Purines are a type of chemical compound found in foods and are part of a normal diet. Purines can be found in the nucleus of any plant or animal cell. The name “purines” refers to a specific type of molecule made up of carbon and nitrogen atoms, and these molecules are found in cells’ DNA and RNA.
Why would you care as a pet owner? When purine is eaten by humans and animals as it degrades it forms uric acid. The most common problem in humans this can cause is gout, a sharply painful form of arthritis. In susceptible dogs, purines trigger the formation of urate uroliths because they cannot break down the uric acid into allantonin. These dogs will require low purine foods to prevent the formation of uric acid and thereby reduces the chance of stones forming in their body. These “urate stones” can form in the kidneys, urethra or urinary bladder which can cause irritation to the dog. In rare cases, it might even stop the flow of urine completely, causing a lot of pain and even death.
The most common dog breed that you will see this condition in are Dalmatians. A Dalmatian owner should seek a lower purine diet as standard course of ownership. Ninety seven percent of stones in male Dalmatians and 69% in females are urate which form from purine. Other breeds that can have this abnormality are English Bulldogs, Weimaraners, German Shepherds, Giant Schnauzers and some terrier breeds.
How to prevent urate stones?
The best way to prevent this condition is to tailor a low purine diet. There is sometimes a blanket thought that a low purine diet means a low protein diet. While it is probably a good idea to lean towards a moderate amount of protein if you own an at-risk breed, it is a bit more complicated than that. There are specific animal and plant protein sources that are higher than others in purine. So those specific ingredients must be avoided. The simple rules of thumb you will always want to follow if you are limiting purine.
Avoid these animal proteins:
Avoid these vegetable sources:
Ingredients that are lower in purines are the following. It should be noted that organ meat from ANY ANIMAL SOURCE should be avoided. Organ meat is very high in purine.
Most fish (there are exceptions like mackerel, sardines’ or anchovies)
Knowing this; grain free recipes should be avoided or analyzed very closely. Often grain free foods are high in protein and a moderate protein amount is a better choice. Also grain free foods will often use peas or lentils in the recipe.
In addition to diet always make sure your pet has lots of fresh clean water to drink. Some Dalmatian owners will even use mineral free distilled water (there have not been any proven studies that this makes a difference though). The science says the amount of water is the important thing. An at-risk pet owner may want to use urine test strips to monitor the PH level. A change in urinary pH does not indicate the presence or absence of stones but does reveal conditions that are more likely to trigger stone production. A sudden change may signal a bacterial infection, which requires medical attention. It’s important to control urinary tract infections in dogs prone to forming stones.
Are you a Dalmatian parent that manages Purine?