Updated: Mar 21
If you don't have a breed that is prone to bloat, you might not be aware that discussions surrounding this topic are as impolite as religion, politics and whether someone is a balanced trainer or not.
Having been involved in many of these discussions before, I'm well aware that it is incredibly triggering to some people...but why?
Well, it all goes back to statistical study released by Purdue University over 20 years ago (1997) that claimed that chest size, elevated dishes, citric acid, high fat diets and the likes made the big boys like Great Danes more prone to bloat.
Linda Arndt (r.i.p) known as the Great Dane Lady, explains a statistical study well... "That means they gather information and make conclusions based on that information ONLY, and nothing more. That does not mean it is the "truth," it just means that their statistics show that it "appears" that A = B".
Linda goes on to say, and this important for anyone who has had this "study" rule their lives with their giant...
"Anyone that has owned these dogs (Great Danes), knows that every single book written about Great Dane or giants, regardless of how old the book is, states we need to elevate the dishes. That means, the majority of giant breeds in this country (America) are fed from elevated dishes and in fact, it was Vet schools such as Purdue that taught us to elevate the dishes years ago. Even without that information from breeders, books or veterinarians, it is obvious to an owner, the dogs are more comfortable with their dishes elevated so they do not have to strain to eat. This information about elevated dishes is taught by breeders to buyers, by vets to clients, by books on the breed to the new puppy buyer who is trying to educate themselves.
The majority of dogs involved in this study, were owned by Great Dane breeders or dogs purchased from Dane breeders, and that is where the owners received the information about the bloat study. With that information in mind, it is logical that the majority, if not ALL of the dogs that came in to Dr. Glickman's survey, have been fed with an elevated dish. This is simply how he came to his "opinion" that elevated dishes cause bloat. Also, you need to know most of the dogs that were viewed in this study were seen-chest measured, while they were at a Great Dane Specialty show or at the Great Dane week long National Specialty which means all the dogs tested were actually owned by professional breeders. Virtually 99% all the dogs measured would have been raised with elevated dishes, hence the high numbers in the study.
(𝐢𝐧 𝐦𝐲 𝐨𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐥𝐨𝐠𝐢𝐜 𝐚𝐬 𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐞𝐞 𝐚 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐧𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐩𝐢𝐞𝐫𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬, 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐩𝐢𝐞𝐫𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐧𝐚𝐧𝐭 )."
𝗗𝗢𝗛! Linda makes a great point here - if most, if not all the Danes in the study were already eating from a raised dish then there wasn't going to be any other outcome in a "statistical" study
𝗦𝗢 𝗪𝗛𝗔𝗧 𝗗𝗢𝗘𝗦 𝗜𝗡𝗖𝗥𝗘𝗔𝗦𝗘 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗥𝗜𝗦𝗞 𝗢𝗙 𝗕𝗟𝗢𝗔𝗧 𝗜𝗡 𝗚𝗜𝗔𝗡𝗧𝗦? Well my giant friends, we do not know 100%, many breeders will agree that stress is a trigger and I'm onboard with that, it would be the reason why many Danes bloat in boarding kennels. But why would stress trigger bloat? Well, my thoughts would be because stress impacts gut health and we do know from a recent study in Danes that is now being replicated in GSD's, that imbalance and dysbiosis that can appear in the microbiome caused by a specific set of genes has been seen in Danes who have bloated. 62% of Danes with this genetic risk allele had to undergo emergency surgery to save their lives from Bloat/GDV (Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus).
”IBD seemed to be a pretty big red flag too in terms of dogs who go on to bloat."
𝗚𝗨𝗧 𝗛𝗘𝗔𝗟𝗧𝗛 𝗣𝗘𝗢𝗣𝗟𝗘!
Fibre seemed to play a big part too, they found dogs with a lower intake of fibre more prone to GDV - this makes sense because fibre provides energy to the bacteria in the gut - it's their food, so if you're not loving on your dogs bacteria with gut loving food then how can it operate at its best?
Researchers have only just scratched the surface, we have so much more to learn!!!
But right now...stop living your life aka your dogs life by the "opinions" of the deeply flawed Purdue statistical study and start focusing on your dogs GUT HEALTH. The Australian Great Dane Health & Lifestyle Survey of 2005 with over 1,000 Danes enrolled did not show any correlation between bloat/GDV and bowl height when the raw data was analyzed.
𝗛𝗢𝗪 𝗧𝗢 𝗜𝗠𝗣𝗥𝗢𝗩𝗘 𝗬𝗢𝗨𝗥 𝗚𝗜𝗔𝗡𝗧𝗦 𝗚𝗨𝗧 𝗛𝗘𝗔𝗟𝗧𝗛 First of, get a probiotic in to your dogs daily diet. As Dane slaves ourselves, we created one for Australian families called Gut Dust. Gut Dust is made up of 9 strains of probiotics and resistant starch that feeds the bacteria in your dogs digestive tract. If you're not in Australia, do some Googling about the different canine probiotics available in your country.
Next, improve your dogs diet. Many giant breed parents believe kibble is the healthiest for their dogs, they might even be feeding a kibble especially for giants. Kibble is ultra processed with synthetic vitamins and often is largely vegetarian as they contain such a small amount of animal protein. Kibble fed dogs have less diversity in their gut flora(1) which does not promote good gut health which we are chasing in our giants.
We challenge Giant breed parents to read the ingredient label and start some critical thinking and not to be swayed by big brand names and front of bag claims. You know that ultra processed foods are not healthy for you and your human family so start to think about why you feed it to your dog who is more prone to a life threatening condition (bloat/GDV) that is more prevalent in dogs with poor gut health.
We recommend that you first start by reducing your dogs kibble by 15% and replace it with fresh healthy whole foods and then over time, reduce the kibble further until your dog is on a full healthy fresh food diet. Getting the balance right is important but it's not actually difficult and we have a fresh food group to help you with this: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rawandfresh
𝗪𝗛𝗬 𝗜 𝗙𝗘𝗘𝗗 𝗥𝗔𝗜𝗦𝗘𝗗 Simply because it is more comfortable. Great Danes are man-made giants, they have never existed in the wild so we can't say...well wolves don't eat raised. If we can improve our dogs quality of life through comfort then why not?
My Dane, Gavin, as shown in the photo has compressive disc disease so feeding raised is a must for him. I would recommend feeding raised for any dog with joint disease aka arthritis or any structural issues.
Further reading: https://www.akcchf.org/.../GreatDaneUpdate_Summer2017.pdf References: (1) https://gutpathogens.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13099-017-0218-5