The enormous size and gentle nature of the Great Dane draw many owners to the breed. These sweet-tempered giants make wonderful family pets, but larger dogs are more likely to have certain health issues. Are Great Danes prone to health issues? If so, what are they?
Great Danes are prone to several health problems. They commonly suffer from or are more susceptible to…
In this article, we will discuss the health issues that dogs commonly suffer from and the rates at which Great Danes are affected. We will also explain the costs associated with diagnosing and treating these conditions and offer some insight into the need for health insurance for your Great Dane.
Please be advised that the owners and writers on this website are not veterinarians. If your dog displays any health issues shown on this page please contact your veterinarian for medical advice and treatment.
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Allergies used to be less common in dogs, but today they're a growing problem. Great Danes are especially prone to allergic reactions on their skin, or "atopy." Suspect a skin allergy if your dog rubs its face or licks its paws a lot or often gets ear infections.
If your Great Dane has allergies, you may be asked to feed a special diet or give your dog allergy medications. If the problem persists, you will likely be referred to a canine dermatologist.
All large dogs are susceptible to arthritis. The form of arthritis that's most common in Great Danes is osteoarthritis, caused by joints wearing down over time. If your dog has arthritis, it will be managed with medications and supplements.
Bloat, which happens when gas builds up in the stomach, is a
serious problem among Great Danes. In fact, it kills more Great Danes than any other condition. It's so common that breeders
recommend a preventative surgery called prophylactic gastropexy ("preventative tack") to stop the stomach
twisting—one of the most serious bloat complications.
Read more about Bloat in this helpful article of ours.
Bone cancer, or osteosarcoma, is a frequent problem in Great Danes. It's most common when your dog reaches middle age and tends to be an aggressive form of cancer. If you notice your Dane seems to have leg pain or is limping, make a vet appointment as soon as possible.
Danes are more likely to develop certain cancers than are other
breeds. They are at higher risk for bone, skin, organ, and blood cancer. Bone
and skin cancers are two of the leading
causes of death in Great Danes. Your
vet will screen your dog regularly to watch for the development of cancer.
eye, a condition where a dog's third
eyelid (in the corner of the eye) becomes swollen
and red, resembling a cherry, is not as common in Great Danes as it is in some other breeds, but it does
sometimes occur. When this happens, surgery is almost always needed.
Large-breed dogs like Great Danes are at risk for developing cysts in their bones when they are young. These cysts are benign, but they can cause lameness and eventually lead to a bone fracture. An x-ray and biopsy are needed for diagnosis, and if your Great Dane has bone cysts, they will be surgically removed.
Danes are also predisposed to an eye condition where cysts develop in the iris. This condition develops in older dogs and can lead to some loss of vision. If your Great Dane develops iris cysts, you may be referred to a canine eye specialist.
Just what are those lumps and bumps on your Great Dane? Find out here
Unfortunately, Great Danes have sensitive stomachs. They are
more likely to get
diarrhea than many other
breeds, especially when they're puppies. In most cases, the cause is nothing to
worry about, however. It can be treated at home with plenty of water and small
meals of bland food. If your dog's stool is tarry, or if your dog is vomiting, seems unusually tired, and has
stomach pain or bloating, you should contact your vet.
Pro-tip: Does your Great Dane have issues with anxiety, destructive chewing, aggressiveness, jumping up, barking or fearfulness?
Brain Training For Dogs is an excellent online training course that
addresses these behavioral issues as well as dog training basics.
All dogs are susceptible to ear infections. Because of its floppy ears, your Dane is more susceptible than some other breeds. Watch for frequent head shaking, pawing at the ears redness, or odor.
Great Danes are at risk of having congenital heart disease. This means that they may be born with a heart problem. Congenital heart disease can affect several different parts of the heart and sometimes requires surgery.
Great Danes are prone to cardiomyopathy. This causes enlargement of the heart itself.
They are also more likely than most breeds to develop tricuspid valve disease. When this heart valve isn't working right,
part of your dog's heart can fail.
Like other large breeds, Great Danes are prone to developing hip
dysplasia. This means that
their hip socket and the ball of bone at the top of their leg bone don't fit
together exactly right. Hip dysplasia can eventually cause mobility problems as
serious arthritis develops in the joint. Treating hip dysplasia consists of
medications, therapy, and sometimes surgery.
We've written a whole article on the topic of hip dysplasia click here to read more.
Great Danes are not particularly prone to epilepsy, which is the most frequent cause of seizures. Just as with any dog, a Great Dane may have a seizure as a consequence of another illness, but the risk of this is low.
skin cancer and the allergic condition known as atopy, there are a couple more
skin conditions to watch for in the Great Dane. All dogs can have tiny mites living in their hair follicles, but Danes can develop lesions and secondary
from large numbers of these mites. Your Great Dane may also develop a
blistering infection of the skin on the bottom of the feet, called pododermatitis.
Danes are not one of the breeds that are particularly at risk of getting urinary tract infections (UTI). Of course, it can happen and is more likely to happen in older dogs, especially females, because of their shorter urethras. Make an appointment with your vet if your dog is urinating more frequently, has cloudy or bloody urine, or seems to be in pain when urinating.
Great Danes are most susceptible to bloat, bone and skin cancers, and heart problems. They also commonly suffer from blood and organ cancers, arthritis, and hip dysplasia, and Danes may have frequent ear infections and diarrhea, allergies, cysts, and various skin conditions.
Because Danes are affected by some serious health problems, the national breed club recommends that all Great Danes be screened for hip dysplasia and have their eyes, thyroid, and hearts checked regularly by a vet. Regular screening for cancers is also wise.
It's also a good idea to give your Great Dane glucosamine and chondroitin supplements to help prevent or treat arthritis and hip dysplasia. These can be purchased from your veterinarian, or you can choose to buy them yourself:
Zuke's Hip Action with Glucosamine and Chondroitin: These beef-flavored chews are from trusted brand Zukes, so you can trust that their contents are safe for your Dane.
Nupro Joint Support + Glucosamine: This powdered supplement from the well-known Nupro brand can be mixed into your dog's food.
In Clover Connectin Hip and Joint Supplement for Dogs: In Clover's supplement adds hyaluronic acid and herbs to add power to its glucosamine and chondroitin formula.
See the chart below for information about the average cost of
treating the various conditions that may affect your Great Dane.
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A Great Dane is a smart, even-tempered, and loyal companion. But as with most large breeds, owning a Dane means taking on responsibility for vet bills that can be higher than average. You may be advised to get your dog a surgery to prevent stomach twisting in case of bloat. Your dog may need allergy medications or supplements to prevent bone and joint issues.
Should your beloved companion develop a serious health issue like bloat, hip dysplasia, or cancer, you will need to pay for a lot of veterinary care very suddenly. Bills for this kind of care can run many thousands of dollars.
For these reasons, Great Dane owners especially should consider dog health insurance. This is a smart way to manage the costs associated with owning a large-breed dog. In exchange for a small monthly or annual premium, owners with insurance are protected against large financial shocks.
See our helpful review of the top 3 pet insurance companies for the best coverage at the best price should you choose this route.
Great Danes, like all large breed dogs, are prone to developing several health issues. Bloat, bone and skin cancers, and heart problems, are the most frequent—and are each very serious. Many of the conditions that Great Danes are susceptible to require urgent and expensive veterinary care. If you own a Great Dane, pet insurance is a wise way to protect yourself against sudden financial shocks.