Tracking My Great Dane's Growth
Updated: Jul 1
Meet Gunner. I adopted him from a family in Chicago. His dad was a Mastiff/Dane Mix and mom was an AKC Black Dane. Here is a shot of his parents:
Adopting him was a last-minute decision while home visiting my parents in Milwaukee. He was 37 lbs at 12 weeks and I soon realized that I couldn't take him on my Southwest flight, which was leaving that evening. I held my rental car and we drove from Milwaukee, WI to Gilford, NH. He had not had a vet check yet and soonest I could get on the calendar was June 16th.
After being home two weeks, June 3rd he developed serious diarrhea and started losing weight. I did a fecal flotation test in the lab and spotted parasite eggs, likely tapeworm. I picked up a dewormer at Tractor Supply which took care of it in 48 hours. In the weight chart below, you can see where he lost weight (week 14) likely from dehydration. After the dewormer, he bounced back quickly! I was also able to have a vet look at him a few days later who wanted to follow with another 3 days of Fenbendazole and 10 days of metronidazole (500 mg 2X daily with food) to make sure we knocked out any parasites or waterborne bacteria.
I am curious to see how he grows over the next 2 years and will be plotting his growth here:
He is approaching 4 months and I am curious to see how his growth changes. We feed him 2 cups of puppy food, 3 times daily. Next week our vet recommended increasing to 2 1/4 cup at each meal.
At 15 weeks he broke 50 lbs coming in at 51.4 lbs. His frame is growing faster than his muscles. His new sister is a Pitbull. They get along great, but he does not have the strength yet to really wrestle and she pushes him around a lot.
Although he is already the same size as my pitbull, he is also unable to really jump yet. He can get on the couch with a running start but needs help into cars as well as onto a bed. Its a good reminder that although he is the size of a full grown dog, he is really just 15 week old puppy!
Vaccine day at 15 weeks. Great team at Interlakes Animal Hospital. Today Gunner received:
-Rabies 1 year
-DHLPP puppy distemper
-Lyme 1st dose
They got it all done and a recital temperature check while he was munching on treats. Back in 4 weeks for follow up.
July 12, 2022
Today Gunner had his booster shots. He is 4 1/2 months old. He was 71.1 lbs and the vet is happy with his lean growth. He has developed hygromas on his elbows which I thought might due to aggravating his elbows when lying in hard floors. I am using a mattress now for his bed but on hot days he likes to lie on the cold tile floor.
Personality-wise, he growls around strangers but runs in the house when he gets spooked. He and the pitbull get along great now and I am not seeing any issues in his behavior. Still need to tune in the potty training but I know that takes time. I think he is a great dog.
Although he is large breed I run him almost daily. After talking with a good friend who is also retired veterinarian and fellow large breed owner, I am sticking to the trails and keeping his runs to less than 3 miles on trails to make sure his joints and growth plates don't take too much abuse. I believe healthy muscle around his joint is the best defense against arthritis and dysplasia, etc...
As of July 26th his hygromas are maintaining. Talking with the vet we decided to let them run their course. The hygroma on the right front elbow is quite large, about the size of a racquet ball but a search of the literature indicated draining or surgery just invites infection and in time these usually take care of themselves. In other news he is approaching 80 lbs approaching 5 months and he is now losing his canines. Adult incissors are in but I am not sure when those baby teeth were lost.
Gunner is 5 1/2 months (or 23 weeks as the vet says) and he is doing great. He has gained 14 lbs in the last 2 weeks. I have moved him to Science Diet, and I am really happy with his appetite and regularity. Is the food or is his gut flora maturing? I don't know but will stick with it. We have found several molars and other baby teeth around the house. I think most his adult teeth are on their way in now.
We are trail running several days a week and he is developing good strength and sleeping like a champ. He does sometimes have a burst of energy at 3am but this is a time of a surge of growth and sleep so we are patient with him. His hygromas have stabilized but are still present. I have been doing a bit more research on the topic and I'm convinced its breed related and unrelated to actual trauma to elbows. Many large breed and Great Dane owners describe it as a phase of growth during the early years. As discussed with our vet, we will let them run their course and not drain or pursue any surgical procedures or steroid treatments.
In terms of weight, he is developing into a big boy! At a vet check today he weighed in at 94 lbs. He is looking down now on his sister Winnie. Although he looks like a fully developed dog, he still spooks easy and gets quite nervous around strangers. I have to remind myself he is still just a puppy. A gigantic puppy..... We keep treats by the front door so when he meets someone they can be introduced with a treat.
