Of course every breed has the potential for health problems and Great Danes are no exception. Since many health issues can be inherited, it is very important to research the pedigree behind your puppy and to choose a reputable breeder who's standards include screening the Dane parents prior to breeding for any potential health issues. Some health issues come from inproper care such as feeding or neglect. Great Dane puppies grow very fast which can cause many skeletal issues if not controlled. Your puppy should be kept lean and eat only high quality food with 24% protein or less. Besides the normal health ailments that may affect any breed, your Dane could have the potential for Cancer, Cardiac problems, Cataracts, Von Willebrand's Disease, Osteochondrosis Dessicans (OCD) or any of the following.
If you suspect something may be wrong with your Dane, watch and record his/her eating habits (amount & when), is he/she drinking and staying hydrated, is he/she drinking too much, is he/she urinating as normal or are they struggling with very little or too much, and take his/her temperature. A Danes normal rectal temperature should be around 100.2-100.8 degrees fahrenheit.
We also give details on medications, etc on the following pages. Please see your Vet though if you have any questions or concerns about your Dane!
Bloat / Gastric Torsion - Recent studies have concluded that up to 25% of all Danes will eventually bloat. The causes of bloat are still not fully known but due to the studies that have been conducted over the years, they have been able to rule out causes that they used to believe were factors. It was originally belived that bloat was caused by allowing your Dane to eat too fast, allowing the Dane to run and exercise prior to and after eating, not elevating your Danes food / water dishes, or free access to water. Even though we don't know the true reason behind bloat, we do know that it is most likely brought on by stress (change in routine, new family members, etc). Keeping your Dane protected from unnecessary stress and knowing their family history are good factors to help lowere your chances of bloat but the only way to really help prevent bloat is to have a preventative gastropexy. Make sure your vet does not just tack the stomach as this normally only lasts 6 months. With bloat, your Dane will show signs of abnormal stomach distention. Your Dane may attempt to vomit but only brings up foam. He / She will be restless, may pace or dig, and not be able to find a comfortable position. The gums may even appear pale. If you even suspect bloat, get to the vet as soon as possible as your Dane could be at risk of death in as little as 20 minutes!
Hip Dysplasia - This is when your Dane has laxity in a hip joint which causes the joint to not fit properly, which in return can be painful. A good set of Xrays can show you how you Danes hip joints are set.
Panosteoitis (Pano) - inflammation of the long bones of the legs that affects puppies between 4 and 8 months. Normally starts out as a mild limp in one leg and may migrate to the other. Usually there is little pain associated with Pano and it usually goes away very quickly. A bit of Rimadyl may help speed this process along. (Rimadyl/Carprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory used to reduce pain and swelling associated with osteoarthritis and to treat post-op pain associated with soft tissue and orthopedic surgeries in dogs. Administer 2mg/lb of body weight daily or divide into twice a day with 1mg/lb BID)
Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD) - This is a painful inflammation of the leg joints that normally affects male puppies between 4 and 8 months old. This is a SEVERE case of Pano. The puppy may get leghargic and run a fever. The joints are usually painful to the touch and the puppy will be in such pain / discomfort that he / she may yelp in pain and refuse to stand. If you even suspect you Dane may be getting HOD, immediately give 2,000mg of vitamin C, reduce the protein intake to 17% (Solid Gold Holistic kibble), give Rimadyl for the inflammation (2mg/lb of body weight daily / 1mg/lb of body weight BID, and a mixture of 1 pint warm apple cider vinegar and 1 pint of warm honey (arthritis remedy), and have your Vet take Xrays of the legs. It is very important to be proactive with HOD as I've personally had one of my past puppies (Gunther Von Emrick) come down with this and so I've seen 1st hand what this can do to Danes. Gunther had become so severe that his legs were weak to even walk himself outside to relieve himself. If this continued for too long, Gunther's legs would be permenantely disabled. The Vet tried suggesting putting him down but myself and the owner did not consider that an option. With the right proactive medicines (given in high dosages; don't go easy when it comes to HOD) and patience, Gunther was finally able to pull though & be in prime health. (Click Here for more details and to read Gunther's Story)
