Raw feeding Dalmatians can be somewhat tricky.
I recently received a reader question from Suzy about this exact topic. Suzy’s wondering if it’s possible to feed Dalmatians raw dog food, given their intolerance of food high in purines.
Raw Feeding Dalmatains : A Reader Question From Suzy
I’m a new discoverer of K9sOverCoffee and I have been enjoying reading your blog posts. I currently have 2 Dalmatians and have been interested in raw/home cooked feeding for them.
I’m hesitant, even scared to try! As Dalmatians have a serious problem with urinary stone formation, they can’t have food high in purines (which would include organ meats, fish, even some veggies and fruits, just to name a few things).
Meat itself can be high in purines, so that has to be a consideration. How do you figure out a way to feed this breed in a healthy way making sure you’re not causing any health issues yourself?
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I had no clue how to answer this question at first, to be quite honest. I’ve been feeding my own two pups Missy & Buzz raw dog food since 2015, but I didn’t have to take any breed specific diet needs into consideration.
While I had the great pleasure of pet sitting deaf Dalmatian girl Pebbles when I lived in D.C. suburbia, she was fed a kibble diet. I remember that she always needed to have access to a huge water bowl. But that was the closest I came to experiencing any special dietary needs of this beautiful, beautiful breed.
Raw Feeding Dalmatians: Finding Answers To Suzy’s Question
So I set out to find some answers for Suzy and broaden my own horizon. I asked Darwin’s Natural Pet for advice. They’re a raw dog food brand I trust and have actively ordered from for several years.
I also browsed the web to see if I could find Dalmatians who are fed a raw diet. Turns out I found several! I even got the opportunity to get a glimpse into Norman the Dal’s dinner bowl. Norman lives in the UK.
Before I bring you Darwin’s advice and talk about how Norman’s owners manage to feed him a minimally processed, raw diet, let’s take a look at what this deal with purines is.
Raw Feeding Dalmatians: What Are Purines?
According to WebMD, Purines are a chemical compound that’s broken down into uric acid. They’re naturally produced by the body and are also found in food in varying concentrations.
Foods High In Purines
Foods high in purines include seafood. For example sardines, anchovies, herring, or mackerel.
Also, red meats like beef, venison, or lamb. Additionally, secreting organs like livers, kidneys, brains, testicles, and spleens.
Last but not least, vegetables like artichokes, been sprouts, broccoli, mushrooms, and peas.
How Do Purines Affect Dalmatians?
Purines can contribute to the formation of urate crystals in the Dalmatian’s urinary tract, which can vary from mild to life threatening.
Dalmatians are prone to developing urinary tract issues. The clinical term for this is urolithiasis. That’s why they need to be fed a diet low in purines. They also need to have unlimited access to water to flush out their urinary system.
Note that not every Dalmatian WILL develop urinary tract issues, but the potential is definitely there.
A Dalmatian Who Eats A Raw Diet
Norman the Dalmatian turns two years young in April of this year. That said, he’s been successfully eating a raw diet for his entire life.
He eats a block of minced chicken in the morning (450 g, just shy of 1 lb), and another block of chicken mix (chicken and bone) at night.
Side-note: Minced is the British equivalent for ground here in the US.
His owners add a vegetable, seed, and fruit mix to each meal. One spoonful, to be specific. That’s to ensure that he gets all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients he needs.
They also add a good amount of water to his bowl. You’ll notice that his food looks somewhat soupy once mixed together.
The particular mix they use is from SmartBarf, a UK brand. I looked it up and saw that a 500 gram box costs around £17.
I did, however, notice that the SmartBarf mix contains a much larger variety of nuts than any of the US brands I just mentioned.
Occasionally, Norman also gets an egg mixed into his food. Every now and then, he also gets a raw chicken leg.
What Norman Doesn’t Eat
Norman isn’t crazy about turkey, so he mainly eats chicken. He doesn’t get any red meat such as beef, venison or lamb. That’s because the purine levels are much higher in red meat than they are in poultry.
He also doesn’t get any seafood or secreting organ meat, again because of the high purine levels.
But Aren’t Secreting Organs An Integral Part Of The Raw Diet?
