If you were asked to give the full correct name for diabetes, you’d probably return the answer of “diabetes mellitus,” if you were even aware that “diabetes” alone was not the full name in the first place! However, diabetes mellitus is just one of several variants of diabetes, which itself comes in two formats (type one and type two) but there are other forms of diabetes as well, such as gestational diabetes, and diabetes insipidus.
While diabetes mellitus is by far the most common type of diabetes to affect dogs, diabetes insipidus can also affect dogs too, although at a lower rate of occurrence. Diabetes insipidus is not insulin-related, and is a very different disease to diabetes mellitus, despite the fact that they share similar names!
In this article, we will look at diabetes insipidus in dogs in more detail, including identifying the risk factors for the condition, the symptoms that it causes, and what can be done about it. Read on to learn more.
Diabetes insipidus is also sometimes known as “water diabetes,” and the signatures of the condition include a severe thirst that is virtually impossible to quench, accompanied by a related high level of urination, which will be very dilute, due to the dog’s excessive water intake.
Diabetes insipidus in dogs comes in two different forms: The first is neurogenic, or central diabetes insipidus, which is caused by a deficiency of a hormone called vasopressin, which is responsible for the regulation of water intake and water retention.
The second type is nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, which occurs when the body does not naturally produce enough of the necessary anti-diuretic hormones, which help the body to retain the necessary amount of water for healthy functionality.
Any problem or condition that affects either the production of vasopressin, which takes place in the hypothalamus and is connected to the pituitary gland, or kidney problems that affect the kidneys and cause them to inadequately process anti-diuretic hormones can lead to the condition developing.
This means that diabetes insipidus rarely presents as a standalone condition, and may occur as a secondary complication of various other illnesses, such as various types of cancer, hereditary health defects, injuries, as a side effect of certain types of medications, or as part of either renal, endocrine or metabolic disorders.
Whilst the condition is not common, particularly compared to diabetes mellitus, it can potentially be a secondary complication of a fairly wide range of different original conditions, which is worth bearing in mind.
The condition is not known for sure to have a direct correlation to a faulty gene, however, dogs that are at a greater risk than most of developing one of the primary conditions that can trigger it are exponentially more at risk. It is also thought that the Afghan hound and the German shorthaired pointer may be potentially more at risk for the hereditary elements of the condition.
The main symptoms to watch out for, particularly if your dog also has a health condition that affects either the kidneys or hormone levels include:
In order to diagnose the condition, your vet will take into account any other health problems or medications that your dog might have, and perform a physical examination of your dog in the first instance.
They will need to collect a urine sample and run a urinalysis and electrolyte panel to identify any anomalies, and will likely also order a blood panel too. Once a diagnosis has been reached, your vet will probably need to perform further tests of various kinds to get to the bottom of the cause of the condition, and if an underlying health condition that has not as yet been diagnosed is causing or contributing to it.
Much like diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus cannot be cured per se, but if there is an underlying health problem leading to it, curing or bringing this under control is the first step.
If your dog’s diabetes insipidus is of the neurogenic type, supplementary hormone replacement with vasopressin may correct the imbalance, and bring the condition under control. Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus can usually be brought under control with a type of medication a called thiazide diuretic, which work to make the urine more concentrated and less dilute.
It is important that your vet monitors your dog regularly after diagnosis, in order to keep their treatment regime under control and deal with any problems that might arise as a result of it. Whilst the condition can usually be managed well and return your dog to their previous quality of life, left unchecked, diabetes insipidus can prove fatal, and so should never be ignored.