Where the flow of urine is abnormally abundant, the source of difficulty is usually in the kidney; these are clear signs to diagnose a diabetic dog. By urine analysis the veterinarian determines just what the ailment of the kidney happens to be, and by the application of appropriate medications often corrects the condition. Since the ailments of the kidney are exceedingly technical and complex, it is sufficient to indicate here that the most common variety of kidney ailments can be distinguished mainly by urine analysis, and it is on the basis of the diagnosis made in this manner that the veterinarian regulates his course of treatment.
But there is another disease complex that is also characterized by an excessive flow of urine, and this one is of great interest to the general public because so much has been heard about it. This disease is diabetes. While it is also of a technical nature, at least a few words should be said concerning it because it is so well known.
It seems to be fairly common knowledge that in diabetes there is elimination of sugar in the urine. It also seems to be well known that, to counteract the undesirable effects of this sugar in the urine, the patient has to give himself injections of insulin, which burns up the sugar so that it is utilized by the body and is not excreted in the urine. But what is not generally known is that the above condition is what is called diabetes mellitus; and that there is also another form of diabetes called diabetes insipidus, in which there is no sugar in the urine and for which it is not necessary to give injections of insulin. Both these forms of diabetes are diseases that are long-lasting and usually fatal. In the early stages of both these diseases there is an excessive thirst and good appetite. Otherwise the affected animal appears quite normal. But gradually, in spite of its good appetite, the affected animal becomes thinner and thinner until it finally looks quite emaciated. There may also appear ulcerations of the surface of the eyeballs or the formation of cataracts in a mellitus diabetic dog. There may also be signs of vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, bronchitis, penumonia, ulceration of the skin, and excessive falling hair.
Diabetes mellitus is caused essentially by some disturbance in the pancreas in which the organ loses its ability to secrete a substance called insulin, thereby disrupting the whole sugar metabolism. The cause of diabetes insipidus is much more uncertain. It has been observed during the convalescence of certain infectious diseases; it may be associated with certain diseases of the nervous system; it may sometimes result from a cold, liver or spinal damage, certain irritant medicine, or from infection.
In any case these two forms of diabetes can be distinguished by urine analysis since sugar is present in the mellitus form and absent in the insipidus form. Both these forms can be distinguished from simple abundant urination resulting from drinking too much water. In the latter instance, if the water intake is controlled, the abundant urinations (polyuria) cease.
A diabetic dog can show symptoms of mellitus that can be treated with insulin in very much the same way as are human beings. If the owner really loves his animal, and is willing to undergo the inconvenience of the routine of daily injections of insulin, then the animal will often live to a ripe old age. In most instances, however, the average owner does not have the stomach for this and has the dog put to sleep. In diabetes insipidus, various tonics and stimulants are administered, but these are almost invariably unsuccessful. The affected animal becomes further emaciated and finally dies. The new oral anti-diabetic drugs should simplify the treatment of diabetes mellitus cases.
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