Great Danes require special care throughout their lives. Learning about parasites, medical conditions and disease will help your pet live a longer and prosperous life. The health needs of a giant breed dogs differ from other dogs. It is important that your veternarian have experience with giant dogs. Here are a few disease, medical and health concerns to look out for.

Bloat is a very serious health risk for Great Danes, yet many dog owners know very little about it. According to most research, it is the second leading killer of dogs, after cancer. It is frequently reported that deep-chested dogs, such as Great Danes are particularly at risk. Bloat is a gastric dilation of the stomach caused by an abnormal accumulation of gas or liquid. This can be dangerous enough in its own right, but sometimes it leads to a second stage called volvulus, which is a stomach twisting or tortion. This shuts the stomach off from the rest of the body and prevents any of the accumulated gas or fluid within to escape. The stomach continues to expand, setting off a catastrophic series of events that in most cases can only be averted with emergency surgery. Without surgery, the bloated stomach obstructs veins in the abdomen, leading to low blood pressure, shock, and damage to internal organs. The combined effect can quickly kill a dog.

Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD) is a bone disease in young large and giant breed dogs. It may occur between the ages of 2 and 7 months. HOD is characterized by decreased blood flow to the metaphysis (the part of the bone adjacent to the joint) leading to a failure of ossification (bone formation) and necrosis and inflammation of cancellous bone. The disease is usually bilateral in the limb bones, especially the distal radius, ulna, and tibia.

Hip dysplasia is a genetic degenerative joint disease affecting the joints of the hip. The soft tissues surrounding the joints break down and the joints themselves begin to separate. The best way to avoid dealing with this issue is to choose your animal carefully. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) will examine xrays and rate the condition of the hips. Any breeder should be able to provide OFA rated documentation for the parents of your new puppy. This is excellent information. Be wary if this is not offered. Surgery can correct this condition in many cases, however a hip replacement will mean thousands of dollars in vet bills.

Wobbler disease is probably inherited in the Borzoi, Great Dane, Doberman, and Basset Hound. Instability of the vertebrae of the neck (usually the caudal neck) causes spinal cord compression. In younger dogs such as Great Danes less than two years of age, wobbler disease is caused by stenosis (narrowing) of the vertebral canal. This narrowing of the canal is related to degeneration of the dorsal articular facets and subsequent thickening of the associated joint capsules and ligaments. A high protein diet may contribute to its development. In Great Danes the C4 to C6 vertebrae are most commonly affected.

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease characterized by dilation or enlargement of the heart chambers and markedly reduced contraction. The left ventricle is most always involved. Advanced cases demonstrate dilation of all cardiac chambers.

Anal Sac Impaction is the anal glands that lie just under the skin on each side of the anus. These sacs are emptied naturally when you dog defecates. When these sacs become stopped up or impacted, they must be emptied by hand of their strong smelling secretions. The glands can be emptied by the dog's keeper, or more typically by a groomer or veterinarian, by squeezing the gland so the contents are released through the small openings on either side of the anus. Discomfort is evidenced by the dog dragging its posterior on the ground, licking or biting at the anus, sitting uncomfortably, having difficulty sitting or standing, or chasing its tail.

Cancer is one of the scariest things you can face with your beloved companion. The ‘Family Pet’ is just that – A cherished member of the family. A diagnosis of cancer or other serious disease for him or her can be just as devastating as for any other member of the family. The thought of discarding or replacing our loved ones when they get sick is no more of an option than it would be for any other family member.
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