Dalmatian Dry Dog Food
How to choose the right dry food kibble to feed your Dalmatian:
The first thing you should do when choosing a suitable dry food for a Dalmatian is read around on available products. Dalmatians do require careful consideration of their diet, you shouldn’t just go down to the local supermarket and pick up the cheapest bag you can find. Having some good guidelines to follow in selecting a dry food brand can come in handy throughout all stages of your Dalmatian’s life.
There are several key factors that should inform your choice of dry food for your Dalmatian:
- Ask the breeder what the puppies are currently used to eating
- Ask your breeder about dry food into adulthood
- Ask your veterinarian
- Note the protein percentage
- Avoid ingredients rich in purines (this is critical for the Dalmatian)
- Buy a dry food that is a product of your own country (or subject to good manufacturing standards by law)
- Note in particular the top four or five listed ingredients on the bag (they make the majority by weight of ingredients)
- Note the quality of ingredients listed and watch for terms that indicate poorer quality
- Don’t necessarily sacrifice superior quality trying to save money
When trialling and subsequently continuing use of a dry food, additional factors that can then inform your choice further include:
- If changing dry food, transition slowly (~2 weeks) and don’t change too often
- Wet your dry food (dry food expands in the stomach and Dals need lots of water)
- Feed your Dalmatian food other than dry kibble as a part of a balanced diet
- Manage the amount of dry food available, give regular and portioned amounts
- Monitor your Dalmatian’s individual response to the dry food
- Consider kibble size of the dry food (medium sized dog, medium sized kibble)
- Consider your Dalmatians age (pup, adult, senior), activity level and weight
- Consider sensitive stomach, hypoallergenic or grain-free dry food if necessary
- Importantly, if you have done the above research and the food is working well for your Dalmatian, don’t change a thing!
Ask the breeder:
If you are getting your Dalmatian from a reputable breeder, they can be one of the best sources of information on what is right for your Dal. Many breeders have been raising healthy and happy Dalmatians for decades, with a true love for this awesome breed. Naturally, they have a good knowledge of what dry food works best for their dogs as well as the puppies they raise. Have a good, brand-specific conversation with your breeder about what works for them, use this to inform your own choices. In addition, ask about what dry food they recommend for the transition into adulthood (something you might forget about in the excitement of picking up your new family member).
Ask what dry food the puppy is currently eating (you might even receive some to start you off). Don’t change from this food at first, let your new Dalmatian settle into its new home before mixing up its food. Even if you don’t agree with the dry food used by the breeder, stick with it for a month or so before transitioning to your preferred kibble, give your Dalmatian and their tummy time to settle in.
Ask your veterinarian:
You can ask around and get a different answer from many different people who may swear by a particular brand of dry food that they have always used. However, your veterinarian can give a scientific opinion, based on studies rather than trends, and give clearer advice on what to look for in choosing a dry food right for you, rather than simply listing a popular brand name. Take onboard their advice, and ensure you have a good discussion about the risk posed by purines for the Dalmatian (see below). Seeking advice from your vet as to how to provide a low purine diet is a much better way to start in preventing negative health conditions, rather than trying to treat them later.
Protein composition and purines:
Protein is an essential part of a dog’s diet, the Dalmatian breed included. In short, purines are a type of protein that due to their individual genetic history, Dalmatians, unlike most other breeds of dog, are unable to effectively process. Being unable to metabolize purines, Dalmatians as a result excrete a much higher level of uric acid in the form of urinary precipitates. This can be very dangerous to their health if purines are not carefully considered and limited when feeding a Dalmatian.
Preventative measures should be taken to limit the level of purines in their diet, including in their dry food. This does not mean that little or no protein should be fed to your Dalmatian, they still require protein of course, especially in puppy development. Rather, careful consideration of the protein type, quality and level should dictate your choice of dry food. A small but valuable study published in an Australian journal by Brown et al. (2003) featured the following important advice on the subject of protein content in dry food for Dalmatians:
- Crude protein content has a direct and positive relationship with the amount of resulting urinary precipitates observed in Dalmatians
- Feeding dry food produces lower amounts of urinary precipitates in Dalmatians than tinned food (obviously as tinned food features a higher meat content than dry food)
- Low protein dry food is preferable to high protein dry food
- Ingredients higher in cereals and vegetable proteins are better than high proportions of or solely meat-based proteins
- Severe dietary limitations of protein have been questionably linked to heart complications and heart failure in Dalmatians
After reviewing a crude protein food range between 10% and 60%, the study concluded that an ideal crude protein percentage to reduce urinary precipitates in adult Dalmatians was 15%. The AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) state a minimum of 18% crude protein required in dry food of adult dogs (this is not a Dalmatian-specific standard, rather, a general dog food standard). Popular advice from breeders suggests finding an adult dry food with a crude protein percentage below 24%. What this means in choosing the right dry food for your Dalmatian is:
- Read the table of ingredients on the packet carefully
- Note the crude protein level %, it should not be too high for Dalmatians or too far below minimum pet food standards
- Note the protein sources and avoid poor quality and purine rich ingredients (see below)
Avoid purine rich ingredients:
Purine content in different foods is referred to as a traffic light system, low/no purines (green), moderate level of purines (amber) and high purine content (red). Many dry foods use high purine ingredients because they are cheaper in making up the bulk of the kibble and the subsequent protein source, so be careful in your choice. In choosing a low purine dry food for the better dietary health of your Dalmatian, consider the following advice:
- Avoid red meat or organ-based dry food (lamb, beef, liver, kidney products etc.)
