|| Dalmatian Club Of America Foundation
||Eva E. Berg, President
136 Longfield Place
Moraga, CA 94556
|Phone (925) 376-0136
Fax: (925) 376-9032
Email DCAF President
Dear DCA Members & All Dalmatian Lovers:
This extremely important request concerns Dalmatian-specific stone disease and an important research project created exclusively for it. The promise of the research is exciting for all who own and love Dalmatians, especially those of us whose dogs – living with us, or those that have been placed in other homes - have active urinary stone disease.
Joseph Bartges, DVM, PhD of the U. Tennessee Vet Medical Center is the world's authority on Dalmatian stone disease. We are fortunate this expert is embarking on two DCAF funded projects involving the breed's unique urinary stone defect. Their success is 100% dependent on the participation of Dalmatian owners and breeders, and therefore this request is being directed to the entire DCA membership. One of Dr. Bartges' two projects has the promise of saving a now-unknown number of Dalmatian dogs. For the first time, life-threatening complications of Dalmatian stone disease may be revealed which heretofore were unsuspected. That knowledge - if uncovered and confirmed - can establish revelations in standard diagnoses of Dalmatians throughout the worldwide veterinary community.
The complications are "kidney failure" and "kidney insufficiency," some cases of which may be urinary stone-induced. Both are fatal with little or no known treatment. Dr. Bartges' research can reveal if many afflicted Dalmatians are forming urinary stones in their kidneys. If so, the two kidney complications – by applying effective anti-stone treatments as used in the Dalmatian's bladder and lower urinary system - may be reversible thus avoiding euthanasia or massive expenses such as for kidney transplants.
Participation in this research by you - and by owners of your breed line dogs – may allow many affected Dalmatians previously doomed by one or both of the kidney complications to have a relatively normal lifespan. (The second project - an online questionnaire - is not restricted only to Dalmatians with stone disease, but for anyone owning a Dalmatian, stone former or not.) Discovering if stone formation is also taking place in the kidneys depends exclusively on your participation in the study because anatomic information from kidneys and ureters only from stone-forming Dalmatians will confirm or deny that knowledge.
The following is a summary of scientific facts explaining why only the owner or breeder of a Dalmatian with stone disease can make the research potential a breed-wide reality.
- Dalmatians are the only breed of dogs known since 1938 to have an inborn defect of urine production leading to urate/purine urinary stone disease. All Dalmatians are born with the defect.
- Despite vet databases of almost 100,000 stone forming dogs after 20 years, including thousands of Dalmatians, little medical information is known how many Dals are forming stones also in their kidneys and upper renal structures…not just in their bladders and urethras.
- There is current concern about the number of Dalmatians diagnosed with kidney failure and/or kidney insufficiency. Some cases of these life-threatening diseases may be caused by undetected stone formation in kidneys and the upper urinary system. If so, known anti-stone treatment may be of immediate benefit to them.
- "Undetected" because routine standard x-rays generally fail to visualize the Dalmatian-specific urate/purine stones regardless of anatomically where in the urinary system they have formed (whether in the bladder or in the kidneys).
- Dr. Bartges' research is the first scientifically-organized project exclusively to gather autopsy data on Dalmatian stone disease in the kidneys and upper urinary system. Discovering how many dogs are forming stones up there may just provide a new diagnostic caution before some Dalmatian lifespans start being drastically shortened by seemingly untreatable kidney failure or kidney insufficiency.
I hope this is reaching you when any stone-forming Dalmatians you know are still alive. The research may extend life further for some Dalmatians with stone disease. As time moves on and your Dalmatian owners approach that heart-wrenching moment of losing their beloved dogs, I am asking you to contact them - now - to make an admittedly wrenching decision:
Please, have them authorize a modified and limited autopsy of their stone-forming Dalmatian when they lose him / her, or better, have them authorize the forms now and place them on file with their veterinarian so that they will not forget during a moment of grief?
Let's immediately acknowledge this is an intimidating decision at that terrible moment. By planning now for the necropsy, you add the much-increased solace that the Dalmatian's stone-diseased life was not in vain. In a real sense, those Dalmatians in Dr. Bartges' research will be immortalized by their presence. If the research materializes into its expected breed-wide benefit, it means the Dalmatians in the study will live on as a memorable and memorial contribution to improved urinary health of future Dalmatians, hopefully restoring the lifespan of who-knows-how-many dogs to a normal duration of years.
I hope you – as the breeder – will contact other owners so that they too will immortalize their stone-forming Dalmatians with the same consoling and meaningful decision. Copies of the two consent forms (as well as the study questionnaire) are available on the DCA homepage, www.thedca.org, "DCAF Funded Stone Study." Follow the link to the two studies and the consent forms. They are ready to print out and place with the vet in the Dalmatian's patient file before the dog is lost. Please note there is a stipend for the vet you choose to perform the autopsy. The questionnaire and consent forms are also available on Dr. Bartges' website: http://www.vet.utk.edu/bartges/kidneystones.shtml. If you have not already done so, please don't delay in filling out the questionnaire for all of the dogs under your direction; alive or deceased.
I would like to acknowledge Carroll H. Weiss for his invaluable assistance to our breed during his eleven years of work on the Health and Research Committee and in helping me draft this letter.
Eva Berg, President
Dalmatian Club of America Foundation