The Dalmatian Diet
Take a bite out of health problems with a properly balanced diet.
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Another diet-related problem often seen in Dalmatians is excess weight. Bordner believes this is simply a matter of owners feeding their dogs too much. Some people just fill their dogs bowl up when it gets empty, letting it eat however much it wants. Dalmatians have hearty appetites and can easily become overweight if allowed constant access to food. Janet Thomson, a breeder in Franklin, Ohio, agrees. Most Dalmatians love to eat. Many owners give in and feed too much when confronted with those pleading, soulful eyes. To help you gauge your dogs condition, Dr. Young suggests running your hands down its side. You should be able to feel the ribs, although they should not be readily visible. If your dog is already overweight, talk to your vet about weight-loss methods. To avoid excessive weight gain, feed your dog only once or twice a day and limit treats.
The Dalmatian Crud
Dalmatians are sometimes plagued by a type of skin problem fanciers refer to as Dal crud. Dogs with this condition often exhibit a loss of coat or a pinkish/bronze discoloration called bronzing. In a DCA article titled Skin and Coat Disorders in Dalmatians, author Susanne Hughes, D.V.M., says, A large majority of Dalmatians exhibiting these signs are allergic. Many scientific surveys statistically list our beloved breed as one of the most commonly represented allergic purebreds, based on repeatedly positive skin tests to assorted substances known to cause allergic reactions (allergens). These allergens may be inhaled, as in the case of airborne pollens and molds; ingested, as with food allergens; injected, as with flea saliva; or merely contacted, as with local irritants coming in contact with the skin.
Allergy treatment often involves desensitizing shots or nonallergenic diets. Dr. Hughes offers another option: For the past few years, veterinary dermatologists have been prescribing essential fatty-acid (EFA) supplementation for allergic dogs. EFAs act as immunomodulators, anti-inflammatory agents, and are especially important in helping the body maintain the integrity of skin as a barrier to infectious agents. Other beneficial side effects include optimum hair growth and luster. Although debate continues over the ideal ratios of specific fatty acids, most dermatologists agree these supplements should contain a combination of vegetable and fish oils.
Stress seems to be another factor contributing to skin problems. Thomson says one of her Dalmatians became so upset when it was sent to train with a handler that it came back with terrible skin and coat. It was his first time away from home, and he had a very difficult time adjusting, Thomson says. We kept him home until he got back in shape, then we sent him to the handler again. This time he knew what to expect, and he was comfortable with his handler. He came back a champion in fine shape. Cindy Riggins, a breeder and rescue worker in East Sparta, Ohio, concurs. I believe one of the traits we so cherish in this breed, its ability to form a close bond with its owner, sometimes results in separation anxiety.
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