Low Purine Diet for Dogs

By Jane Meggitt

If you have a Dalmatian or an English bulldog, it's probably wise to put your pet on a low purine diet as a preventive measure. That's because both of these breeds -- especially the former -- are prone to developing urate bladder stones. Purines are a specific type of protein, which includes uric acid, and in normal dogs, the liver converts them into allantoins, which are passed out in urine. Dalmatians and other dogs with a singular kidney and liver chemistry can't convert purines to allantoins, so they excrete uric acid in their urine. Because uric acid isn't really water soluble and doesn't pass through readily in urine, it's easy for stones to form in the susceptible dog's bladder.

A less common breed, the black Russian terrier, also has a genetic predisposition to forming uric acid stones. So does the Parson Russell terrier. Male Dalmatians are far more likely to suffer from uric acid bladder stones than females.

Purines in the Diet

Purines are found in meat, especially organ meats. Other meats generally high in purines include duck, venison, sardines and mackerel. While most vegetables are relatively low in purines, there are exceptions that should not be fed to vulnerable dogs. These include:

  • Kidney beans
  • Cauliflower
  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms

Foods free from purines include:

  • Eggs
  • Pasta
  • Cheese
  • Rice
  • Whole grain cereals and bread, if there is no yeast
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts, with the exception of macadamia nuts
  • Oatmeal, contains low levels of purines

Low Purine Meats

While all meats contain some amount of purines, some don't contain sufficient numbers to affect dogs prone to urate stones. These include:

  • Most poultry, with the exception of goose and duck
  • Most fish
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Pork

If you want to feed your dog a homemade low purine diet, ask your vet for specific recommendations. Obviously, a diet too heavy on cheese or peanut butter will cause problems of its own. Your vet can help you concoct a safe, well-balanced diet for your dog.

Low Purine Diet

Your vet may prescribe a low purine veterinary diet or recommend a commercial diet for your dog. The Royal Canin Urinary UC Low Purine dog food lists brewers rice, corn, wheat, egg, chicken fat and corn gluten meal as its primary ingredients. The diet causes the dog's urine to become more alkaline, which reduces the likelihood of stone formation.

While all dogs should have ready access to fresh, clean water, it's especially important to Dalmatians and other canines prone to urate stones. You may want to add water to your dog's meal to make a gravy. It's not just dog food you must watch out for -- typical dog treats are loaded with purines. Treat your pet with a piece of hard cheese, a carrot, boiled egg or similar purine-free tidbit.