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Vet: Viagra used to help dogs, cats with lung conditions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) - Amy Atkinson's dog, Choppy, is doing much better these days after some scary moments last week. 

"He was feinting about four or five times,” Atkinson said. “He would just drop and lose all control of himself." 

She rushed Choppy to the vet and found out he had pulmonary hypertension. 

"His heart's enlarged,” she said. “He has a problem with a valve, and he's got a murmur." 

As shocked as she was to hear the diagnosis, she was even more surprised by what came next. 

"The doctor came in and she said, 'you know, I know this sounds odd," Atkinson said. 

"We are giving dogs Viagra these days." 

Viagra--the pill most known for male enhancement. 

"It just sounds weird, give your dog Viagra," Atkinson said. 

Dr. John Sessions, an internal medicine specialist for Nashville Veterinary Specialists, gets all kinds of reactions when he brings it up. 

"It raises some chuckles when we prescribe it," he said. 

Sessions said it works for dogs with chronic lung conditions by increasing blood flow.  

He prescribes the generic brand, Sildenafil, where the pills are white instead of blue. 

"It significantly improves their quality of life and improves their lung function,” Sessions said. 

He said when Viagara was first created, it was meant to help people with lung conditions but was later marketed for erectile dysfunction. 

"It’s much more marketable for the human needs," he said. 

Sessions said there are few if any, side effects. 

"It is extremely safe and, usually, extremely well-tolerated." 

It’s a prescription Atkinson was skeptical about at first but is now a believer.   

"He has not feinted once since we left the veterinary office,” Atkinson said. "The Viagra has really brought him back to life." 

Sessions said Viagra can also be used on cats with lung conditions. 

He says he only prescribes it between five to 10 times a year. 


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