Great Danes and the Great Danger

May 17, 2010

Chelsea, the Great Dane came to stay with me this weekend while “mom” went biking. Having had experience with other Danes, I was not worried, until Chelsea decided to stand on my chest freezer (she is a BIG dog) and eat the food for the other dogs. I had talked with “mom” about her diet and the risks of bloat.  It wasn’t until she ate the wrong food that I realized how quickly a Dane can die while in a pet sitter’s care.  That is a heavy responsibility!  Dog care is not for the faint of heart (or lacking education or insurance).

The tendency of giant pure-bred dogs to develop and suffer (and die) from bloat is deceptive, considering how substantial the dog appears. Bloat is a life threatening issue that steals almost as many pet lives as cancer.  This is a fragile breed, with a short lifespan and many health issues.  Vigilant observation and careful feeding will help a professional dog sitter (or dog owner) maintain the health of a Great Dane.  Here is a list of symptoms of bloat and some initial triage for a Dane’s care:

Signs of bloat:

  1. Pacing, restlessness, panting and salivating.
  2. Unproductive attempts to vomit (every 10-20 minutes).
  3. Abdomen exhibits fullness and beginning to enlarge. (Siefried Zahn D.V.M 2010)

These are early phase symptoms and a quick check can determine condition.  However, this may be deceiving as bloat may not progress slowly through phases. It is helpful to know how to:

  1. Check gum color
  2. Check heart rate
  3. Observe abdominal distention

Normal color of gums is pink to red and heart rate for an adult dog should be 60-80 bpm.  Abdomen should remain flat and not distended.

If bloat is suspected, do not wait; contact a veterinarian familiar with bloat immediately (Sienfried Zahn 2010).

For more information about bloat or the care of Great Danes, contact your vet or see

Marjorie Leon

Fetch Pet Care of the Grand Valley



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