Here’s where feeding Dalmatians a raw diet can become tricky. They really should avoid secreting organs because of their high purine levels.
But according to the raw feeding formula, 70-80% must be muscle meat, 10% must be bone, and 10% must be secreting organs. Of those last 10%, 5% has to be liver, and the other 5% has to be another secreting organ. For example, kidney, pancreas, brains, or spleen.
FYI: heart & green tripe are considered muscle meats.
The reason why secreting organs are such an essential part of raw dog food is because they’re chock full of vitamins.
For instance, vitamins A, B (B1, B2, B6, folic acid, B12), some vitamin D, E, K, phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, and iodine. They’re also known as Mother Nature’s multivitamins, and make raw dog food nutritionally complete.
Just in case you were wondering – no, you can’t just throw your dog a steak and expect him to thrive, that’s not how a healthy raw diet works.
So what’s the Dalmatian owner to do?
Follow Norman’s owners’ example and replace the organs with a pre-mix like SmartBarf.
Also find a holistic veterinarian and talk to them about your Dal’s raw dog food needs. They should be happy to guide you throughout the transition from kibble to raw. If they’re not – find a new vet.
I Found Several Videos Of Dalmatians Eating A Raw Diet On YouTube
SpottedDogLover1 shared a video of their Dalmatian eating a raw chicken quarter.
Eindraxsonpax shared a video of their Dalmatian eating raw chicken wings.
ChicagoK9Gal shared a video of her 4 dogs eating a raw chicken leg quarter & chicken gizzards (including 1 Dalmatian).
Dalmata.eu shared a video of Dalmatian puppies eating raw goat milk.
Raw Feeding Dalmatians: I Asked Darwin’s Natural Pet For Advice
I received the following advice from Darwin’s Natural Pet Jeanne Romano. She’s been a Menu Consultant at Darwin’s since 2009.
Talk To A Holistic Vet
“The answers I give everyone who is nervous about feeding raw (ours or other reputable source) is to talk to their vet first. If they have a holistic vet or pet nutritionist they will be able to create a plan for her two Dalmatians.
Use Hormone & Antibiotic/Steroid-Free Meats
Also, if she is planning on making her own raw meals, it is critical she use hormone free, antibiotic free and steroid free, etc.… meats. Go to a health food store or the butcher section of stores like Whole Foods or Mother’s to make sure she is getting the “cleanest” meat possible.
If she is planning on cooking the meat, […] it’s not nearly as critical to buy the most expensive. Cooking it thoroughly will destroy almost 100% of the pathogens in the meat.
Stay Away From Foods With An Over Abundance Of Secreting Organs
In the meantime, if she is worried about purines, I would stay away from any foods (again, ours or others) where there is an over abundance of organ meats such as liver.
The high uric acid content in saturated fats in red and organ meats can lower the body’s ability to eliminate the uric acid.
While it may not be as high in purines as red meat, and this being [edited] so breed specific, I would definitely research holistic experts to find out exactly what would be safe to feed (cooked or raw) and what to avoid.”
Raw Feeding Dalmatians: Bottom Line
Yes, Dalmatians can eat a raw diet as long as it’s low in purines. This means that seafood, red meats and secreting organs liver liver shouldn’t be fed as their purine levels are high. The same goes for the vegetables I mentioned earlier.
Dalmatians should be encouraged to drink plenty of water to flush out their urinary system. Also, to minimize the chances of developing urinary tract issues.
If the dog isn’t big on drinking on his own, you can simply add some more water to his food bowl.
Another smart move is to talk to a holistic veterinarian before you switch your Dalmatian over to a raw diet. That way, you’re sure to get a customized diet plan tailored to your Dal’s specific needs. You can browse the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association for holistic vets near you.
Dr. Coger is such a vet who offers consultations and diet formulations. You can learn more about her services on her website.
For anyone interested in doing some further reading on Dalmatian-specific health concerns and raw-fed Dalmatians, I recommend checking out the following links:
Update 2019: I just recently found out about a Facebook Group for Raw Fed Dalmatians!
Are you the proud owner of a Dalmatian? Do you feed raw or have you considered making the switch? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!