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Diethylstilbestrol (DES) Capsules (Compounded) Rx

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Diethylstilbesterol (DES) Capsules (Compounded) for Pets


Most compounded capsules expire 20 weeks from the date prepared.  Please be advised that VetRxDirect may limit the number of capsules per order if prescribed beyond the 20 week expiration date. 

What are compounded diethylstilbestrol capsules:

Diethylstilbestrol, commonly abbreviated DES, is a medication used to treat estrogen responsive urinary incontinence (wetting themselves or inability to hold urine) in spayed female dogs. It is also used to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy, BPH, which is an enlarged prostate in male dogs.

What else should you know about compounded diethylstilbestrol capsules:

Diethylstilbestrol capsules are compounded by VetRxDirect’s expert compounding staff. They are available in many dosage forms to tailor to your pet’s needs. The capsules need to be stored away from humidity, light, and heat.  It is important to order your refills a few days ahead of time because the product needs to be made for your pet. DES capsules have an expiration date of 20 weeks after they are made, so pay close attention to expiration dates on your label. Quantities and charges ordered exceeding the beyond use date will be adjusted to hopefully prevent your pet’s medication from expiring before they are finished.

What strengths of compounded diethylstilbestrol are available:

This particular product has the following strengths of diethylstilbestrol per capsule: 0.25 mg, 0.4 mg, 0.5 mg, 0.7 mg, 0.75 mg, 1 mg, 1.5 mg, 2 mg, 3 mg, 4 mg, and 5 mg. You may also get other strengths if your veterinarian prescribes them and we will specially make them for  your pet. There are also some inactive ingredients contained in the capsule to make the formula complete.

DES' Client Information Sheet for pet parent reference opens in a new window.


Female dogs may develop incontinence (urine leakage) as a result of spaying, birth defects, disease that causes excessive thirst, and tail docking. Some dog breeds including German Shepherds, Old English Sheepdogs, Boxers, Doberman Pinchers, and large and giant dog breeds are also more susceptible to urinary incontinence.

However, urinary incontinence is most often the result of spaying dogs, especially if the dog was spayed at a very young age, usually three months or younger.   This type of canine urinary incontinence is sometimes called “acquired incontinence” or “hormone-responsive incontinence.” This is a troublesome situation for both the dog and the pet parent as it causes discomfort for the dog and creates persistent messes which can lead to dramatic changes in lifestyle for both dog and owner.

Fortunately, veterinarians can often treat hormone-responsive incontinence effectively by rebalancing the dog’s estrogen levels. Many veterinarians choose to prescribe a synthetic estrogen called Diethylstilbesterol (DES), which mimics the pharmacologic actions of the hormone naturally produced by the body. Estrogen is important because it can improve the tone of the urethra, the tube that connects the bladder, so that urine doesn’t leak out. DES is a non-steroidal agent.

Delivering the exact dose of DES without over or under dosing the dog is key to achieving the best results.  That’s why many veterinarians prefer compounded DES. When this prescription is compounded, it’s mixed by a licensed pharmacy to match the dog’s exact dosing needs taking in to account the dog’s physical condition, weight, age, and more. It can also be mixed into a formulation – pill, capsule, liquid -- that makes it easier to administer.

Veterinarians prescribe DES for other purposes including to prevent pregnancy and mismating in dogs and to treat some hormone responsive tumors.

Have more questions about DES? Please contact us using the “Ask a Question” tab above or talk to your veterinarian. 

Compounded Diethylstilbestrol (DES) Veterinary Medication Fact Sheet

Description of Medicine:

This medication is typically used to treat estrogen responsive incontinence in spayed female dogs and benign prostatic hypertrophy in male dogs. It works by acting on estrogen hormone receptors, although the compound itself is not a steroid.

Cautions and Warnings:

This medication should be used cautiously in older animals as they will be more susceptible to adverse effects. This medication is normally contraindicated in pregnancy, unless specifically prescribed by a veterinarian during pregnancy.

How to Use this Medication:

This medication is usually prescribed as 0.1-1.0 mg daily for five days. After this, the dose is usually reduced to 1-3 times per week. Dosing regimens may vary with weight and disease state.

Possible Side Effects:

Side effects are typically limited to those that are caused by excess estrogen. This includes bone marrow depression, feminization of male dogs, increased risk of pyometra (an infection of the uterus), and increased risk of estrogen-sensitive tumors. Side effects tend to be more prevalent with higher dosages and in older animals. Contact veterinarian if signs and symptoms of lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, abnormal discharge from vulva, excessive water consumption and urination, or abnormal bleeding occur.

Beyond Use Date:

  • Capsules: It is recommended that this product be used within 20 weeks.

Storage Requirement:

  • Capsules: Store at room temperature, protected from light.
  • Keep out of reach from children to avoid accidental ingestion.


1.     Plumb DC. Diethylstilbestrol. Plumb’s veterinary drug handbook. 5th ed. 2005.

2.     Papich MG. Diethylstilbestrol. Saunders Handbook of Veterinary Drugs. 2nd 2007.