The Essential Dalmatian


Owning a Dalmatian is rewarding and fun! Get all you need to know about feeding, training, and caring for your dog's health in The Essential Dalmatian. Special features include professional color photos and expert tips on how to make your dog a wonderful addition to the family. Learn how to have a great relationship with your pet with The Essential Dalmatian.
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Owning a Dalmatian is rewarding and fun! Get all you need to know about feeding, training, and caring for your dog's health in The Essential Dalmatian. Special features include professional color photos and expert tips on how to make your dog a wonderful addition to the family. Learn how to have a great relationship with your pet with The Essential Dalmatian.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582450247
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/10/1999
  • Series: Essential Series
  • Edition description: ABR
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 92
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Getting to Know Your Dalmatian.

Chapter Two: Homecoming.

Chapter Three: To Good Health.

Chapter Four: Positively Nutritious.

Chapter Five: Putting on the Dog.

Chapter Six: Measuring Up.

Chapter Seven: A Matter of Fact.

Chapter Eight: On Good Behavior.

Chapter Nine: Resources.


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First Chapter

[Figures are not included in this sample chapter]

The Essential Dalmatian

- 3 -

To Good Health


Dalmatians do not thrive on diets high in purines (compounds found in certainmeat and vegetable proteins) and some will develop serious, life-threatening healthproblems or die prematurely as a result of such diets. Dalmatians don't break downpurines beyond the level of uric acid, whereas other breeds go a step further, convertinguric acid to allantoin before excretion. This trait creates the potential for Dalmatiansto form uratic kidney or bladder stones or other diet-related health problems. Luckily,several commercially manufactured dry dog foods work well for Dalmatians.

Dalmatians seem to do well when fed dry foods with no supplements: a dry kibble,which is 19 percent protein, corn-based and contains a meat component provided bychicken. Offer it twice daily, preparing it by soaking it in warm water for fifteenminutes before feeding. It is important to note that in addition to feeding an appropriatefood, make sure your dogs always have fresh water available and get lots of exercisedaily.


1.   Never feed a Dalmatian organ meats (such as liver, kidney,sweetbreads or brains), game meats (such as venison or elk) or red meat in any form,whether cooked, raw or as an ingredient in a pet food or snack.

2.   Never feed poultry, cooked or raw, where it appears as oneof the first two ingredients listed on the label.

3.   Feed most fruits, vegetables and grains as snacks, exceptthose known to be high in purine yields such as mushrooms, asparagus, legumes, oatmeal,spinach and cauliflower.

4.   Feed adult Dalmatians pet foods (corn, wheat and rice, inthat order) whose protein and fat content are moderate: about 22 percent proteinfrom low purine sources and no more than 10 percent fat.

5.   Divide the dog's total daily ration into two or more mealsso that blood levels of uric acid will remain fairly stable. Soak meals in warm waterto improve water consumption and make sure fresh water is available at all times.

Foods Yielding High Purine Levels


  • Organ meats
  • Game meats
  • Gravies and meat extracts
  • Canned snack fishes, such as sardines and herring
  • Sweetbreads


  • Meats: beef, veal, pork and lamb
  • Poultry (poultry is not as high as red meat)
  • Fish (fresh and saltwater) and shellfish
  • Oatmeal, whole grains, wheat germ and legumes
  • Asparagus, cauliflower, mushrooms and spinach


  • Fruits, nuts and berries
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Vegetables

Dalmatians have a breed-specific intolerance for high-purine foods.

Aside from nutritionally sound food, your Dal's health also depends on theamount and quality of time spent wit h his family.


Another limiting characteristic encountered in Dalmatians is deafness.

According to data now collected through a formal program conducted by the DalmatianClub of America, the incidence of total deafness in Dalmatians (no hearing in eitherear) is around 8 percent, and the number that hear in only one ear is about 22 percent.Breeders have become aware of this genetic defect, however, and are minimizing theproblem by selective breeding.

