I rescued Bauer, a Great Dane that was a neglect case out of my county shelter. He was being starved and left outside on a chain. Needless to say – he is severely underweight – weighing in at only 103 lbs – when he should be around 145-155. My vet seems to think he is about 2, and that he was being starved for so long during his formative puppy growth stage that he will likely never get to be a full mature male size. That doesn’t bother me. I just want him to gain some much-needed weight.
When I first got him, he had every known parasite and worm imaginable, plus coccidia. I have had him for over a month now, we have been through two rounds of panacur, and his body is now worm/parasite free… but he is not gaining any weight. His ribs and spine poke through, and the definition behind his rib cage and above his hip bones is disturbingly sharp. I have seen very little improvement in a month. He’s gained a pound. I have been feeding him the 4Health Lamb and Rice for Adult dogs twice a day. 4Health is what the Great Dane rescue told me to feed him, saying Danes need a lower protein formula dog food. I have also been cooking him chicken or steak and feeding him homemade meals for one meal a day. I have him on Dyne supplement too, he loves the taste of it. But he is still not gaining weight?
On top of his emaciation – he’s constantly biting his paws, chewing his toenails, and/or licking/chewing his anus or the top of his hips. He has chewed/licked three different hot spots on his back legs/hips area. He does not have fleas. I have him on Trifexis. I am wondering if this could be food related as well? Or maybe he just has allergies? I have a feeling that it could just be boredom/separation anxiety too. He came to me chewing his nails. This isn’t a new issue. But it does seem to be getting more and more intense right now – particularly with his the hot spots.
I am new to Danes. I have always had golden retrievers/flat coats/labs or aussies in the past – so I have dealt with my fair share of obsessive lickers. But Bauer goes beyond licking, he’s chewing out his fur.. I know it’s got to be painful. And I have never experienced a dog that literally eats his toenails. I mean he seriously splinters them apart and chews them off. It’s neurotic behavior.
Any advice is greatly appreciated and welcomed. Thanks!
I forgot to add that Bauer’s stools have consistently remained loose. They have firmed up a little – when I first got him it was pure liquid – but now it’s more like pumpkin puree.. It is by no means firm. It is also lightish colored, not dark at all like most dog stool.
My guess is the food…like chicken some dogs respond the same way to lamb. Lamb tends to cause skin allergies and yeasty ears…that’s my experience with it.
Protein levels are a bit low …whats the fat%…cal%—its also a Diamond Product..known for recalls. I would switch imo
Most important thing right now is for him not to gorge into food.
Remember fleas have a 28 day cycle…would use capstar to make sure. then a preventative.
Have you read up on satin balls for weight gain?
Have you tried bitter apple on his paws? Does he have chew toys accessible?
Bless you for taking on this big boy. He’s lucky to have you.
I would think it’s likely that the chewing and biting could be food intolerance / allergy issues as much as it could be compulsive behaviors. Would you be in a position to try to distract him every time you catch him chewing? A quick walk, a quick game of fetch, a doggie massage? Also, maybe give him something healthy to chew on that is tastier than his nails or fur. That’ll give him some extra calories also. Try bully sticks or raw, meaty bones like a turkey neck for snacks and chewing satisfaction. Samoan81’s suggestion for satin balls is a also a great idea.
I think I’d get him off of the grains though and would definitely increase his protein. His body needs more protein to repair and rebuild. I wouldn’t use anything less than 30% protein. He’s an adult now, so you don’t have to be as concerned with Calcium levels ~ which are what you limit with a large / giant breed puppy ~ not protein. While she mostly suggests foods with grains, the Great Dane Lady has a list of foods she recommends along with some great advice. Have you visited her site: http://www.greatdanelady.com/. Also, here’s a link that’ll take you right to the page of foods she recommends: http://www.greatdanelady.com/articles/criteria_list_of_better_foods.htm.
Also, one food I’ll suggest you try adding to his diet is Abady granular. It’s usually very well tolerated and is very calorie dense, about 800 kcals per cup. Their website is very strange, but I would suggest calling them and telling them what’s going on and get their recommendations. They’re extremely helpful over the phone. Here’s their website: http://www.abadyfeeds.com/ and here’s their phone number: Tele: (845)473-1900 * Toll Free: (877)-99ABADY .
Have you tried giving him some pureed pumpkin for the loose stools? That usually helps a lot.
