I love all dog breeds. I really like the lovable, tiny ones; the medium-sized, high-energy breeds; and the large, slobbery, stuffed animal dogs. My fur baby is a big 150-pound Saint Bernard named Dory, and she or he keeps us very busy. So, like a veterinarian and fellow giant breed dog owner, I understand all too well the concerns and problems that are unique to those giant breeds. Let's talk about four common giant dog breed diseases and just how we are able to help our pets.

1. Degenerative Joint Disease

Over time the cartilage that surrounds and protects your pets' joints can start to deteriorate. This is a condition referred to as osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease (DJD). Osteoarthritis is a chronic progressive condition leading to permanent damage to the joints.

DJD commonly affects older dogs, and greater breeds are especially susceptible. This is a list of the most common clinical signs we have seen:

  • Difficulty and slowness rising after lying down
  • Occasional lameness
  • A stiff walk that worsens with exercise
  • No longer jumping on furniture
  • Hesitant to climb up stairs
  • Difficulty and slowness rising after lying down

Symptoms can differ with every pet and many times my clients do not even realize their pets are in pain. In case your dog is exhibiting these signs, have him evaluated by your veterinarian.

There are lots of treatment and management modalities that might help your pet. For example, you are able to provide your dog supplements to support joint health. I love Dr. Lyon’s Advanced Strength Hip & Joint supplements and Nutramax Dasuquin with MSM joint health supplement. But consult with your veterinarian concerning the best treatment for your pet.

2. Gastric Dilation Volvulus

Bloat is a symptom in dogs that results from the stomach becoming severely inflated with gas. In severe cases, the stomach can twist upon itself resulting in a condition called gastric dilation volvulus. Gastric dilation volvulus (GDV) is definitely a serious condition and may result in death if not treated immediately.

Certain breeds of dogs are more susceptible to this problem, especially large breed dogs with barrel shaped chests like Great Danes, Weimaraners and St. Bernards.

Common clinical signs of GDV are:

  • Excessive salivation or drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Distended abdomen
  • Swollen or enlarged abdomen

Treatment involves abdominal surgery in which the stomach is reduced normal again position. The stomach is then sutured towards the abdominal wall using a procedure called a gastropexy

This condition is serious and with no treatment death is imminent. The more your pet is experiencing bloat with no treatment, the worst the prognosis is for recovery.

I always recommend raising your pets' food bowl for their level to help prevent bloat. I love Platinum Pets Olympic Diner Elevated Slow Dog Bowl and Petmate Close range Diner Elevated Dog Bowls. Speak with your veterinarian regarding preventative measures that can be recommended for your dog.

3. Wobbler Syndrome

Wobbler syndrome, also referred to as cervical spondylomyelopathy, is really a disease the result of a compression from the cervical spinal-cord, which leads to neck pain, and in severe cases neurological deficits.

Wobbler syndrome is often diagnosed in large or giant breed dogs, including Rottweilers, Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds and Doberman Pinchers.

The most common clinical signs include:

  • Distinct wobbly gait
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty getting up
  • Partial or full paralysis

If your pet is exhibiting these signs, have your pet evaluated by your veterinarian. There are lots of treatment and management modalities that may help your pet. Seek advice from your vet for the best treatment option.

4. Canine Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common skeletal disease that happens in large and giant breed dogs. Hip dysplasia occurs when the joints do not develop correctly permitting partial hip dislocation. Genetics play the most important role in hip dysplasia; however, nutritional factors and environmental factors can play a part, too.

The most typical breeds affected by hip dysplasia are Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Labrador and Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds.

The most typical clinical signs include:

  • Hind-end lameness
  • “Bunny-hopping” or swaying gait
  • Difficulty moving or rising
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Reduced activity levels
  • Hind leg muscle atrophy

Again, if your pet is exhibiting these signs, have your pet evaluated from your veterinarian.

Placing your puppy on a proper diet created for large breed dogs, like Purina Pro Plan's Focus pet food for large breed puppies, is helpful in preventing too rapid of the putting on weight.

There are lots of treatment and management modalities that may help your pet. Consult with your veterinarian regarding the best treatment plan for your pet.

As a giant breed pet owner, I'm always taking preventative measures to keep my big, teddy bear happy and healthy. I really hope this short article helps pet parents be familiar with the diseases that giant breed dogs are predisposed to and the clinical signs to consider.

As always, the health and wellness of the pets are my top priority. If you have any questions or concerns, you need to visit or call the vet. They are your best resource to guarantee the health insurance and well-being of your pets.