Normal human observation couldn't detect the difference between a Dal with fullhearing and one that heard in only one ear: They both act almost exactly the same.But now, unilateral deafness in Dalmatians is detectable, and it is therefore possibleto eliminate them from breeding programs, by which the problem could be perpetuated.Today, these partially deaf Dals are placed as pets, with breeding restrictions tolimit the number of future deaf Dalmatians. These dogs make great pets, because tothe pet owner and casual observer, as noted above, their behavior is indistinguishablefrom a dog with full hearing capacity.


Some Dals will develop allergies that are unrelated to their unique metabolismand which are found among all breeds and mixed breeds. These can arise from inhaledallergens, such as pollens and dust; from things in the environment, such as woolblankets; or from specific ingredients in food products or chew toys, such as wheator leather. A good veterinary dermatologist is the person to see regarding all skinproblems that are of concern to you. Let common sense guide you.

Treating Split Ears and Tails

If you are unfortunate enough to have to c ontend with a split ear, the best cureis inactivity. It's the same as if you had chapped lips: Don't smile. You can coatthe end of the ear with a softening agent, like vitamin E oil, but the process ofhealing an ear that slaps against the dog's skull every time it shakes can be a slowone. Some ear splits may be hastened in healing with liquid bandages or hoods. Thebottom line, though, is that it will heal faster if the reason for the head shakingdisappears.

This same skin-splitting trouble can arise with the tail of the Dal, too. Thesame solution applies. You can soften the skin or cover the wound with a liquid bandage(not with a cloth bandage--that will last only about five seconds once you're outof sight), and you must quiet the dog down so he doesn't have the opportunity tobang his tail against anything for a while. If the dog has sleeping quarters or nestingquarters where it is normally quiet, leave him there except for long walks on a leash--awayfrom objects that he might hit with his tail--for a few days.

Checking your dog's ears regularly for debris and dry skin can protect yourdog from ear infections and split ears.


You can help your dog maintain good health by practicing the art of preventivecare. Take good care of your Dalmatian today and he will be healthy tomorrow.

There are many aspects of preventive care with which Dalmatian owners should befamiliar: Vaccinations, regular vet visits and eye care are just some. The advantageof preventive care is that it prevents problems.

The earlier that illness is detected in the Dalmatian, the easier it is for theveterinarian to treat the problem. Owners can help ensure their dogs' health by beingon the lookout for medical problems. All this requires is an eye for detail and awilling-ness to observe. Pay close attention to your Dalmatian, how he looks, howhe acts. What is normal behavior? How does his coat usually look? What are his eatingand sleeping patterns? Subtle changes can indicate a problem. Keep close tabs onwhat is normal for your Dalmatian, and if anything out of the ordinary develops callthe veterinarian.

Eye Problems

When eye problems occur, they usually require a trip to the vet. Dogs generallyare too fidgety to allow a careful look at the eye, especially if there is an irritationpresent. If your vet prescribes eye drops or ointment, the administration is differentfor each kind of medication. Eye drops may be dropped directly into the eye aftersecuring the dog's head, pulling the lower lid down and drawing back on the skinabove the eye. Ointment should be squeezed out and placed in the lower lid, not droppedin the eye. The lower lid can then be massaged to spread the ointment around.

Make sure your Dal's eyes are free of irritation.

Spaying and Neutering

Spaying or neutering--surgically altering the Dalmatian so it cannot reproduce--shouldbe at the top of every owner's "To Do" list. Why?

First, every day thousands of puppies are born in the United States as a resultof uncontrolled breeding. For every pet living in a happy home today, there are fourpets on the street or in abusive homes suffering from starvation, exposure, neglector mistreatment. In six years, a single female dog and her offspring can be the sourceof 67,000 new dogs.

A second reason to spay or ne uter your Dalmatian is to create a healthier, morewell-adjusted pet that, in most cases, will live longer than an intact animal. Aspayed female is no longer susceptible to pyometra (infection of the uterus), andis less prone to mammary cancers. The procedure eliminates the behavior that accompaniesthe female's heat cycle. A neutered male is less likely to develop prostate or analcancer and is less apt to roam. Marking behavior is also reduced by altering.

