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//Health Issues for Great Danes
Health Issues for Great Danes2015-01-01T15:39:58+00:00

Thank you so much for attending my talk at the Dane Nationals in Lancaster, PA, 2014.

I am thrilled that you are interested in alternative approaches to building health of your breed. A great resource for you is Theda Askew ( as she has raised Danes for generations.

1. 7 Keys to healthy animals has links to other pages of interest.

2. Feed the best – I do feel that a raw meat/pureed vegetable diet made by you from local, sustainable, organic meats fed non GMO grains is the very best. Each dog, and each family, may need a variation on this theme. There are many websites to help you with feeding raw, especially the great group from
Many blog posts and pages on my site give more information: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,  7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. There certainly are times when it is more convenient to feed a frozen raw meat diet and I like answers Pet food, Darwin’s , Barf, and many more.


GDV Notes summarized from Dr. Sara Chapman, Upper Marlboro, MD.

In a 2000 study by Glickman study of 1,914 the only characteristic associated with decreased GDV incidence was owner-perceived personality trait of happiness

In a second study in 2000 of 1,637 dogs factors significantly associated with an increased risk of GDV were increasing age, having a first-degree relative with a history of GDV, having a faster speed of eating, and having a raised feeding bowl. Approximately 52% of giant breed dog cases were associated with having a raised feed bowl. This may be a skewed finding since most breeds likely to have GDV are fed from raised bowls.

JAAHA, 2006 – Neither an increasing number of animal-protein ingredients (P=0.79) nor an increasing number of soy and cereal ingredients (P=0.83) among the first four ingredients significantly influenced GDV risk. Dry foods containing an oil or fat ingredient (e.g., sunflower oil, animal fat) among the first four ingredients were associated with a significant (P=0.01), 2.4-fold increased risk of GDV. These findings suggest that the feeding of dry dog foods that list oils or fats among the first four label ingredients predispose a high-risk dog to GDV.

2004 – Single large meals daily – higher GDV

Other Glickman risk factors: Male, underweight (poor body condition score), fearful or nervous temperament, having a first-degree relative that has had GDV, stressful events

Vet Record 1998.  Decreased GDV in Danes fed food particles >30 mm (3 cm) in size

Practically speaking, there are no foods like this widely available in theUS.  There are some large biscuit type formulations inEurope.

AusVetAssnProc 2010.  GDV in Working Dogs – 50% of GDV cases occur in winter, often after large hourly temp drops with higher barometric pressure readings; *prevention: multiple smaller meals rather than single large meal; avoid feeding stress, separate dogs during feeding; decreasing exercise before and after meals of questionable benefit, avoid elevated food bowls; do not breed dogs with first degree relative with history of spontaneous GDV; consider prophylactic gastropexy (42% of Danes have GDV in lifetime). As a homeopathic veterinarian I say you should not need to use this. If you are working to eliminate all the early warning signs and any obvious illnesses, there is a slim chance of needing GDV.

Tufts CaFe Breeding & Genetics Conference, 2003.  Risk Factors for Bloat – 25% of cases are dilatation alone with gas causing compression of ends of stomach and preventing escape of gas; 75% of cases are dilatation with volvulus where rotation prevents the escape of gas and compromises the circulation .  Risk factors – breed; conformation and individual factors:  deep and narrow chests, lean dogs (more room in abdomen for torsion),  older dogs (large breeds risk increases 20% per year after age of 5, giant breeds increase 20% after age of 3)

First degree relatives of spontaneous bloat dogs have 63% greater risk of GDV; Dogs that eat quickly have a 15% increased risk; Raised food bowls increase risk by 110%, breeders did not have close relatives with GDV; Stressed, fearful, nervous animals and males more frequent GDV

Diet: Increased incidence – dry food only, single large meal – stretches gastric ligament

Dry food with fat among first four ingredients – 170% increase risk

Dry foods with citric acid moistened prior to feeding – 320% increase

Decreased incidence – mixing table food or canned food into dry food

Dry food with meat and bone meal – 53% decrease

[So for me (Dr. C) this is a point towards feeding a raw meaty bone and pureed vegetable diet on a regular basis.]

Past 30 years 1,500% increase in GDV, coincided w/ dry food feeding; lower incidence of GDV in susceptible breeds in Oz and NZ where much less kibble is fed.


Dr. Marcie Fallek wrote: I treated once case of bloat successfully.

Dr. Margo Roman: has used Nux and Carbo veg with Acupuncture and a stomach tubing for bloat – Have done it twice  successfully.

Homeopathic remedies listed by Dr. Hamilton: Argentum nitricum – tend towards chronic bloating; crave sugar and sweets, are fearful, have a lot of mucus and pain.

