Please read the following information about specific dietary needs for the Dalmatian.
It will help you to always choose the best food for your particular breed's needs and to suit your lifestyle.
DIETARY INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO THE DALMATIAN
Firstly, the Dalmatian is the only breed of dog that lacks a specific enzyme that helps to break down protein. This means it cannot tolerate very high levels of protein and in particular food stuffs with high levels of Purines.
The result of this also means the Dalmatian is susceptible to Urate crystals or stones (kidney stones).
Whilst the majority of Dalmatians never suffer from this throughout their lifetime, some will always be prone to it (current research has not found a specific reason for this). Male dogs are in general much more likely to suffer from this.
A VET SHOULD ALWAYS CHECK ANY PROBLEMS SEEN WITH URINATING, IMMEDIATELY.
Whilst a growing puppy will need higher levels of protein, essential for growth, it is essential that the adult Dalmatian receive a diet with a lower protein level than normal and in particular low in PURINES. Please see link below for a list of foodstuffs high in Purines.
Tinned dog food, by most manufacturers are always higher than the required level and I personally would not recommend feeding it.
Dalmatians also seem to be much more sensitive to their diet than most breeds. Resulting in symptoms such as loose stools or skin conditions.
By choosing a diet that does not have large amounts of chemicals and additives and only a small number of different pure ingredients, you will be giving your Dalmatian the best health you can.
Ingredients are always listed on dog food. Get into the habit of reading them, and seeing the differences between types and manufacturers.
N.B. Most vets are paid commission to sell certain dog foods. Whilst a vet-recommended specialist diet can be invaluable for a specific conditions, a normal healthy Dalmatian would find these diets far too rich.
Less is more when it comes to ingredients! Fewer ingredients make it easer for the Dalmatian to digest.
I find most pet owners find a dried food diet easier, as it doesn't go off quickly and is easy to store, however some owners like to feed meat and a more 'natural' diet. If you wish to follow this diet then personally I would recommend feeding raw lamb and a very basic 'terrier meal' (for carbohydrates). Lamb keeps the weight on nicely, compared to other meats and is usually much better quality. Meat should always be fresh and fed at room temperature, if any is left in the bowl always throw it away and keep bowls really clean.
Because of the Dalmatian's specific dietary requirements, personally I do not recommend the feeding of 'human food' (processed). Most food prepared for us, has a lot of additives etc in and can easily cause an upset tummy. Fruit and vegetables however are fine.
N.B. Onions and raw potato are poisonous to the dog. So is chocolate!
It is also worth checking out the ingredients on any 'doggy treats'. These are often very high in protein/fat and additives.
Plain doggy biscuits are much more suited for the Dalmatian digestion. Chews such as rawhide are ok, but avoid the brightly coloured ones (it stains everything including the puppy's stomach!).
If you wish to treat your puppy with these plain biscuits for training etc, make sure you allow how much they will add to the daily diet. It's very easy for a dog to get fat on too many treats because the normal diet has not been reduced to allow for this.
As you may want to use treats regularly for training when the puppy is young, try to keep the treats very small and easy to eat, or the puppy will quickly get full.
THE CORRECT WAY TO FEED YOUR DOG
Never leave food down for your dog. They should be given the food and unless they eat it all immediately, the food should be taken up again and not offered until the next feeding time. This is a very important tool to teach your dog to eat regularly and also to realise who is the boss! Dalmatians in particular are very smart. They can easily persuade you that they can't possibly eat anything but what's on your plate, or something tastier like a treat. Being consistent with feeding will help to establish your role as pack leader and also teach your dog to eat the right diet!
Although, many owners feed their puppy on the floor, the correct height is to hold the bowl so the dog's neck and back are level when eating. This will firstly stop your puppy from splaying the front legs out and to help correct growth. Secondly, as Dalmatians usually like to eat as fast as possible, they can be susceptible to 'bloat' (twisted gut). Feeding at this level can help to reduce the risk. Bowl stands are available (easier to buy once the puppy has finished growing), or often a block that will hold the bowl with out it tipping over will suffice.
Do not feed straight after exercise. Allow at least half an hour of rest first. The body is still busy pumping blood to the muscles after exertion and digestion at this time can put stress on the system.
When feeding a dried food, don't let the dog have a very large drink straight after eating. This can cause the food to swell quickly in the stomach. Usually if water is available at all times, this will not happen.
Do not worry, if as your puppy is growing that sometimes he doesn't want to eat.
It is very easy to become stressed out about feeding, which the dog picks up really quickly and can become a fussy eater. If the dog refuses food for over 24hrs and you also feel he is generally unwell, then take him to the vets. Otherwise, just offer the food at the next mealtime and he should be hungry again by then. Dogs may refuse a meal for many reasons, such as a poorly tummy, hot weather, full-up!! Etc.
As your puppy grows, food amounts should be gradually increased.
At all times your puppy should easily always clear the bowl straight away. If food is regularly being left, then reduce the amount and stay at that amount for a while before gradually increasing it again.
A puppy until it reaches maturity (about 18months old), will require a larger amount in proportion to it's body weight than a fully mature Dalmatian, as they require extra protein and nutrients for growth.
The best indication of how much to feed is by constantly watching the condition of your puppy. As the closest person in your puppy's life, you will be the first to notice any differences with them.
You should be able to feel the ribs, but not see them.
You should have coverage over the spine. If it's prominent at all, the puppy is too thin. If there is a dip along where the spine should be, the puppy is too fat.
There should not be too much 'wrinkling' at the base of the puppy's neck (the withers).
Puppies have periods of growth spurts and periods of slower growth until they reach maturity.
By learning to be able to monitor your puppy's condition yourself, you will be able to increase/decrease the puppy's amount of food accordingly. This way your puppy should not experience a big loss or gain in too short an amount of time.
As every puppy is an individual, it would be detrimental to give you exact amounts to feed your puppy throughout its life. All puppies have different requirements, some are more active than others, and some have a faster metabolism.
If you are worried that your puppy may be too thin or too fat, consult your breeder or Dalmatian club breed representative for your area. They should both be able to arrange to see your puppy and give you some advice.