BACKGROUND: Lowering the dose of desoxycorticosterone pivalate (DOCP) for the treatment of dogs with primary hypoadrenocorticism (PH) decreases costs and could lead to increased owner motivation to treat their affected dogs.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy of a low-dose DOCP treatment protocol in dogs with PH.
ANIMALS: Prospective study, 17 client-owned dogs with naturally occurring PH (12 newly diagnosed, 5 previously treated with fludrocortisone acetate [FC]).
METHODS: Dogs with newly diagnosed PH were started on 1.5 mg/kg DOCP SC; dogs previously treated with FC were started on 1.0-1.8 mg/kg DOCP SC. Reevaluations took place at regular intervals for a minimum of 3 months and included clinical examination and determination of serum sodium and potassium concentrations. The DOCP dosage was adjusted to obtain an injection interval of 28-30 days and to keep serum electrolyte concentrations within the reference interval.
RESULTS: Median (range) follow-up was 16.2 months (4.5-32.3 months). The starting dosage was sufficient in all but 2 dogs and had to be significantly decreased after 2-3 months to a median dosage (range) of 1.1 mg/kg (0.7-1.8). Dogs 3 years of age or younger needed significantly higher dosages compared to older dogs. None of them, however, needed the 2.2 mg/kg DOCP dosage, recommended by the manufacturer.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE: A starting dosage of 1.5 mg/kg DOCP is effective in controlling clinical signs and serum electrolyte concentrations in the majority of dogs with PH. An additional dose reduction often is needed to maintain an injection interval of 28-30 days. Young and growing animals seem to need higher dosages.