Peace & Blessings,
I wonder if he has a malabosorbtion problem. Sounds like he is not absorbing nutrients from the food he is eating. Get a lab work up on him. I would seriously change his diet and ask your vet about purchasing a supplement called pancreazyme. It is for pancreatitis but it will help him absorb nutrients from the food he eats and he will gain weight. It is safe to use even if he doesn’t have pancreatitis. Pancreazyme is pricey but well worth it and the best product to use. He needs to be on a much better diet. Diet is MEDICINE for pets and for people. Try Halo dog food. I highly recommend it! Introduce it slowly with cooked chicken and cooked pasta – make sure it is very soft. (easy to digest) Feed him three times a day – 1 1/4 cups three times a day, use 1/2 cup dry and the rest chicken and pasta and slowly make a transition to feeding him twice a day. He needs 2 cups of food twice a day once he is back to normal. The protein i look for in a pet food for a large dog is: Crude Protein 28% (Min), Crude Fat 12% (Min), or Crude Protein 28% (Min), Crude Fat 16% (Min) Halo dog food has the correct protein/fat ratios. I would recommend the turkey and duck to start with because it has less fat, not knowing if the fat content in the food he is eating is causing him to have problems. Trust me this is the best food out there!
Something else I wanted to suggest was adding probiotics and digestive enzymes to his food. I like Mercola, but they’re pricey. I haven’t tried Swanson’s for my dogs but have for myself; I know others have with great success.
Hi Betsy, I have a strong back ground in veterinary medicine and have aquired the ability to recogonize problems from years of working in the field. I too had a Great Dane and she lived to be 12 1/2 years old!
I am worried about your dog and I hope you take my advice because your dog has a very SERIOUS condition.
Are you a veterinarian?
No Veterinarian would try to diagnose a dog based on those few lines of text. There are many possibilities for what could be going on with this dog, not just one.
Thanks for all the advice y’all. I appreciate all the feedback.
As far as the chewing goes – I have been trying to distract him whenever I catch him chewing his nails or licking/chewing his legs, hips, or butt with chew toys, rawhides, bones. Bauer doesn’t really care for toys – but man on man he absolutely loves bones and antlers. If I am holding it for him, he would chew and chew on them for hours. He gives up faster if he’s having to hold them between his paws on his own. They have really helped clean his teeth a bunch too. His teeth were HORRIBLE when I first got him. I have been trying to brush them, but nothing has worked as well as the antlers have in cleaning those back teeth up. The plaque/tartar build up was disgusting and black when I first got him. It’s so much better now. As far as the bones/antlers go – the redirect seems to work whenever I catch him in the act of licking/chewing to switch out for the bone or antler. But it’s when I am not home during the day and can’t reprimand and redirect – that’s when it’s the worst. I come home and he’s got a new raw spot, or the one he had is now even worse. I try to not let him be home alone for more than 4 hours at a time, but I do believe that some of it is just boredom. I take him on a long walk in the morning to try and wear out some of his energy too. I think I am going to have to diaper him if he doesn’t leave his back legs and butt alone.
As far as his weight issues go, I have another vet appointment on Tuesday so I am going to ask her to do a lab work up on him. It worries me that he hasn’t gained weight. I am definitely going to be switching to a grain free dog food (I know Sor recommended Halo) and I am going to the meat store in a bit to pick up ingredients for Satin balls. I have been giving Bauer fish oil supplements as well as glucosamine/chondroitin pills just bc my goldens always needed it for hip/joint issues and I figure that even though he’s severely underweight and still young right now – hopefully he will eventually gain weight and he won’t always be young – so preventative measures are always best.
Find a digestive enzyme for him. It can’t hurt and it might help him to better use the nutrients in his food. People enzymes from the health food store work great, until you have a better idea of exactly what he needs. Probiotics would probably help rebalance his gut flora and heal the damage that all the parasites did. I know you want to put weight on this boy, but be careful to not overfeed as that can cause diarrhea too. Feed for what he should weigh. When you get him on an even keel again, consider rotating foods so that his gut stays healthy. Feeding the same food for too long limits the number of different strains of probiotics that can survive in the intestines.
I was wondering about this earlier, if Katie was going to be increasing Bauer’s intake, would it be a good idea for her to divide his daily ration into three smaller meals instead of feeding it all in two meals. That would be a way to avoid some of the diarrhea that comes with overfeeding, right?
Also, Katie, when you’re calculating his daily ration, you’re feeding him based on what he should weigh, right? I would probably increase the amount fed gradually as he gains weight as opposed to feeding him that amount for his goal weight right off the bat.
For some dogs, that would definitely help. Some dogs do better if their gut has a chance to do nothing for a few hours. Only time and experience will tell, but it is worth trying.
Betsy is absolutely right. Always increase feeding amounts slowly.
