Common Great Dane health problems
As sweet and wonderful as Great Danes are, like all races, they have their drawbacks. Its commonly short lifespan is first on the list. A high average is probably seven to eight years, although there are certainly exceptions to this. Many are known to live nine to twelve years. This is a question to ask yourself when interviewing a puppy breeder. Obviously, their premature deaths are due to some causes. Unfortunately, more health problems are found in this breed than they are entitled to. Not all of the problems listed below are life threatening, but they seem to occur more frequently in Great Danes. Thyroid imbalance, cataracts, and Von Willebrand’s disease are some health problems that breeders are also evaluating. Ask the breeder what problems he is testing. You will most likely never worry about them, but it doesn’t hurt to be aware of these health concerns when considering a Danish for your family.
1. Von Willebrand disease
Von Willebrand disease (VWD) is an inherited disorder that prevents the blood from clotting. There are different degrees of VWD ranging from clear, genetic carriers, and affected. The screening consists of a blood test that determines how badly the Danish will fall.
There are many causes of cataracts in dogs, including injury, nutrition, heredity, and genetics. Here we are mainly interested in inherited cataracts. Juvenile or hereditary cataracts affect Great Danes. Unfortunately, not many breeders detect cataracts, as they cannot always be seen with the naked eye. There is not much data on this condition in Danes to draw conclusions as they may not live long enough to be bothered by the cataract. Cataracts are found in the lens of the eye, the clear body behind the iris. Mainly, the dilation of the iris is necessary to really see the cataract. It is important that the eyes are examined annually by a certified ophthalmologist veterinarian. If the dog passes the CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) test, it is given a number, valid for one year.
Thyroid problems include an overactive or underactive thyroid. The correct functioning of the thyroid is essential, since it affects many aspects of the dog’s health. A blood test will check the effectiveness of the thyroid. The OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) will only certify dogs with a normal thyroid. If the thyroid functions abnormally, it often affects the skin condition and causes dry, itchy skin with little hair growth. Autoimmune problems are also common, in addition to causing sterility in the reproductive system.
Panosteitis is an inflammation of the long bones of the leg that causes lameness. It has been known to move from leg to leg and usually goes away on its own. If the pain is severe, a visit to the vet is a good idea. What causes panosteitis is unknown. Most of the time, it shows up between four and eight months of age and usually disappears by the time the dog turns two.
5. Hip dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is what occurs when the femur joint (the long bone of the thigh that joins the pelvis) does not fit snugly into the socket of the pelvic bone. Mainly, this occurs because the pelvic cavity is too small to accommodate the femoral joint. The dog experiences pain because it does not adjust properly and arthritis often develops as a result. Fortunately, hip dysplasia is becoming rarer in puppies from responsible breeders who regularly screen their dogs for this condition. The screening consists of a hip X-ray and an OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certification. Unfortunately, many breeders do not check the hips of their dogs and it is they who still have a very high incidence of hip dysplasia in their puppies. Insist that both parents be screened for this condition.
6. Hypertrophic osteodystrophy
Hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD) affects young people during their fastest growing period, usually between four and ten months of age. It is a severe swelling and inflammation of the joints that causes immense pain to the puppy. Often times, the dog just starts crying because the pain is so bad. Diagnosis is made by x-ray and the cause is unknown. Be aware of HOD, as many veterinarians do not recognize it when it is first introduced to them. Treatment is usually successful if caught early and there are several treatment methods, the most important of which is pain control.
7. Wobblers syndrome
A disease of the nervous system, Wobblers syndrome is when the dog has movement problems. When the vertebrae in the neck form abnormally, pressure is created on the spinal cord. There are various degrees of severity. Some dogs live long and happy lives with the disease, while others are sadly euthanized when young. Loss of coordination in the hind legs is usually the first symptom. It seems that the dog is moving without understanding exactly where its hindquarters are. The problem is more serious when the dog falls when turning. Sometimes, in very extreme cases, the front legs can also be affected. There is rarely pain related to Wobblers syndrome.
