Some time back I spoke with Great Dane Rescue South Africa, after they experienced first-hand, some of the ailments Wagawhey was helping their dogs with. Having always been intrigued by these gentle giants with big hearts I realised just how little I knew about the challenges facing the breed and those who’s mission it is to help Great Danes in need. I don’t believe the issues they face are isolated to just South Africa but perhaps UK owners may like to share their findings?
A lot of the work Great Dane Rescue do is bringing about understanding and education on the breed. Many people expect a rescue dog to fit in immediately and often become impatient and unwilling to work on slight issues. Underestimating Dane size and energy levels is another reason for so many Danes being surrendered for rescue. South Africa has an overwhelming crime problem and people are under the misconception that Danes will make a good watch dog outside. Danes are very social if treated like family members, they are also very sensitive which many people don’t associate with their size. They really do need love and to be included as a family member. People don’t realise that they don’t need a huge garden to take on a Dane. People also think because of their size they eat a lot. Most Great Danes eat about 600g – 800g per day, depending on their weight. The other issue is also that Great Danes are very often not permitted inside most complexes and with the crime situation in S.A more and more people are moving into security complexes and surrendering their Danes to rescue centres. Charmaine, a director of Great Dane Rescue South Africa explained that the trend in the number of Danes being surrendered to rescue is rising rapidly due to retrenchments, emigration and once again people moving into complexes with strict rules. Again, the issue of unscrupulous and unethical breeders compound the problem. Breeding for profit, lack of genetic tests, no legislation and encouraging further breeding without ensuring pups get sterilized are all common issues experience from unethical breeding.
Skin problems are often a big issue when dogs are rescued. Not all are surrendered immediately and many dogs have been abandoned and left homeless for weeks if not months before being found. Charmaine explained some of the common skin disorders they witness daily, some inherited and some just prone to the breed:
Acral lick dermatitis mainly caused through boredom, frustration and ODC
Demodicosis – spots of red scaly skin
Hypothyroidism – stunted growth in pups, hair loss in older dogs, dry/greasy hair
Histiocytoma – benign tumours
Zinc-responsive dermatosis – crusting, reddening, scaling around face, feet
Allergies – food as well as environmental
There are two dogs (Oreo and Frodo) brought into the centre with an infection which caused an unpleasant yeasty smell, small sores with scabs and hair loss. Charmain explained that they had tried apple cider vinegar which they had to stop as it caused burns to the open wounds, Coconut oil which seemed to work for a week or two but then made both dogs sweat, which intern made the dogs scratch more. Special shampoos where tried but proved difficult to use and was not an easy task to wash Two Great Danes 4x a week during winter. Cortisone treatments had proven successful in the short term but long term use was not an option. Wagawhey in both these cases worked very successfully and was extremely easy to supplement – it is just simply mixed with their drinking water twice a day and the best part is that they actually loved receiving it and get excited when they see it being shaken up each day. In order to send the newly adopted Danes to their new families the centre needs to ensure the dogs are in good health. Yes, there are dogs with lifelong conditions and many people are willing to adopt these pets and manage their conditions. For example, a dog which was deaf or one of the dogs, who despite having Lupus, found a very good home.
Charmaine believes there is definitely a shortage of natural products that work as well as Wagawhey, products dogs actually enjoy and which is so easily mixed up in a shaker and poured into a drinking bowl. The added benefit is that when dogs go off to their new families it’s super easy to give them a tub of Wagawhey which they can continue. It’s a supplement to support gut health and immunity and as more and more people are coming to learn about the gut-skin axis we really don’t need to drive home the fact that it helps combat skin problems. Most new dog owners that the centre works with are very open to natural options and look to Great Dane Rescue for ongoing support and help.
Oreo and Frodo’s yeasty smell has totally cleared up, they are no longer scratching and the hair has now grown back. We are also successfully using Wagawhey on Danes with ear problems and infections.