Linda Arndt ~ Canine Nutritional Consultant

Blackwatch Feed Program for HOD Help!

Print Out For Your Veterinarian to Read

This is information is set up to help you get your puppy back on track without my assistance. I am inundated with so many emails for help, its virtually impossible for one person to answer all of them in a timely manner. Therefore, I have developed this page so you can handle this problem without my assistance.

If you have found this website it because you are having growth problems with your puppy and think you may have a case of HOD - Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy, this information is critical to getting your dog back on track. Unfortunately most vets are unfamiliar with HOD or giant breeds, so this is to help you both resolved this issue. Nutritional HOD can be corrected with a very high rate of success.

If this HOD is due to vaccine reactions, it is not always a happy ending - more info to follow. Let’s get started, time is of the essence. Nutritional HOD happens anytime from 10 weeks - 6 months of age, with 4-5 months being the most vulnerable time. Before we start, you need to know I am not a veterinarian. I am a professor emeritus from a large Midwest university where I taught for 34 years. I am also a professional breeder (Great Danes and Pugs) with a lot of experience in animal health issues and care and feeding of large and giant breeds. I have been assisting breeders, owners and their veterinarians for the 36 years I have been in dogs and have specialized in large/giant breed developmental orthopedic diseases.

Note: All photographs sent to me will become the property of Blackwatch Nutritional Consulting LLC and can be used for educational purposes; website, seminars, publications, videos, books. All names will be changed and photos cropped so as not to compromise the integrity of the owner or breeder.




So What is HOD?

HOD - Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy - in lay terms simply means "swollen joints"- so before your vet can treat this, we need to determine the cause - many things can cause swollen joints in a young growing puppy. Diagnosing HOD can be very difficult and confusing for your vet because several conditions can "mimic" the symptoms of HOD and they may not be familiar with that information.

These are the things that can cause HOD- like symptoms:

Diet -a caloric dense diet and your dog is being over fed; intake vs output,and/or an imbalance in the diet due to addition of certain vitamin/minerals or human foods such as calcium tablets, meat, rice, cottage cheese. And/or a diet with no chelated minerals which means the body can't utilize these nutrients properly causing malabsorbtion of nutrients, either due to quality of macro-minerals or lack of micro-minerals in a diet, which are necessary for macro-minerals (Calcium/Phosphorus/Magnesium) to work properly. A dog can come down with HOD if you change dog food brands more than twice during delicate growth periods 10 - 16 weeks.

Blood infections - Septicemia/Septic-Arthritis - Have a blood test done immediately to rule out infection, this is by far more important than an x-ray. You already know the dog has swollen joints, if you have to make a choice between an xray and blood test due to financial reasons, a blood test is more important in ruling out infection. Keep in mind that pain alone can elevate the white cell count a little, it is significant elevated white cell counts that indicate infection. Editorial Comment:I NEVER recommend tapping a joint with a needle to check for infection, this is antiquated method. Once you break that seal in the joint area it is very vulnerable to staph infection in the joint, as well as early arthritis.

Vaccine reactions - multivalent/combination vaccines are an enormous problem with young dogs with immature immune systems, especially if the dogs have not received adequate amounts of a antioxidants to help the body to detoxify from being bombarded with combination shots. It is even more of a problem when Lymes Vaccine or Rabies Vaccine has been at the same time as the combination shots. Rabies given before 6 months of age is not recommended for Great Danes (Purdue Vaccine Study) and should be given alone. In some states it means breaking the law if you follow this protocol. Discuss it with your vet first and if you are not comfortable with waiting until 6 months or older at least back up the system by using antioxidants (Vaccine Prevention Information).

