Dalmatian Health Problems and Raising a Dalmatian Puppy to be Healthy
By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2015
The most common health problems in Dalmatians:
The Dalmatian Club conducted a health survey that included 763 Dalmatians. The average lifespan was reported to be 9.8 years and the most common cause of death was urinary/kidney/liver disease (32%).
Indeed, the urinary tract is a major weakness in Dalmatians, who are prone to forming urinary stones throughout their life. This is because all Dalmatians are born with a defective urinary system that can't break down uric acid, which is an unavoidable byproduct whenever your dog digests food. Breeds with a normal urinary system can break down uric acid and pass it harmlessly in their urine. In Dalmatians, uric acid accumulates into crystals, which can clump into stones in the bladder.
Males form about 95% of the stones in the breed, and unfortunately, stones can be life-threatening in males because a stone can completely block their long, narrow urinary tract. A female's urinary tract is shorter and wider and thus passes stones more readily.
Along with uric acid stones, struvite and calcium oxalate stones can also form in Dalmatians.
The second major health problem in Dalmatians is deafness (inherited deafness, not old-age deafness). About 33% of all Dalmatians (1 of every 3) are born deaf in one or both ears. Specifically, about 12% are deaf in both ears (bilateral deafness), while another 22% are deaf in one ear (unilateral deafness).
The third major health problem in Dalmatians are skin problems. One of every 2-3 Dalmatians is affected by some type of skin condition, especially allergies, which cause itchy skin and can lead to chronic bacterial infections of the skin (a form of pyoderma called folliculitis). Folliculitis tends to discolor the hair brownish-red, so you may hear it referred to as Dalmatian Bronzing Syndrome, but it's really a bacterial infection resulting from allergies (and probably stress and a weakened immune system). Dalmatians are also susceptible to sunburn and thus to skin cancer (especially squamous cell carcinoma).
As if deafness, urinary stones, and skin problems weren't enough, epilepsy and hypothyroidism occur regularly in Dalmatians. According to the Michigan State University Thyroid Database, Dalmatians have the 11th highest rate of hypothyroidism of 140 breeds (up to 25% affected).
The good news is that orthopedic diseases, which are rampant in some other breeds, aren't too much of a problem in Dalmatians. Hip dysplasia definitely occurs, but the Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of over 2600 Dalmatians and found 5% dysplastic. That's an okay rate for this size dog, though the true rate is higher because most of the obviously bad X-rays were not sent in for official evaluation. Luxating patella (loose knees) can occur, as well, and occasionally osteochondritis.
More good news.... eye diseases are not that common in Dalmatians, but can include eyelash abnormalities, entropion, glaucoma, iris hypoplasia, and occasionally PRA.
Other health issues reported occasionally in Dalmatians include copper toxicosis, laryngeal paralysis, megaesophagus, polyneuropathy, and lysosomal storage disease.
Can you prevent health problems from happening to YOUR Dalmatian?
Yes, often you can.
- Some health problems are genetic, which means inherited from parents. Genetic health issues are common in Dalmatians today because of unwise breeding practices. My book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, shows you how to find a Dalmatian puppy who is genetically healthy.
- Other health problems are environmental – caused by the way you raise your dog. My best-selling dog health book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to prevent environmental health problems by raising your Dalmatian puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways.
Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy Dalmatian puppy or adult dog:
How Long Will Your Dog Live? – Take This Quiz!
Based on your dog's breed and how you're raising him, this personalized quiz will help you understand how long your dog might live – and most importantly, how you can increase his life expectancy.
Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Dalmatian lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.
The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your Dalmatian
The best diet for feeding your Dalmatian is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, bison, venison, fish....This is not "people food" and I'll tell you why.
The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Dalmatian
If you can't feed homemade dog food, here are your next-best choices.
Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
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The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.
Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female Dalmatian.
Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.
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Does your dog suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, pancreatitis, colitis, injuries such as fractures and skin wounds, or a neurological condition? An honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to help reduce inflammation and pain.
Copyright © 2000-2015 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
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