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From The Vet: Hacks That May Save The Life Of Your Great Dane

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Everyone wants a short cut.  We love “hacks” and tips. Articles about ways to maximize your cell phone or organize your closet are shared wildly. To me, the best hacks are the ones that help your dog.  Great Danes have at least one unique issue that needs some hacking.

Gastric dilitation-volvulus (GDV) is one of the most catastrophic issues for Great Danes. GDV is a life threatening issue that occurs when a dog’s stomach bloats and then twists on itself.  Even the bloat alone (the dilitation part of GDV) is damaging because the pressure can cause cells to die, but when the stomach becomes so dilated that it twists, the blood supply to portions of the stomach is cut off and the tissues start to die. Affected dogs progress rapidly into shock and die if immediate intervention is not instituted. Great Danes have deep chests which allow more room for the stomach to rotate and studies show that those at greatest risk are often genetically related to other affected dogs.

These hacks can help you avoid GDV for your dog and they are pretty simple. Certainly they are not meant to replace a relationship with your veterinarian and you should always follow his/her advice, but these simple tips might help.

  1. Feed a highly digestible diet with minimal fillers. The idea on bloat is not to overfill the stomach. Overfilling makes twisting easier. Fillers add bulk to the diet and do not serve a good purpose for a Dane.
  2. Feed small frequent meals instead of a single large one. The idea is to get your dog the calories she needs while never overfilling her stomach.  Enlist family members to help give her multiple small meals or find enrichment games where she has to work and think for her ration.  Here is one that you can try.
  3. If you do feed her a larger meal, make sure she has some time to digest before exercise. Exercise can change the way blood flows to the GI tract and isn’t the best idea immediately after feeding a Great Dane. Large amounts of water are not ideal either.

If your Dane ever vomits or even gags unproductively, it is far better to be safe than sorry.  See your vet right away. As I mentioned, these tips are not meant to be a substitute for a relationship with your veterinarian, because having a partner in caring for your Dane could be the difference between life and death. These hacks cannot hurt and could really help.

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