8. Bloating or gastric torsion
This condition is probably the most common cause of death in Great Danes. Studies have shown that at least twenty-five percent of the Great Dane population experiences bloat. Generally, bloating only occurs when the dog is five years old or older. What actually causes the swelling is still unknown. Many people believe that carefully monitoring what their Danish eats and drinks can help prevent it. The gas fills the stomach and the dog cannot release it. Due to excess gas, the stomach will swell, eventually rotate on its axis, and roll over. This is known as gastric torsion. When this happens, the nerves and blood vessels to and from the stomach become blocked. The tissues that function thanks to these vessels will begin to die and produce toxins which, in turn, will cause toxicity and shock throughout the animal. This very quickly leads to death. It is essential to get your dog to the vet very quickly when this occurs. Sometimes getting your dog to surgery on time is not enough. Often times, the trauma of the experience is enough to cause heart failure.
To successfully treat this condition, the dog must first be stabilized before surgery. By inserting a stomach tube through the mouth, trapped gas can escape. If the tube cannot be inserted due to time or obstruction, then they will need to pierce the stomach directly so that the gas can come out on its own. Releasing the gas is the only way to stop the deadly effects of bloating and gastric torsion. Once the dog is stable and the surgical team decides that it is safe to attempt surgery, the vet will open the dog and perform a procedure that will ensure that the stomach can never twist again, called gastroplegia. Discuss this condition with your veterinarian before any incidence of bloat occurs, as there are several methods that are commonly done. Don’t be afraid to ask your vet how familiar he is with performing a gastroplegia.
If the stomach is just “crossed out” then it is not a permanent solution. Within six months, the tack will be ineffective. There are more permanent methods to treat this condition. Now a future gastric torsion is prevented. However, an episode of bloating will always be possible. Some breeders and owners have a gastropexy performed on all female dogs while they are sedated during spaying, and male dogs when X-rayed for hip dysplasia, as most veterinarians will use anesthesia to do an x-ray. exact. The reassurance pays off with the probability that the swelling is so high.
A condition called cardiomyopathy is common in the breed. This is a heart condition that generally does not affect a dog before three to four years of age. Symptoms you may notice include lack of interest in food, intermittent cough, lack of energy, and exercise intolerance. Be careful of leg swelling and retching, as the stomach and chest cavity sometimes accumulate fluids. Unfortunately, once diagnosed, patients with cardiomyopathy are given around three months to live.
Osteosarcoma is the most common form of cancer found in this breed. It usually affects the long bones of one of the legs. The first symptom is leg swelling and lameness. Osteosarcoma is diagnosed primarily by X-ray. It is important to diagnose this condition before the spread (metastasis) of the cancer occurs. Treatment consists of amputating the limb. This is drastic, but the Danes do well on three legs and run as if they still had their leg amputated. This decision will take into account the age and strength of your dog. Homeowners who have experienced this condition and treatment almost unanimously have no regrets about doing so.
Due to the potential health risks to the Great Dane, responsible breeders will examine their dogs before making breeding decisions. The OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) assesses and registers dogs for elbow and hip dysplasia, heart defects, and thyroid function. The hip grade will be bad, good or excellent. They will also tell the owner if the dog is dysplastic. CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) will certify the eyes once the dog passes an examination by a Board Certified Canine Ophthalmologist. Insist on evidence from these breeder tests to ensure conscientious breeding practices are performed and to know that your Danish comes from a good breeding stock.
Great Danes grow in one year what people grow in eighteen. During this growth period, if something goes wrong with metabolism or nutrient assimilation, it will most often show up on the skeleton. Most of these problems can be easily controlled or prevented with proper nutrition. Ideally, a diet that includes all the elements for growth and that is properly balanced should effectively slow down this growth rate. Considering that all of the above problems are overwhelming, there is no reason why your Great Dane cannot live a long life without any of them. Having a Dane doesn’t always mean there will be problems!