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Diabetes Insipidus In Dogs

Diabetes Insipidus In Dogs

Diabetes insipidus (DI) is a heterogeneous condition caused by the failure to make or react to antidiuretic hormone (ADH) altering the mechanism of water retention and excretion. Diabetes insipidus is characterized by polyuria and polydipsia (excessive thirst/drinking) and increased production of enormous volumes of abnormally dilute urine (low urine specific gravity).

Also called water diabetes, some of the affected dogs may produce urine amounts large enough to become incontinent (lack of voluntary control over urination). The irony of this condition is that in spite of the intake of large volumes of water, the high frequency of urination makes the dog dehydrated.

Diabetes insipidus is rare in dogs with a reported occurrence of 1 in 30000. The condition is usually caused by inadequate production of vasopressin (antidiuretic hormone) in the hypothalamus or a lack of kidney response to vasopressin. Impaired production of ADH can be caused by brain trauma, pituitary gland tumors, birth defect, or maybe idiopathic. Lack of kidney response to ADH can result from a congenital defect, secondary to certain diseases (like metabolic disorders, severe kidney diseases, and/or severe infections), or an adverse reaction to certain medications.

Meanwhile, Diabetes insipidus is different from Diabetes mellitus (DM). DM is a more common endocrine disease in dogs with a reported prevalence of 2% (1 in 300 dogs). This is a metabolic disorder and results from a disruption of pancreas function due to the loss of pancreatic islet cells which are responsible for synthesizing and secreting insulin. Similar to type 1 DM in humans, dogs get insulin-dependent DM and vacuolar degeneration of pancreatitis is often associated with DM.

Symptoms Of Diabetes Insipidus

Early signs:

  • Polyuria - Excessive urination
  • Polydipsia- Excessive drinking
  • Incontinence
  • Diluted urine

Advanced stage:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Failure to thrive

Neurologic signs:

  • Seizures
  • Disorientation
  • Incoordination

Treatment Options For Diabetes Insipidus

CDI Treatment:

  • This cannot be completely cured.
  • To help reduce symptoms, Desmopressin Acetate (DDAVP) is used.
  • Desmopressin serves as a replacement for ADH a synthetic version.
  • This is available in both nasal and oral forms.

NDI Treatment:

When the primary underlying disease is identified early, NDI has a good prognosis.

  • oral salt, chlorothiazide, and diuretics are used.
  • Close monitoring is required for any underlying causes (kidney damage, Cushing’s disease).
  • If steroid medication is the cause of the disorder, then cessation of the drugs is enough for the reversal of the disorder.
  • Intravenous fluid and nutritional therapy will be given to help your dog not become severely dehydrated.
  • immunosuppressive or anti-inflammatory medications.

Home Remedies For Diabetes Insipidus

  1. The 3 P’s: polydipsia,polyuria, and polyphagia should be addressed properly.
  2. Follow the instructions given to you by your veterinarian for the entire recommended time period. No matter how badly you want relief for your dogs or what you hear from other dog owners, talk with your vet before trying any home remedy.
  3. Make sure to provide plenty of drinking water.
  4. If any specific diet has been suggested to your dog, follow the diet very strictly, and never provide or allow others to give your dog treats or other food.

Prevention Of Diabetes Insipidus

  • There is no means of preventing or avoiding diabetes inspidus save or genetic counseling.
  • Screening of highly affected breeds prior to breeding is strongly recommended.
  • Never skip check-ups.
  • feed a home-prepared diet of pasture-fed, organically produced ingredients.
  • When your dog has been prescribed a dosage, taper off slowly or else you might experience withdrawal symptoms.

Affected Breeds Of Diabetes Insipidus

Bichon Frise, Cairn Terrier, Fox Terrier, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Keeshond, Standard Poodle, Toy Poodle, Miniature Poodle, Pug, Samoyed, Schnauzer, Miniature Schnauzer, Siberian Husky

Additional Facts For Diabetes Insipidus

1. Causes:

Central Diabetes Insipidus:

  • Congenital defect
  • Trauma (falling injury, car accident, oxygen deprivation, bite wound, etc.)
  • Cancer that affects the pituitary gland
  • Unknown cause (Idiopathic)

Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus (NDI):

There are 2 types of NDI

Primary NDI:

Primary NDI in dogs can be diagnosed within one year of age.

Most prevalent in Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds, and Miniature Poodles.

Secondary or acquired NDI :

  • Diseases such as Cushing’s disease or pyometra, Addison’s disease
  • Kidney damage (inflammation, infection, chronic kidney disease, or urethral blockage)
  • Certain medications
  • Liver disease
  • High calcium
  • Leptospirosis infection
  • Electrolyte abnormalities
  • Idiopathic

2. Types:

  • Central Diabetes Insipidus (CDI): Hypothalamus or pituitary gland does not produce any or enough ADH.
  • Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus (NDI): ADH is produced but the kidneys do not respond appropriately to ADH.

3. Mortality:

DI is not a potentially life-threatening disease in dogs and the mortality rate of dogs is not documented.

4. Diagnosis:

  • Routine hematology, Urinalysis, and Electrolyte tests
  • Low Dose Dexamethasone Suppression Test primarily tests for Cushing’s disease
  • Thyroid function tests to determine a hypothyroid disease or an underactive thyroid
  • Serum bile acids analyze the liver function
  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) stimulation test for Addison’s disease
  • Cortisol tests

5. Prognosis:

Depending on the underlying disorder, the CDI and NDI forms prognosis is typically good.

CDI is usually not curable while NDI can be cured by treating the underlying disorder or disease. The transient or trauma-related CDI can be cured as they allow the brain’s anatomy to revert to normal. Treating the underlying disease properly can result in the control of NDI; however, a relapse of NDI is possible if that is a chronic disease. Dogs with some form of DI can live near-normal lives — if the side effects of urination and thirst are tolerable to pet owners.

When To See A Vet

Time to visit the vet clinic for an examination, if you notice any of the following:

  • Polyuria - Excessive urination
  • Polydipsia- Excessive drinking
  • Incontinence

Food Suggestions For Diabetes Insipidus

  • Diet high in protein, fat, and complex carbs.
  • Protein: High protein diet comprising 40% of the dog's calories.
  • Fats: Omega-3 and other healthy fats.
  • Complex Carbohydrates: fibers and starches (Whole Grains, Oatmeal, Brown Rice, Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes).
  • Overweight dogs - lower-calorie diets, for underweight dogs- Higher calorie diets.
  • Feed foods have a lower ( or moderate) Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load than others.


Dogs that have been diagnosed with diabetes insipidus should be closely monitored to ensure prompt treatment for any changes.

The prognosis for Diabetes insipidus is unpredictable and is dependent mostly on the actual cause.

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