Urinary Stone Disease in Dalmatians

Urate stones can grow so large that they block the urinary pathway, which is a serious condition.   Some stone-forming Dalmatians live their lives happily without ever showing any symptoms of urinary stone disease. Others never develop active urinary stone disease at all. 

Why Do Some Dalmatians Come Down With Urinary Stone Disease?

Dalmatians are unable to metabolize purines found in certain foods.  Purines are colorless, organic compounds.  Every Dalmatian has this metabolism problem, but not all Dalmatians will develop stones.  For those Dalmatians that do develop urate stones, the leading cause is the type of protein they eat.  Some dog foods are full of  “purine-yielding” ingredients.  See the chart on how to minimize purine-yielding foods in the Pamphlet Summarizing Essential Information on Stone Forming in Dalmatians.

The best way to keep your Dalmatian from acquiring urinary stone disease is through his diet and type of water intake.   Look for a dog food with a vegetable and rice base or a turkey and barley base.  These are low in purine-yielding ingredients.  Most vegetables and fruit are also low purine-yielders.  Dog foods with a beef base and meat by-products contain high purine-yielding ingredients. They should be avoided.

Feeding purine-containing table scraps to Dalmatians is perhaps one of the worst disservices to their normal good health!

If your Dalmatian is diagnosed as a stone-former, give him only distilled water to drink and make sure he can drink as much as he wants.  His water supply should not be restricted  in any way. Distilled water is available in  supermarkets where bottled water is sold and is not expensive.  Make sure the label reads “distilled water.”   Drinking, filtered, and purified water are not the same as distilled water.  Filters on your water faucets will not purify water to the same level as distilled water.

If your Dalmatian has already formed urate stones, they can be successfully dissolved without surgery. The anti-urate drug, allopurinol, is effective and inexpensive in controlling urinary stone disease.  For some few tough cases, surgery may be necessary.

How is a Stone-Forming Dalmatian Detected?

A standard urinalysis shows if unusual crystals are forming in the urine.  This test is important because it identifies crystals before they have a chance to become a problem.  Left undetected, the crystals can grow in size and cause a serious obstruction in the urinary pathway.  Urinary pH showing consistent abnormality is another sign. Read below to find out how you can monitor pH readings through dipsticking.

Watch your dog’s urine output. Urine should come out in a steady stream and be light in color. If your dog is straining to urinate and can only urinate in small starts and stops, this is a warning sign.  Another warning sign is dark urine.  If you see either one of these warning signs, contact your vet.   Urinary stone disease in male dogs is easy to spot because of these easy to see signs.  Urinary stone disease in females is less obvious. Females with stones may have symptoms similar to urinary infections. These symptoms include more frequent urinating, “accidents,” and  frequent licking of their genital area.

Any obstructed dog, even those who quickly pass stones, should be examined by your vet.  A preventative program of anti-stone medication and diet should be started immediately.

General Preventative Guidelines for Stone-Forming Dalmatians

Have a routine, inexpensive urinalysis done from time to time.

Crystal and stone formation accelerates in urine that sits in the bladder.  Let your dog urinate as frequently as possible (at least every 4 – 5 hours). This will flush the bladder of crystals before they have a chance to develop.

Dipsticking to Monitor Stone-Forming Dalmatians and Their Diets

If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you may want to monitor your dog’s pH readings yourself.  This monitoring is called “dipsticking.” Modern dipsticks are like litmus paper you used in high school chemistry.  Dipsticks are also known as “chemstrips.” Your vet will be able to order them for you, or you may find them at your local drug store.   They are simple to use and show exact degrees of urinary pH. 

A quick dip into a dog’s urine will tell you  whether your dog’s pH is abnormally acidic or abnormally alkaline.  Monitor the results, and keep a diary of the pH readings.  The diary will tell you if and when when your dog starts to produce abnormal urine.   In many instances you can find the problem long before crystals have a chance to reach an obstruction size.

The acceptable urinary pH range is between pH 6.5 – pH 7.0.

  • If the pH level falls below 7.0 (into the acidic area of 6.5 or less) and stays there for several readings, consider reevaluating your Dal’s diet and consult with your veterinarian.
  • If the pH goes above 7.0 (into the alkaline area of 7.5 or higher) and stays there for several readings, contact your vet to rule out a possible urinary infection. 

Dipsticking is best done first thing in the morning before feeding. “First-catch” urine is the best reading because your dog’s urine has sat overnight in his bladder.


Publication of Urinary Stone Disease in Dalmatians was made possible by the generous support of the Dalmatian Club of America Foundation.  You can visit the Dalmatian Club of America and read its entire article on Urinary Stone Disease in Dalmatians.

You may visit the Dalmatian Club of America to read the entire article on Urinary Stone Disease in Dalmatians.





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