Common health issues for large dogs

Larger dogs are often prone to more health issues than smaller dogs, which is usually due to their size. The sooner you spot a health issue in your dog, the sooner you can get it treated and prevent the problem from exacerbating. Some of the most common health issues a larger dog might suffer from are listed below.

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia happens when the hip joints don’t form properly. This can be a genetic problem, but it can also occur if the dog becomes too large, which is why it’s important to ensure your dog is exercised and fed the correct food to prevent excessive weight gain and growth. Dogs that can be affected by this include:

  • Bearded Collies
    • Chow Chows
    • German Shepherds
    • Golden Retrievers
    • Labrador Retrievers
    • Rottweilers

Hip dysplasia can cause pain in your dog’s back legs, with symptoms including:

  • Limping on the back legs
    • Stiff legs
    • Difficulty getting up or lying down
    • Not wanting to exercise
    • Difficulty climbing stairs or jumping up

Arthritis/degenerative joint disease (DJD)

Degenerative joint disease, which is more commonly known as arthritis, occurs because the cartilage in your dog’s joints becomes worn. Without enough cartilage, the bones in the joint rub together, causing a lot of pain. Arthritis can be caused simply by old age, but other factors such as obesity and not enough exercise can also lead to arthritis.

Symptoms of arthritis:

  • Stiffness when walking
    • Difficulty climbing stairs or jumping up
    • Limping
    • Stiff, swollen and sore joints

If your dog has existing health problems, it might be worth considering insurance for pets with medical conditions to help ease your vet bills.


Obesity is one of the most common health issues affecting large dogs. There is a simple way to tell if your dog is overweight – you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs without a layer of fat over them and their chest should be wider than their abdomen. An overweight dog will generally have no waist and no distinction between the chest and stomach, giving them a rounded appearance. Obesity in dogs can be quite serious, causing health issues such as:

  • Cancer
    • Arthritis
    • Heart and lung problems
    • Diabetes
    • Bladder and bowel problems

Bloat and torsion

Bloat and torsion occur when a dog’s stomach turns, preventing food from moving through the rest of the digestive tract. It is very common in breeds such as Standard Poodles and Great Danes because they are deep-chested. Surgery is usually required to turn the stomach back over but if caught quickly, it is not life-threatening.

Symptoms of bloat and torsion

  • Drooling
    • Vomiting
    • Swollen stomach
    • Anxiety

Bloating can be prevented by feeding your dog smaller meals two or three times a day and using a slow feeder.

Taking your dog to the vet for regular check-ups, feeding them the correct diet and giving them plenty of walks will help to prevent many of these common health issues from occurring.

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