When should your Dalmatian be spayed or neutered? Recommendations vary among vets,but 6 months of age is commonly suggested. Ask your vet what age is best for yourDalmatian.


The greatest advantage of spaying (for females) or neutering (for males) your dog is that you are guaranteed your dog will not produce puppies. There are too many puppies already available for too few homes. There are other advantages as well.

Advantages of Spaying

No messy heats.

No "suitors" howling at your windows or waiting in your yard.

No risk of pyometra (disease of the uterus) and decreased incidences of mammary cancer.

Advantages of Neutering

Decreased incidences of fighting, but does not affect the dog's personality.

Decreased roaming in search of bitches in season.

Decreased incidences of many urogenital diseases.


Another priority on a Dalmatian owner's list of preventive care is vaccinations.Vaccinations protect the dog against a host of infectious disea ses, preventing anillness itself and the misery that accompanies it.

Vaccines should be a part of every young puppy's health care, since youngstersare so susceptible to disease. To remain effective, vaccinations must be kept current.

Good Nutrition

Dogs that receive the appropriate nutrients daily will be healthier and strongerthan those that do not. The proper balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins,minerals and sufficient water enables the dog to remain healthy by fighting off illness.

Routine Checkups

Regular visits to the veterinary clinic should begin when your Dalmatian is ayoung pup and continue throughout his life. Make this a habit and it will certainlycontribute to your Dal's good health. Even if your Dalmatian seems perfectly healthy,a checkup once or twice a year is in order. Even if your dog seems fine to you, hecould have an ongoing problem. Your veterinarian is trained to notice subtle changesor hints of illness.


Aside from the dog's physical needs--a proper and safe shelter, nutritious diet,health care and regular exercise--the Dalmatian needs plenty of plain, old-fashionedlove. The dog is happiest when he is part of a family, enjoying the social interactions,nurturing and play. Bringing the Dalmatian into the family provides him with a senseof security.

Because your Dalmatian will inevitably take some risks during his lifetime,you'll want to keep your dog on leash when going outside.


Unfortunately, even with the best preventive care, the Dalmatian can fall ill.Infectious diseases, which are commonly spread from dog to dog via infect ed urine,feces or other body secretions, can wreak havoc. Following are a few of the diseasesthat can affect your Dalmatian.


Probably one of the most well-known diseases that can affect dogs, rabies canstrike any warm-blooded animal (including humans)--and is fatal. The rabies virus,which is present in an affected animal's saliva, is usually spread through a biteor open wound. The signs of the disease can be subtle at first. Normally friendlypets can become irritable and withdrawn. Shy pets may become overly friendly. Eventually,the dog becomes withdrawn and avoids light, which hurts the eyes of a rabid dog.Fever, vomiting and diarrhea are common.

Once these symptoms develop, the animal will die; there is no treatment or cure.

Since rabid animals may have a tendency to be aggressive and bite, animals suspectedof having rabies should only be handled by animal control handlers or veterinarians.

Rabies is preventable with routine vaccines, and such vaccinations are requiredby law for domestic animals in all states in this country.


Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious and devastating illness. The hardy virusis usually transmitted through contaminated feces, but it can be carried on an infecteddog's feet or skin. It strikes dogs of all ages and is most serious in young puppies.

There are two main types of parvovirus. The first signs of the diarrhea-syndrometype are usually depression and lack of appetite,

followed by vomiting and the characteristic bloody diarrhea. The dog appears tobe in great pain, and he usually has a high fever.

The cardiac-syndrome type affects the heart muscle and is most commo n in youngpuppies. Puppies with this condition will stop nursing, whine and gasp for air. Deathmay occur suddenly or in a few days. Youngsters that recover can have lingering heartfailure that eventually takes their life.

Veterinarians can treat dogs with parvovirus, but the outcome varies. It dependson the age of the animal and severity of the disease. Treatment may include fluidtherapy, medication to stop the severe diarrhea and antibiotics to prevent or stopsecondary infection.

