Erythropoietic Porphyria

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Also known as: Congenital Pink Tooth — Porphyria


Congenital erythropoietic porphyria is a rare disease that affects cattle, cats and occasionally pigs. It occurs due to a defect in the metabolism of the haem group of haemoglobin leading to the deposition of pigment molecules in the skin and teeth.


Clinical Signs

The deposition of haem degradation products in the teeth results in red/pink discolouration, hence the name pink tooth.

The pigment products which are deposited in the skin cause secondary photosensitisation. This manifests as a crusting dermatitis in non-pigmented areas of the skin which are exposed to sunlight. Cattle are often affected over their face, around their eyes and over any white patches of the body.

Some types of porphyria may cause anaemia in Siamese cats.

Differential Diagnoses

Discolouration of single teeth is more likely to be caused by pathological processes in the oral cavity, including tooth root abscesses and pulpitis. Fluorosis may cause chalky mottling (odontodystrophy) and yellow/brown discolouration of teeth in cattle that are exposed to cement works effluent.


At post-mortem examination, the bones are found to have the same pink/brown discolouration as the teeth.


There is no specific treatment for porphyria. Affected animals should be kept out of sunlight.


Affected animals may suffer from severe burns if they exposed to sunlight but they may otherwise live normally.

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(Erythropoietic) Porphyria publications


Ettinger, S.J, Feldman, E.C. (2005) Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine (6th edition, volume 2) Elsevier Saunders Company

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