The Ultimate Guide to What Great Danes Can (And Can’t) Eat

Dogs are great at eating two types of foods: dog food and table scraps; Great Danes are no different. If you’re interested in getting a Great Dane or you already have one, here’s a guide to knowing what they can and what they shouldn’t eat.

Here is a quick and easy guide to what Great Danes can eat…

What Great Danes Can Eat:

  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Berries (raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, cranberry)
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Potatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower

What Great Danes Can’t Eat:

  • Chocolate
  • Avocados
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Alcohol
  • Tea
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Raisins
  • Xylitol (artificial sweetener)
  • Tomatoes
  • Caffeine

Nutritional Needs

Great Danes are goliaths of a breed. The average weight for females is at least 100 pounds and 120 for males. We usually equate being bigger to needing to eat more- but that’s not the case with Great Danes.

This breed uses less energy per pound compared with other dogs. They require exercise like all dogs, but not as much as other larger breeds.

An average adult Great Dane weighing 120 pounds would require an average of 2500 calories every day. Of course, it depends on their metabolism and activity level.

For example, if your dog is very active and exercises a lot, they will need more calories; if they like to lounge around all day, they will need fewer calories.

Veterinarians recommend at least 23% of protein and 12% of fat in a Great Dane’s diet. There are many dog foods that advertise having a high protein and fat content, but you shouldn’t believe everything the television tells you.

Before you commit to a brand, you should be mindful in looking into a manufacturer’s reputation and ensure that they do only offer quality dog food.

If you’re someone that likes to save money by buying off-brand food and essentials because they’re a few cents cheaper, then we have something in common.

In college, you probably got away with living off of instant noodles, and you turned out fine. But would you force that malnutrition diet on your child? Then why give your dog off-brand, low-quality dog food?

More often than not, these cheaper brands don’t contain the appropriate nutrients that a dog needs. Your dog is a member of your family. Take those couple of dollars you saved from your Great Value haul and put it towards buying a better quality dog food brand.

Be willing to splurge just a little to ensure that your dog maintains a healthy diet and lifestyle.

When your Great Dane is just a pup, be careful not to overfeed them in order to try and speed up their process to their eventually massive size; you’ll only run into problems. Great Danes grow naturally, and they’ll reach their full size at around 3 years old.

Here is a list of popular premium adult dog foods for you to look into, as well as examples of what their protein and fat content looks like:

Dog FoodProtein %Fat %
Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Adult Dry Dog Food (with Chicken)3415
Annamaet Grain-Free Salcha – Chicken, Turkey & Duck3016
Taste of The Wild Grain Free High Protein Real Meat Recipe High Prairie Premium Dry Dog Food3218
Orijen Regional Red Dog Food3820
Crave Grain-Free Adult Dry Dog Food With Protein3417
Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Wild Game Duck, Turkey, Boar & Rabbit3416
Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Recipe Dry Dog Food Pork, Beef & Lamb2613

Kibble vs Wet Food

Some dog owners swear by dry dog food, or kibble, and some by wet food. Which one should you go with? Kibble and wet food both have good points about them that are better than the other.

Kibble Pros:

  • All brands are required to be balanced and meet the nutritional needs of a dog by having these ingredients: protein sources, grains, cereals, and vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • Healthier gums
  • Reduced dental plaque
  • Easier Storage
  • Cost-effective
  • Reduced risk of bacteria
  • Less risk of spoilage

Kibble Cons:

  • Lack of moisture, which becomes more important as a dog ages, becomes ill, or if they live in dry, hot climates.
  • Despite being required to contain it, kibble tends to have lower levels of animal-based proteins.

Wet Food Pros:

  • Made with fewer carbohydrates
  • Easier to chew
  • Meat ingredients are closer to their natural state
  • Good source of hydration
  • Good alternative for when a pet is ill, cannot smell as well, or lacks appetite
  • Good option for dogs with missing teeth, poorly aligned jaws, or smaller mouths

Wet Food Cons:

  • Messier
  • Has to be used quickly after opening it so it doesn’t spoil.
  • Could be more expensive than dry food
  • Must be bought in smaller amounts at a time

Table Scraps

Dogs don’t need to rely on just dog food for a healthy diet; there are a variety of human foods that are completely okay and healthy for Great Danes to consume.

If you love to share your food with your dog, then it’s important to know what foods are okay to share and what foods are extremely dangerous, even toxic, to your animal friend.

