Canine Diabetes Insipidus – Signs, Symptoms and Treatments

Canine diabetes insipidus is the less common of two main types of diabetes seen in dogs. The other type is diabetes mellitus. Diabetes insipidus is a serious condition in which your pet’s body has difficulty maintaining a balance of water. If this condition is not properly treated, it can lead to serious health complications.

"Diabetes insipidus is characterized by the lack of vasopressin. Vasopressin is an anti-diuretic hormone whose job is to control the kidney’s absorption of water" (1).

Because water is not being absorbed back into the body due to the lack of anti-diuretic hormone, your dog will urinate more often and experience constant thirst.

The urine produced will not be concentrated and you will notice that it is pale and colorless instead of being yellow. Canine diabetes insipidus has been referred to as "water" diabetes because of the excessive thirst and urination involved with this disease.

If you notice your dog needing to drink or urinate more frequently or your dog is starting to wet in the houses without explanation, this may be a sign of canine diabetes insipidus. You should take your dog to the vet and share your concerns about your pet’s behavior.

Other less apparent symptoms may include abnormal tiredness or lethargy, a more rapid heart rate and unexplained weight loss.

Treatment for canine diabetes insipidus

Early identification of canine diabetes insipidus is important for the treatment of this disease.

A medication will often be prescribed to treat diabetes insipidus in your pet. The medication desmopressin, also known as DDAVP, is a commonly prescribed drug and can be administered in a number of ways including as nose drops, a nasal spray pump or via injection under the skin.

If your dog is diagnosed with Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus, a condition that results due to a defect in the small tubes of the kidneys, then thiazide diuretics medications may be prescribed.

Your vet may also counsel you on how to limit salt in your dog’s diet to enhance treatment.

Failure to recognize this condition and treat it can lead to coma, dehydration, and even death. If you have any concerns or think your dog’s behavior has changed, do not hesitate to consult with your veterinarian.

As with any pet disorder, diagnosis of diabetes in dogs often begins with the owner’s observation and notation of a change in the pet’s normal behavior pattern. Diabetes is often controllable when detected early, paying close attention to your pet’s behavior can lead to long and happy years ahead.

(1) Dog Diabetes Guide (2010). Dog diabetes: facts and figures. Retrieved from

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