Diabetes, Eye Color & Puppy Bonding

Plus, a tribute to a great duck dog.

While catching up on some reading today, I found the column you wrote in the March/April 2008 issue, in particular the response regarding diabetes insipidus.In your column you refer to a Labrador with a drinking problem. I have a female Lab with the same behavior you described. She drinks all the time, sneaks water out of the toilet and then piddles on the floor if she can't get outside fast enough to pee. She also pees in her sleep.

She has been tested frequently (annually) for diabetes. She has had episodes of hypoglycemic reactions where she got "drunk" after eating a heavy starch meal to control bad diarrhea. My vet recommended this solution.I wondered if you might have some additional thoughts.

You need to understand that there are two types of diabetes. The most common is diabetes mellitus, often referred to as "sugar" diabetes. Signs of this disease are manifest due to insufficient secretion of insulin by the pancreas. Dogs show increased thirst and urination in an attempt to rid the body of sugar (carbohydrates). Insulin is required to carry carbohydrates into the individual cells to be used by them as an energy source.

Diabetes insipidus is a disease that results in the failure of the kidney to concentrate urine. It manifests in a similar way as D. mellitus with increased water consumption and excessive urination. Diagnosis is more difficult than with D. mellitus and there are actually two forms of the disease, a kidney form and a pituitary form.

With the pituitary form there is a deficiency of antidiuretic hormone produced, and the kidney does not get the message to concentrate. In the kidney form, damage to the kidney tubules reduces the kidney's ability to concentrate the urine.

I suspect your dog was tested for D. mellitus, the most common type and you may want to proceed with further diagnostic testing.

My three-year-old German shorthair is a great hunting dog for me and my family. When I bought her I didn't know much about the breed other than what I had observed from friends with shorthairs, and I liked what I saw.

Kip has not disappointed us. She is registered with a respectable pedigree and has more natural ability than I do as an owner and trainer. There are a few questions I have concerning her light eye color and the breed standard.

I have read that the breed standard for eye color in GSPs is dark brown, and light eyes are a fault. If that is accurate, why don't the sanctioned field and hunt agencies enforce the standard, or does it only apply to the show ring? Where did the light color originate? In your opinion should responsible breeders strive to perpetuate dark eye color or should the standard be changed or just ignored?

Welcome to the real world of dogs. The light color of the eyes probably came from a tendency to breed dogs that are lighter in coat color and have less pigment in the nose, around the eyes and in the skin of the body. This could be the result of outcrossing to other breeds or just not paying attention to eye color as breeders concentrated on other characteristics.

Ultimately the breeders of our dogs are responsible for breeding good quality dogs that resemble the breed standards. You must remember that bench shows and field trials have different objectives in their agendas. In the case of bench shows, their standards are directly related to the written standards that you referred to for the breed, and describe the "perfect" physical specimen. In the field trial world emphasis is placed on field work and bird handling ability.

At the national breed show for each hunting breed these two factions come together and an attempt is made to produce dogs that do well in both the bench show and field trial world. It does happen and you will find dual champion dogs in your breed. In several of the hunting breeds the field and show strains have drifted apart markedly over time with little resemblance between the two.

It is interesting to note that the GSP national club has just called for a vote from the membership on acceptance of black-coated dogs into the U.S. registry. I voted for it and feel that it will improve some of the watering out of pigment in the breed.

My black Lab recently had cruciate surgery and the vet said it went as well as he had hoped. I have not had an opportunity to do any work with my Lab since he received the injury in an accident at only 10 weeks of age. He fell off the porch at my house and broke his leg.

He wore a cast for three weeks and after the cast was taken off the cruciate tear was more noticeable. I asked my vet what he thought about Jack being able to hunt with me in the future and he said with the way the surgery went, and if the dog recovers like he expects, he sees no reason why the dog will not be able to hunt with me. That is very good news.

A few new questions I have are general questions about how to get the dog ready to hunt.

I'm a college student and the dog has been living at the vet's office for four weeks now, but the vet said that it is likely that I will be able to get him back soon and take him back to school with me. He said that he would also give me a detailed rehab plan to make sure that Jack gets back in shape properly. In two weeks I will have a chance to go visit with Jack for a few hours at the vet's office. I was thinking about bringing a duck that I have in the freezer just so Jack can see and smell a duck.

I will obviously not be able to do any retrieving work while I am there but I thought just getting him acquainted with a duck's appearance and smell might be a good thing. Are there any recommendations that you could give about things I should do during this visit that could be helpful to Jack's future?

I would cook the duck and eat it. This dog is at an age when bonding with you is way more important than introduction to birds. I would concentrate on play and scent recognition between the two of you and worry about what he thinks of a dead duck in the spring after his leg has healed.

Tom Holcomb remains at htholcombdvm@qwestoffice.net.

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