Fruits

Fruits are a great source of vitamins, especially vitamins A, C, and K. For weaning puppies, you can introduce different flavors to them through baby food. Make sure, though, that the baby food you feed them contains all-natural ingredients; added preservatives, dyes, and sugars aren’t good for anyone, including dogs.

Here’s a list of fruits that are safe and healthy for Great Danes:

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cranberries
  • Blackberries
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Kiwi
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Melons (Watermelon, Cantaloupe, etc)

An important note: Feed your dog only the fruit. Do not feed them peels, pits, rinds, or seeds.

Vegetables

Vegetables are also recommended and very healthy for Great Danes. Some vegetables are great sources of potassium, protein, vitamin A, and folic acid.

Here’s a list of vegetables that are healthy for a Great Dane:

  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • Cauliflower
  • Squash
  • Potatoes (make sure they are cooked first)

Meats

Chicken, beef, pork, lamb, liver, you name it. Meats that are lean and have been cooked well as safe for dogs to eat. Just make sure to take off all fat and ensure there are no bones in the meat before giving it to your dog.

If you’ve heard the stereotype that dogs love to chew on bones, don’t adhere to it. Your dog can choke on a bone, or splinters that have broken off can cause serious harm to your dog’s mouth, throat, stomach, and digestive system.

Snacks and Treats

Everyone enjoys being treated once in a while. It’s a way to say, “Good job!” for what you’ve done. Dogs loved to be rewarded, like humans.

Fruits and vegetables can be treated as treats for your dog. Keep in mind that while they have health benefits, fruit shouldn’t replace your dog’s kibble. Fruits have a high sugar content, and eating too much that can cause health problems with humans as well as dogs, including bloating, weight gain, and heart disease.

If you’re going to feed your dog some of your table scraps- and you’ve confirmed that the food is safe- I would suggest leaving out the extra seasoning or butter that you might add. While it enhances the flavor for you, the sodium and extra fat content won’t be very healthy for your dog.

Cooked pasta and white rice are also some foods that your dog might enjoy. If you want to treat them with a more human meal, you can serve them a meal of cooked chicken with plain white rice or pasta.

You’ve probably heard the love story that is dogs and peanut butter- giving them just a small bit of it will leave them licking their chops for hours. Great Danes love peanut butter, so it’d be a great treat to give them. If you do, BE CAUTIOUS that it’s not “sugar-free” or “lite” peanut butter that has artificial sweeteners, particularly xylitol.

Oatmeal is a good treat for senior dogs. It’s a great source of soluble fiber, which can help with bowel irregularity issues, and it’s a good alternate grain for dogs who are allergic to wheat.

Just be sure to cook the oatmeal before serving it, and don’t add any sugar or flavor additives.

The Do-Not-Feed List

While there are foods out there that are okay for humans to consume, when given to an animal, it can have negative, potentially deadly consequences.

  • Avocado: The persin contained in avocados can cause gastrointestinal irritation
  • Grapes or Raisins: There is a chance of a dog getting poisoned when eaten, and these fruits can cause kidney failure.
  • Orange and Lemon trees: I said earlier that oranges are safe for dogs to eat, but the seeds, peels, leaves, or stems are toxic to dogs due to its essential oils and psoralens.
  • Xylitol: Sugar-free candies, gum, toothpaste, baked food, and some diet foods contain xylitol. For a dog, it can cause blood sugar to drop and liver failure.
  • Alcohol: This kind of seems like a given to not give your dog alcohol, but I’ll say it anyway. Alcohol has the same negative effect on a dog’s brain and liver as it does with people. For dogs, it takes a lot less to hurt them.
  • Onions and Garlic: Keep all forms of these- powered, raw, cooked, dehydrated- away from a dog. These two vegetables can destroy their red blood cells and cause anemia, and eating a lot can cause poisoning. Having a rare, small dose every once in a while is okay, but save yourself from the risk and avoid it.
  • Coffee, Tea, and Other: If you want to make your dog perky, give him a toy, not caffeine; it can be fatal.
  • Milk and Other Dairy: Although a puppy drinks milk when they are young, once they have weaned, they produce less lactase. This means that most dogs can become lactose intolerant. Because of this, milk and milk-based products can cause diarrhea and other digestive problems for a dog.
  • Macadamia Nuts: While peanuts, almonds, and cashews are safe for a dog to eat, macadamia nuts are not. Macadamia nuts can cause tremors, vomiting, high temperature, and weakness.
  • Chocolate: Ah, yes, the dreaded chocolate. While it is decadent and a favorite for humans, it is extremely deadly for dogs. One of my siblings several years ago made the mistake of feeding my dog a tiny bit of chocolate; she immediately vomited, and we all freaked out. The reason why is chocolate contains theobromine, which is in all kinds of chocolate. Along with vomiting, chocolate can cause diarrhea, heart problems, seizures, and death.
  • Pits and seeds: Fruit pits contain cyanide, which is poisonous to people and dogs, so keep that away from them while they eat the fruit. People have the common knowledge not to snack on pits, but dogs don’t.
  • Raw eggs, raw meat, and fish: These foods have bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Raw eggs can cause salmonella and E. coli.
  • Yeast dough: If you like to make your own bread, be sure that your dog doesn’t get anywhere near the dough. Bread dough needs to rise, and if your dog snacks on it, that dough will continue to expand inside their abdomen and cause a lot of pain.
  • Wheat gluten: Avoid dog foods that contain wheat gluten. There was an international pet food crisis back in 2007, which caused kidney failure and death in dogs and cats because they had consumed pet foods that contained wheat gluten. The criminal was an ingredient called melamine, which is a component for making plastic that increases nitrogen content and protein levels when added to wheat gluten.