Young puppies receive some anti-body protection against the disease from theirmother, but they lose it quickly and must be vaccinated to prevent the disease. Inmost cases, vaccinated puppies are protected against the disease.


Canine coronavirus is especially devastating to young puppies, causing depression,lack of appetite, vomiting that may contain blood and characteristically yellow-orangediarrhea. The virus is transmitted through feces, urine and saliva, and the onsetof symptoms is usually rapid.

Dogs suffering from coronavirus are treated similarly to those suffering fromparvovirus: fluid therapy, medication to stop diarrhea and vomiting and antibioticsif necessary.

Vaccinations are available to protect puppies and dogs against the virus and arerecommended especially for those dogs in frequent contact with other dogs.


Caused by a virus, distemper is highly contagious and is most common in unvaccinatedpuppies aged 3 to 8 months, but older dogs are susceptible as well. Luckily, becauseof modern-day vaccinations, this disease is no longer the killer it was 50 yearsago.

It is especially important to vaccinate bitches for dis temper before breedingto ensure maternal antibodies in the pups.


Infectious canine hepatitis can affect dogs of every age, but it is most severein puppies. It primarily affects the dog's liver, kidneys and lining of the bloodvessels. Highly contagious, it is transmitted through urine, feces and saliva.

This disease has several forms. In the fatal fulminating form, the dog becomesill very suddenly, develops bloody diarrhea and dies. In the acute form, the dogdevelops a fever, has bloody diarrhea, vomits blood and refuses to eat. Jaundicemay be present; the whites of the dog's eyes appear yellow. Dogs with a mild caseare lethargic or depressed and often refuse to eat.

Infectious canine hepatitis must be diagnosed and confirmed with a blood test.Ill dogs require hospitalization. Hepatitis is preventable in dogs by keeping vaccinationscurrent.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease has received a lot of press recently, with its increased incidencethroughout the United States. The illness, caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi,is carried by ticks. It is passed along when the tick bites a victim, canine or human.(The dog cannot pass the disease to people, though. It is only transmitted via thetick.) It is most common during the tick season in May through August.

In dogs, the disease manifests itself in sudden lameness, caused by swollen joints,similar to arthritis. The dog is weak and may run a fever. The lameness can lasta few days or several months, and some dogs have recurring difficulties.

Antibiotics are very effective in treating Lyme disease, and the sooner it isdiagnosed and treated, the better. A vaccine is availabl e; ask your veterinarianif your dog would benefit from it.

Three types of ticks (l-r): the wood tick, brown dog tick and deer tick.

Kennel Cough

"Kennel cough," or "canine cough," shows itself as a harsh,dry cough. This contagious disease has been termed "kennel cough," muchto the dismay of kennel owners, because of its often rapid spread through kennels.The cough may persist for weeks and is often followed by a bout of chronic bronchitis.

Many kennels require proof of bordatella vaccination before boarding. If yourdog is in and out of kennels frequently, vaccination certainly is not a bad idea.


Vaccines are given to prevent your dog from getting infectious diseases like canine distemper or rabies. Vaccines are the ultimate preventive medicine: They're given before your dog ever gets the disease so as to protect him from the disease. That's why it is necessary for your dog to be vaccinated routinely. Puppy vaccines start at 8 weeks of age for the five-in-one DHLPP vaccine and are given every three to four weeks until the puppy is 16 months old. Your veterinarian will put your puppy on a proper schedule and will re-mind you when to bring in your dog for shots.


First aid is not a substitute for professional care, though it can help save adog's life.

To Stop Bleeding

Bleeding from a severe cut or wound must be stopped right away. There are twobasic techniques--direct pressure and the tourniquet.

Try to control bleeding first by using d irect pressure. Ask an assistant to holdthe injured Dalmatian and place several pads of sterile gauze over the wound. Press.Do not wipe the wound or apply any cleansers or ointments. Apply firm, even pressure.If blood soaks through the pad, do not remove it as this could disrupt clotting.Simply place another pad on top and continue to apply pressure.

