Diabetes Insipidus–Tauren’s Rare Disorder

by Lori Amato

The puppy arrived from California on July 3, 1994. He was an eight week old black spider whom we thought should eventually look more like the Greyhound he was reputed to be. We took him out of his airline crate and allowed him to go to the bathroom. He peed and peed. His urine was very dilute, almost like water. We did not think too much about it as he was cooped up in an airline crate for five and a half hours. We packed the little darling up and brought him home. We named him Tauren (boy born in May).

Tauren had a lot of problems when he arrived. One of them was our inability to housebreak him. We did all the right things. We set up a crate for him right in our bedroom. His water and food were on a strict schedule. He cried when he had to go out. According to all the books I had read, I should not expect a puppy to really have good bladder control until at least four to five months of age. He never defecated in the house. However, the urine this boy could produce in a one day would have filled a bathtub. Tauren was usually fine between 8:00 a.m. to about 4:00 p.m. He had numerous walks during this period. Four p.m. on were the witching hours for Tauren. At times it felt like we would spend more time outside doing piddle stops then relaxing. He would still have enough urine left over to have two or three accidents before bed time. When Tauren urinated he kept going and going. He stood there and it would come out in drips for about ten minutes. My husband and I could not keep up with it. We got to the point where we kept a bucket and a mop available at all times. Tauren drank water like no other small puppy I had ever seen. He consumed two or three quarts of water in very little time. His urine was still only lightly straw-colored and had no odor to speak of. I whined to all my doggie friends, “I am a failure at housebreaking my pup!”

I could take it no longer. Off to the vet we went. “Lori,” my vet said, “It could either be something called polydypsia or a condition called diabetes inspidus. Buster, my Greyhound, has diabetes inspidus. He was considered unadoptable and that’s why I have him.” I said, “Hey wait a minute. Why is he considered unadoptable?” John Robb, my veterinarian, replied, “Buster’s condition causes him to drink a lot of water. He is unable to concentrate his urine; thus he urinates almost constantly.” I had alarm bells and whistles going off in my head at this point. My vet further explained that polydypsia is a psychological condition where due to stress, etc., the dog will consume large quantities of water hence he or she has to urinate a lot. Diabetes inspidus (DI) is not the same as diabetes mellitus or water diabetes. It is a rare disorder with more than one cause. He then quoted from The Merck Veterinary Manual: “A condition due to reduced secretion of anti-diabetic hormone (ADH), or to target cells in the kidney that lack the biochemical machinery necessary to respond to the secretion of normal or elevated circulating levels of hormones.” My veterinarian’s dog, Buster, had the nephrogenic form of the disease. Buster’s hypothalmus produces ADH but his kidneys do not respond to it. Tauren’s case is the reverse. Although his brain does not manufacture the hormone, his kidneys do respond to the synthetic form of the hormone.

Tauren had to have the Water Deprivation Test which would rule out any other possible causes of the polydypsia symptoms. Tauren also had routine urine analysis and blood work in conjunction with the deprivation test. Tauren could drink water prior to the test but during the test (about six hours), no water would be permitted. During that time Tauren’s urine would be tested at various intervals to see if he had the ability to concentrate it.

Tauren had the test. Six hours later I received a call from the vet. “It appears that Tauren does have diabetes inspidus. He was unable to concentrate his urine, but when we gave him a shot of Pitressin® (ADH in an oil base), he was able to concentrate his urine. All of Tauren’s other tests came back within normal ranges. He will have this disorder for the rest of his life. There are two ways we can administer the hormone. The synthetic form of the hormone which Tauren is lacking is DDAVP® or Desmopressin Acetate. He can either get a shot of Pitressin® every other day or so, or we can give him the DDAVP® subconjunctively” said Dr. Robb. “Um, subconjunctively?” I said. “It’s easy. You pull down his lower eyelid and introduce drops of the hormone into the subconjunctiva of his eye,” Dr Robb explained. “Easy for you,” I thought. The eye thing was out for sure and I could not imagine giving Tauren shots for the rest of his life. If he reached the age of fourteen he would look like a pin cushion. I did some research about diabetes inspidus. One book gave me the answer to the administration problem. DDAVP® could be administered intranasally. Now, this looked like the way to go for Tauren and me.

My next concern was the cost of the hormone. Dr. Robb told me that DDAVP® was not cheap but when I started calling around to different pharmacies I almost passed out. Two and a half ml cost between $65 and $80. After doing more research I found a mail order pharmacy where I could get twice the amount for about $110. When the DDAVP® arrived I was a little befuddled. The hormone was in something called a rhinal tube. People with DI basically inhale the medication with a plastic tube. Well, I didn’t think Tauren would snort anything, so it took a little creativity to get the medication out of the bottle and into an eye dropper — my way of administering it into his nose. Another problem we encountered with DI is that the dog needs access to water at all times. If he is deprived he could die of dehydration. A normal illness like diarrhea could kill him.

In order to alert people to his condition, we purchased a medical alert dog tag that was engraved with: “This Dog has diabetes inspidus; must have water.” Once we started Tauren on the DDAVP®, he became housebroken quickly.

Tauren was not going to be cheap but the boy has proved his worth one-hundred fold since the day he arrived. He became my father’s courage and inspiration and kept him going during two years of dialysis and a kidney transplant. He became a seizure alert dog for my other Greyhound, Sultan, who was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy one year ago. Tauren’s frantic barking and running back and forth alerts me to Sultan’s seizures during the night when I can’t hear them. (I am hearing impaired and wear two hearing aids.)

After this experience I came to the conclusion that, if any of my dogs got something, I would use the following ways of dealing with their health issues.  I’d suggest you do the same.

  1. Learn everything you can about the disorder. Suggest different possibilities and treatments to the veterinarian.
  2. Seek creative alternatives. If there had been a holistic way to treat the disease I would have combined that with the traditional allopathic therapy.
  3. Take precautions. If your dog has a life-threatening condition, it should always wear a medical alert tag.
  4. Don’t let the veterinarian give you the diagnosis and then just lie down and accept it.

Remember: it’s your dog. You have the right to dictate what you want done.

CG W 97

Webmistress’s note: Interestingly, quite some time after then article was published, Tauren stopped needing his medication.

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