Medical Conditions

Find information here on medical conditions that Great Danes could suffer from, written by specialists in each field of study.

Bloat (GDV)

The following advice is a guideline and may not apply to your circumstances. Always consult a Vet where possible.

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‘Bloat’ or gastric dilatation is when the stomach fills up with gas like a balloon. GDV is life threatening because it prevents blood in the veins returning to the heart and causes the stomach wall to die – these result in shock and death if something is not done quickly. Great Danes are one of several deep chested breeds that are predisposed to torsion.

Death is almost certain unless the owners recognise the symptoms and rush the dog to the Vet immediately!

If you notice any of the following signs...

  • Your dog retches from the throat but nothing is produced other than small amounts of frothy mucus.
  • Your dog tries to defecate unsuccessfully.
  • Your dog adopts the ‘Sphinx’ position, (arches his back).
  • Your dog’s stomach goes hard and/or swells up like a balloon and is taut as a drum-skin.
  • Trying to bite, or worry the abdomen.
  • Your dog is extremely unsettled.

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Contact your Vet immediately.

Bloat is a true emergency – be prepared to drive to the Veterinary surgery straight away!

The chance of survival decreases alarmingly if you delay getting the dog to surgery more than 60 – 90 minutes after the first signs. 

So, whether you are about to catch a plane, serve a meal or go to bed…   


Instead take your dog immediately to the Vet. It will relieve great pain and could save your dog’s life.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease of the heart muscle. It affects humans, dogs, cats, cows, and other species. In dogs, it is known to occur in several pedigree dog breeds with more frequency than others. Predisposed breeds include the Great Dane, Dobermann, Newfoundland, and Irish Wolfhound. In these breeds, DCM can be inherited in family lines.

What is DCM?

As the name suggests, DCM results in thinning of the heart muscle, with gradual dilatation and rounding of the heart chambers. This means that the heart is unable to pump efficiently and so the dog starts to show signs of heart failure. 

The heart is a muscular pump, made up of four chambers. The two atria, or receiving chambers, receive blood from the body (right side of the heart) or the lungs (left side of the heart). The blood moves during one heartbeat from the atria into the ventricles, or pumping chambers. One-way valves between the atria and the ventricles stop blood from leaking back in the wrong direction (i.e. from ventricles to atria). It is especially important for heart function that the muscular walls of the heart, the electrical activity of the heart and the valves within the heart are working properly.

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If your animal may be, or is suffering from Epilepsy, and you need help and advice.

Useful contact for Canine Epilepsy

  • The Phyllis Croft Foundation for Canine Epilipsy (Registered Charity no. 1075076). Was founded to bring comfort, support and information to the owners of epileptic dogs. The Trustees are dog lovers helping others to keep their epileptic dogs into old age. 
  • PCFCE Helpline: 01277 630145 – Margaret James (Secretary)

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