Check out our available puppies in our “puppy” section!
THE BIOCHEMISTRY OF THE URIC ACID STONE:
It all starts with a biochemical called a “purine.” There are three types of purines:
We eat purines when we eat meat and drink them when we drink coffee. Our livers convert them ultimately into something called “allantoin,” one of the oxypurines mentioned above, which is readily soluble in water and easy for us to unload in that waste/water mixture known as urine. This works for all mammals besides the Dalmatian.
Credit: Marvista Vet
HOW DALMATIANS GET RID OF PURINES:
Dalmatians just cannot seem to convert uric acid all the way to allantoin; the process described above never gets past the uric acid stage. Dalmatian liver cells simply cannot absorb uric acid which is where the conversion to allantoin ought to take place. Dalmatians must excrete uric acid in their urine without this last conversion and the problem is that the stuff just is not very water soluble. Being unable to convert uric acid to allantoin is the main predisposing factor for uric acid stone formation and accounts for why 80% of uric acid bladder stones come from Dalmatians. The other 20% are from other breeds with the same genetic mutation as stone forming Dalmatians or patients with impaired liver function.
DO ALL DALMATIANS FORM URIC ACID STONES?
No, only some Dalmatians form stones and we do not know what makes one Dalmatian a stone former and another one clinically normal, except that those that form stones circulate extra high levels of uric acid compared to other Dalmatians. There are genetic factors, dietary factors, and unknown factors. We know that male Dalmatians are reported as stone formers more often than female Dalmatians but this may be a reflection of the fact that only male dogs have the added stone complication of urethral obstruction, a problem female dogs rarely have to worry about (thus male dogs may be seeing the vet for their stones more than female dogs do). Stone forming Dalmatians seem to be excreting more uric acid than their non-stone forming counterparts. The average age at which a Dalmatian first is found to have stones is 4.5 years. The risk of stone formation declines as the dog ages. Overall it appears that, even though all Dalmatians excrete high amounts of uric acid, less than 10% of Dalmatians actually form stones.
As for non-Dalmatians in the absence of liver disease, a genetic mutation is necessary to form uric acid stones. We can now genetically test for this mutation though this is not helpful for the Dalmatian since we already know they have the mutation. For more information on this genetic test visit:
There has been a movement to breed Dalmatians that do not have the problematic mutation. This project originally involved crossing a Dalmatian with a pointer and then breeding the progeny with purebred Dalmatians for numerous generations following. The result is a dog that is over 99% genetically the same as purebred Dalmatian but without the uric acid mutation. Until 2011, these dogs were not recognized as Dalmatians by the American Kennel Club but, happily, now they are. For more information on "Low Uric Acid Dalmatians" visit:
Hopefully this is an issue that will never come up but the following are signs of irritation in the lower urinary tract which would indicate a search for stones should be made:
Uric acid stones may or may not be visible on plain radiographs. Often ultrasound or contrast radiography (use of special urinary dyes to create a “double contrast cystogram”) are needed to see the stones.
Uric Acid crystals are And abnormal finding in the urine of other dogs besides the Dalmatian, because of their unique metabolism. Uric acid crystals are normal in any urine sample and do not indicate whether stones are present or not.(for dalmatians)
Urinary obstruction is an emergency!
If you have a male dog straining to urinate, bring him to the vet right away. He may have stones obstructing his urethra (the passage way for urine in the male dog goes through an actual bone called the “os penis” and stones often catch at this location). If this has occurred, a urinary catheter must be used to push the stone back into the urinary bladder where it can either be removed or dissolved.
STONE REMOVAL VIA SURGERY
Surgery is the fastest way to remove bladder stones but also the most invasive way and probably most expensive way. The bladder is surgically opened and the stones are removed and sent to the lab for analysis (Dalmatians are perfectly capable of forming struvite and oxalate stones as well so an analysis must be done to determine the type of stones that have formed.) The urinary tract is flushed to get all stones out including those hiding in the urethra. The bladder is closed and tested for leaks. The belly is closed and the patient generally goes home in a day or two depending on their ability to urinate and his or her appetite. This all sounds simple but there are disadvantages:
In general, surgery is a low risk procedure and but it is not unusual for a Dalmatian to require several stone removing surgeries during his or her lifetime.