I rescued my Dane when he was 2 as well. He was only slightly underweight. He was 140 and now weighs 160 at 7 years old. Max is my first Dane and I followed the advice of The Great Dane Lady at first. I like the supplements that she recommends. I use the “Filling in the Wholes” and Nzymes granular supplements which can be purchased from firstchoicenaturals.com. You can also get probiotics and digestive enzymes from them. My mom’s rottweiler that is undergoing chemo treatment is on the 4 in 1 probiotics.
When I first got Max, I put him on a diet of high quality kibble (one of Great Dane Lady’s suggested) and used The Honest Kitchen as a topper. He loved it. It was also a great improvement over the Diamond food he was being fed. I have to agree that she suggests too many kibbles with grain that have high carbs. I would also agree that the licking and chewing at his butt and hips could be a food intolerance. Chicken is the most widely fed protein so it might be worth it to try a different protein. My Dane loves turkey and duck. Earthborn Holistic has affordable priced grain-free foods.
I wish you the very best of luck with Bauer. Great Danes are awesome, quirky dogs with so much personality. I think you will really fall in love with the breed. Keep us updated on his progress!
Forgot, I also feed Max 3 times a day. He has never liked to eat a lot at one meal.
Thank you for rescuing Bauer. I second Betsy’s advice of Abady granular. I’m trying to add some weight to one of my dogs & I add it to one meal a day, I also use whole earth farms puppy canned plus one of the canidae’s canned.
I am an owner of a dog diagnosed with EPI. Runny loose stools, losing weight, ravenous appetite. Before you start anything, your vet needs to do a cTLI test on your pup and test for pancreatic enzyme function. When a dog does not have a functioning pancreas, it means they are not producing the enzymes, amylase, protease, and lipase to digest carbs, proteins and fats. Your dog eats and eats and never gains weight because it cannot break down its food into nutrients and digest it. The poop is simply undigested food, thus diarrhea. Your vet will run a TLI test to test for exocrine pancreatic insuffiency as well he should run a B-12 folate test. Most dogs with EPI or limited digestion, have very low B-12 and need a shot once a month to keep the level high. If diagnosed with EPI then you will need to buy pancreatic ( pork based ) enzymes, not the cheaper plant based ones. Time is of the essence and you should get your pup into the vet for this test asap. Just my advice from someone who has been where you are and can see a lot of similarities and I only wish I had known sooner what I know today.
Hi Katie again:
There is a website about EPI called epi4dogs.com
That would be a very good start for you. If your dog does have epi then this site could quite possibly save his life.
I have a female great dane and she was well under weight when I got her, and she also was full of parasites and worms. She scratched some and she used to take Trifexis too. My vet said that the medication could be reacting differently to her than it does to other dogs, or that it is too strong. I switched her to Sentinel Plus which is way better than Trifexis because it covers all worms including tape worms, plus it prevents flea eggs, and fleas, as well as killing existing ones. It comes in a chewable beef tablet too. I also fed her chicken, potatoes, and a lot of bread and milk daily. I feed her Purina Pro Plan Savor (chicken & rice) puppy blend. It comes in small bits instead of adult big kind. She loves it. She is very, very picky 🙂 It worked for my dog so hopefully it would yours too. Hope that this can help…..
Just because you see hoof print, don’t go looking for Zebras……They’re probably horses.
You do not have to go crazy here….Few simple things…First and foremost Great danes are skinny. It does not need to get barrel shaped like a lab.
You have a few very simple problems.
1) stop feeding him pasta…Fattens humans not dogs. Dogs can’t process the semolina flour.
2)chicken is great, use it as an additive to fatten him up.
3) Don’t buy into the “you need expensive food” Crap. Try beniful first ingredient is Chicken and its about $20 per 50lb bag. Feed him 80 oz per day.
4) How to fatten him up- add quaker oats to hi food. Feed him cheap penut butter (if you can-my dane does not like peanut butter) Throw him bread with real butter as snacks…Train him with American cheese slices. All this is great to add pounds.
5) chewing himself- dry skin, probably an issue with the pasta. Put a table spoon of Sa- Flower (not sun flower) oil or coconut oil (more expensive than sa- flower.) Too much will loosen his stool. NB-getting off the pasta and adding the oats and beniful will solid up his loose stool. Also, til the dry skin and loose stool go away, wipe his anus with baby wipes to keep him from getting soar and chewing that.
6) once he is up to weight, you can go off beniful and go to pedigree (I use it its $20 for 55 lbs at tractor supply. if he thins out, switch back. its nice to switch around anyway. OHH and if any idiot tells you to feed him cream, milk or such….do not! will lead to gas you can not stand!!! OMG
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