Why Dalmatians Need A Low Purine Diet

By helloBARK!
Updated on 8 August 2022

Dalmatians, just like any dog breed, have their fair share of health problems.

For instance, Dalmatians carry a genetic mutation that results in bladder stones when they have a diet that yields high purine levels.

Purine is a type of protein that is commonly found in some red meats, poultry, game, offal and yeast products.

This genetic mutation alters the way that Dalmatians metabolize and excrete purines.

According to a study by UC Davis, scientists have known about the Dalmatians’ genetic predisposition to forming stones since the 1900s but the offending gene has remained elusive.

In this article, a group of experts explain why Dalmatians require a low purine diet.

Dalmatian plays with a tennis ball (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Dalmatian plays with a tennis ball (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Dalmatians Have A Genetic Predisposition

Dr. Stacy Choczynski Johnson, DVM At Dr. StacyVet

Dalmatians tend to form a urinary crystals made of uric acid. These crystals can form stones in the bladder and cause problems with urination. Urethral obstruction is painful can be life threatening. We see this more commonly in male dalmatians, likely due to the length of the urethra.

Dalmatians have a genetic predisposition to forming stones due to their unique liver and kidney chemistry. The liver is not able to absorb uric acid due to a mutation (Cys181Phe) in the SLC2A9 gene. As a result, the uric acid must be excreted in the urine and urate crystals deposit in the bladder. A genetic test for hyperuricosuria is available at UC Davis to detect the recessive gene for elevated uric acid in the urine.

When Dalmatians begin to show urate crystals in the urine, I recommend treating for crystalluria through diet, increasing water intake and at times a medication to dissolve the stones. Prescription diets are available that will restrict purines.

For healthy Dalmatian puppies with normal urine, I recommend a balanced diet for growth while avoiding excessive seafood and organ meat-based treats. Encouraging water consumption is a healthy and proactive way to dilute crystals in the bladder.

Purine Can Lead To Stones

Dr. Alex Schechter, DVM At Burrwood Veterinary

Purines, a form of protein, are broken to uric acid when catabolized. When its level increases in your canine’s body, it leads to gout pains, bladder stones, and kidney stones.

A high Purine diet also can cause ailments such as Liver disease, Endocrine and metabolic conditions such as diabetes, or can cause hypertension in the pet.

However, it is noteworthy that various environmental and endogenous factors may influence uric acid production. So it is often advised to offer your pet a low purine diet.

Caused By Mutation In SLC2A9 Gene

Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS At Five Barks

Dalmatians are genetically predisposed to developing bladder stones. This is because of a mutation in their SLC2A9 gene. As the gene does not function as it should, uric acid levels can build up. This high level of uric acid causes kidney stones and bladder stones which typically need to be removed surgically.

Urate bladder stones are actually not common in canines, except when it comes to the Dalmatian. Signs of stones can include straining to urinate, frequent urination, bloody urine and pain when passing urine. They can usually be detected with a bladder ultrasound and urinalysis.

To prevent bladder stones, all Dalmatians should be fed a low purine diet. Foods high in purines include duck, game meats, red meats, offal, sardines and tuna. These ingredients often feature in dog food and should be avoided in those prone to urate stones.

A low purine diet helps keep uric acid production to a minimum. We also want alkaline urine, to ensure crystals are not forming in the urine. Finally, keeping urine dilute helps to prevent crystals forming in the urine. All of the above can usually be achieved with a urinary wet food diet.

Reputable Breeders Should Be Able To Advise

Kim Foerst, Dalmation Owner And Digital Marketing Manager

Bladder stones can build up to the point they partially or fully block the urethra and cause symptoms from painful urination to urinary tract infections, all the way up to the inability to urinate, which could then cause bladder rupture could kill the dog. This is more of an issue with HUA (high uric acid) Dalmatians than LUA Dalmatians (low uric acid).

A reputable breeder should be able to tell you which type of Dalmatian he’s offering, and it’s a red flag if not.

The Dalmatian I currently have is HUA, and he has had stones that have caused him to bleed when urinating. Despite diligently checking ingredient labels on the packages of every dog food and every dog treat he gets, we weren’t thorough enough in explaining his need to only be given what we brought when we dropped him at a kennel for a week while we went on vacation.

Luckily, we didn’t have to have them surgically removed. We were extra careful about all his food and making sure he had plenty of water, and he was able to pass them all naturally.

For Dalmatian owners, chicken is primarily the go-to protein to keep purines low. Many also use lamb, white fish, or turkey. Beef, salmon, and all game meats should be very limited in HUA Dalmatians and should not be part of their daily diets, as they are higher in purines.

Dalmatian (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Dalmatian (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Yellow-Light Purines And Red-Light Purines

Dr. Ramandeep Sidhu, Dalmatian Owner And Founder of VIVAA

• Yellow-Light Purines – The following foods are regarded as having a moderate amount of purines in them. Instead of the Red Light purines described in the next section, most or even all of the protein sources for your Dalmatian should come from this list. The majority of poultry, including chicken and turkey; Oatmeal and oats.

• Red-Light Purines – The following foods should be avoided as much as possible because they have the most significant quantities of purines: Game meats including venison and goose; organ meats such as kidneys, livers, brains, hearts, and sweetbreads; Sardines, mackerel, mussels, and scallops are high-purine seafood.

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