Foods That Are Okay, But Still Not Recommended

These are foods that are okay for Great Danes to eat, but owner’s discretion is still advised. If you want to treat your dog with these foods, then do so in small amounts, as too much can have negative consequences.

  • Coconut: Coconut in small amounts is safe for a dog to eat, but the tryglicerides that it contains may cause discomfort or bloating. Check with your vet before feeding your dog coconut. A safer option that maintains the benefits of coconut is coconut oil.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes, in small quantities, are okay for dogs, but this fruit is part of the nightshade family, and they contain solanine. This means that consuming them in large quantities can be hazardous to a dog’s health. Don’t let your dog snack on the leaves, stem, or young, green tomatoes, as the solanine content is higher.
  • Nuts: Almonds, peanuts, pecans, and walnuts are okay for dogs, but they contain high amounts of oils and fats.

Foods for Sensitive Stomachs

If your Great Dane has a sensitive stomach, there are dog foods available that won’t upset their stomach. Here’s a list of a couple:

The key is to find foods that are easily digestible for your dog. If you don’t know what these keys are, I’m here to help. The best foods for dogs with sensitive stomachs have the following:

  1. They’re absent of grains or contain easily-digestible grains. Many owners have opted for grain-free diets, but new research has revealed that grain-free substitutions might have something to do with the increase of DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy) cases in dogs. If you’re concerned about your dog’s risk, talk it over with your vet.
  2. They have a limited number of ingredients. – The more ingredients in dog food, the higher risk there’s something that upsets your dog’s stomach. Try to limit the overall number and avoid unnecessary additives while still keeping in mind that your dog needs to consume a variety of ingredients.
  3. They’re comprised of foods that are easily digested. – For example, most dogs can digest chicken, lamb, brown rice, and potatoes well.
  4. They contain ingredients and supplements that aid the digestive process. – Try and look for foods that include dog-friendly probiotics or yogurt, as those things help keep the digestive system working properly. Pumpkin or high-fiber ingredients can help firm up their stool.
  5. They have bland composition. – The best gastrointestinal dog foods to be on the bland side compared to most formulas. The most common ingredients in food designed for upset stomachs are basic meats and rice.

Bottom Line

Great Danes are loveable, gentle giants that should be your best friend and family member- if you want them to be healthy and happy, it’s important to give them the food that they need to maintain that lifestyle.

If you are ever nervous or unsure about feeding your dog certain human foods, don’t be afraid to consult your vet about what foods are okay for them and what to avoid. They want your Great Dane to be as healthy just as much as you do!

They can help you find the perfect pet food for your canine. If your dog has various medical or physical conditions, your vet is more than happy to help you compose a special diet that will give them the necessary nutrients they need.

Related Questions:

Can I make my own dog food? Making your own dog food can be a difficult thing to do, as many recipes don’t contain necessary nutrients, especially iron, copper, calcium, and zinc. Choose a recipe created by an expert with training in dog nutrition, such as a certified or a PhD-trained animal nutritionist.

My dog is sick and won’t eat. What foods should I give them? Bland foods are the best type of food for all breeds of dogs, especially if they have diarrhea, nausea, or are vomiting. Some options of good, bland foods are bland chicken, brown or white rice, sweet potatoes, unseasoned pumpkin, bone broth, and meat-based baby food.

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