Dalmatian Health Issues

Dalmatians, as with other breeds, are susceptible to health problems, some of a genetic nature, others viral. The following is a listing of some of the more common health problems that can be found in the Dalmatian breed:


Allergies — Skin and Coat Disorders in Dalmatians

The Dalmatian has been shown to be one of the most commonly represented allergic purebreds. The allergens may be inhaled as in the case of airborne pollens, mold, etc.; ingested as with food allergies; injected with flea saliva; or contacted with local irritants coming into contact with the skin.

Changes in the Dalmatian's coat and/or skin irritations may be caused by other factors however, such as stress or humidity and heat. See The Dalmatian Club of America — Skin and Coat Disorders in Dalmatians for additional information.

Epilepsy

Canine Epilepsy is a chronic condition characterized by recurrent seizures. Seizures are the result of muscle responses to an abnormal nerve-signal burst from the brain. The cause can be anything that disrupts normal brain circuitry:

Idiopathic Epilepsy, meaning "no known cause", also referred to as Primary Epilepsy, is possibly inherited. Secondary Epilepsy can be caused by:

  • Low blood sugar,
  • low thyroid function,
  • infections causing brain damage,
  • ingestion of toxins,
  • brain tumors, and
  • vaccinations.

Most dogs with Idiopathic Epilepsy suffer their first seizure between the ages of one and five years. A genetic basis for Idiopathic Epilepsy is strongly suspected in several breeds.

For complete details on Canine Epilepsy, visit The Epi Guardian Angels — An extensive resource for information, support, treatments and solutions for veterinarians and owners of dogs with Canine Epilepsy.

Also see Dalmatian Club of America — Information on Siezures & Epilepsy.

Hearing — Deafness in Dalmatians

Deafness occurs in many breeds; however, the highest incidence is in the Dalmatian. Studies from the US and the UK indicate that 18 to 30% of Dalmatians are unilaterally deaf, and 5 to 10% are bilaterally deaf. The condition also seems to be slightly higher in Females.

The elimination of deafness is one of the most important concerns to responsible Dalmatian breeders. It is estimated that only 6% of the Dalmatian population is entirely free of the deafness gene.

The mode of inheritance in Dalmatians is believed to be autosomal recessive involving more than one gene. Statistically, deaf parents are more likely to produce deaf pups; however, dogs with normal hearing in both ears can produce bilaterally deaf puppies and vice versa. In addition, dogs with deafness in one ear can have pups that are deaf in both ears or neither.

Additional Information:

Hip Dysplasia

Canine Hip Dysplasia afflicts millions of dogs each year and can result in debilitating orthopaedic disease of the hip. It is caused when the femoral head does not fit properly in the hip socket, causing instability of the joint. Over time, this malformation can cause degenerative joint disease which causes increased pain and immobility.

Through selective breeding strategies, veterinarians and breeders are attempting to eliminate Canine Hip Dysplasia. All breeding dogs should be x-rayed and certified clear by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and/or by the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP).

For additional information, see Hip Dysplasia in the Health & Nutrition section of Canada's Guide to Dogs.

Hypothyroidism

Canine Hypothyroidism is the most commonly diagnosed hormonal disease found in dogs. The term hypothyroidism simply means the underproduction of thyroxin, the hormone produced by the thyroid gland.

The thyroid gland is located on the trachea (wind pipe) of the dog, just below the voice box. It exerts its influence on the dog's body by producing and releasing thyroxin into the blood stream. This hormone, and thus, the thyroid gland itself, is very important in controlling growth and development and maintaining normal protein, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism of the dog.

Hypothyroidism usually occurs between the ages of two to six years. The most common sign is an increase in body weight. Lethargy and some form of skin disease (i.e., thin coat, loss of hair, dandruff, oily skin, increased scratching) are also common signs of Hypothyroidism.

The treatment is through thyroid hormone supplementation given orally once or twice a day. Usually thyroid supplementation improves the clinical signs associated with the disease within four to six weeks. All the clinical signs of hypothyroidism are reversible, once treatment is started.

Additional Information:

Urolithiasis

This is a condition where crystals in the urine combine to form stones, also called Calculi or Uroliths. These can be found anywhere in the urinary tract, but most often in the bladder or urethra, where they cause irritation and secondary infection.

While any breed can develop Uroliths, a genetic predisposition to producing crystals makes the development of stones more likely. Several different types have been identified, with struvite stones being the most common, except in the Dalmatian.

Dalmatians have a defect in the pathway that normally leads to the breakdown of urates, resulting in increased urate excretion in the urine (4 to 8 times that of other breeds), and this predisposes them to the formation of urate crystals and eventually, stones.

Additional Information:


Note: This section is intended as a source of information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional care. Always consult with your Veterinarian about health related matters. The information provided here is a brief outline of some of the health issues which may be of concern for the Dalmatian breed and should in no way be considered as a complete listing.