Wobblers - Instability or malformation of the neck vertebrae which in turn puts pressure on the spinal cord. This causes a lack or coordination in the rear legs. More severe cases may even affect the front legs or cause the dog to not be able to walk at all. There is usually no pain associated with Wobblers. Researchers are not sure if this is inherited or not, but it has been shown to be brought on by injury. This normally affects Danes around 7 - 8 mths old. (Click here for a very in depth article and information on Wobblers)
Cranial Cruciate Disease - Similar to ACL injuries in people, but the process by which the tear occurs is different. Unlike in people, who primarily suffer from traumatic ACL injuries, the canine cruciate tears from a degenerative, inflammatory process which weakens the ligament. Tearing of the weakened ligament may or may not be proceeded by a mild traumatic event (e.g. jumping off the couch). (Click here for a very detailed story on Stromboli, the Loving Dane with CCD)
Angular Limb Deformity - An angular limb deformity is an abnormally shaped or crooked limb that results from abnormal growth of the bones. Angular limb deformities are most commonly seen in the forearm (radius/ulna), but can also be seen in the lower part of the hind leg (tibia/fibula). Injury to young, growing bones can result in an angular limb deformity. These injuries can include being hit by a car, stepped on, dropped or getting a limb caught in the doorway. Abnormally shaped bones then put abnormal forces on the joints, which can lead to pain and arthritis. (Click here for more details & to read Jericho's Story)
Pyoderma / Impetigo - A bacterial skin infection, usually Staph, which usually afffects puppies since they have a weaker immune system. It is most commonly recognized by small red or crusty bumps on the belly or, as typically seen in Danes, on the head of the puppy. These may resemble "pimples". There may be dry patches of flaky skin or some noted hair loss. It is VERY common in young Dane pups & it will clear up without any complications. To treat: Topical Treatment such as Providone Iodine or diluted Betadine twice daily for a week. Shampoo Treatment with Hibiclens, which can be found at any local pharmacy. If the rash spreads or doesn't look better after a week , move to Oral Treatment of Cephalexin. (Click here for more information on Pyoderma and treatment with dosaging)
- Pyometra - An infection in the uterus. This is usually a secondary infection that occurs as a result of hormonal changes in the female. Pyometra usually occurs two to eight weeks after the females last heat cycle. Symptoms depend on whether the cervix is open or closed. If the cervix is open, pus or abnormal discharge may drain from the uterus through the vagina to the outside. Fever, lethargy, anorexia, and depression may also be present. Excessive licking after the heat cycle, cuddly or distant, and excessive drinking may also occur. If the cervix is closed, discharge may not be able to drain. It will collect in the uterus causing the abdomen to distend. The bacteria releases toxins that are absorbed into the bloodstream. Toxins affect the kidney's ability to retain fluid. Increased urine production occurs and many dogs drink an excess of water to compensate. There may be lethargy, weakness, excessive panting, increased thirst, anorexia, distention of the abdomen, vomiting, and fever often to 104 to 106. X-rays may identify an enlarged uterus if it is a closed cervix. Treatment: (1) Spay or (2) Natural Remedy along with some Antibiotics (Click here for more information on the Natural Remedy)
- Eclampsia - An emergency medical condition where blood calcium levels drop in nursing mothers. Most often occurs when puppies are 1 to 5 weeks of age. Symptoms include: Tremors, weakness, stiff limbs, struggling to stand or walk, panting, restlessness, & muscle spasms.
- Metritis - An inflamed uterine wall.
- Mastitis - My personal experience with Mastitis to follow...
Glen Burnie, MD (443) 800-5709 Tanya@GreatestDanes.com