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Desmopressin Acetate for Dogs and Cats

By Barbara Forney, VMD

Last reviewed: 7/12/2022

Commonly prescribed for: Central Diabetes Insipidus; Type 1 Von Willebrand’s disease

Species: Dogs and Cats

Therapeutic Class: Synthetic Hormone

General Drug Information and Indications

Desmopressin acetate is a synthetic form of the hormone vasopressin. Vasopressin, which is also called anti-diuretic hormone, is responsible for regulating how much water the body retains and how much urine the kidneys produce. Animals that do not make enough vasopressin have a medical condition known as Central Diabetes Insipidus. Desmopressin acetate is the treatment of choice for central diabetes insipidus in both dogs and cats. Because there are a number of different causes of increased water consumption and increased urine production, desmopressin acetate can also be used to help make a diagnosis.

A less common use for desmopressin acetate is in animals with an inherited bleeding disorder called type 1 Von Willebrand’s disease. In this instance it may be used by a veterinarian at the time of surgery.

Like many other drugs in veterinary medicine, this drug is not FDA-approved for use in animals and is not available from a veterinary pharmaceutical manufacturer. Instead, it is compounded by a specialty pharmacy.

How to Give this Medication

Give this medication to your pet exactly as your veterinarian prescribes. If you miss giving your pet a dose of desmopressin acetate, give the next dose as soon as you remember or, if it is close to the next scheduled dose, return to the regular schedule. Do not double dose to catch up.

Desmopressin acetate is usually given as an eye drop. Your veterinarian may give it by intravenous injection or by injection under the skin. It can not be given by mouth.

When desmopressin acetate is used to treat central diabetes insipidus, it is generally given once or twice a day in the conjunctiva (lower eyelid sac).

Wash your hands after giving your pet this medication.

Side Effects

Be sure to discuss any side effects with your veterinarian immediately.

Desmopressin acetate can cause irritation to the eye or conjunctiva.

Too much desmopressin acetate will cause swelling and water retention. At the beginning of treatment you may need to work with your veterinarian to arrive at the appropriate dose for your pet.


Keep this and all drugs out of reach of children. Desmopressin acetate is a prescription drug and should be used according to your veterinarian’s directions. It should only be given to the animal for which it was prescribed. Do not give this medication to a person.

Desmopressin acetate should not be used in animals that are prone to forming blood clots. This includes most animals with underlying heart disease.

Desmopressin acetate has not been studied in pregnant dogs or cats. Large doses have been given to pregnant laboratory animals without apparent harm to the fetus. It should only be used if the benefits outweigh the potential risk.

Drug Interactions

Be sure to review with your veterinarian any medications or supplements your pet may be receiving.

The following drugs may increase the effects of desmopressin acetate: fludrocortisone, chlorproamide and urea.


If you suspect your pet or another animal was overdosed accidentally or has eaten this medication inadvertently, contact your veterinarian or the A.S.P.C.A.’s Animal Poison Control Center at 888.426.4435. Always bring the prescription container with you when you take your pet for treatment.

If you or someone else has accidentally ingested this medication call the National Capital Poison Center at 800.222.1222.


Different strengths or dosage forms of desmopressin acetate may have different storage requirements. Read the labeling or ask your pharmacist for the storage requirements of the prescription you receive.

More Information About This Medication

Diabetes insipidus: There are two kinds of diabetes insipidus.
  • Central diabetes insipidus occurs when the body does not make enough vasopressin.
  • Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus occurs when the kidney does not respond to vasopressin.
Diabetes Mellitus is a different medical condition from diabetes insipidus. It has different causes and is treated with different drugs.

Desmopressin acetate is only used to treat central diabetes insipidus.

PU/PD is a medical shorthand term for polyurea and polydipsia.
  • Polyurea means increased urine production.
  • Polydipsia means increased water intake.
You may see these terms used when describing an animal with diabetes insipidus.
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