Running on the trails with him is a blast. He will not jump in the pond like his sister, but he has begun to trot and gallop. He stays near and its great just letting him off leash to explore.
At 6 months he is a little ahead of schedule. He is now 104 lbs and his back is at about 30 inches. His appetite has softened but I still keep feeding 4 cups 3x per day. On the trails he is beginning to gallup but still will not enter the ponds. He can look me in the eye when he stands up on his rears and we now have to keep the counters clear in the kitchen. If his head does reach 44" he will stand head above our 36" counters. That would be crazy....
Gunner is 111.1 lbs today and his weight gain seems to be slowing down a bit. He is doing well and building strength. His jumping and coordination has improved. I am also noticing his personality changing. He will bark at newcomers to our home and we have to introduce him slowly to new people. He does seem more cautious around men versus women but if new people stare at him, that does seem to spook him. I don't want anyone bit as he is a big boy. With our immediate family he still behaves like a puppy, a giant puppy...
Not too much to report. His strength is now significant and takes everything I've got to hold him back from running up to other dogs. He still spooks easy but is generally friendly towards dogs unless they get aggressive with him! Then he is on! Vet check today he is 119.6 lbs. Weight gain is definitely slowing down which is good because he is about 20lbs over the 7 month average.
I'm stuck in a hurricane (Orlando) so I thought I would give a quick update. Gunner is now 136 lbs and about 31 1/2 inches tall at the shoulder. Besides the lingering presence of the front elbow hygromas he is in very good shape. He runs on the trails about 3.5 miles per day galloping down the trails or smashing through the brush in the woods. He is 30+ lbs over the average for a Dane but I think that is the mastiff in him as he carries little fat. He is starting to mark territory and is hesitant at strangers to the point where I am very cautious with him. My goal it to try and avoid neutering him until 18-24 months if I can control him. Like my previous Dane he has a bad habit of jumping up and poking you with an open mouth. I have started with a trainer and we are working positive reinforcement to break these habits and get him to behave (cheese and meat treats). He is now taller than me when he stands on his rears which is fun but exemplifies his size and strength.
We had our first snowfall of the year and I was excited to see Gunner's reaction. I caught it on film and made a little video:
In the last 3 weeks Gunner only gained 1 lb. Currently 136.5lbs. It appears his growth is slowing and it's matched by a softening appetite. We still have him on 3 meals a day though. His anxiety is softening a bit as he spends more time seeing strangers on the running trails and meets lots of people coming and going. The hygromas although still present have shrunk in size. Ever so gentle to the whole family but has low bark when visitors approach. He is a great guard dog.
A surprise today as Gunner put on close to 5 lbs in the last 2 weeks tipping the scale at 141.7 lbs. He jumped out the car window last week as I pulled in the driveway from running errands but overall after a few intimidating barks he settles down around new people. The drivers for Fedex and Amazon deliver packages to the house and feed him biscuits. He still spooks easy which is comical for such a big guy. Although he is 9 months and has pretty much hit full size he still seems to be building muscle mass. I am thinking its the mastiff in him. We will watch his shape to be sure he does not start getting overweight.
As Gunner has reached full size he has been regurgitating more often. At first we thought little of it but an upset stomach but it started happening several times a week. First we reduced amount at each meal. That did not work. Then we introduced a slow feed bowl. This seemed to help but then we noticed he would purge once he finished eating and drank water. After a big of reading, we decided it might be that his large esophagus may be the issue. There is an illness in large dogs called megaesophagus where food literally gets jammed in the esophagus on its way down. I have a vet appointment scheduled however, we decided to wet his kibble. The recipe is as follows:
2 cups of dry dog food
heat 1 cup water in microwave and add 1 beef bouillon cube
Pour warm bouillon water over kibble and let sit 20 minutes before feeding.
We feed him this in his slow feed bowl. The results have been fantastic. He loves the food and is very content after eating. We let him have water with food but he is quite satisfied with the water he is getting with food. This seemed to do the trick! If you have a problem with your Dane regurgitating (not to be confused with vomiting where the stomach heaves) try this technique.
