vetace®) is an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor used to treat heart failure, high blood pressure, and various types of kidney diseases such as chronic kidney disease and protein-losing glomerulonephropathies. It may also be useful for treating idiopathic kidney bleeding.

Its use in cats and dogs to treat cardiovascular and kidney disease is ‘off label’ or ‘extra label’. Many drugs are commonly prescribed for off label use in veterinary medicine. In these instances, follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions very carefully as their directions may be significantly different from those on the label.

How is benazepril given?

Benazepril is given by mouth in the form of a tablet. It may be given with or without food, but if stomach upset occurs when dosing on an empty stomach, give future doses with food.

This medication should take effect within 1 to 2 hours; however, effects may not be visibly noticeable and therefore laboratory tests may need to be done to evaluate this medication’s effectiveness.

What if I miss giving my pet the medication?

Give the missed dose as soon as you remember, and then wait the recommended amount of time between doses. Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.

Are there any potential side effects?

Side effects may include vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of appetite. Rare side effects may include tiredness or incoordination. Serious side effects include severe tiredness, skin rash, or fever.

This short-acting medication should stop working within 24 hours, although effects can be longer in pets with liver or kidney disease.

Are there any risk factors for this medication?

Do not use benazepril in pets that are allergic to it or other ACE inhibitors. Use cautiously in pets with low sodium, low blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, lupus, or blood cell abnormalities. Benazepril should be used with extreme caution in pets that have acute kidney injury and are critically ill. Do not use benazepril in pregnant animals unless the benefits far outweigh the risks and it should be used cautiously in lactating pets.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

The following medications should be used with caution when given with benazepril: allopurinol, alpha-2 adrenergic agonists, antidiabetic agents, antihistamines, antihypertensive agents, apomorphine, angiotensin receptor antagonists, aspirin, azathioprine, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, buspirone, cabergoline, corticosteroids, cyclosporine, dalteparin/enoxaparin, diazoxide, diuretics, fenoldopam, furazolidone, glycerin, heparin, interferon alfa, iodinated contrast agents, iron, lanthanum, lithium, methotrexate, mirtazapine, muscle relaxants, naltrexone, nitroglycerin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, opioids, pentoxifylline, pergolide, phenothiazines, polyethylene glycol, potassium supplements, prazosin, pregabalin, procarbazine, QTc prolonging agents, selegiline, sildenafil, sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim, thioguanine, trazodone, or tricyclic antidepressants.

Be sure to tell your veterinarian about any medications (including vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) that your pet is taking.

Is there any monitoring that needs to be done with this medication?

Blood electrolyte levels, kidney values, and a urinalysis should be monitored by your veterinarian within two weeks of your pet starting this medication. If using this medication to manage high blood pressures, your veterinarian will routinely measure your pet’s blood pressure to be sure that the medication is working. Monitor your pet for serious side effects.

How do I store benazepril?

Benazepril should be stored at room temperature below 86°F (30°C) and protected from moisture. Tablets that are dispensed in blister packs should remain in the pack until use; tablets that are removed from the blister pack should be used within 1-2 days, and then discarded.

What should I do in case of emergency?

If you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately. If they are not available, follow their directions in contacting an emergency facility.

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