It's not just spots that make Dalmatians special in the dog world. This athletic breed also has an unusual tendency to form stones in the kidneys and bladder. Prevention of these stones is important; even a small stone can create a dangerous health issue for your Dal.
A genetic mutation is the culprit behind the elevated uric acid levels that cause many Dalmations to suffer from kidney and bladder stones. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine analyzed DNA and urine samples from hundreds of dogs to pinpoint the mutated gene. Male dogs suffer from stones more frequently than females, with symptoms usually appearing between the ages of 4 and 5 years.
You can help prevent kidney and bladder stone formation in your Dalmation with a low-protein chicken or fish diet. Avoid beef and organs such as liver. Add water to your dog's food so that he consumes soup with each meal. This aids in flushing the kidneys and helps dilute uric acid. Don't feed your dog table scraps, and go easy on treats. Keep fresh water constantly available. Consult your veterinarian about the best low-protein dog foods for preventing stone formation, as well as special diets for dogs already prone to stones.
If your male dog suffers from a kidney or bladder stone, he will strain to urinate without much success. He'll keep trying, because his bladder is full. Sometimes, he is able to pass the stone through straining, causing a large outflow of urine. The female dog's symptoms are somewhat different: She may have "accidents" in the house, blood in the urine, or constantly lick her genital area. In both males and females, you may notice sand-like material in the urine. Anatomy causes the differences in male and female symptoms. A stone of a size that will block the narrowest point of the male urethra can be passed by a female. If your dog exhibits difficulty urinating, take him to the vet at once. Even if he passes the stone, it may be just a matter of time before he's blocked again, so he needs a veterinary workup.
Depending on the size of the stone, your vet may be able to prescribe a medication to dissolve it by reducing uric acid production. Given along with the right diet, the medication may dissolve a stone within a few months. Any concurrent bladder infections must be treated with antibiotics. Surgery removes stones faster, but is riskier. Your vet can advise you on the best options for your pet.
- Dalmatian Club of America: Urinary Stone-Forming in Dalmatians and Other Dogs
- Dalmatian Club of America: Information on Urinary Stones and Treatment
- Veterinary Partner: Uric Acid Stones and Urate Urolithiasis
- ABC News: Gene Mutation in Dalmatians Sheds Light on Kidney Stones in Humans
- Whole Dog Journal: Treatment and Prevention of Kidney and Bladder Stones
- Dalmatian dog image by LiveMan from Fotolia.com