Belladonna – sudden onset, restless, feverish, hot, red and dry mouth. They do not want to lie down and the heart can actually be seen through the chest because it is beating so hard. Thirsty. Carbo veg is the most common remedy. Weak, cold to the touch, blue tinge, collapse, craving fresh air. Colichicum – pain better when curled up, retching near food (even the smell), mucus discharge from anus, thirsty. Eucalyptus – Lots of mucus discharge from nose, anus, mouth. Foul gas. Lycopodium – Ravenous, but fill up easily. If overeat – distention and pain. Often seen with urinary tract ailments. Nux vomica – irritable when ill, oversensitive so hiding, constant ineffective retching (if they can vomit – feel better). Seeking heat.


Dr. Marcie Fallek writes:

I have treated several cases of mega-esophagus.  they improved greatly.  not totally cured but 80-90% better I did work them up constitutionally.  they were many years ago. I remember Causticum as one remedy for the first, and I believe Nux and or Carbo veg for the second.

Wanda Vockeroth writes: I have had one case of megaesophagus apparently cured with Causticum, and a few others that it has helped but not cured. Otherwise a mixed bag of remedies that have helped but not cured cases.

Cynthia Lankenau writes:I have had two that have moved in curative directions but not all the way, one with Cocculus and another with Causticum followed by Lead. [Dr. C – this does not mean to try homeopathic Causticum, it means that it is worth attempting holistic approaches for this condition.]

Margo Roman: With megaesophagus I treated my 19 year old German Shorthair for 3 year who had esophageal dilation. I used Nux vomica and acupuncture along the the points of neck and digestive points like ST 36, 25  PC 6 and GV 14

4. Create a healing team. Find holistically trained veterinarians– they are increasing rapidly as clients continue to push for more healing options or a least ones who will let you try different approaches without getting mad at you. Learn how to select and work with them.


Holistic medicine takes the perspective of treating the whole animal. Even if there is a current problem, for example diarrhea or itching, a good holistic veterinarian will ask questions about what problems there have been in the past, what changes in the household or the environment may have triggered the current complaint and if there is anything that makes the current complaints better or worse. They will also evaluate the overall energy level of the animal. Their goal is to make the animal healthier for life, not just to get rid of the current symptom. They will educate you and explain what they see when physically examining your animal.

Some of the modalities that integrative veterinarians may use in addition to conventional include acupuncture, herbs, flower essences, homeopathy, chiropractic, network chiropractic, nutrition, glandulars, Reiki, Tellington touch, healing touch, long distance healing modalities. Some of these have certification programs with a year or more of courses, exams and evaluation of clinical ability. Others are either self-taught or not regulated. Some individuals are wonderful with your animal — others great at explaining to you what is happening with your animals. A few are good in both areas. Few veterinarians are perfect, and we all have bad days. Your animal should at least be comfortable with your choice and you should be able to get your questions and concerns addressed.

Once you have done the internet work suggested above, how do you select one to start with and then how do you know if you are getting good service and what can you do to help them help your animals?

Ask the veterinarian you are interested in:
1. Ask what modalities are used?
2. What is their training?
3. Is their goal overall health or to merely treat the current complaint? This may be the most important question.
4. What organizations they belong to & how recently have they gone to conferences or taught?  (Just because they belong to AHVMA, or AVH, does not mean they are trained or capable in those modalities.)
As she treats your animal, a good holistic veterinarian will usually:
1. Ask about the history, overall energy, what might have caused the current problem, the environment and what makes the symptoms better or worse.
2. Their physical exam will be gentle, complete and they will show you (you may need to ask) what they mean by “gingivitis, big lymph nodes, heart murmur”, etc.
3. They will be willing to answer your questions and explain why they are recommending a particular treatment.
4. If they recommend conventional treatments (antibiotics, prednisone, etc.) they will explain to you why they choose this over holistic, and give you a chance to request the more holistic treatment.
5. They will not do anything (vaccinate, treat) without asking you first.
6. They will recommend fewer or no vaccinations and a raw meat or at least more holistic diet.
7. They will schedule follow up appointments until your animal is really healthy.
(See symptoms of chronic disease)
What you can do to help your holistic veterinarian
1. Keep a dated journal of any problems, even little ones.

2. Write down any treatments given.
3. Call if symptoms worsen, or they are less energetic and less happy, or you have concerns.

Many people feel that they would rather give a lot of chemical preventatives for worms and viruses and food from a bag as it seems easier and some dogs do seem to thrive on this approach – like some people who smoke and drink and live a long healthy life. In 30 years of integrative practice, though, I see many people frustrated with cancer, diabetes, cushings, severe allergies and more. Many of them, when switching to the above approaches, find both improved health and even satisfaction that they are treating their dog as a member of the family. They feed from the same sources they get their ingredients. They vaccinate no more than they get. If they do not take worm preventatives all the time, they do not give it to their animals. If the label says “do not touch without gloves” they would not think of putting it on their pet’s skin.

Truly it is your choice and there is no right or correct answer, just the one that makes more sense to you.





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