What are Dalmations?
Dalmatians have existed for hundreds of years and have played a variety of roles in human society. In the past, they were primarily bred as coach dogs, but in more recent times they have become exceptionally well known and cherished due to their appearance in the hit Disney children’s movie 101 Dalmatians.
Dalmatians are easy to spot due to their distinctive white coat with a large number of black spots. However, many people do not realize that newborn puppy Dalmatians have no spots at all which causes many people to mistake them for other breeds.
A Dalmatians spots develop during the first few weeks of their life which means it isn’t long before they are recognizeable. In addition to their distinctive spots, Dalmatians are a very active and energetic dog breed and can trace this energy from the fact they used to run alongside carriages for miles on end.
Common Health Problems for Dalmatians
Sadly, many Dalmatians suffer from a hereditary abnormality of the mechanism that is needed to eliminate waste or excess protein from the body. This complex abnormality can result in high levels of uric acid in the urine which if ignored can have serious consequences on the health of a Dalmatian.
This high level of uric acid can cause solid, hard, urate stones to form in the kidneys and bladder which can block the drainage of urine from the body. These blockages can cause severe pain to a dog and increase the risk of them experiencing kidney failure. It is also worth noting that in extreme cases Urolithiasis can cause death.
Through the process of cross-breeding with other breeds, there are now Dalmatians that have been bred that no longer suffer from this grave genetic fault, but it is likely that most purebred Dalmatians have a predisposition to it.
One of the most effective ways to prevent Urinary problems in Dalmatians is to limit the quantity of Purines that a Dalmatian would digest.
Purines are a chemical compound found in almost all food but in differing proportions. Therefore a consistent diet of low to medium Purine foods is the most appropriate diet for a Dalmatian and could undoubtedly help prevent urinary issues such as Urolithiasis. Which foods and ingredients are low in Purines will be discussed in-depth later this article and this information will strongly influence the dog food recipes that we suggest.
Hip & Elbow Dysplasia
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia are one of the most common health problems for Dalmatians and other large and medium breed dogs. Dysplasia is a Greek word which means abnormal. In this context, this roughly translates to mean that a dog suffering from Dysplasia has an abnormal hip or elbow joint. There are several causes of dysplasia including genetics, environmental causes, and inappropriate nutrition. The most important of these factors is without a doubt genetics. The breeding of dogs without hip and joint problems is a proven and effective way to prevent it.
Nutrition is another critical factor in preventing Dysplasia, especially during the high growth period when the dog is a puppy. Appropriate nutrition is especially vital for any dogs with the genetic background for dysplasia. The best way to reduce the risk of Dysplasia by dietary factors is to provide your puppy with a low-calorie diet. This lower-calorie diet will stop rapid or overly fast growth. A low-calorie diet can, therefore, make the disease less severe or prevent it altogether. However, the effect of a low-calorie diet on Dysplasia is disputed by some who say that it has little to no effect.
Dysplasia can most commonly be seen in two distinct groups of the dogs. Puppies between the ages of four and twelve months, as we just discussed, and senior dogs who suffer from chronic joint diseases. Nutrition isn’t the only factor that can cause Dysplasia in Younger dogs. Other factors such as partial dislocation of the hips, small fractures or injuries from excessive exercise and playfighting can occur.
Older dogs, however, get Dysplasia because of arthritis. The consequences of dysplasia in older dogs can be difficulty running or walking, or in extreme cases, difficulty or pain with all movement. Usually, severe cases of this health problem require surgery to rectify. Surgery can usually reduce the severity of Dysplasia and improve the dog’s health and quality of life.
Dalmatians have notoriously sensitive skin, and many Dalmatians suffer from severe allergies. As a consequence, it is essential to be cautious when introducing new materials to a Dalmatians environment such as blankets or products like shampoos.
Fleas, Ticks, and Mites can also be a persistent nuisance and aggravators of sensitive skin, especially for those who live in more rural surroundings. These pests can be combated by medication or by thoroughly grooming your dog, but as many of us are all too aware, it is a constant battle.
Lastly, many dietary allergies can show symptoms in the form of sensitive skin or rashes. It is imperative to keep track of these symptoms and the food your dog has consumed to enable you to identify any possible allergens. For more information on dietary allergies or sensitivities check out our Best Hypoallergenic Dog Food Article.
Deafness in one or both ears is a severe problem for breeders of Dalmatians. Up to 30% of newborn Dalmatians suffer from partial or complete deafness. Breeders are often forced to test young Dalmatian puppies at an early age to judge whether they have hearing problems.
The cause of such a high rate of deafness is genetic and has been proved to be linked to the gene that gives Dalmatians their distinctive black spotted coat. Some believe that as the traditional genes that produce pigment for a dogs coat were suppressed, in order to pure breed Dalmatians with their spotted fur, that the health of many of the delicate inner parts of a dogs ear was weakened or damaged.
As you can imagine, you can not influence whether a Dalmatians is deaf or not by what dog food you feed them. Nevertheless, it is something to be aware of if considering adopting a Dalmatian.
