Dalmatians are one of a number of breeds of dog which can suffer from congenital deafness in one or both ears. As the name suggests, the condition is present at or shortly after birth, and is generally understood to be linked to a white coat.
Fortunately, there is a clinical test – known as a BAER test – which has been available for a number of years now and which can determine the hearing status of a puppy (or adult) in each ear individually. It is the only definitive and reliable test, and should not be confused with any other test. It is available at a number of recognised testing centres, distributed throughout the country.
Urinary stones can take many forms, but the type most relevant to Dalmatian health & welfare is uric acid (or ‘urate’) stones. All Dalmatians carry a genetic mutation which prevents them from processing uric acid, a bi-product from all kinds of foods. Instead it is excreted in urine. Although Dalmatians excrete higher concentrations of uric acid, only a minor proportion develop stone problems. Uric acid is not very soluble, and there is a risk that it can deposit in the bladder, and sometimes the kidney. Initially, the deposits resemble fine sand, but can subsequently progress to coarser grit and eventually to a stone. The presence of uric acid crystals, whether large or small, can cause irritation to the bladder and urinary tract, giving rise to infection. Urinary stones which pass into the urinary tract can cause blockage, which is very serious and requires immediate veterinary attention. Dogs appear to be at higher risk than bitches to urinary stones, believed to reflect the anatomical differences in their urinary tracts.