Some of the most common questions we get focus on what we feed our Danes! Rightfully so, as nutrition is THE MOST important (second only to proper training) factor in raising a healthy gentle giant! While we do not claim to know it all, we have picked up a few things over the years!
*Low Protein -- 24% or less
*Low Fat -- 16% or less
*Calcium to Phosphorus Ratios ( 1:1 is ideal)
*First several ingredients should be whole meats,
*NO corn, wheat or soy
The keys to a healthy diet are pretty simple. Keep the diet well balanced, stay away from two ingredient formulas and replace it with a food whose first several ingredients are a variety of whole meats and no bi-products. Absolutely NO corn, wheat or soy! Soy is not digestible by dogs so it ends up producing excess gas in the stomach and in giant breeds that is a recipe for disaster! Corn and wheat are mostly filler ingredients and corn has a long history of contaminating dog foods.
When it comes to figuring out how much and how often to feed your Dane, there is no exact science as no two pups are the same! Ideally you want to work towards a responsible, appropriate eater who can safely have access to food and water throughout the day without your delegation. Our approach is to begin with 1 C. of food 3 x per day, increasing by 1/4 C. increments up to 2 C. of food 3 x per day. If your pup is walking away and leaving food in the dish, you know s/he is satisfied and being responsible. Leave the food down and allow him/her to graze as desired! As long as your Dane is growing evenly and achieves healthy check ups there is no need to be overly concerned with exactly how much and how often s/he is fed. Over the years we have had picky eaters, night time eaters, and all day grazers. Nutrition is the foundation of a healthy Great Dane and the focus should be on the needs of your individual pup, not what the back of a mass produce bag of food says!
A Great Dane is more than any ordinary pet! S/He will, for many years, provide unmatched companionship as well as unwaivering loyaty and love! Make the decision to be as committed to his/her healthy lifestyle as s/he is to yours! In their first two years of life, a Great Dane grows as much as a human does in eighteen years, with their first six to eight months of growth comparing to that of a thirteen year old human! That is a TON of growing in not a lot of time! Use common sense and look out for warning signs that your Dane is not thriving! Seek advice from your breeder, your veterinarian and trust Great Dane resources (links can be found at the bottom of this page).
When it comes to feeding a giant breed, it's not just about how much, how often and what brands are recommended - we have to be conscious of the dangers that come with deep chests and long necks! Bloat and Torsion can occur with any giant breed, and while it is incredibly frightening, lets focus on how to prevent the occurance of Bloat and/or Torsion all together.
What is Bloat & Torsion?
*Two stage, life threatening emergency in Canines
*Giant breeds are anatomically predisposed due to their deep chests
*Bloat refers to the first phase called Gastric Dilatation in which the stomach distends with gas and fluid.
*Torsion refers to the second phase called Volvulus, in which the distended stomach rotates on its long axis - 90 to 360 degrees.
*During Torsion the duodenum is pinched off thus preventing fluid and air from escaping.
*During Torsion, the trapped gas and fluid ferments and interferes with blood circulation causing necrosis of the wall of the stomach.
*A Dane may experience Bloat with or without Torsion.
*Education - know the causes and warning signs
*Quality Nutrition - whether it is raw or holistic, know what you are feeding your dane
*DO NOT Feed and Water within a couple hours of play time/exercise
*Separate Feeding time and Watering times until your dane demonstrates responsible consumption
*Raised Feeders - typically a 6'' to 18'' raised feeder will suite your dane as s/he grows
*Gastropexy - surgery in which the stomach is stapled to the rib cage; this does restrict movement but does not gurantee prevention
There is so much to know about properly feeding your Great Dane, while we do not claim to be the ultimate guide, I hope we have provided some helpful tips and information. Additionally, I'd like to share some general points to keep in mind when feeding your great dane and working with supplements. I will list links below for further information as well!
* Using stainless steel bowls is highly recommended. Not only do they resist puppy chompers the best, but they also resist bacteria the best, thus cutting down on the occurences of Puppy Acne and decreasing the chances of germ build up!
Raised feeders can and should be used as soon as pup comes home! Most often you can find an adjustable feeder, which makes it super easy to establish expectations and keep consistency! If your dane knows what to expect, it decreases the excitement/anxious sentiments around feeding and will add to a calmer, healthier approach to meal times.
I can not stress enough the importance of quality nutrition. If you choose to feed your dane whatever is on sale, or foods with high proteins, you will most certainly run the risk of developmental bone disorders such as HOD, PANO or even Wobblers. It is unnecessary to feed a "puppy food" at any stage. Find a well rounded, holistic, All-Life Stages food that meets your needs and stick with it! We have used several top brands over the years, but have been most satisfied with (and will stick with barring any recalls, etc.) FROMM FAMILY FOODS is the brand we feed! They have an incredible reputation and their ADULT GOLD formula has earned our praises since 2008. Click on the name to explore their webpage - you can even locate a supplier with their map function!
For those who are looking to feed Raw please do ALL your homework and find an experienced nutirionalist for support until you're absolutely certain you know what you're doing. Raw is an awesome diet, and has been a known contributor to increased dane life span, however it is tricky to master. You can not just go into the kitchen and through anything together. There is a science to understand to make sure you're fully providing for your dane! You can visit GREAT DANE LADY to learn more and find resources to get started!
When it comes to supplements, the rule is simple....DON'T! The food should be enough and if it's not, you need to start there! However, there are a few natural remedies that are helpful to keeping a healthy dane happy! Probiotics is a great helper in mainting a healthy digestive sytem in all of your pets as it helps them to absorb more nutrition in what they are already eating! We use PROBIOS (the powder form) with our danes. When it comes to puppy acne, the BEST and SAFEST way to cure it is with Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey Mixture. Combine the two using a 1:1 ratio put 2 Tablespoons on each meal or in their water daily! This is also something that can help prevent developmetal bone disorders and Arthritis, so you may continue it as a regular additive as there really are no noted drawbacks to doing so.
Again, the approaches you can take when it comes to caring for your great dane are inumerable! Follow the facts and find resources you trust to fill in the gaps! We do not claim to know it all - not by a long shot; we learn new things all the time! One thing we do promise - if we do not know the answer, we will help you find it! Not just so we can answer your questions, but so we can be as informed as possible to provide the best care possible to our danes!
We have been incredibly blessed over the years to have some seasoned dane community members guide our efforts and help us find information! Below are some links to pages you may find helpful, specifically dealing with health and feeding! Please don't hesitate to call or email if you have further need for clarification or just would like to understand our methods further!
NATURAL BLOAT PREVENTION (good insight into natural prevention from a Holistic Vets perspective/experience)
GREATDANELADY.COM (her site is a little dated and hard to navigate but FULL of information on a variety of topics)
FIRST CHOICE NATURALS (great resource for achy growing pain remedies and natural remedies for dogs and cats)
PET FOOD RECALL (stay updated! Has links for more specific recalls on treats as well, updates monthly and details
reason for recall as well as how many "lots" and from where the "lots" were recalled.)