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Great Danes and Common Health Problems

You will find information here on problems afflicting our beloved breed. Some problems are more common that others, but they are all problems that we should be aware of and educate ourselves about.

Bloat - The Word All Dane Owners Fear Most

Great Dane owners everywhere surely cringe when they hear this word. A new or prospective dane owner may not know the signifigance of this word. LEARN IT!! Unfortunately, it is a word you may become all too familiar with. Bloat is what happens when a dane's stomach swells. This is not fatal, but what happens along with it can be, and often is. Torsion is what happens when the dane bloats and none of the gasses can escape the stomach cavity. Organs get damaged, tissue dies, and your dane can die as well. Rather than try to explain bloat in my terms, I have listed a few links here that can help you understand bloat and torsion more. I CAN NOT EMPHASIZE ENOUGH THE IMPORTANCE OF LEARNING THE SYMPTOMS OF BLOAT!! You absolutely cannot put off veterinary care. It WILL NOT go away. If you even THINK your dane is bloating, get to the vet IMMEDIATELY. Read up on the subject, chances are - one day you may need to know this stuff. A recent study showed that 1 in every 4 great danes will bloat.

This is a link to a bloating experience, told by the dane.
   Gaysie May Bloats

Another VERY informative site on Bloat and Torsion:

What causes Bloat? No one knows the EXACT cause, but read up about it more here:
   Bloat In Dogs

Gastropexy is a preventive surgery to help prevent your dog from going into the torsion phase. It's recommended for great danes. Read more here:
   Gastropexy-What It Is, How It's Done

My last two cents on the subject - Don't ASSUME your vet knows what to do if your dane bloats. You don't want to find this out the hard way. Some vets don't know how to treat bloat, some vets WON'T treat bloat, and some vets PRETEND to know what they're doing. Find out BEFORE HAND if your vet is willing and able to treat your dane should he or she bloat.

Here are more links on the subject of bloating, tubing, and gastropexy:
Signs and Symptoms
Gastric Torsion in Dogs
Tubing a Bloat Dog
Gastropexy  (Stomach Tacking)

Vaccinations are being researched more thoroughly by veterinarians and scientists each day. Over-vaccination has been linked to many of the health problems that are afflicting our Great Danes today. Please research and make your decisions wisely. It has been proven that it is not necessary to vaccinate your pets every year, despite what some veterinarians tell their clients. Don't line your vet's pockets at the expense of your Great Dane's health. Do your research!!

Vaccinosis Links:
   Everything Vaccines - an AMAZING site full of information

   The Vaccine Controversy


   Duration Of Immunity

Canine Cancer

Unfortunately, cancer is rather prevalent in our breed. I've lost a couple to cancer myself. It showed itself rather quickly, and claimed the ones I loved in a matter of day in some cases.

Get to know the signs of canine cancer. There are several different "kinds" of cancer that can afflict our breed. Some links below will help you to understand more.

   Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer)

   Mast Cell Tumors

   Cancer in the Canine


   Brain Tumors

A site with an abundance of canine cancer related links:

The Smiling Blue Skies


Wobblers is a subject I know very little about, as luckily I have never had to deal with it. I know it can be a devasting disability that could possibly cost your dane his or her life. Luckily, modern technology and education have meant an increased survival rate in dogs afflicted with wobblers.

Learn more about wobblers here:

   Wobblers Treatment -
An Alternative to Surgery

   Gold Bead Implants Directory -
a list of Vets by state who perform
   the procedure.


Megaesophagus is a horrifying disorder, but it need not be a death sentence. If you'd like to learn more about megaesophagus, please click on the links below.

But first, please read Mattie's story, about a Great Dane who has beaten the odds and lives a pretty normal life despite her condition.
Mattie's Story

What is Megaesophagus? Learn more here:

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Unfortunately, I know this disease all to well. It claimed the life of my first great dane, Hootch at the age of three. He was the entire reason I ever got so head over hills into danes and later, dane rescue. One day he was a happy healthy boy, going on 2 to 3 mile walks, bounding off after deer, and playing soccer for hours. The next day he was gasping for breath after having only walked a portion of our walk. After taking him to the vet and being told he was just adjusting to the warming weather, I put my concerns at ease. BIG mistake. He died shortly after. A necropsy found DCM to be the cause of death.

To learn about this sudden and sometimes silent killer, visit these sites:
Hank's Story

Orthopedic, Skeletal and Muscular Problems

HOD (Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy) is a painful and dehabilitating disease that affects the limbs of growing dogs. It is excruciating for the dog and can sometimes be fatal.

To learn more about HOD click on the links below:

Panosteitis (Pano for short) is characterized by sudden lameness in a growing puppy with no obvious trauma as the cause. This generally affects males more than females and can occur any time during the rapid growth period.

To find more on causes (speculated causes) and treatments, click on the links below.

Osteochondrosis Desseicans (OCD) is a disorder characterized by abnormal calcification of the joint cartilage. It can affect primary and secondary centers of bone growth, joint cartilage, and growth plate cartilage.

More about OCD:

Additional information regarding Skeletal Problems/Diseases
Skeletal Diseases of the Growing Dog

Caring For The Older Dane

As your dane gets older, he will begin to slow down and show some wear and tear. He may not be able to do the things he once did, and may even have elimination problems as well as trouble getting up and down. As danes are extremely dignified, please never scold him for his failings. He loves you as much now as he ever did, and in fact, needs you more than ever. To scold him for his new problems would break his heart. Try to make sure he is comfortable and make time for an extra potty break or two.

Here is an excellent article on
Caring For The Older Dane

Surgery Guidelines For Great Danes

Our breed is one with different needs than the average dog. The GDCA has posted surgery guidelines for our breed. Please print a copy and discuss this with your vet before any surgery.

Surgery Guidelines