When Miniature Dachshund puppy Margot found a tube of Dovonex ointment, she took it for a snack or a toy – she had no way of knowing she was giving herself potentially fatal vitamin D poisoning. Luckily the internal medicine team at Davies Veterinary Specialists (Davies), in Hertfordshire, were able to avoid the worst.
“Dovonex ointment, which is prescribed to humans to treat psoriasis, contains calcipotriol, a synthetic vitamin D3 analogue,” a Davies statement reads. “Excess vitamin D causes severe increases in blood calcium, which in turn cause calcification of the soft tissues in the body, such as the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract. This can cause acute kidney failure and gastrointestinal bleeding, which can be fatal.”
The day after eating the ointment Margot lethargic, would not eat as usual, and soon started vomiting.
“Her blood calcium level was initially very high, and her kidney values were also mildly increased,” said Katherine Clarke, who is an Internal Medicine resident at Davies.
“We had to hospitalise her for several days, during which time she was treated with a combination of medications and intravenous fluid therapy which stop calcium mobilisation from the bones, reduced calcium absorption from the gastrointestinal tract and encourage calcium excretion via the kidneys.”
Margot responded very well to treatment, and has now been off all treatment for a couple of months, with no evidence of any permanent damage.
Vitamin D toxicity in dogs is increasingly common. It can be caused by ingestion of ointment or cream containing vitamin D, as in this case, or by ingestion of vitamin D tablets. With many people receiving their medication or supplements through the post during the winter months, pet owners are warned to be cautious.
“We hope that Margot’s story increases awareness of this potentially fatal intoxication,” said Katherine. “Vitamin D toxicity can be a challenging disease to manage, but as Margot has shown, the outlook can be very good if cases are managed promptly and aggressively.”
Images courtesy of Davies