Dalmatians – Nutrition and Diet
As we have discussed above, Dalmatians are prone to a number of severe health problems. Some of these are directly correlated to the Dalmatians diet and so providing your Dalmatian with the most appropriate nutrition possible is core to controlling and preventing these conditions to ensure your Dalmatian lives a long and happy life.
However, there are other essential factors, beyond common health problems, worth considering when planning a Dalmatians diet. Firstly, Dalmatians are classed as a medium-large breed dog and secondly, that Dalmatians are a very active breed.
Larger breed dogs need to be careful with their calorie intake and their consumption of some minerals like calcium and phosphorus when they are puppies in order to prevent health problems such as Dysplasia. A low-calorie diet can be achieved by limiting or carefully tracking calories in your dog’s food. While reducing fat isn’t the only way to achieve a low-calorie diet, it is a viable choice and one that is explored by many dog owners. Dog Food recipes that are specifically aimed at large breed puppies will have the correct balance of minerals.
More active dog breeds need appropriate nutrition to fuel and promote that activity. Appropriate nutrition translates into a satisfactory proportion of protein, of which the majority should be from animal or fish sources. Protein from animals and fish is superior to plant-based proteins as it contains a complete range of amino acids needed for growth, repair, and maintenance whereas plant-based protein is missing some amino acids.
Fat intake is another important consideration for Dalmatians especially intake of the Omega Fatty Acids, particularly the Omega 3 Fatty Acids. These are vital in maintaining the Dalmatians distinctive coat and fur. In addition, they can provide other health benefits such as improved cognitive function and long-term cardiovascular benefits. In addition, the remaining at in their diet will be the major driving force behind their activity and energy levels.
As mentioned earlier in the article, Dalmatians need to consume dog food ingredients low in Purines to help prevent Urinary issues. To better understand which ingredients are low in Purines it might be better first to understand which ingredients are high in Purines.
High Purine Ingredients
- Organ Meat – Liver, Kidneys or Heart
- Seafood – Mackerel & Sardines
- Vegetables – Peas, Lentils & Spinach
- Game Meats – Venison, Pheasant or Rabbit
Some of the high purine ingredients listed above are quite uncommon and therefore easily avoidable such as Sardines and Venison. However, others such as Peas and Organ meat may be significantly more difficult to avoid as these are commonplace in many dog food formulas especially those that are considered premium or high-quality.
The vast majority of high-quality dog food recipes contain Peas and other legumes, like Chickpeas and Lentils, and the variety of recipes that is completely Pea, or Legume free is very slim. However, we have done significant research into this subject and highly recommend checking out our Best Dog Food Without Peas article for a detailed breakdown of the best approach to avoid Peas and the best recipes available. This article could be suitable for dogs who are avoiding Peas as a way to reduce Purine intake or those dogs who have Pea or Legume allergies.
Low & Medium Purine Ingredients
- Starches – Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes
- Pumpkin & Squash
- Poultry – Chicken & Turkey
- Red Meat – Beef, Pork & Lamb
Thankfully the list of Low and Medium Purine ingredients does give us some hope in our search for low-purine dog food. In particular the inclusion of Potatoes and Grains. While generally speaking we would not strongly recommend dog food formulas with high quantities of Grains or Potatoes; these may be a necessary evil for a Dalmatian with predisposed urinary issues who can not risk consuming large quantities of legumes.
The other notable inclusion in this list is that most of the typical meat ingredients, e.g., Chicken, Turkey, and Beef, are all medium level Purine ingredients. This fact means that generally speaking the meat ingredient present in the dog food formula isn’t too important as long as it is not a particular breed of fish or game meat that are in the minority of ingredients that are high purine.
Best Dog Food For An Adult Dalmatian
Nature’s Variety Instinct is one of the powerhouses of the premium dog food market and features regularly in our articles. While Instinct may be better known for their raw and semi-raw products, their Ultimate Protein range is strongly worth considering. It is grain free and designed to provide extraordinarily high proportions of protein without sacrificing on ingredient quality.
What makes the Ultimate Protein range suitable for Dalmatians is that is completely Pea and Legume free. This lack of legumes makes it purine content very low which is ideal for any dalmatians who suffer from Urolithiasis. In addition, the nutrient profile provided by the formula is ideally suited to the lifestyle of an active Dalmatian who demands high levels of protein and fat.
While Ultimate Protein’s primary ingredients are meat based it also contains Tapioca, which is a root vegetable and can most easily be compared to Potatoes. In this formula, Tapioca is being used as a thickening agent in order to form kibble. The Tapioca also provides a small and very satisfactory proportion of carbohydrates. Tapioca is commonly used in dog food for dogs with allergies as most dogs have not encountered it. Find out more about Tapioca in our article Tapioca In Dog Food, and find out more about Hypoallergenic Dog Food in our Best Hypoallergenic Dog Food Guide.
For those of you have read some of our other best of articles, you’ll know that Merrick’s Grain-Free range is one of our favorites. The majority of the formulas in this range provide excellent nutrition from a range of high-quality ingredients.
