As wonderful and beautiful as the Dalmatian breed is, there are a few things we as owners should be concerned with when it comes to their health. Just like any other breed, there are certain breed specific problems that Dalmatians suffer from. And of course there are other health problems that are not specific to the breed as well.
Having said that, before we continue, let us just say that Dalmatians are relatively healthy overall. When I say “common” health problems, we don’t mean that these problems are common for all Dalmatians. The majority of them won’t have to deal with most of these problems at all, but being aware of what could go wrong is important.
How Long Do They Live?
The average lifespan of Dalmatians is estimated to be around 10–15 years. The best way to make sure your dog lives a long and healthy life is through a proper diet and plenty of activity.
Often times, it’s difficult to find a diet that has all the nutrition your dog will need. To fix that, many owners supplement with multivitamins. To find out what your dog needs talk to a vet.
Hearing problems affect about 30% of Dalmatians. Nearly 1 out of 12 Dalmatians are completely deaf, and about 1 out of 5 can only hear from one ear. This is common among piebald dogs, that distinct pattern that Dalmatians have, and albino animals.
Figuring out if a dog is deaf can be difficult, but luckily there is a test that can be done. BAER hearing tests are performed to check for hearing issues. To learn more about this test, check out this short video (YouTube link) from the AKC.
Pretty much all dogs are allergic to something, and these dogs are no different. Allergic reactions can go unnoticed or they can show up as itchiness, hives, a rash, etc. The most common causes are changes in food and their environment.
The only thing you can do is figure out what’s causing the allergy and avoid it if possible. Since not all allergens can be avoided – like in the cases of some seasonal allergies – some veterinarians prescribe Benadryl to help relieve the symptoms (check out a holistic alternative to Benadryl here).
Recurrent bacterial infections are a sign to look out for that is not directly caused by allergies. When itchy from allergies, dogs tend to scratch themselves too much to the point where they break skin, and that gives bacteria an opportunity to make a home. So if your dog is having infections in or around the same spots, the root cause could be allergies.
Urinary stones can affect any dog, but Dalmatians, particularly males, are at a higher risk. The reason behind it is genetic and has to do with high levels of uric acid in their blood, also known as hyperuricemia.
The best way to reduce risk is to limit intake of purines which are found in high concentration in organ meat, especially liver. And of course you can’t forget about hydration. Make sure your dog always has clean water available.
To combat this problem, there is a growing movement amongst certain Dalmatian breeders that focuses on breeding low uric acid Dalmatians. They also include a list of breeders, so if you’re considering getting a Dalmatian, we highly recommend you check them out.
Hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of hips that can be very painful for dogs. It’s a genetic condition and is present in a lot of breeds, including Dalmatians, and it seems to be more common in larger breeds. Luckily, Dalmatians are not effect by it as often as others, but it can be a huge problem for those that are.
Even though hip dysplasia is genetic, it can be made worse by other factors – being overweight is one of them.
Not that common of a problem and not exclusive to just Dalmatians, but still something you should be aware of when it comes to health. The effects of it can be very frightening, especially if you’re not sure what’s going on.
Treatment for epilepsy or seizures includes drug treatment. There is also some speculation that epilepsy can be triggered by allergies. While it might not be true in all cases, there have been instances where seizures have stopped after allergy treatment.
It’s no secret that Dalmatians are very active dogs, but sometimes it can be a little too much. Too much energy might not seem like a big problem but it can be if it leads to destructive behavior. The best way to deal with this is to give your dog more opportunity to burn off all the extra energy through playing, walks and jogs.
No dog is born overweight, but they all can get there if they eat too much and don’t stay active. Dalmatians that spend most of their time indoors are more likely to become overweight. Obesity can lead to all sorts of health problems down the road, so it’s best to take care of it as soon as possible. The good news is that Dalmatians love to stay active so it won’t take much to get them off the couch.
Although the list above looks frightening, many Dalmatians live long and healthy lives. One of the best ways to ensure that your dog falls into that category is by keeping up with regular veterinary checkups. The earlier the problem is diagnosed, the better the chances of treatment.
To help out with costs, some owners go for pet insurance. Large, unexpected bills can be devastating, and pet insurance can definitely help with that. We don’t have any pet insurance recommendations, but if you do, feel free to leave a comment for others.
If you do decide to get pet insurance, make sure you read the fine print. Find out what each plan covers and for how much. The last thing you would want in an emergency situation is to hear that you’ve been denied because of their policy.