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Great Dane Health

 

Food

 

Many people have asked us what we feed and recommend for feeding Great Danes.  We tried many brands of dog food, and most I'm sad to say, were lousy.  After reading up on the experiences of others, and much experimenting on my own, I found that most dog foods use corn as a filler, and corn is next to impossible for dogs to digest.  Many dogs in fact will develop skin problems and digestive problems from corn.  Manufacturers use corn as a filler because it is cheap.  One of my dogs, Saga especially had problems with corn.  I wanted a good quality dog food that was not outrageously expensive, and was based upon Lamb & Rice as the main ingredients.  A fellow Great Dane owner suggested Nutro's Lamb & Rice formula to me, and I gave it a try.  Within a week, I could already see an improvement in my dogs' coats.  Within two weeks, I noticed that our normally gassy Saga was almost completely gas-free!  Trust me, her silent killer farts will dissolve paint!  To not have to endure her constant chemical warfare was itself reason enough to appreciate this dog food! As time progressed, Nutro shrank the size of their food bags, while increasing the cost of the food. We began paying $35 for a 44lb bag. Then it was $40 for a 40 lb bag. Then it reached $50 for a 35 lb. Bag. By this point, we were spending $150 a week on dog food! Enough! Nutro is good, but not worth that! The humans in our household don't even eat $150 in food a week.

 

I have a cousin who has two little munchkin dogs, and has been feeding them human food for some time. She got me to thinking, and I began doing some calculating. My calculations showed me that for $150 a week in human food, my dogs could live quite well! Actually, they didn't need that much to be healthy.

 

I started researching the dietary needs of dogs in general, and Danes in particular. One of the first things I realized was that "experts" don't really know all that much about canine dietary needs as you'd think, and opinions of what is right vary widely. Fortunately, dogs are more like humans than they are different from us. A bit of common sense goes a long ways. Like with us, it isn't as much about every single bite of food being perfectly balanced nutrition, as long as you try to achieve a balance overall. Too much of anything can be bad. Too little is also bad. I talked to our vet about what suggestions and thoughts he had. Besides being a college-educated veterinarian, he is also a farm-boy, who learned about animals from a young age in the real world. First, to my surprise, he fully supported my idea of feeding my Danes human food. He made some suggestions about which foods would be good for dogs. One suggestion was sweet potatoes. He said that if we added sweet potatoes to the dogs diet, it could serve as a protein replacement for meat.

 

We jumped right in switching the dogs over to human food. They say that you should switch foods on a dog in stages, slowly, but we experienced no problems. We soon discovered that one of our dogs; Freyr is overly sensitive to carbohydrates such as pasta and potatoes. These same foods do cause gas in the other dogs, but with Freyr it is dangerously so. For a base or filler for our dogs, we have found that brown rice or oatmeal works well. Add to the rice, some vegetables and meat and you have a well-rounded meal for dogs. Sometimes with oatmeal, we will add meat & vegetables, sometimes we feed it as a breakfast cereal with milk and some sugar. Our dogs love green beans. We found that the extra-large restaurant sized cans of Del Monte green beans are about the best priced, and the freshest and best tasting canned beans we tried. Normally, I am not fond of canned vegetables, but these Del Monte beans are very good with a great flavor. As for meat, we mostly use what is least expensive. Chicken, canned mackerel, canned salmon are the mainstays, but occasionally they get beef or pork. They have really developed a taste for salmon, and the Chicken of the Sea canned salmon isn't badly priced, and best of all, comes from Alaska! One of the dogs, Thor had lost some weight the last time his sister Leysa went into heat. She was off-limits to him, and he just about went crazy until her period ended. In all, he lost about 10 lbs. I wanted to fatten him up a little, and yet not cause him to get overly fat or get sick with a fattier diet. The vet suggested corn oil added to his food. Corn oil, canola oil, olive oil and plain vegetable oil has 120 calories per tablespoon. It does make a good way to add a specific number of calories to a dish, with no side effects like extra volume or diarrhea.

