Giant dogs are simply adorable. Millions of people chose breeds like the Great Dane because of their gentle personality, good looks, loyalty, and a big heart. Unfortunately, their large size also makes them susceptible to certain medical problems. These Great Dane common health problems also mean that these dogs have shorter lifespans. Knowing what conditions to look out for will make you better prepared at handling them.
Addison's Disease (Hypoadrenocorticism)
Addison's disease is the loss of or deficiency of hormones created in the dog's adrenal glands. The adrenal glands produce three hormones – aldosterone, corticosteroids, and cortisol. These hormones regulate blood sugar, salt levels and mobilize nutrients.
Addison's disease is the loss of or deficiency of hormones created in the dog's adrenal glands
Most cases of Addison's Disease developed because of genetic defects in the immune system. Initial symptoms of the disease include digestion problems, lameness, lethargy, limping, poor appetite, and vomiting. Unfortunately, these symptoms are also common in other dog illnesses which causes Addison's Disease to go undetected at times.
On a good note, the disease is manageable. However, treating this condition can be expensive.
Bloat or Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)
Among the Great Dane common health problems, bloat is one of the more traumatic ones. Deep-chested breeds are prone to this condition, but it's more common in Great Danes. GDV is extremely painful and can cause the dog to die quickly. It's still unknown whether the disease is due to the breed line or if it's genetic.
Among the Great Dane common health problems, bloat is one of the more traumatic ones
When a Great Dane has bloat the stomach grows bigger and/or rotates, effectively cutting off the blood supply of other vital organs. If untreated, bloat or GDV can kill your dog in several hours. Some symptoms to watch out for abdominal pain, excessive salivation, rapid breathing, and swelling of the abdomen.
To reduce the risk of bloating, give minimal amounts of liquid when your dog is playing or exercising. Several small meals a day is better instead of one big lunch or dinner. Make sure your dog gets enough rest as well.
Like humans, dogs can also develop heart disease. Your canine companion can be diagnosed with acquired or congenital heart disease. The former is more common than the latter. The condition can be caused by several factors, like age, injury, or infection.
Heart disease is best spotted in the early stages so that steps can be taken to slow down the condition
Unfortunately, there are no clear symptoms of heart disease in large dogs. But owners should watch out for signs of appetite loss, change in behavior, coughing, fainting, shortness of breath, weakness, or weight loss.
Dog owners should take their dogs in for regular checkups with their veterinarian. This is critical as heart disease is best spotted in the early stages so that steps can be taken to slow down the condition.
Hip Dysplasia is another one of Great Dane common health problems owners should be mindful of. Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is a condition that can lead to an instability or laxity (loose fit) of the hip joint. It often occurs in big dogs and sadly leads to arthritis, joint degeneration, and pain. The condition is not fatal but the pain it causes can slowly debilitate the dog.
Hip Dysplasia is not fatal but the pain it causes can slowly debilitate your Great Dane
Genetics play a major factor in dogs developing hip dysplasia, although rapid growth and weight gain due to too much nutritional intake cause complications as the condition develops.
Early symptoms to watch out for are an abnormal gait, lameness in the rear and disinterest in moving. An x-ray can also show if your dog has hip dysplasia. Early diagnosis is preferable as medication and supplements can help keep the Great Dane's joints healthy.
Hypothyroidism is an inherited trait that affects the immune system of the Great Dane. It results from the thyroid gland not producing enough hormones to moderate the dog's metabolism.
Excessive shedding, frequent infections, hair loss, loose eyes, and skin problems are some symptoms of hypothyroidism. The condition can be detected by a simple blood test. Hypothyroidism can also be managed with thyroid replacement therapy, although the treatment will have to be continued throughout the dog's lifespan.
Hypothyroidism is an inherited trait that affects the immune system of the Great Dane
There are other Great Dane common health problems to watch out for. Some conditions, like arthritis and elbow dysplasia, are common in large dogs. The breed is also prone to separation anxiety and development issues. Owners should be mindful that Great Danes grow so fast that their bones and joints are in greater danger of not being formed properly. So be careful about forcing too much exercise or play on a young Great Dane.
The average lifespan of Great Danes is just around 8 years. This is shorter than medium-sized dogs that can live for more than 10 years. Luckily, there are things that you can do to extend your dog's life. A good diet, steady exercise, regular visits to the veterinarian, and watching out for Great Dane common health problems are just some examples.