Pets can face ‘shot’ or ‘no-shot’ diabetes

Q: My neighbor told me that her dog, “King.” has diabetes. She has already been afraid of needles, and so I asked how it was going with the insulin injections.

She said that her dog has “the other diabetes” and that she doesn’t have to give King shots. I’ve never heard about this before.

Can you please explain? T.J., Farragut

A: Yes, there are two main types of diabetes. Most pet owners are familiar with diabetes mellitus, in which pets need and receive insulin injections.

But “the other diabetes” that I assume your neighbor is talking about is called diabetes insipidus. It is less common in dogs, and is treated differently also.

Diabetes insipidus is a disease in which the body has a partial or complete inability to produce a hormone called ADH.

Reasons can be many, including head trauma, cancer and vascular disease. Sometimes it is idiopathic, which means even with extensive testing, we are unable to determine the cause.

Dogs with diabetes insipidus drink and urinate excessively. The physical exam is typically normal, although pets may experience dehydration quickly if they have restricted access to water. Blood tests may also show a mild dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities.

Urine samples are normal with the exception of very dilute urine. This is true even after gradual water restriction; affected dogs are unable to produce normal, concentrated urine.

Treatment for diabetes insipidus is initiated in an effort to maintain a better quality of life for the pet and their owners. The disease is treatable but not reversible.

The medication can be in the form of nasal drops or oral tablets. Treatment is typically quite effective, but is required for the life of the pet.

If you have questions about your pet, please email Dr. Myers at