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.
All foodstuffs contain compounds known as purines. Dalmatians carry a genetic mutation which prevents them from processing purines completely, and this results in them producing higher levels of uric acid in their urine (a condition known medically as ‘hyperuricosuria’). Uric acid is not very soluble, and there is a risk that it can deposit in the bladder as urate salts, and sometimes in the kidney. Initially, the deposits resemble fine sand, but they can subsequently progress to coarser grit and eventually to a urate stone. The presence of urate crystals, whether large or small, can also 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 towards urinary stones, believed to reflect the anatomical differences in their urinary tracts. Although Dalmatians excrete higher concentrations of uric acid, only a relatively minor proportion actually develop stone problems.
Your Dalmatian should always have fresh clean water and the opportunity to relieve himself regularly.