While there are some general guidelines for feeding dogs (1-3 meals per day, lots of water), each specific breed has its own unique characteristics and concerns that require subtle alterations in diet as well as medical attention. For instance, did you know that the beautiful Dalmatian is more vulnerable to developing kidney and bladder stones?
Hyperuricemia in Dalmatians
More than other dogs, Dalmatians’ livers have trouble breaking down a substance called purine. Typically, after purine is ingested in food, it is converted to hypoxanthine, which is then changed to xanthine, which is then changed to uric acid. A normally functioning liver will convert this uric acid to allantoin which is expelled in urea. However, thanks to a genetic mutation, Dalmatians are unable to convert the uric acid into allntoin leading to the formation of bladder and kidney stones.
Kidney stones can block the urinary tract, causing discomfort and infections and possibly more serious complications.
In Dalmatians, the condition is more prevalent amongst males; possibly because they have a narrower urinary tract then females and are therefore less likely to pass stones unaided.
Helping Your Dalmatian With His Condition
While breeders and veterinarians are working towards selectively breeding in order to reduce the impact of and possibly completely fade out the condition, there are a few steps you can take to help your own Dalmatian deal with it.
Depending on the extremity, a vet may prescribe allopurinol, which prevents the enzyme process that is needed to form uric acid. Urinary infections can be treated by antibiotics and in some cases, a vet may flush the bladder with a sterile liquid to manually expel stones.
However, the condition is an ongoing process; along with manual methods like bladder flushes, your dog’s diet must be altered to ensure that he is not manufacturing high levels of uric acid. This is done by keeping him on a low purine diet – follow these tips:
Avoid Foods High In Purines
Considering their original diet in the wild, a dog needs sufficient amounts of protein in his diet. Many associate a low purine diet with a low protein diet. However, cutting out proteins out of your Dalmatian’s diet is not a solution and will likely lead to loss of energy, weight and other health issues.
Instead, try avoiding proteins that are known to have high amounts of purines like vension, duck, goose, sardines, mackarel, mussels and scallops. Most offal meats contain high amounts of purines – avoid kidneys, hearts, brains and liver. In terms of vegetable, spinach, mushrooms, peas and legumes should be avoided as they’ve been found to have high levels of purines.
Additionally, if you feed your dog a store bought pet food diet be sure to check that the foods are not being made using offal or low grade meats.
Substitute Food High In Purines With –
Most poultry, such as chicken and turkey has low purine levels as do lamb, pork and beef; give your Dalmatian these meats to make up their daily protein quota. Supplement these meats with vegetables (aside from the ones high on purine), eggs, cheese, milk and even pasta.
Encourage Water and Fluid Intake
Like with humans, an effective way of dealing with kidney stones is increasing fluid intake which will help flush out the stones. So, praise your dog when he drinks water, encourage him to eat water rich foods and give him a bowl of milk occasionally.
While making these diet alterations, consult with your vet who will be able to recommend specific quantities and feed timings based on your Dalmatian’s history, age and weight. Working with your vet, you can ensure that your pooch is at a much lower risk of allowing the condition to drastically affect his life.