Many large and giant breeds are identified
with specific limb and joint conditions. Great Danes are susceptible
to some of these conditions. Bone disease is often the result of
factors other than genetic in these large and giant breed dogs.
Great Danes are sometimes subject to lameness during
their heavy growth period from between four to eighteen months of
Assuming the reader has done his or her homework and
gotten his or her dog from an ethical breeder who has taken
advantage of testing and genetic registries (OFA, PenHip, CERF-for
example)-I will go on to other reasons for orthopedic problems.
High intake of calcium is associated with various
bone diseases in Great Danes. Some dogs are at risk for
osteochodrosis (OCD). Diets high in protein also increase the growth
lameness tendencies for large dogs. Most breeders also recommend
that no vitamin or mineral supplement (other than Vitamin C) be
given Great Danes.
OCD (Osteochondrosis Dissecans)
This disease often causes temporary or permanent
lameness in dogs. This happens when the normal process of bone
growth results in cartilage that is replaced by bone, and growth
regions are overgrown. This can affect; shoulder, elbow, hock and
even the stifle. Protein intake should be less than 25% to help
prevent this condition-slower growth may help prevent OCD. Give NO
calcium supplementation, feed NO puppy foods, as they usually have
higher calcium/mineral content.
"Pano" or "Longbone"
If you have to have a bone disease, this is the one
you want. It will go away. It is a self-limiting disease that could
be called "doggy growing pains". It should not, however,
be ignored. This condition affects the long bones of fast growing
young dogs. Lameness is acute and painful, but is not related in
injury. Lameness goes from one leg to another, and may go away
without treatment. Limit activity, treat pain (usually with
analgesics), lower protein to less than 20% for a few months to slow
down growth. Talk to your vet about MSM as a means to aid
rehabilitation. Stronger pain medication is available, but should be
used with caution and only under veterinary supervision.
This disease may be caused by excessive caloric
intake in relation to energy expended. More in, than out! This
usually affects Great Danes between the ages of 12 weeks and 7
months of age. First signs are a swelling in the front wrist areathis
area is usually hot and tender to the touch. (Progresses to faulty
rear movementbecause of pain in the lower back legs). Then,
there is a dropping of the front wrist (pastern), splayed feet (toes
are spread out or flat), the topline (the top of the back) gets
curvy (like a Greyhound), and the back legs are tucked under the
body (like a Deerhound) making the dog appear deformed. Sometimes
the rear legs look "cow hocked" (feet face outward and
hocks face towards each other) and the front legs may toe inward. In
some cases the dog will toe out; when viewing the puppy from
straight above the shoulders down to the front feet the legs will
have a knock-kneed appearance. In extreme cases there are very high
fevers, refusal to eat, and constantly aching joints. This is caused
by high protein foods consumed in larger amounts than is actually
needed by puppies. Puppies do better on a high quality, lower
protein food ranging around 20% to 25%.
What The Owner Can Do
To Help Assure Proper Growth
Adding "people food" can raise the protein
levels or imbalance the calcium/mineral ratio.
Keep your puppy well-fleshed, but not fat is better.
Remember, slow steady growth will do more for your puppy than rapid
growth that can happen with puppy foods. The puppy will eventually
reach its genetic potential, but without the additional risk to bone
that comes from high proteins and supplementation (calcium/minerals)
or puppy foods.
It is obvious that nutrition is a big part in bone
disease in Great Danes...it is really over-nutrition that is the BIG
PROBLEM; too much protein, too much calcium/minerals, too much food.
Dont be so nice to your dog you cripple it or kill it.
Do not feed puppy foods; even those
developed for giant breeds. Use a quality brand of dry food.
Compare labels and get an adult food with lower calcium and
protein content. Dont add milk or dairy products to moisten
the puppys food. Use warm water instead. Dont give
vitamins or minerals; especially calcium. The only vitamin
supplementation considered acceptable is Vitamin C. Dont let
your Dane puppy get roly-poly fat. You should be able to see the
silhouette of the last rib. Never make diet changes suddenly. Any
change should be made gradually over the course of a week. Allow
your Dane puppy as much free exercise as he wants. However, never
"road work" a young or adolescent Dane until their
growth plates have closed.
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