Great Danes, like all giant breed dogs, are prone to joint problems. Large and giant breed dogs grow at a much faster rate than other breeds and this can often lead to hip and elbow dysplasia, osteoarthritis, and Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD). These joint issues cause pain, limit mobility, and lessen the quality of life for your Great Dane.
As caring parents of these gentle giants we want the very best for them and anything that we can do to help prevent joint problems will help to ensure that they lead a happy, pain-free life. Here are five tips to help prevent joint problems in your Great Dane:
1) Feed An Appropriate Diet – Keeping your Danes trim and healthy through nutrition is one of the best ways to protect their joints. Overfeeding can cause a young puppy to grow too fast and become too heavy for its immature joints. Obesity in mature and senior dogs can overburden joints and reduce the desire to exercise. Obesity is a major contributor to joint and bone disease. A well-balanced diet should provide your Dane with all the vitamins and minerals they need and prevent them from becoming overweight. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations with regard to feeding and nutrition.
2) Regular, Low-Impact Exercise – Making sure that your Great Dane gets a daily dose of exercise is an important part of joint health. Avoid overly exuberant exercise that involves jumping or fast directional changes as these activities can damage joints or cause unnecessary strain. Arthritis almost always develops as a result of injuries sustained earlier in life, so it is important to avoid activities that can damage your Dane’s joints. With that said, daily walks, short jogs, and swimming help to keep the joints active and lubricated.
3) Treat Injuries Promptly – Any suspected injury should be treated immediately with a visit to the vet. As was noted earlier many joint problems are the result of injuries sustained earlier in life. Young dogs can have a very high tolerance for pain and can ‘shake off’ a painful injury quickly. This often leads to an ‘Oh, he’s fine’ response from the dog’s parents, but that injury may come back to haunt you both later in life. Any time you suspect an injury, follow up with your vet.
4) Make Environmental Accommodations – There are many things within a typical home environment that can negatively impact your Dane’s joint health. Steep stairs, jumping on and of beds and other furniture, or loading and unloading from a car can all put unnecessary strain on your Dane’s joints. For puppies, climbing up and down stairs can cause undue strain on hip and elbow joints that are not fully developed. Hardwood floors can be slippery for dogs of any age and jumping on and off furniture equates to a high-impact activity for your Dane’s joints. Consider making some environmental changes to help your Dane avoid injuries from day-to-day activities. A collapsable dog ramp is a great way to help your Dane get in and out of higher vehicles and carpet runners and area rugs can provide more traction on hardwoods.
5) Regular Visits To The Vet – Your veterinarian is the best source of information when it comes to your Dane’s joint health. Regular visits to the vet can help to reveal and treat unseen injuries, monitor weight, and allow for routine examination of the hips and elbows. In addition, your veterinarian may offer advice on selecting joint and bone supplements that can help keep your Dane’s joints in tip-top shape.