Diabetes Insipidus in Dogs – Symptoms and Treatments

Diabetes insipidus in dogs is a condition that affects water balance in your dog’s body. This condition is rare in pets but if not recognized it can lead to severe dehydration, lethargy, coma and even death.

Diabetes insipidus in dogs results when your dog is not producing the right amount of a hormone called anitdiuretic hormone (ADH). A dog of any age or breed can acquire this disease.

Diabetes insipidus (DI) is not the same as diabetes mellitus, which is a condition that involves insulin and sugar metabolism.

There are two types of diabetes insipidus in dog:

  • Central diabetes insipidus - caused by a defect that affects the hypothalamus gland (where ADH is made) or the pituitary gland (where ADH is stored and released). This defect prevents the proper secretion of ADH and may be due to a congenital defect, head trauma, a tumor or unknown causes.
  • Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus – "caused when the kidneys do not respond to the ADH that is produced by the pituitary gland. This type of DI may be caused by a congenital defect, drugs, or caused by other metabolic disorders"(1).

Symptoms of diabetes insipidus in dogs

As a dog owner you will first become aware that your dog is excessively thirsty and may seem obsessed with water. Your pet will also have to urinate more frequently and you may notice large amounts of urine produced.

Accidents may begin in dogs who had previously been house broken.

Treatments of diabetes insipidus in dogs

If you notice the symptoms of diabetes insipidus, take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Your vet will conduct tests to see if the condition is present and also to determine which type of diabetes insipidus is present.

Treatment will depend on the type present:

  • Central DI is treated with a synthetic medication called desmopressin, which mimics the action of ADH. The drug is administered in different ways but pet owners typically deliver it as a nasal spray or rhinal liquid formula and use them as drops for the eyes or nose. It can also be injected under the skin.
  • Nephrogenic DI is often treated with thiazide diuretics. Even though diuretics are typically used to produce more urine, when used to treat diabetes insipidus in dogs, the drugs can help concentrate urine and decrease urine output.

If the condition is mild your veterinarian may not choose to treat the condition with medication and may instead encourage plenty of water for your pet. Water should never be limited for a dog with diabetes insipidus.

(1) Pets with Diabetes (2002). Diabetes insipidus. Retrieved from http://www.caninediabetes.org/pdorg/diabetes_insipidus.htm

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