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Great Dane Articles and Information

The following is a list of common conditions and ailments that can affect Great Dane Health. The list is not comprehensive at this time, but covers the more well-known conditions. Should you have more information you feel should be here, we would be delighted if you would please email the information to

Although most canine diseases are preventable and treatable, the following conditions have been know to affect most dogs, including the Great Dane:

bulletAddison's Disease
Often difficult to identify as the symptoms are very vague, Addison’s Disease is caused by an inadequate production of adrenal hormones by the adrenal glands. These hormones are crucial to life and this disease should be taken very seriously.
bulletAllergic Dermatitis
Skin Allergies. Your Great Dane can have an allergy to something as simple as grass or the laundry detergent you’ve been washing his favorite blanket with! Allergic Dermatitis is usually characterized by redness, swelling, itching, flaking, and runny eyes. It can be caused by anything, including hormonal imbalance. Sometimes the culprit is parasites (think along the lines of fleas and mites). Your veterinarian can offer alternatives to sooth your Great Dane from discomfort.
For the Great Danes who loves their owner, separation anxiety is a very common occurrence. If you must love your Great Dane alone, leave a radio or television on so they’re not as lonely. If your dog becomes destructive due to anxiety, talk to your veterinarian. They may be able to offer a feasible solution.
Very common in older Great Danes, arthritis can become very debilitating. Joints swell and bones ache, leaving your Great Dane in a state of pain and discomfort. Your vet may prescribe medications that contain glucosamine and chondriotin, which will help ease the pain.
bulletAutoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA)
We’ll try to define this disease simply. Your Great Dane’s immune system is attacking its on red blood cells, mistaking them for invaders. Treatment for AIHA includes blood transfusions, corticosteroids and other immunosuppressive instruments.
bulletBordatella / Bronchitis (Kennel Cough)
Known deceivingly as kennel cough, your Great Dane does not have to come from a kennel to show symptoms. The most common cause of this bronchial infection is bacteria. Your veterinarian can offer advice which may include home remedies or medication.
bulletBloat (Gastric Dilation-Volvulus)
A life threatening condition that can occur in Great Danes as well as many other breeds of dogs. Bloat occurs when your Great Dane’s stomach twists, after the stomach has been distended. Once the stomach twists, the stomachs contents are trapped and gases begin to build. This not only is extremely painful for your Great Dane, but his/her blood pressure will drop drastically. The stomach needs circulation. If left untreated, your Great Dane may face fatality. Emergency surgeries are usually performed should bloat occur. If caught in time, your Great Dane can continue to live a long happy life.
Brucellosis is a disease of the reproductive tract which may cause abortion in female Great Danes, corruption of the sexual organs in male Great Danes, and sterility in both sexes. In enclosed kennel circumstances, it may even conceivably be spread by the airborne transmission. It’s important to note that Brucellosis can be contagious to humans. Human symptoms are flu-like, whereas canines may not show symptoms at all.
Just like people, your Great Dane can get Cancer too. Important steps to prevent cancer are a healthy routine including proper diet and exercise. If you have a female Great Dane, it’s important to have her “fixed” if you do not plan to breed her. Cancer treatments are not always effective, and like people -- your Great Dane’s prognosis may be questionable.
Intestinal parasite that causes painful abdomen and diarrhea in Great Danes. Great Danes usually contract this illness as puppies from contact with another dog’s feces (perhaps even the mother). Most cases are mild and medication can treat the illness.
At first you may not notice that your Great Dane is losing its hearing. Nevertheless, deafness in older Great Danes is quite common. Unfortunately, hearing loss is usually irreparable is caused naturally (rather than by sickness.).
bulletDiabetes Mellitus
Unfortunately, this disease is quite common with dogs. If your Great Dane has diabetes mellitus, it means that he/she is not receiving enough insulin (which prevents glucose from getting to the cells). Most veterinarians will suggest insulin injections for your Great Dane. You may have to inject them once or twice daily to help them maintain a normal life.
A primary infection of the spine which involves the infection of an intervertebral disk space and adjacent vertebrae. This condition can cause related infections throughout the body as the baceteria moves to other parts of the body including Staphylococcus intermedius, Brucella canis, Corynebacterium spp, Streptococcal spp, Escherichia coli , Pasteurella spp, Nocardia-like organisms and various fungal infections. A 4-6 week antibiotic for the bacterial infection is usually adminstered once the cause of the infection has been found through blood culture or a local biopsy.
A highly contagious virus which can be fatal to puppies and adult dogs alike. Your Great Dane can catch the disease through the air, contact with an infected dog, feces, urine, toys, blankets, etc. Obvious signs of distemper are dehydration, dappled teeth, hardened foot pads, and lethargy. Perhaps this is why it’s so important to have your Great Dane vaccinated to prevent this awful disease.
bulletDry Heaves
Your Great Dane be may exhibiting a symptom of something else that may be wrong. Primary causes of Dry Heaves are: consuming something inedible, infection, poisoning, or internal parasites.
bulletEar Infection
Unfortunately, any dog that lives in a warm humid climate is susceptible to an ear infection. If your Great Dane likes to frolic and sometimes swim, he may be a candidate. Ear infections are usually caused by parasites, bacteria, yeast, allergies or trauma. If you notice that your Great Dane has been scratching his ears excessively or shaking his head, you should have his ears checked.
An eye disease in which the retina and optic nerve are damaged, making sight very limited and blurry for your Great Dane.
Can be tested by a blood test and should not be left untreated. Heartworm is an infectious parasite that can cause fatality in your Great Dane. It can be contracted by a mere mosquito bite. Education and necessary precautions are key to prevention. Ask your Vet how you can protect your Great Dane.
bulletHip Dysplasia
A crippling Disorder for many Great Danes, this disease usually results in an unstable hip joint (usually occurs in rear legs).
A functional disturbance in your Great Dane’s thyroid gland. If diagnosed, your Great Dane will have very little thyroid activity, or none at all. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism in Great Dane’s usually include: dry or coarse coat; awkward and/or slow movement. Treatment is available.
A condition in which the esophagus of your Great Dane is enlarged, causing him/her great difficulty to swallow, drink, and sometimes breathe.
Most common in puppies up to six months in age, Canine Parvovirus is viral infection that attacks the intestinal tract, bone marrow, and sometimes the nervous system. Symptoms include: nasal discharge, pus in eyes, rapid weight loss, dehydration, vomiting and fever. If left untreated, your Great Dane’s heart can be damaged, resulting in fatality.
This infectious disease can make your Great Dane go from a ‘gentle giant’ to a sick mad-dog. Rabies can and should be prevented with vaccination when your Great Dane is just a puppy. There are three phases a rabid Great Dane will go through (if infected with Rabies): prodomal, furious, and lastly paralytic. The last stage usually results in respiratory problems, coma and death.
Although it’s rare, vaccinosis can occur in Great Danes who have an adverse reaction to their vaccinations. Despite this, many vaccinations are necessary to prevent disease. This becomes especially important to your Great Dane if you have additional animals in your home. Remember, many canine diseases are communicable.
bulletWobblers Disease
A neurological disease which often occurs in Great Danes which is caused by genetics or severe trauma. If diagnosed with Wobbler’s disease, your veterinarian may inform you that your Great Dane’s neck vertebrae is not perfectly aligned. As a result, there is pressure on the spinal cord.