Desmopressin Acetate

By Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is desmopressin?

Desmopressin (brand names: Stimate®, DDAVP®, Minirin®, Noctiva®, DFDAVP®, Concentraid®, D-Void®, Defirin®, Desmogalen®, Desmospray®, Desmotabs®, Emosint®, Minirin/DDAVP®, Minrin®, Minurin®, Nocutil®, Octim®, Octostim®, Presinex®) is a hormone used to treat diabetes insipidus (not diabetes mellitus). It also has limited effectiveness in treating von Willebrand disease, a type of bleeding disorder. It may be useful as a therapy for mammary carcinoma and other aggressive tumors.

Its use in cats, dogs, and horses to treat diabetes insipidus and other conditions 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 desmopressin given?

Desmopressin is most often given into the eye in the form of a liquid nose spray. It can also be given as an injection in the hospital setting, or rarely by mouth in the form of a tablet. When administering the medication into the eye, do not touch the tip of the bottle to the eye.

This medication will take effect quickly, in about 1 to 2 hours, and improvement in clinical signs should follow.

What if I miss giving my pet the medication?

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?

Side effects are uncommon but may include eye irritation when applied to the eye. Serious side effects include allergic reactions characterized by itching, hives, facial swelling, or difficulty breathing.

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?

Desmopressin should not be used in pets that are allergic to it or in pets that are prone to blood clots, such as those with heart disease. It should be used cautiously in pregnant or nursing pets as studies in animals are limited, although its use is likely safe based on the current information.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

The following medications should be used with caution when given with desmopressin: chlorpropamide, fludrocortisone, or urea.

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?

Your veterinarian will monitor blood electrolytes and urinalysis when treating diabetes insipidus. Bleeding times will be monitored when treating von Willebrand disease. Your veterinarian may monitor your pet to be sure that the medication is working. Monitor your pet at home for serious side effects.

How do I store desmopressin?

Store the solution in the refrigerator between 36°F and 46°F (2°C and 8°C) once the bottle has been opened, for up to 30 days. An unopened bottle can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 weeks. Protect from freezing.

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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