Ingredients used within this range include common meat and fish ingredients such as Chicken or Beef but it also includes less common meats such as Rabbit or Venison.
Sadly due to the higher level of Purines, Dalmatians would be less interested in the less common meats such as Venison or Rabbit which is unfortunate as we highlighted a number of fantastic quality Rabbit and Venison formulas in our articles Best Dog food With Rabbit & Best Dog Food With Venison.
Their Chicken formula, however, is very suitable for Dalmatians and includes a mix of Chicken and Turkey ingredients. These poultry ingredients are combined with Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes and Peas. While it is true that we are attempting to avoid Peas, the total quantity of Peas in this formula is not significant and should not be of considerable concern to a Dalmatian owner.
The proportions of Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes, however, are far higher and make up the bulk of the satisfactory carbohydrate proportion. Sweet Potatoes, in particular, are considered the best starch ingredient to be in dog food and can provide a number of micronutrients that traditional white potatoes can not.
Nature’s Logic is a lesser known brand in comparison to others featured in this article, but their recipes fill an essential niche in the premium dog food market. As mentioned earlier, while we do not generally suggest dog food recipes with grains, there is a place for them with certain breeds and dogs with dietary sensitivities or allergies.
Grains are very low in purines, while the more common vegetable ingredients of high-quality dog foods such as Peas are high in purines. Therefore a recipe that uses grains could be seriously advantageous to a Dalmatian with a strong need for a low-purine diet.
Nature’s Logic’s dry dog food recipes make use of the grain Millet. While not quite as satisfactory as Brown Rice or Oatmeal, Millet is still considered one of the better grains and a big step up from low-quality grains like Corn or Wheat.
Their Pork formula is one of our favourites has a very satisfactory proportion of Protein which would be ideally suitable for an active Dalmatian. Overall the formula contains very few ingredients other than Pork and Millet. It does include a small portion of Pork Liver. While Pork Liver is high in Purines, the quantity of the ingredient present is unlikely to be significant and the formula should still a low level of purines overall.
Earthborn Holistic produces many different types of dog food including limited ingredient dog food, wet dog food, and grain free dog food. While we have given some of their recipes mixed reviews due to unsatisfactory nutrition and questionable ingredients, their Primitive Natural formula is by far their best due to its fantastic nutritional profile.
The formula contains a considerable proportion of meat and fish ingredients which provide high levels of protein and fat. Some of these ingredients include Chicken, Turkey, and Whitefish. All of these meat and fish ingredients are contain moderate levels of Purines and are suitable for Dalmatians attempting low Purine diets.
Potatoes are the other core ingredient present, and they provide a small proportion of carbohydrates and dietary fiber. The formula is entirely free of any grains, gluten or by-products and has a surprisingly high level of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids for a formula that doesn’t focus heavily on fish. This could mean that the Whitefish present is particular rich in these fatty acids.
Best Dog Food For A Dalmatian Puppy
Wellness is a very well known dog food brand, and their Core range is one of their most popular dog food ranges. Wellness is one of the few brands to offer dog and puppy food formulas with a significant portion of Potatoes instead of focusing on Legumes or Grains. This lack of legumes in Wellness formulas can be a significant advantage to Dalmatians looking to consume a low-purine diet.
A Dalmatian puppy will need a plentiful supply of Protein and Fat to fuel their growth and activity, and Wellness Core Puppy supplies plenty of both. The core of the formula is a large quantity of Chicken and Turkey ingredients which are very suitable and digestible for a young Dalmatian.
As mentioned earlier the formula makes use of Potatoes as their primary carbohydrate source. While Potatoes do not offer much beyond their complex carbohydrates, they are low in Purines which is ideal for a Dalmatian. There is a small portion of Peas present, but due to its size, the portion is not significant and is unlikely to provide a large quantity of purines.
Farmina’s N&D is a premium dog food range that provides excellent nutrition and uses higher-quality ingredients, fit for human consumption. For many dog owners, this formula may not be affordable, but for those willing to splash out, their Dalmatians health may reap the benefits.
Farmina produces two puppy formulas in this range, one designed for mini and medium breed puppies and another designed for large breed puppies. While Dalmatians aren’t officially classed as a large breed of dog, they may benefit from a formula designed for larger breeds. Alternatively, you may disagree and you should, therefore, check out their Mini and Medium Breed Formula.
The primary focus of the puppy formulas are on two core meat and fish ingredients: Chicken and Herring. Both of these ingredients are ideal for a puppies diet and provide a plentiful supply of protein and fat which as we’ve discussed is crucial. The Herring, in particular, supplies a very satisfactory level of the Omega Fatty Acids which can help improve the health of your puppies skin and coat along with improved cognitive function.
In addition to Chicken and Herring, the formulas include Potatoes, which we have discussed as a low-purine ingredient, and a select number of fruit and vegetable ingredients. Some examples of other fruits and vegetables present in small quantities are Pomegranate, Apples, Carrots, and Spinach. Many of these ingredients are uncommon additions to dog food and can provide unique vitamins and minerals.