Coenzyme Q-10

By Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is coenzyme Q-10?

Coenzyme Q-10 (also called CoQ-10, ubiquinol, or ubiquinone) is found in every human and animal body and is an essential component of the mitochondria in cells. Mitochondria are responsible for making energy from carbohydrates and oxygen, so CoQ-10 is particularly important in cells that use a lot of energy, like muscle and brain cells. CoQ-10 is used as a supplemental therapy for heart and neurological conditions in cats and dogs. It also functions as an antioxidant, and therefore is also used as a supplemental treatment for inflammatory conditions and some cancers.

Dietary supplements are substances that can be used to supplement the diet, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, botanicals, enzymes, and probiotics. While many supplements are sold over the counter, they still contain ingredients that have biological effects that should be managed by your veterinarian. Follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions very carefully as their directions may be significantly different from those on the label.

There are differences in how countries regulate supplements. In the United States, these substances are not as vigorously regulated by the FDA as other medications, which means they can be sold without the manufacturer proving their effectiveness, safety, and without a guarantee of consistent or accurately reported ingredients. In Canada, products that have been evaluated for quality, safety, and effectiveness by Health Canada and authorized for sale will have a license number on the label.

How effective is coenzyme Q-10?

A limited number of studies in animals have been performed, but there is some evidence that coenzyme Q-10 works to support the treatment of heart disease in dogs. Anecdotal evidence suggests that CoQ-10 may be effective in the treatment of gum disease and some cancers.

How is coenzyme Q-10 given?

CoQ-10 is given by mouth in the form of a capsule or liquid. It may be given with or without food; however, if stomach upset occurs when dosed on an empty stomach, give future doses with food. Measure liquid forms carefully.

What if I miss giving my pet the supplement?

If you miss a dose, give it when you remember, but if it is close to the time for the next dose, skip the dose you missed and give it at the next scheduled time, and return to the regular dosing schedule. Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.

Are there any potential side effects?

Studies are limited for this supplement and therefore information regarding side effects is also limited. At this time, CoQ-10 appears to be extremely safe and no side effects have been reported.

Are there any risk factors for this supplement?

Studies are limited for this supplement and therefore information regarding risk factors is also limited. However, due to limited information, CoQ-10 should be used cautiously in pregnant, nursing, or debilitated pets.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

The following medications should be used with caution when given with coenzyme Q-10: blood pressure medications or blood thinning medications.

Vitamins, herbal therapies, and supplements have the potential to interact with each other, as well as with prescription and over the counter medications. It is important to tell your veterinarian about any medications (including all vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) that your pet is taking.

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

There is no specific monitoring that needs to be done while your pet is taking this medication. Your veterinarian may monitor your pet to be sure that the medication is working.

How do I store coenzyme Q-10?

In general, store this supplement in a cool dry place and protected from light. There are many different manufacturers of this supplement, so please refer to the specific storage directions on the product label.

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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