The Dalmatian Club of America
Urinary Stone-Forming in Dalmatians and Other Dogs
Dalmatians, Bulldogs and many other breeds can form urinary
stones. Innumerable stone-forming dogs, Dalmatians included, live out their
lives happily and uneventfully without any sign that they are stone- formers
according to U.S. veterinary centers specializing in urinary stone problems.
Other Dalmatians, also never showing any symptoms, may not be stone-formers
Most dogs who exhibit symptoms of stone-forming can be
easily and successfully treated. Veterinary knowledge of canine urinary
stones and their non-surgical treatment has expanded rapidly within recent
years. Today, there are even two national veterinary centers specializing
in urinary stones: the Minnesota Urolith Center at the School of Veterinary
Medicine of the University of Minnesota, and the Urinary Stone Analysis
Laboratory at the School of Veterinary Medicine of the University of California
at Davis (addresses cited at end of article).
The best preventatives for stone-forming in Dalmatians
are those of diet and probably of water intake. Paralleling the splendid
advances in veterinary knowledge, commercial availability of many special
dogfoods for this problem has also evolved. Most of these are readily available
at local pet stores, others by prescription. After being weaned from the
mandatory puppy diet, maturing and adult Dalmatians (stone-formers or not)
can be fed now from a choice of non-beef, non- meat dogfoods (such as vegetable-and-rice
or turkey-and-barley) and go their entire lives without the onset of urinary
stones. In others, stones already formed can be non-surgically and successfully
dissolved with certain medications and prescription anti-stone-forming
dogfood from the veterinarian. For the few for whom bladder surgery is
unavoidable, modern anesthetics such as "Isofluorane" for
dogs provide no more threatening nor complex a procedure than appendix
removals in humans.
Why Do Some Dalmatians Form Urinary Stones?
Dalmatians, humans and apes are unique for the way in
which they metabolize "purine-yielding foods." Not every human will form
urinary stones and neither will every Dalmatian.
The amount of dietary protein may contribute to
the problem but, more importantly, the type of protein can be more
damaging. For many Dalmatians, it is those diets containing high amounts
of purine- yielding foods to be avoided. Certain foods such as liver and
other organ meats are very high as purine-yielders, other foods like eggs
and most vegetables and fruit are acceptably low as purine-yielders.
When some humans ingest foods high in purines, they develop
gout or kidney stones. When some Dalmatians ingest those foods, they develop
urinary stones and in particular those known as "purine" or "urate" stones.
Dogfoods containing high amounts of meat, beef and meat- or beef-"by-products"
should be carefully evaluated for Dalmatians as well as other formulations
creating an abnormally high acidic urine.
Of all stone-forming Dalmatians, the vast majority form
urate stones but a few may form other types. Treatment can be the exact
opposite for each type of stone so your veterinarian will want to first
obtain an accurate assay in order to prescribe the most effective treatment.
FEEDING MOST TYPES OF HUMAN TABLE SCRAPS TO DOGS IS
PERHAPS ONE OF THE WORST DISSERVICES TO THEIR NORMAL GOOD HEALTH... ESPECIALLY
Urate stones are composed of one or several of three types
of purines: 1) ammonium acid urate, 2) uric acid or 3) sodium urate. Over
90 percent of stone-forming Dalmatians produce ammonium acid urate,
a purine stone very responsive to simple non-surgical treatment with a
conscientious program of anti-urate medication and anti-urate diet.
Urinary stones in dogs are found in the upper system (such
as in the kidneys), or in the lower system (such as in the bladder). Data
collected over 10 years of stone-forming Dalmatians showed 97 percent of
their stones were found in the bladders where treatment and maintenance
is much more simple and successful than for those in the kidneys and upper
The most common type of stone in all breeds of dogs is
"struvite," so identified with urinary infections they are called "infection
stones." THE TREATMENT OF INFECTION STONES VS. URATE STONES IS TOTALLY
DIFFERENT and underscores the importance for first, accurate assay
of the type of urinary stone being formed by the Dalmatian before treatment
How is a Stone-Former Detected?
A standard urinalysis will immediately show if abnormal
crystals are forming in the urine long before the crystals "grow up" to
become stones which then may reach a size large enough to create the dreaded
If no diagnostic tests have ever been done to reveal its
presence, stone-forming in male dogs will produce emergency symptoms more
obviously than in females perhaps because of the marked difference in their
normal urinary anatomy. As a large enough stone travels down the urinary
pathway, it can lodge within the male dog's penis at a damlike narrowing
of a cartilage, the "os penis." The same size stone will usually pass uneventfully
through the female dog's urinary anatomy.
When normal urine flow is obstructed by a stone, the male
dog will visibly strain to urinate. No urine will pass or only a few drops.
The dog will attempt to urinate repetitively with little or no result.
Urinary obstruction in male dogs is thus very visible to the observer familiar
with these signs and watching for them daily.
Females with stones will demonstrate symptoms similar
to those of urinary infections, namely more frequent urinating, "accidents"
by housebroken bitches and very frequent licking of their genital area.
(Because these are similar symptoms to simple urinary infections, do not
become concerned unless results of a urinalysis confirm abnormal crystals
are being formed.) Some stone-forming dogs will succeed after several attempts
with a sudden outpouring of urine. In such an instance, it is probable
that the stone creating the obstruction was "passed," restoring the normal
flow of urine. Any obstructed dog, even those who quickly pass stones naturally,
should be seen by their veterinarian for workup and to embark on a preventative
program of anti-stone medication with the proper anti-stone diet.
Specialist Veterinarians for
Consultation on Stone-Forming
Minnesota Urolith Center
Carl A. Osborne, DVM, PhD, Chief
Urinary Stone Analysis Laboratory
Dept. of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
U. of Minnesota Veterinary School
C339 University Hospitals
1352 Boyd Avenue
St. Paul MN 55108
Telephone: (612) 625-4221
Fax: (612) 624-0751
Dr. Osborne is difficult to reach. Contact his chief resident:
Telephone (612) 625-1719
FAX (612) 624-0751
Urology Laboratory for assay results:
Telephone: (612) 625-4221
Jodi Westropp, DVM, PhD - Laboratory Director
University of Tennessee
Dr. Joseph Bartges, DVM, Ph.D.
Study Group on Urinary Stones
Dept. of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
U. Tennessee Veterinary College
P.O. Box 1071
Knoxville TN 37901-1071
Phone: (423) 974-8387
Fax: (423) 974-5554
Dalmatian Club of America
contact: Tracie Tepke, Director
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