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Diabetes Insipidus in Dogs – 5 Medical Signs You Should Not Ignore

Diabetes insipidus in dogs is a rare disease that causes severe thirst and extreme urination. Dogs with this condition have extremely diluted urine.

This can be caused by one of two things: Central Diabetes Insipidus or Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus. Diabetes insipidus is considered “idiopathic” meaning there is no known cause; however, there may be a link to secondary head/brain trauma.

The difference between diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus is that diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes) relates to how well the pancreas produces insulin (Type 1) or how well the body is able to handle the insulin produced (Type 2).

Central Diabetes Insipidus (CDI)

With central diabetes insipidus, the body doesn’t produce enough of the antidiuretic hormone known as vasopressin.

Vasopressin is secreted by the pituitary gland located in the brain. It actually regulates how well the body retains water.

When the body can’t hold water long enough to nourish and hydrate it sends being secreted pretty quickly. No matter how much your dog drinks, he/she just can’t seem to get enough.

That’s because the water is literally going in one end and coming out the other.

Diabetes in dogs is a serious condition.

Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus

With nephrogenic diabetes insipidus the dog’s body produces enough vasopressin, but the kidneys fail to respond effectively to it.

This condition tends to be a little more complicated than central diabetes insipidus.

It’s caused by the kidneys inability to respond appropriately to the release of vasopressin. The pituitary gland does it’s job, but the body won’t pick up the command to work with it. In this case, synthetic hormones will not work.

This particular type of diabetes is very rare.

Lifespan of Dogs with Diabetes Insipidus

Diabetes insipidus in dogs is complicated but, thankfully, rare. The life expectancy of a dog with diabetes insipidus depends on the type he/she has acquired along with the ability of the owner to manage the disease.

Life expectancy of A dog with cDI

Dogs with central diabetes insipidus can go on to lead otherwise normal and healthy lives.

Treatment involves administering a synthetic hormone to replace the lack of vasopressin being excreted from the pituitary gland.

The antidiuretic hormone replacement used is called desmopressin (also known as DDAVP). It is administered as eye drops or by injection under the skin.

Life Expectancy of a dog with NDI

Unfortunately, there are limited ways to treat a dog with nephrogenic diabetes. It requires frequent monitoring and an entire lifestyle change that involves:

  • making sure the dog has access to water at all times
  • taking the dog out to urinate much more frequently without hesitation
  • sometimes treatment with a low dose of hydrochlorothiazide
  • a specialized low-sodium diet as directed by the veterinarian.

5 Signs of Diabetes Insipidus in Dogs

If your dog has diabetes insipidus the first tell-tale sign will probably be the amount of water he/she is drinking along with increased need to urinate.

Diabetes insipidus creates a vicious cycle of extreme thirst and extreme urination. The result is severe dehydration which is fatal if not treated.

#1) Excessive Urination

Signs of excessive urination include increased need to go out and accidents/incontinence in the house.

#2) Drinking Too Much Water

You may notice your dog’s water bowl is empty more often than normal. You may also witness your dog drinking a lot more water than usual.

#3) Incontinence

Adult dogs who have otherwise been trained to go outside suddenly begin having accidents in the house.

#4) Dehydration

Signs of dehydration include:

  • Sticky, pale gums
  • Dry nose
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive Panting
  • Loss of elasticity in the skin
  • Sunken eyes

#5) Weight Loss

Sudden weight loss in dogs without any change to diet is always a cause for concern.

Summing it Up: Trust Your Instincts!

At the end of the day, we just want our dogs to be happy and healthy. It’s easy to overlook the little things but if your dog doesn’t seem to be himself, make an appointment to see a veterinarian.

Remember that diabetes insipidus is a rare condition. Drinking and urinating too much can lead to severe dehydration over time.

If you ever sense that something isn’t quite right with your dog, don’t hesitate to contact a veterinarian.

Remember, this post is meant to inform not diagnose or treat. Always seek the advice and care your dog needs from a licensed veterinarian.

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VCA Hospital

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