- Avoid some seafood with high purine content (particularly sardines and mackerel)
- Choose a poultry-based dry food for a lower source of purines but still providing essential protein for your Dal (chicken is best, or turkey)
- Avoid common high purine dry food ingredients like peas, lentils, spinach, legumes, yeast and gravy
- Green light purine ingredients good to look for in kibble include whole grains and cereals, most vegetables, pasta, eggs and dairy products
Choosing a dry food that is of good quality and subject to manufacturing standards:
Different countries have different governing bodies which enforce manufacturing laws to ensure that dry food products are of good quality. There have been product recalls for a variety of safety reasons in the history of many dry food brands. Rather than try to choose a brand name with a spotless record (pun intended), look to the country of origin to ensure good food quality standards are being met.
Firstly, be careful of terminology. Stating that something is “made in” a country is different to being a “product of” that country. The term “made in” simply means it was manufactured in that country, it means that ingredients sourced to use in the food could be from other countries, that may not have had the same quality standards as where it is being manufactured. Secondly, be careful of parent companies and their subsequent quality standards. Your dog food brand x may be produced in your country, but the company that owns that brand x, company y, is actually a corporate producer in another country.
Does it really matter? Well to many people no, but if you want to buy local and trust local produce, then yes. The following is a list of pet food “watch dogs” – regulatory bodies that guide and enforce these particular food standards:
Pet food regulating bodies
AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials)
as per the FDA
Feed regulations are enforced by state and federal regulatory officials, of which AAFCO, a non-profit, private corporation, provides the forum to regulate and guide matters
PFIAA (Pet Food Industry Association of Australia)
Self-regulated industry with voluntary industry standards applied through PFIAA, in conjunction with AVA (Australian Veterinary Association) and RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
MPI – NZFS (Ministry for Primary Industries – New Zealand Food Safety)
With one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, NZ also has one of the best ranked pet food regulations enforced on their products in the world
FEDIAF (The European Pet Food Industry Federation)
A uniting pet food industry cooperating with European authorities to ensure appropriate pet food manufacturing laws are upheld
Packaging: bulk ingredients and looking for quality:
There are a few more things to look for on the dry food packet to ensure you are getting safe, quality kibble for your Dalmatian. The first four to five ingredients on the packet make the bulk of the food, therefore, being particularly critical of those first few ingredients is of great importance in deciding on an appropriate kibble. In addition, dry food should have a quality guarantee from a company or country of origin listed to ensure pet food standards have been adhered to.
Be careful of terms that might actually indicate poorer quality ingredients. The best example of this is the term “chicken meal” or “lamb meal” etc., it refers to poorer quality meat or by-products (another term indicating poor quality) being used over whole meat products. Meal or by-products are exactly as they sound, the ground up portions from an abattoir floor that are not used for human consumption. It is understandable that these meat sources are not wasted and included in pet food, but such meat sources are also understood to be from dead, dying or diseased animal carcasses and not of premium quality. The result is poorer quality protein sources, higher purine content of these proteins and as a result not the kind of quality that is best for a Dalmatian’s dietary needs. An expensive dog food does not necessarily mean the best quality food. Poorer quality meats are used because they are cheaper, but checking the ingredients can tell you if price compares to quality, if you look for the right terms.
Other ingredients and their amount featured in the kibble also has an effect on choosing your Dalmatian’s dry food. Dalmatians are a very active breed, they should therefore have a diet to suit their lifestyle. The following ingredients should be considered in addition to a low purine, quality protein source:
- Low quantity but good quality sources of fats and omega-3 fatty acids
- A good source of dietary fiber should be present
Note: If you decide you want grain-free dry food, you should be careful to consider the alternative quality fiber source listed in the ingredients. Grain-free is very trending at the moment, although if chosen to reduce your Dalmatian’s allergies it is useful to note that allergies are much more commonly associated with meats and dairy than grain, hence defies that thinking in some dogs’ cases.
- A good, moderate source of carbohydrates
- Kibble should be low in salt, free from artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives and other unnecessary additives
- Ideally few “filler” ingredients used (ingredients of little nutritional value, just adds to the scoopin’ when they poopin’)
- Trace elements of essential vitamins and minerals as per most dry dog food
The advice given is not to steer you to one particular brand of dry food that is best for your Dalmatian, but rather provide information which will enable you to choose for yourself, based on your dog’s individual needs. If it was boiled down to some key advice, be guided by the following:
- Find quality and reliable ingredients in a dry food brand
- Watch for crude protein level and ingredients high in purines
- Pay particular attention to the first few ingredients that make the majority share
- Be guided by your breeder, veterinarian and Dalmatian’s tummy!
Ultimately, your individual Dalmatian’s response to different dry foods, after you narrowed it down to a few ideal options, should dictate the final choice of a regular dry food for a happy and healthy Dalmatian in your home.