Acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS in the Dalmatian dog breed

Acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS in the Dalmatian dog breed

Health & Safety

The Dalmatian dog breed is perhaps one of the most distinctive and recognisable of them all, thanks to their handsome conformations and distinctive spots. The breed was of course popularised by the various 101 Dalmatians films that most of us remember from our childhoods, and which for many breed enthusiasts, triggered a lifelong interest in and love for dogs of the breed, and a desire to own one.

Dalmatians are highly energetic, very amusing, and can be quite a handful to own, and they are certainly a breed that will keep even the most switched on of owners on their toes. The breed is also one that tends to be less robust and healthy than many others, and there are quite a significant number of hereditary health conditions found across dogs of the breed and so, relatively high risk factors for individual dogs of the breed inheriting one or more of them.

One of the less common hereditary health conditions found within the Dalmatian dog breed but one that is acute, very serious and that ultimately proves fatal in the vast majority of affected dogs is called acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS. Around 1.7% of all Dalmatian dogs in the UK are carriers for the condition, and whilst this is a relatively small percentage, it does mean that the condition is considered to pose a threat to the health and improvement of the breed as a whole.

In this article we will look at acute respiratory distress syndrome in the Dalmatian in more detail, examining how the condition affects dogs, how it is passed from dog to dog, and how Dalmatian owners or prospective buyers can find out the risk factors for any given dog. Read on to learn more.

What is acute respiratory distress syndrome?

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (sometimes shortened to the acronym ARDS) is a sudden onset health condition that causes an acute (rapid) failure of the dog’s respiratory system, due to a build-up of fluid and inflammation within the lungs.

The condition is very serious and is almost always fatal in affected dogs, although there are some occasional exceptions if the condition is both diagnosed and appropriately treated very promptly.

Symptoms of ARDS in Dalmatians include sudden onset breathing difficulties, a persistent cough, a discharge from the nose, and potentially, bluing or cyanosis of the skin due to a lack of oxygenation of the blood.

How is the condition passed from dog to dog?

Acute respiratory distress syndrome can be caused in dogs as a secondary complication of another underlying health condition, or an injury or trauma. However, the condition is hereditary within certain Dalmatian breed lines, which means that it occurs as the result of the dog in question inheriting a combination of abnormal or faulty genes that result in the condition developing without a root trigger.

This is something that scientists and researchers have only recently determined for certain, and the specific gene mutations that cause the condition in Dalmatians have now been identified. A DNA test can now be performed on dogs to identify their status for the condition and so, to allow their owners to know the risks for their dogs and any litters that they might produce.

A Dalmatian’s status for acute respiratory distress syndrome is expressed as either clear, carrier or affected, and knowing the status of both parent dogs allows you to work out what that of their offspring will be, as follows:

  • Two clear parent dogs will produce a litter within which all of the puppies will also be clear.
  • Two affected parent dogs will produce a litter of affected puppies.
  • Two carrier parent dogs will produce a litter of 50% carriers, 25% clear and 25% affected.
  • A clear dog and an affected dog will produce a litter of carriers.
  • A clear dog and a carrier will produce a litter of 50% clear and 50% carrier pups.
  • An affected dog and a carrier dog will produce a litter of 50% affected pups and 50% clear.

DNA testing for acute respiratory distress syndrome in the Dalmatian

Only recently has a DNA testing scheme for ARDS been put into place for the Dalmatian dog breed, and this test has made it possible for Dalmatian breeders to find out the status of their stock of breeding dogs prior to mating any two dogs. Knowing the status of both parents means that breeders can determine the chances of those dogs’ pups in their turn being affected by or carriers of the condition themselves.

In order to get a Dalmatian tested to find out their status for ARDS, you will just need to book an appointment with the vet and ask them to take a DNA sample from the dog, and then to send the sample off to an approved laboratory, who will test it for the markers of the condition.

A result is then returned of either clear, carrier or affected. If you are considering buying a Dalmatian puppy, ask the breeders you are considering about their health testing protocols and ask to see any results before making a final decision on a purchase.



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