If bleeding on a leg or the tail does not stop by applying pressure, try usinga tourniquet. Use this only as a last resort. A tourniquet that is left on too longcan result in limb loss.

If the dog is bleeding from his mouth or anus, or vomits or defecates blood, hemay be suffering from internal injuries. Do not at-tempt to stop bleeding. Call theveterinarian right away for emergency treatment.


A dog's curiosity will often lead him to eat or lick things he shouldn't. Unfortunately,many substances are poisonous to dogs, including household products, plants or chemicals.Owners must learn to act quickly if poisoning is suspected because the results canbe deadly.

If your dog appears to be poisoned:

  • Call your veterinarian and follow his or her directions.

  • Try to identify the poison source--this is really important. Take the container or plant to the clinic.


If your dog has ingested a potentially poisonous substance, waste no time. Call the National Animal Poison Control Center hot line:

(800) 548-2423 ($30 per case) or

(900) 680-0000 ($20 first five minutes; $2.95 each additional minute)


Heatstroke ca n be deadly and must be treated immediately to save the dog. Signsinclude rapid panting, darker-than-usual gums and tongue, salivating, exhaustionor vomiting. The dog's body temperature is elevated, sometimes as high as 106°F.If the dog is not treated, coma and death can follow.

If heatstroke is suspected, cool down your overheated dog as quickly as possible.Mildly affected dogs can be moved to a cooler environment, into an air-conditionedhome, for example, or wrapped in moistened towels. Call your veterinarian.

Insect Bites/Stings

Just like people, dogs can suffer bee stings and insect bites. Bees, wasps andyellow jackets leave a nasty, painful sting, and if your dog is stung repeatedlyshock can occur.

If an insect bite is suspected, try to identify the culprit. Remove the stingerif it is a bee sting, and apply a mixture of baking soda and water to the sting.It is also a good idea to apply ice packs to reduce inflammation and ease pain. Callyour veterinarian, especially if your dog seems ill or goes into shock.


Dogs are susceptible to several internal parasites. Keeping your Dalmatian freeof internal parasites is another important aspect of health care.

Watch for general signs of poor condition: a dull coat, weight loss, lethargy,coughing, weakness and diarrhea.

For proper diagnosis and treatment of internal parasites, consult a veterinarian.


Roundworms, or ascarids, are probably the most common worms that affect dogs.Most puppies are born with these organisms in their intestines, which is why youngstersare treated for these parasites as soon as it is safe to do so.

<<P>Animals contract roundworms by ingesting infected soil and feces. A roundworminfestation can rob vital nutrients from young puppies and even cause diarrhea, vomitingand digestive upset. Roundworms can also harm a young animal's liver and lungs, sotreatment is imperative.


Tapeworms are commonly transmitted by fleas to dogs. Tapeworm eggs enter the bodyof a canine host when the animal accidentally ingests a carrier flea. The parasitesettles in the intestines, where it sinks its head into the intestinal wall and feedsoff material the host is digesting. The worm grows a body of egg packets, which breakoff periodically and are expelled from the body in the feces. Fleas then ingest theeggs from the feces and the parasite's life cycle begins all over again.


Hookworms are so named because they hook onto an animal's small intestine andsuck the host's blood. Like roundworms, hookworms are contracted when a dog ingestscontaminated soil or feces.

Hookworms can be especially devastating to dogs. They will become thin and sick;puppies can die. An affected dog will suffer from bloody diarrhea and, if the parasitesmigrate to the lungs, the dog may contract bronchitis or pneumonia, too.

Hookworms commonly strike puppies 2 to 8 weeks of age and are less common in adultdogs.


Known for their thread-like appearance, whipworms attach into the wall of thelarge intestine to feed. Thick-shelled eggs are passed in the feces and in abouttwo to four weeks are mature and able to reinfect a host that ingests the eggs.

Mild whipworm infestation is often without signs, but as the worms grow, weightloss, bloody diarrhea and anemia follow. In areas where the soil is heavily contaminated,frequent checks are advised to prevent severe infestation.


