“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make

our lives whole.” ― Roger A. Caras

HEALTH & NUTRITION

Health

Like all dogs, Dalmatians have developed genetic health problems and have the potential to inherit disease. One of the most important decision one can make when getting a Dalmatian is to be sure the pup in coming from a reputable breeder. Dalmatian’s have become an object of fad and popularity due to the movie exposure. This has led to over breeding of poor temperament dogs. Because of this many Dalmatians end up in rescues because they do not act like the dogs in the movies.

When focusing on specific health issues Dalmatian’s are known for the first that come to mind are urinary stones. They are widely prevalent amongst the breed. Dalmatians carry a genetic mutation that alters the way in which they metabolize and excrete substances called purines, which are found in many foods, especially meats. Normally, excess purine is broken down but Dalmatians are unable to go through this process naturally. Because of this caregivers need to be sure that their Dalmatian has access to fresh water at all times because it helps dilute uric acid and prevent stones. It is a good idea to float your pup’s food in water to ensure they are getting a sufficient

amount daily and this also helps dilute uric acid and prevent stones. All Dalmatian’s do not go on to form stones. However, there are estimates that one-third of male Dalmatians develop stones that require medical attention. The percentage is smaller in females. In some case surgery is needed to remove the stones. Most stones are treatable and preventable with dietary modifications and medications.

Dalmatian’s are also prone to genetic deafness. As many as 29.9 percent of Dalmatians are born deaf in one or both ears.  All puppies should be BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) tested to make sure they can hear. Often times this trait is not closely researched prior to breeding causing many pups to be born deaf. Deafness in the breed stems back to the coloring of the coat. It is not the spots that are the problem but rather the lack thereof. Deafness has been linked to the extreme piebald gene, the genetic coding that gives the dog its brilliant white coat. In Dalmatians, an underlying coat of black or liver is covered with white by the extreme piebald gene. Studies have shown that Dalmatians with solid areas of color, or patches, on the ears or around the eyes have a lower incidence of deafness.

Studies by George Strain, Ph.D., professor of neuroscience at Louisiana State University, and others indicate that Dalmatians with blue eyes are more likely to produce deaf puppies. The main reason why deafness has not been stabilized in the breed is uninformed breeders and “back yard breeding.” While individually, deaf dogs can make great pets and are known to be much more connected with their people due to their disability. The Dalmatian Club of America (DCA) has spent more than $40,000 in support of research of hereditary deafness. These studies are funded through grants and donations. Donate here.  

Dalmatians are also predisposed to allergies and have often have extremely sensitive skin. When introducing new shampoos or bedding keep this fact in mind. Any major environmental change can trigger this reaction. Some Dalmatian’s are also severely allergic to airborne allergens, such as mildew, dust and pollen. You will be alerted to the presence on an inhalant allergy if your dog breaks out in hives accompanied by a mild ear infection.

Not all of these conditions are detectable in a growing puppy, and it is impossible to predict whether an animal will be free of these maladies, which is why you must find a reputable breeder who is committed to breeding the healthiest animals possible.

 

Nutrition

As noted above, Dalmatians carry a genetic mutation that alters the way in which they metabolize and excrete substances called purines, which are found in many foods. This is the simple most important thing to contemplate when taking a Dalmatians diet into consideration. A perfect diet for a Dalmatian is low in purines but not low in protein. A low-purine, high-quality diet can be beneficial both in the prevention and treatment of urinary tract health issues. When considering the over health and nutrition of a Dalmatian there are three basic rules that need to be followed.

  1. A healthy diet low in purines and high in protein

  2. Plenty of fresh water

  3. Frequent and regular exercise

 

It is best to feed Dalmatians a food that is free of chemical preservatives and artificial additives. Additionally, since some Dals are allergic to various flours and grains, such as soy, corn, and wheat, these potential food allergens need to be kept in mind when forming your particular Dalmatian's dietary plan. And finally, don't forget to give the treats you feed your Dalmatian the same attention and scrutiny as his or her diet. Many people recommend offering a natural treat rather than store bought. Some examples include:

  • Yogurt

  • Cheese

  • Certain Cooked Veggies (zucchini, sweet potato, squash, etc)

  • Eggs (hard boiled)

  • Plain Cheerios

 

A common mistake made by many Dalmatian owners and breeders has been to link purines and protein together, resulting in the frequently heard but completely inaccurate need for Dalmatians to adhere to a low protein diet. Rather, the key is minimizing high-purine protein sources. So let’s talk a little more about exactly what foods contain high levels of purines.

  • Organ meats – kidneys, livers, brains, hearts, sweetbreads, etc.

  • Game meats – venison, goose and duck

  • Seafood – sardines, mackerel, mussels, lobster, shrimp and scallops

  • Vegetables – cauliflower, spinach, peas, mushrooms, artichoke, legumes and broccoli

  • Sunflower seeds

  • Fruits - Raisins, bananas, apricots and plums

  • Yeast (including brewer's yeast)

  • Gravies

 

When taking processed dog food into consideration many of these ingredients are present. This can make picking dog food for a Dalmatian quite challenging. Some of the top foods given to Dalmatians are

  • Fromm Puppy Gold

  • Fromm Adult Gold

  • Fromm Chicken À La Veg

  • Purina Pro Plan

  • 4health Original

 

Deciding on a dog food can take some experimenting and time. I went through a few before I was satisfied with the appearance of my dog’s feces (this is very important to pay attention to). If you are unsatisfied with a food be sure to finish out the entire bag before switching as changing the food to soon can have negative effects. I recommend taking some time to research various products and reviews while remembering the biological data that goes into a Dalmatians diet.

Here are some recommended training tools and pet supply resources:

Here are some recommended distributors of pet medications and health products:

 

References

[1]            Treating and Preventing Bladder Stones in Dalmatians. https://www.petmd.com/blogs/nutritionnuggets/jcoates

                /2013/july/treating-preventing-bladder-stones-in-dalmatians-30614

[2]            Dalmatian Coat And Skincare. https://www.pets4homes.co.uk/pet-advice/dalmatian-coat-and-skincare.html

[3]            A threshold model analysis of deafness in Dalmatians. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8703116

[4]            Dalmatian Breeders Urged to Take Steps to Breed Against Deafness. https://www.purinaproclub.com/resource-library

                /pro-club-updates/dalmatian-breeders-urged-to-take-steps-to-breed-against-deafness/

[5]            Dalmatian. http://www.vetstreet.com/dogs/dalmatian#health

[6]            Considerations of the Origin of the Dalmatian Breed. http://www.highgate-dalmatians.com/history-of-dalmatians

[7]            BAER Hearing Test. https://ccdalmatians.com.au/baer-hearing-test-2/

[8]            https://frommfamily.com/products/dog/?animal=dog&query=&lifestage=&breedsize=&recipetype=&attributes=&

                protein=&productline=&sort=4

[9]            http://www.aplusflintriverranch.com/article-healthydalmatiandiet.php

To read more about Dalmatian specifics select from the following:

- History                                                   - Characteristics

- Health & Nutrition                                    - Competitions

- Grooming

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