Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD), a blood infection occurring in puppies, occurs most between the age of 3-10 months old and causes very painful inflammation in the joints of the legs. The puppy will be very lethargic and run a fever of 104 degrees or even higher. HOD seems to occur during rapid growth periods. Never feed a Great Dane puppy food, the protein content is much too high in the food, which is one of the main causes of HOD. It is recommended to keep the protein intake at 23% or lower for the puppy's first year.

I take HOD very seriously because one of my beloved Great Danes, Alessandro, suffered from this infection at the age of eight months. I was on my way home from work when my daughter called and told me that Alessandro would not come out of his kennel, and frankly would not move at all. From my previous knowledge of HOD by reading some Great Dane books, I was 100 % sure he had this infection.

My husband and I took Alessandro to the hospital immediately and the veterinarian took his temperature, it was recorded at 105 degrees. He was in the hospital for two days before he was brought home. The same night he arrived at home I could tell he was absolutely miserable. The very next morning Alessandro woke up, took his medicine and immediately threw it up. I had to rush him back to the pet hospital where things seemed to get worse. His growth plates were swollen, and with secondary infections, he did not look like he was going to make it.

After your dog suffers from HOD, it is important that you take into consideration some factors that will prevent him or her from a relapse. It is vital that you keep your dog's excitement level down. Some examples would first include not taking your dog on car rides. Most dogs' excitement levels skyrocket when they know they are going in the car. Also, do not let your dog play with other dogs or toys outside, because too much immediate physical activity can cause a relapse. In Alessandro's case, we did not let any visitors at our house for about 2-3 months because we did not want Alessandro to experience too much excitement.

If you heed by some of the facts I gave you, as well as my experience with HOD, you can prevent your dog from getting HOD. Today Alessandro is a very happy, healthy dog and we are very fortunate that he came out of this infection healthy. Remember, most dogs aren't lucky enough to make it through this infection, so by using my experience, as well as some of these facts, you can keep your dog free from this infection.

Swedlow, Jill. The Great Dane: Model of Nobility. New York: Wiley Publishing, 1999.