Heartworm larvae are transmitted by the ordinary mosquito, but the effects arefar from ordinary. In three to four months, the larvae (microfilaria) become smallworms and make their way to a vein, where they are transported to the heart, wherethey grow and reproduce.

At first, a dog with heartworms is free of symptoms. The signs vary, but the mostcommon is a deep cough and shortness of breath. The dog tires easily, is weak andloses weight. Eventually, the dog may suffer from congestive heart failure.


FLEAS--Besides carrying tapeworm larvae, fleas bite and suck the host'sblood. Their bites itch and are extremely annoying to dogs, especially if the dogis hypersensitive to the bite. Fleas must be eliminated on the dog with special shampoosand dips. Fleas also infest the dog's bedding and the owner's home and yard.

TICKS--Several varieties of ticks attach themselves to dogs, where theyburrow into the skin and suck blood. Ticks can be carriers of several diseases, includingLyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

LICE--Lice are not common in dogs, but when they are present they causeintense irritation and itching. There are two types: biting and sucking. Biting licefeed on skin scales, and sucking lice feed on blood.

MITES--There are several types of mites that cause several kinds of mange,including sarcoptic, demodectic and cheyletiella. These microscopic mites cause intenseitching and misery to the dog.


In any emergency situation, you should call your veterinarian immediately. Try to stay calm when you call, and give the vet or the assistant as much information as possible before you leave for the clinic. That way, the staff will be able to take immediate, specific action when you arrive. Emergencies include:
Bleeding or deep wounds

Hyperthermia (overheating)



Abdominal pain




Broken bones


Call your veterinarian if you suspect any health troubles.

What's Wrong with My Dog?

W e've listed some common symptoms of health problems and their possible causes.If any of the following symptoms appear serious or persist for more than 24 hours,make an appointment to see your veterinarian immediately.


DIARRHEA   Intestinal upset, typically caused by eating something bador over-eating. Can also be a viral infection, a bad case of nerves or anxiety ora parasite infection. If you see blood in the feces, get to the vet right away.

VOMITING/RETCHING   Dogs regurgitate fairly regularly (bitches for theiryoung), when-ever something upsets their stomachs, or even out of excitement or anxiety.Often dogs eat grass, which, because it's indigestible in its pure form, irritatestheir stomachs and causes them to vomit. Getting a good look at what yourdog vomited can better indicate what's causing it.

COUGHING   Obstruction in the throat; virus (kenn el cough); roundworminfestation; congestive heart failure.

RUNNY NOSE   Because dogs don't catch colds like people, a runny noseis a sign of congestion or irritation.

LOSS OF APPETITE   Because most dogs are hearty and regular eaters,a loss of appetite can be your first and most accurate sign of a serious problem.

LOSS OF ENERGY (LETHARGY)   Any number of things could be slowing downyour dog, from an infection to internal tumors to overexercise--even overeating.

STINKY BREATH   Imagine if you never brushed your teeth! Foul-smellingbreath indicates plaque and tartar buildup that could possibly have caused infection.Start brushing your dog's teeth.

LIMPING   This could be caused by something as simple as a hurt or bruisedpad, to something as complicated as hip dysplasia, torn ligaments or broken bones.

CONSTANT ITCHING   Probably due to fleas, mites or an allergic reactionto food or environment (your vet will need to help you determine what your dog'sallergic to).

RED, INFLAMED, ITCHY SPOTS   Often referred to as "hot spots,"these are particularly common on coated breeds. They're caused by a bacterial infectionthat gets aggravated as the dog licks and bites at the spot.

BALD SPOTS   These are the result of excessive itching or biting atthe skin so that the hair follicles are damaged; excessively dry skin; mange; calluses;and even infections. You need to determine what the underlying cause is.

STINKY EARS/HEAD SHAKING   Take a look under your dog's ear flap. Doyou see brown, waxy build-up? Clean the ears with something soft and a special cleaner,and d on't use cotton swabs or go too deep into the ear canal.

UNUSUAL LUMPS   Could be fatty tissue, could be something serious (infection,trauma, tumor). Don't wait to find out.

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