Potential Health Problems
Like most dog breeds, Dalmatians can have a few potential health problems.
It doesn't mean they will have issues but its best to be forearmed with some knowledge so that you can recognise the signs and get veterinary help.
Some Dalmatians have difficulty processing uric acid which is a bi product from the food they eat. Uric acid is not very soluble and there is a risk of deposits in the bladder or kidneys. This will probably begin as fine sand , developing if untreated to coarse grit or even stones. There is a high risk of them developing stones in their bladder or kidneys if they are not fed a low purine diet, which is less likely to produce uric acid and therefore create problems in the urinary tract.
REDUCING THE RISK
1 - Feed low purine diet (see link below to purine table)
2 - Allow frequent opportunity to urinate to make sure sediment is flushed out regularly
3 - Ensure there is a constant source of clean water and encourage drinking
4 - Float food to encourage drinking more, not need to soak just add water beofre they eat it
The ideal age for male Dalmatians to be castrated is 2 years of age so that the urethra can dilate fully and they have less chance of blocking.
SIGNS OF URINARY STONES
A dog showing signs of discomfort when trying to urinate or arching its back may be suffering from urinary stones and vet treatment should be sought.
They may also have blood in their urine.
If the dog cannot pass urine at all then this is an emergency and vet treatment should be sought IMMEDIATELY
1 - Possibly a prescription diet to dissolve the stones
2 - Prescription drugs to dissolve the stones
3 - Prescription drugs and diet together
4 - Surgery in extreme cases may be needed if there is a blockage and if the dog repeatedly blocks, he may need a urethrostomy performing.
For those that are raw fed or for general information there is a group for advice and information on facebook
Here at DAS Dalmatians, we float their food with cold water immediately before they are fed ……… making sure they have an good supply of water helps flush the system out.
They are all fed Dr John Silver, chicken and veg.
We have had dogs arrive passing small stones, even the ones with urethrostomies and within a small amount of time, they stop producing them at all.
All the dogs here that are stone formers apart from one were castrated below the age of 1. Educating vets that Dalmatians are not like other breeds and need to be castrated when older, is an uphill battle.
None of them are taking allopurinol either.
If you vet does prescribe allopurinol which is a human drug used to treat gout, the cheapest place to get it from is a pharmacy called Weldricks found on the internet ….. you will need a written prescription from your vet … always ask for a 6 month repeat or cascade to save you money.
GASTRIC DILATATION VOLVULUS
GDV is a life-threatening condition that often develops very quickly and affects barrel chested dogs …. Dalmatians are classed as barrel chested and we think it is very important that you read and remember the information here.
Left untreated, a GDV will rapidly lead to death. GDV is when the stomach twists. Once the stomach has twisted, gas continues to accumulate, which causes severe bloating and is very painful. The stomach can’t twist back and the only cure is an operation to correct it. GDV causes serious illness very quickly. Around 1 in 3 dogs that develop a GDV die, even with treatment ..... it can kill within 1 hour or less.
Sudden bloating (hard, swollen belly)
Restlessness and pacing
Vomiting without bringing anything up (retching)
Weakness and collapse
Excessive drooling and frothing at the mouth
Collapse and coma
Shock and death.
A GDV is a life-threatening emergency that needs IMMEDIATE TREATMENT BY YOUR VET
If your vet suspects your dog has a GDV, they will admit them into the hospital to stabilise and treat them as quickly as possible.
Treatment will involve X-rays and/or scans to confirm the GDV.
Emergency measures to release the gas from your dog’s stomach and give fluids.
Dogs with GDV go into shock and develop dangerously low blood pressure - a fluid drip will keep their blood pressure up.
A GDV is an extremely painful condition, pain relief will be given to make your dog more comfortable.
Your vet will perform surgery to untwist your dog’s stomach. They will also check that the twist hasn’t caused any severe damage to the stomach or spleen.
