Health Tests & Medical ProblemsWe are lucky in the breed to have very few serious congenital problems. The main two health issues, which all Dalmatian owners & breeders should be aware of are deafness & urinary stones.
Information on these & more are listed below, including conditions that have been recognized as being common within the Dalmatian breed, screenings undertaken by ourselves &/or other responsible breeders & links to more information.
Kidney Problems/ Urinary Stones:
Dalmatians are extremely prone to developing urate "stones" that form in the urine. Probably all dalmatians have this tendency, but not all will have a problem with "stone" formation.
Probably affecting dalmatians more then any other breeds of dog as, unlike any other breed, they excrete uric acid in their urine. Symptoms of kidney problems are excessive drinking, frequent urination, presence of blood in the urine, & the dog hunching its back while urinating because of intense kidney pain. Immediate veterinary attention is required to treat all kidney problems & your dog's diet carefully examined.
All Dalmatians have the potential to form crystals but few actually do. The best way to avoid them getting crystals is to avoid giving those foods that are high in purines. Crystals form in acid urine, so anything you know that is acid forming should be avoided. Feeding chicken and foods derived from poultry, rather then meat, fruits, vegies, grains (not whole grain), pasta, rice & eggs are all good, & NEVER feed your dalmatian liver, organ meat, fish or wild game, these are the worst offenders & are very high in purines.
We can also send you a list of good & bad foods to feed your dalmatian, if requested.
Deafness refers to a loss of hearing; it can be partial or complete. The incidence for dalmatians has been shown to be 8% with Bilateral deafness (deaf in both ears) & 22% with Unilateral deafness (deaf in one ear) of a total of 30% of all Dalmatians. Because the incidence of deafness is so high in dalmatians it is recommended that all breeding dalmatians have their hearing tested & that pups be tested when weaned at 6-8 weeks of age, before they are sold. If a dog is deaf in one ear(Unilateral deafness) or both it can still make a good pet, though they should be neutered so as not to contribute genetically to the future generations.
The definitive way to test is known as BAER (Brainstem Auditory-Evoked Response) testing, & can detect any loss of hearing in one or both ears. It detects electrical activity in the cochlea & auditory pathways in the brain. The response is collected with a special computer through extremely small electrodes placed under the skin of the scalp. The clicks produced by the computer are directed into the ear with an insert earphone, with each ear tested individually the test is usually completed within 10-15 minutes.
Though not as common in Dalmatians as other breeds, we thought it needed to be added, as many dalmatian breeders, including ourselves, test for it. Hip & Elbow Dysplasia doesn't refer to just one disease, but rather an entire complex of disorders that affect the hip & elbow joints. Hip dysplasia is a genectically transmitted developmental problem of the hip joint that is common in many breeds. Dogs may be born with a tendency to develop hip dysplasia but it is not a force-gone conclusion that all susceptible dogs will eventually develop it. Elbow dysplasia & Osteoochondrosis are disorder of young dogs, with problems usually starting between 4 & 7 months of age. The usual manifestation is a sudden onset of lameness. In time the continued inflammation results in arthritis in those affected joints.
All dysplastic dogs are born with normal hips & elbows, the dysplastic changes begin within the first 24 months of life although they are usually evident long before then. To diagnose Hip/Elbow dysplasia x-rays are taken of the joints & submitted to a registry for evaluation.
Also known as Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV),it is the second leading killer of dogs, the first being Cancer. It can occur in two forms; gastric dilatation (swelling of the stomach from gas), or gastric dilatation with volvulus (torsion), which occurs when the stomach twists on its axis. Often, both forms occur in a single episode with the second form quickly following the first, causing the dog to die within minutes. For information on its Symptoms, Causes, Prevention etc. please go to the link below. It could very well save your dogs life.
Check out the British Dalmatian Club website, on our Links page, for information.