The goals of treating dogs with diabetes insipidus are to find and address the underlying cause of the condition and to correct the excessive water intake and urine output.
If the dog has central diabetes insipidus (CDI) and is not producing or secreting sufficient antidiuretic hormone (ADH), exogenous ADH can be administered either orally in tablet form, or into the corner of the eye (conjunctival sac) in liquid drop form. The actual synthetic drug is called desmopressin acetate, or DDAVP. Dogs with nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (NDI) or psychogenic polydipsia will not respond to this treatment, because the cause of their condition is not abnormally low circulating levels of ADH. Certain diuretic drugs can be administered orally to increase sodium and water reabsorption by the kidneys and decrease urine output. A low sodium diet can be extremely beneficial as well. All of these treatment options should be discussed thoroughly with the dog’s veterinarian.
If the dog’s elevated thirst, increased water intake and increased urine output are well tolerated by and not overly disruptive to the dog’s owner, it may not be necessary to treat the condition. Any dog with diabetes insipidus must have free access to fresh water at all times, with the exception that it may be wise to restrict access to water for a very short period of time after DDAVP is administered, to help prevent cellular overhydration.
Dogs that have either congenital or idiopathic diabetes insipidus, and many with central diabetes insipidus, typically respond quite well to oral treatment with DDAVP and go on to live full, normal lives. Dogs with central diabetes insipidus caused by pituitary tumors have a more guarded prognosis. Dogs with nephrogenic diabetes insipidus also have a guarded prognosis, because their polyuria (excessive urine output) and polydipsia (excessive water intake) can be difficult to manage.