 

As of this writing, we have been feeding human food to our dogs for some time. We are spending much less per week than with dog food. We know without question what exactly is in our dogs diet, and can exercise full control over that; something we never could do with commercial dog food. Our dogs are eating well, maintaining weight; not too much, not too little. Their coats are much softer, and their stools are smaller as well. They act like every meal will be their last, and eat with more gusto than they ever did with commercial food. Since their diet contains more water moisture, they drink much less water per day than before too. They never leave a drop of food behind either! It is more work. We cook a big batch of food twice, and sometimes three times a day. It's not hard work, but certainly more work than just pouring contents out of a bag once a day. Is it worth it? Yes, I think so. All the mystery is gone about just what they ate. I guarantee you that my dogs will never be poisoned by some greedy dog-food company who bought bogus ingredients from China! We have saved money, and that is also nice in this day and age. This Summer, we are trying our hand at growing a garden. Most of what we are growing will be things that the dogs and we can eat; sweet potatoes, carrots, beans, peas, etc. This Fall, I plan to return to my old favorite sport of deer hunting. It's been five or six years since I went hunting, but the prospect of bringing home some venison for the dogs has me looking forward to it. By the way, venison is an excellent meat for dogs, and my vet agrees wholeheartedly. It is leaner and much easier to digest than beef. I'm still looking for a source of large 50 lb type bags of brown rice. I'm sure that would be cheaper than the small bags we have been buying. All in all, I am quite satisfied with this "new" feeding method. I'd like to thank Dina, Warren and everyone else who I pestered for information about this. And my dogs thank you as well! They are healthier and happier than before.

 

Health Warning: Recently, I was contacted by a former puppy buyer (the pup is now grown-see Ike's link below) about a problem they had.  We thought that everyone should be made aware of this possible danger.  Ike's Owner writes: "Ike is doing very well.  He looks exactly like Wulf.  He just recently got very ill.  Chris came home from work and found him and said he didn't look good so I finished up what I was doing at work and went home early and by the time I got there I thought it was too late.  I was absolutely hysterical.  He couldn't even get up for me to get him in the car and get him to the vet and because he is so big I couldn't lift him, so I had to call a mobile vet to come and help me.  Luckily Chris came home and helped me get him to the car because the mobile vet took almost two hours so we got him in the car and went straight to the vet.  He was throwing up and pooping straight blood.  I was so scared. It turns out he had salmonella.  He got an eggshell out of the trash the day before.  The vet was amazing.  We took him daily for his penicillin shot and IV fluids and the vet showed me how to give him IV's at home so that he could have fluids all day and all night.  He was so strong.  I kept telling him to hang in there for me.  He couldn't die because I loved him to much.  He would just look at me like he understood.  I really feel like he was hanging on for me.  It would have been very easy for him to lay there and die, but he didn't.  He was a fighter.

 

I am very happy to report he is back to his crazy self again (almost $1000 later. Goodness the bigger they are the more it costs to fix them huh!) and getting into trouble LOL!  I appreciate the crazy things he does so much more now!  He is like one of my own children.  I would have never thought something like that could happen until it did and I am sure many other people haven't thought about it either.  Warning fellow Great Dane owners and even dog owners in general could be a great way to save some dogs.  Yes, Ike was a wonderful patient.  He let Chris and I and the Vet do whatever was necessary to help.  They are very smart dogs and obviously smart enough to know we are helping them and we love them.  Danes are so wonderful, gentle and sweet.  It is good to know that Ike comes from such strong and good genetics!!  I will give him a kiss for you and hopefully within the next few weeks we can make it out there and he can give you one himself too.  He went from 145 or 150 to 115 while he was sick (he went almost 2 weeks without eating) and he is gaining some back, but it doesn't seem like he is gaining it back very fast."

 

 

 

Terry D. Janes

7628 East 52nd Street

Kansas City, Missouri 64129

Email: Danes@theoldviking.com

 

 

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