After untwisting the stomach, your vet may decide to attach it to the body wall to reduce the chance of it happening again by performing a gastropexy. If the spleen has been badly damaged, it may need removal. Please note that a pexy can come undone.
Many complications can develop after surgery, so your dog will need to stay in hospital for close monitoring. They are likely to need several days of intensive nursing, a drip, medication and tests. Your vet will only send your dog home once they are satisfied they are out of danger.
Even when your dog is home, you will need to monitor them carefully for symptoms such as not eating, low energy, vomiting or another bout of bloating which can happen again– always contact your vet if you’re worried, never wait to see what happens.
Food should be little and often afterward.
No one really knows why GDV's develop, but there are factors that make one more likely and things you can do to reduce the chance of one developing.
Excitable/nervous dogs….. Know your dog, excitable and nervous dogs tend to be more prone to developing a GDV. If your dog is either of these, act fast if you notice bloating.
Exercise around meal times….. Vigorous exercise or travelling in a car before or after a meal can increase the risk of a GDV. Avoid exercising, or travelling around meal times for approximately 1 hour.
Fast eating….. Eating very quickly and gulping air can increase the chance of a GDV. If your dog gulps his/her food, try to slow them down by using a slow feeding bowl or add a small amount of water. Feed several small meals through the day rather than one big one ….. 3 meals per day if you can.
Feeding….. This is a topic that will always be debated hotly as using a raised feeder or not using a raised feeder has no proof either way of being better.
Drinking a lot in one go…… Drinking a lot of water in one go can increase the chance of a GDV, try to encourage your dog to drink little and often.
After having first hand experience with bloat and GDV………..Blackwell one of our Danes bloated 3 times and knowing him and recognising the symptoms, getting him to the vets straight away saved his life.
We also lost Braderleeeee to GDV at age 13.
Haribo also had a GDV ….. I found him sat in the field at lunch time being very quiet, noticed the left hand side of his tummy was slightly swollen, rang the vets and got him there asap.
What I have found is that no 2 episodes are the same, symptoms can vary and despite following all the rules, it can still happen.
The most important thing is to know your dog, if you suspect it may be bloat, DO NOT HESITATE TO RING YOUR VET, even out of hours ………… we have lost a dog to GDV within one hour ….. THIS CONDITION KILLS !!
Paroxysmal Dyskinesias (PDs) are episodic movement disorders in which abnormal movements are present only during attacks.
Although increasingly being recognised they are often poorly characterised in veterinary literature and are commonly mistaken for an epileptic seizure, both by owners and by vets.
The term ‘paroxysmal’ indicates that the signs occur suddenly against a background of normality.
The term ‘dyskinesia’ broadly refers to a movement of the body that is involuntary, which means that your dog has no control over the movement and remains fully aware of its surroundings.
Between attacks, dogs are neurologically normal and there is no loss of consciousness during the attacks, though some dogs find the episodes disconcerting and do not respond normally.
The attacks can last anything from a few minutes to a couple of hours and can sometime occur in clusters.
One of our former DAS sanctuary dogs, Possum, has been diagnosed with this after being wrongly diagnosed with epilepsy.... we could never understand how it did not kill him and he was fully responsive.
He had been treated with anti-epileptic drugs with the dose being increased but it did not stop his 'episodes' which can last up to 2 hours.
It was a new vet that thought it wasn't epilepsy when he saw a video of him during an attack..... If you think your dog may have this and not epilepsy, then please video the episodes and show your vet.
He consulted with a Neurologist who confirmed the diagnosis.
In DAS circles the disorder is called Possum Disorder, PD!
Below is a link for further information
Seizures are the result of muscle responses to an abnormal nerve-signal burst from the brain.
They are a symptom of an underlying neurological dysfunction.
Toxic substances, metabolic or electrolyte abnormalities and/or imbalances cause an uncoordinated firing of neurons in the cerebrum of the brain, creating seizures from mild "petit mal " to severe "grand mal".