Gunner had his vet check and is now scheduled to be neutered end of June. His weight is 152 lbs and he is estimated to hit somewhere between 185 and 200 lbs. Although he is truly a gentle giant with our family he gets quite anxious with new people, especially if they stare at him. The vet believes much of his anxiety is driven by testosterone and after the neuter, he should calm by as much as 50%. Regarding his regurgitation, this has been resolved by a combination of adding broth to soften his kibble and a slow feed bowl. The slow feed bowl by itself did not resolve the issue. I made a short instructional video which I'll post below:
Gunner is 150 lbs on June 30, 2023. He is eating less as the days get warmer and is down 3 lbs from last month. Today he had three procedures done. His stomach was tacked, he was neutered, and he was microchipped (HomeAgain). For his recovery, I will limit his activity to short walks and he was prescribed famotidine and Rimadyl twice daily. I paid a total of $1381.37. This included all surgeries, anesthesia, hip x-rays, cold laser therapy of incisions, and medications. I'll give a little background on each which explains why I chose to do these.
Stomach Tacking a Dane
Great Danes, being a large breed, are predisposed to a life-threatening condition called gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), commonly known as bloat. GDV occurs when the stomach becomes distended and rotates, leading to severe complications. By opting for a stomach tacking procedure, known as gastropexy, the stomach is surgically secured to the abdominal wall, preventing it from twisting. This preventative measure greatly reduces the risk of GDV and can potentially save your beloved Great Dane's life. After a bit of reseach and discussing with my vet, I feel the stomach tacking procedure is a responsible decision that will safeguard your canine companion from this serious condition.
Following a stomach tacking procedure, the recovery time for a Great Dane is typically around 1 to 2 weeks. During this period, it's important to provide your dog with a calm and controlled environment to allow for proper healing. Your veterinarian will provide specific instructions on post-operative care, such as administering medications, limiting physical activity, and monitoring the incision site. While it is essential to restrict strenuous activities and exercise during the initial recovery phase, rest assured that once the healing process is complete, your Great Dane can resume a normal, active lifestyle. The stomach tacking procedure does not impose long-term limitations on their activity or quality of life. By taking the necessary precautions during recovery, you can ensure a smooth transition back to their usual energetic selves, with the added peace of mind that their risk of developing GDV has been significantly reduced.
Neutering a Great Dane
It is generally safe to have a male Great Dane neutered at the same time as the stomach tacking procedure. In fact, many pet owners choose to have both procedures done simultaneously to minimize the number of anesthesia events and the recovery period. During, this time I also had his hips x-rayed to see how the joints looked. They were graded as "fair" so I will be starting him on joint supplements.
When it comes to the medical benefits of neutering a male Great Dane, there are several considerations. Neutering, also known as castration, involves the removal of the testicles. One of the primary advantages of neutering is the prevention of testicular diseases such as testicular cancer and infections. Additionally, neutering can help reduce the risk of certain behavioral issues such as aggression and roaming tendencies. Neutered males are less likely to exhibit behaviors driven by testosterone, such as urine marking and mounting.
Furthermore, neutering can contribute to the prevention of certain reproductive-related health problems. For example, it eliminates the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate) and reduces the likelihood of developing prostate infections. Neutering can also help prevent the occurrence of testicular torsion, a condition where the testicles become twisted, which can lead to pain and potentially require emergency surgery.
It is important to note that while neutering offers various medical benefits, it is also a personal decision that should be made in consultation with your veterinarian, taking into account your dog's individual health, behavior, and lifestyle factors.
Microchipping a Pet
Microchipping your pet offers several valuable benefits. Firstly, it provides a reliable and permanent form of identification for your Dane. Unlike collars and tags that can be lost or removed, a microchip is a small implant, about the size of a grain of rice, placed under the skin. Each microchip has a unique identification number that can be scanned by a veterinarian or animal shelter, allowing them to access your contact information and reunite you with your pet if they ever get lost.
Secondly, microchipping is a crucial tool in the prevention of pet theft. If your pet is stolen, a microchip can serve as irrefutable proof of ownership, increasing the likelihood of their safe return and helping deter thieves from keeping or selling them.
Furthermore, microchips provide peace of mind, knowing that even if your pet loses their collar or tags, they still have a means of identification. It's important to note that microchipping is not a substitute for traditional identification methods like collars and tags but serves as an additional layer of protection.
Microchipping is a quick and relatively painless procedure that can be done by your veterinarian during a routine visit. It is a one-time investment that lasts for the lifetime of your pet, providing a permanent form of identification that greatly increases the chances of a happy reunion in case your beloved companion goes missing.
To Be Continued