Having the proper nutrition is one of the most important aspects of raising a healthy Dalmatian and yet it is often the source of controversy among breeders, veterinarians, pet owners and dog food manufacturers.
All Dalmatians are susceptible to forming life-threatening urinary tract “stones” though these can be effectively managed with diet. Although susceptibility to forming these “stones” is present in almost all Dalmatians, keep in mind that not all Dalmatians will necessarily form “stones” in their lifetime.
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Most dog foods are sold based on how to make a product appealing to owners instead of what would meet the needs of dogs, like a Dalmatian. Some foods are marketed on the basis of their protein content, others based on a “special” ingredient and some are sold because they do not contain certain ingredients such as preservatives. We want a dog food that specifically meets our dog’s needs, economical and causes few, if any, problems.
Most foods come in dry, semi-moist and canned forms, and some can now be purchased frozen. The dry food is the most economical, contain the least fat and the most preservatives. The canned food is the most expensive, contain 75% water, usually contain the most fat, and have the least preservatives. Semi-moist foods are also expensive and high in sugar content. In feeding the Dalmatian, the critical part of the diet is not the amount of protein but rather the type of protein.
Purines are a form of protein known to promote urinary “stones” in Dalmatians. We need to provide our Dalmatian with a diet that is low in purine, not necessarily a low-protein diet. Vegetable-based diets are not always satisfactory. While broccoli, kale, tomatoes, and carrots are low in purines, asparagus, cauliflower, beans, peas, mushrooms, spinach and whole grains are high in purines. The same is true for meats and dairy. Cheese, milk and eggs are low in purines, but most fish such as herring, mackerel, or sardines, organ meats such as liver, kidney, sweetbreads, poultry such as chicken, duck, or turkey, and meats such as beef, lamb, pork, and veal, are high in purines. The worst offenders are organ meats, and fish. In most commercial diets suitable for Dalmatians, poultry, lamb and eggs are usually the preferred sources for protein while rice is considered as the main source for carbohydrate.
There are commercial low purine diets available from veterinarians. You can also select other diets by paying close attention to their ingredients. In addition, it is also important to pay attention to treats that you give to your Dalmatian. The best treats for this breed includes fruits and cottage cheese. Last but not least, Dalmatians should be encouraged to drink large amounts of fresh, clean water. This not only keeps a Dalmatian hydrated, but it helps flush out their urinary tracts to keep large “stones” from forming.