There are four basic stages to a seizure:
1 - The Prodome: may precede the seizure by hours or days. It is characterized by changes in mood or behavior.
2 - The Aura: signals the start of a seizure. Nervousness, whining, trembling, salivation, affection, wandering, restlessness, hiding and apprehension are all signals.
3 - The Ictus, the actual seizure:. A period of intense physical activity usually lasting 45 seconds to 3 minutes. The dog may lose consciousness and fall to the ground. There may be teeth gnashing, frantic thrashing of limbs, excessive drooling, vocalizing, paddling of feet, uncontrollable urination and defecation.
4 - The Post Ictus/Ictal: after the seizure, the dog may pace endlessly, sometimes for several hours and may appear blind and deaf and eat or drink excessively. This can be as short as a few minutes or as long as several days.
The cause is anything that disrupts normal brain circuitry:
Idiopathic Epilepsy: meaning no known cause and possibly inherited. This is also referred to as Primary Epilepsy.
Secondary Epilepsy are seizures caused by an underlying factor:
Congenital hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
Hypothyroidism (low thyroid)
Infections causing brain damage (such as canine distemper, Cryptococcosis,)
Ingestion of toxins (such as lead paint chips, insecticides)
Brain tumors, Portosystemic shunts. .... Improperly routed intestinal blood vessels bypass the liver (one of the body's important waste-product detoxifiers)
The following are standard tests used to rule out underlying causes of seizures.
Glucose tolerance test, to check for hypoglycemia.
Thyroid panel, 6 tests, to check for low thyroid function/hypothyroidism.
EEG, CT or MRI to see if there are findings suggestive of a tumor.
Cerebrospinal fluid analysis, to look for encephalitis, distemper and other infection.
Blood test to check for lead poisoning.
Types of Seizures:
Mild: (Petit Mal) this can be a simple as momentarily staring into space, or upward eye movement.
Moderate: (Grand Mal) the dog falls down, loses consciousness and extends its limbs rigidly. Paddling of limbs, salivation followed by possible loss of control of bladder and bowels and vocalization (blood curdling scream) may follow. This may occur for 1-3 minutes and is most often followed by a period of restlessness, pacing, bumping into objects and loss of balance. (Post Ictal period) The dog is conscious but may appear deaf, blind and disoriented. Great care must be taken to prevent the dog from injuring itself at this time.
A spoonful of Natural Vanilla Ice Cream or a handful of kibble is also useful in cutting post-ictal time.
It is said that a 1-3 minute seizure is equivalent to a human running the London Marathon !!
Status Epilepticus: Status can occur as one continuous seizure lasting 10 minutes or more, or a series of multiple seizures in a short time with no period of normal consciousness, this may be life threatening.
Cluster Seizures: Multiple seizures within a 24-hour period time, may also be life threatening. It is often difficult to distinguish between the two types and veterinarian assistance is imperative.
Rectal Valium/Diazepam is extremely useful in breaking cluster seizures.
Most dogs can be controlled by the use of Phenobarbital and/or Phenobarbital and Potassium Bromide.
Potassium Bromide is used alone if the dog's liver has become damaged by Phenobarbital.
IMPORTANT: Dogs on Phenobarbital need to have their liver enzymes tested every few months by your vet.
Epilepsy drugs are available by prescription from your vet.
Diazepam given rectally is a good choice to use at home and halt a cluster seizure or interrupt status epilepticus.
Three of our DAS sanctuary dogs, Daisy, MOuse and Cooper have epilepsy and it really isn't as scarey as it sounds.
Daisy came to us not taking any medication and having regular cluster seizures.
This is now controlled by her taking medication and being monitored by our vets who also do blood tests to see what her levels are.
MOuse had his first seizure on his 6th birthday and it is now controlled by medication.
The really important thing is that you recognise the signs and when a seizure happens, you need to create a noise free, dark environment as light and noise can stimulate the dog ....... as mentioned above, a spoon of ice cream or hand full of food can help to bring them round ;)