Dealing with High Uric Acid

Medical Treatment

Dogs that obstruct with urate stones and crystals are currently treated in two stages. First, the blockage itself is mechanically removed by back-flushing or surgery. Secondly, the remaining stones and crystals are dissolved with medicines such as Allopurinol, and are fed special low protein or low purine diets. The medication may be continued throughout the dog's life to try to prevent a recurrence. The special diet almost certainly will be.

Preventive Measures

Many Dalmatian owners choose to feed their dogs a low purine diet before any obstruction takes place. They also ensure that their dogs drink plenty of water and are allowed to empty their bladders regularly.

Click here to see the Purine Table

The drugs, diet, and water intake and elimination are all attempts to keep the concentration of uric acid in the bladder as low as possible. Sadly, this is not always low enough to prevent stones and/or crystals from blocking the flow of urine. An HUA Dalmatian's uric acid level remains higher than that in other breeds despite everyone's best efforts. The urinary uric acid production of NUA breeds (anything but a Dalmatian) is approximately 15 to 40 mg per day. The Dalmatian usually produces 20 times that, about 200 to 800 mg/day.

Not all Dalmatians receive preventative treatment. Many owners (and some vets) need to be educated about the breed's high levels of uric acid and the best means of dealing with it. Breed clubs have done a lot of work posting information onto their websites, but it seems that the majority of Dalmatian owners either don't find their way onto the sites or don't familiarise themselves with this health problem. They do not know which foods are high or low in purines or even that their Dalmatian is particularly susceptible to forming urate stones and crystals. They may not even realise that their dog is having a veterinary emergency when it strains to pee.

Bringing in the NUA gene

If, on the other hand, we restore the healthy NUA gene to the Dalmatian, we will deal with the problem simply and effectively. This one step will re-establish the digestive pattern that exists in all other breeds of dogs. Measures such as special diets and drugs will no longer be needed.

Dealing with a trait governed by a simple recessive gene is easily done when two criteria are met. First, a genetic test is necessary in order to differentiate between dogs with two copies of the desired gene and those with only one copy because the only physical difference between them will be in their DNA. The University of California at Davis created such a test for the NUA gene in 2008. The test is available there and at Animal Health Trust in the U.K.

The second criterion is that dogs with the NUA gene must be available. Russian Black Terriers and Bulldogs had the NUA gene in some of their breeding stock, but Dalmatians did not.

To obtain the desired gene, an outcross to another breed was necessary. This step was taken by Dr. Robert Schaible in 1973 when he started his Backcross Project.