STONE REMOVAL VIA DISSOLUTION:
The idea here is to create a urine which brings the uric acid of the existing stone back into solution. There are several steps here:
After a month on this protocol, the stones are re-radiographed to compare their size and number to those on the original radiograph and a urinalysis is performed to assess pH and presence of crystals (stones not visible on radiographs must be assessed by ultrasound which is generally more costly). If the stones are getting smaller, the protocol is continued. If they are gone, the patient switches to prevention. If there are more stones or they are bigger, it is possible that xanthine stones are being formed (see below) and some small stones or urine sediment sample should be retrieved by catheter for analysis. It may simply be that there was cheating on the diet or that the allopurinol dose must be increased.
The disadvantages of stone removal by dissolution are:
The average dog dissolves its stones in 3-4 months.
ALLOPURINOL: THE SHORT VERSION
Recall the original purine metabolism pathway:
(original graphic by marvistavet.com)
We already know that Dalmatians stop at uric acid. Allopurinol is a medication that binds and shuts down an enzyme called “xanthine oxidase;” this is the enzyme that takes hypoxanthine to xanthine and ultimately to uric Acid. Without xanthine oxidase, purines are stuck in the Hypoxanthine stage and do not make it to Uric Acid. This sounds like exactly what we want to do but it is important to keep in mind that the inhibition of xanthine oxidase means an increase in xanthine and hypoxanthine. It can actually mean the formation of xanthine stones especially if there is cheating on the diet. In fact, let us emphasize:
The combination of cheating on the diet and using Allopurinol
is likely to lead to Xanthine Bladder stones!
NOW THAT THE STONES ARE GONE: PREVENTION AND MONITORING
The diet of the stone-forming dog is the most important factor in preventing future stones episodes. Our goal is to feed a diet low in purines and create an alkaline urine (which is best to keep uric acid in solution). This is done by feeding a low salt, low protein diet favoring egg and dairy protein sources over organ meat protein sources. Ideally, a relatively dilute urine is desired which means feeding canned food, adding water to dry food, or increasing water consumption in some other way. Commercial diets that should be effective include: Hills U/d, Purina HA vegetarian formula, Hills L/d, Hills D/d Egg and Rice formula (or other prescription low protein diet) or Royal Canin Urinary U/C.
The following foods are considered virtually purine-free and can be used as treats for stone-forming dogs:
Allopurinol is generally required for prevention but at a lower dose than that required to actually dissolve existing stones. Be sure to familiarize yourself with this medication as dietary cheating commonly leads to the formation of xanthine stones.
As for periodic monitoring to be sure no new stones are likely to form, several protocols have been advocated.
Your veterinarian is likely to pick and choose from these tests to put together a protocol they are comfortable with that fits your budget.
OFF LIMITS FOR STONE FORMING DALMATIANS:
No one has formally studied the effect of joint nutriceuticals on urine pH. If one wants to use glucosamine or other products on an arthritic stone forming Dalmatian, the urine pH will require monitoring to be sure excess urine acidification has not occurred.
THIS SECTION IS CREDIT TO: Marvistavet.com please visit their website to see more info, I repeat this info is available through Mara vista vet and we thank them For this info to help educate potential clients!
Let’s call this one “The benefits of baking soda in hua Dalmatians”
So it’s pretty common for hua Dals to have urate crystals, and how they develop stones is that these crystals build up (this is why I suggest free access to pee and lots of water so that they don’t hold their bladder to long) and then form into stones.
Recently I learned that baking soda actually helps counteract the uric acid, and breaks down urate crystals or stones from the DCA websiteSo of course I was dying to share this with you!!
DCA actually has done studies and showed that by adding 1/4 a teaspoon of baking soda to your hua Dals diet (once a day for 1 week a month) it actually can help reduce risk of stone blockage, or crystal build up by 85%!
Some of you have seen my post about Eric, who’s mother came to me pregnant and he had stone surgery at just 6 weeks old. He’s been a bit of a challenge, he’s been on UD food since surgery, and still had thousands of urate crystals and grit coming out when he peed. Once I started adding baking soda, his urinalysis came back almost free of urates!!!! So I really do believe this works. And it’s cheap!
Male Dals have a 37% chance of stone blockage, females have a 2% chance of blockage. So such a big difference but it’s cuz males urethra is so much smaller then a females so they often can pass them naturally.