Allergic reaction to certain antibiotics ( Sulfonamides or Cephalexin). Sulfonamides seem to be a problem for many Great Danes, Dobes, Goldens and perhaps other breeds. I do not recommend it's use unless this family of drugs is absolutely necessary (based on a blood culture) for a specific pathogenic bacteria. (Research References). Cephalexin on the other hand, although a good broad spectrum antibiotics, can also produce HOD like symptoms because it dries out the synovial fluid of the joints. My suggestion is to use something else if you have a choice and wait until more mature to use this drug. Adult dogs can have HOD like symptoms on Chephalexin as well. If you have to use this drug, use it with a watchful eye, and if the dog acts achy or lethargic, stop the use of the drug.

What You Need To Do First:

1). To correct this problem switch to Precise Holistic Complete Large Breed Puppy Food 23% protein 12% fat. If you are unable to locate it in your area by going to this website:

When switching foods do so quickly - use 50/50 the first feeding then 100% of the new food. It's important to use probiotics (see kit below) when switching food so they do not get a loose stool. In the meantime, what ever food you are on, cut back the amount you are feeding!

What If I Can't Find Precise Foods?

Check this list for approved foods for large/giant breed growth.

AMOUNT TO FEED CHART. (print this out) - now if you are currently feeding out side of this range that is recommended, that is part of this problem if not all of it. So cut back if the dog is inactive. As long as the dog is inactive you should not feed full recommended amount. Ex: if the dog is normally eating 4 cups a day, cut back to 3 cups.


2). the HOD/Knuckling Over Supplement Kit#5

You can order online through this link or call go to OR
contact them directly at:


    HOD - 12 weeks - Clare

Second - A Trip To The Vet

Please take the dog to the veterinarian for a diagnosis and make sure they run a blood test to rule out a serious blood infection - septicemia/septic-arthritis and get an xray.

If it were my dog and a vet wants to "tap the joint" with a needle I would never allow it. I would search for another vet. You do not want to risk getting staph infection into that joint by breaking the seal , grab the dog and run to another vet!!

Great Danes often have reactions to the Sulfonamide family of drugs so you need to let your vet know this and it might not be the best kind of antibitoic to use, if septicemia is the issue. They often have a reaction to Chepalexin/Keflex as well, so this much be watched very carefully and only used knowing it can worsen the HOD like symptoms. (info below)

If it were my pet, would not use an antibiotic unless the vet says there is an elevated blood count, one that indicates infection and not just slightly elevated due to the pain.

Third Step:

    1. After you line up your recommended food....

    2. After you order the HOD Kit#5 on line or call
    1-765-284-8288m it will be shipped priority mail
    the same day.

    3. Fill out this form HOD FORM and send it to: - this is also the
    place where you can make an appointment for a consultation with me. 1-765-284-8288

    4. Send a photos of the dog in JPG format - front joints, standing if possible, laying is OK too as long as I can see the joints. Front and back knee area. Note the photos are property of Blackwatch Nutritionals LLC and if used in educational seminars or publications, I respect your privacy and do not use names of owners or dogs and crop photos so it is not recognizable by the public. These are used to help educate others about this problem, the cause and how to reverse it.

    Foods that will NOT work: Innova, EVO, any raw diets, Hill's Science Diet, Iams, Eukanuba, Pedigree, Purina- Proplan, Diamond, Kirkland, Ole'Roy, Costco Brand, Authority, Sam's Club, Nutro, or any grocery store level food will not work. And even several of the holistic foods due to their calcium levels.

    NOTE: Eagle is no longer owned by the Cocoquyt family, it is owned by Wellpet LLC a large conglomerate company and I can't endorse it bcecause we don't know if it is truly the same quality it once was or if recipes are the same.


    NOT all Large Breed foods are appropriate for growth and not all adult foods are appropriate for puppies.

    Click Here for a List of Foods for Giant Breeds

Fourth Step - Getting A Jump Start

While you are waiting for your HOD Kit #5 to arrive and food to come, go to a health food store, or Walgreens pharmacy or Wal-Mart pharmacy area and get things to get you started until you get ordered. These are not the same quality but at least will give your dog a jump start on correcting the problem.

    Vitamin C or Ester C - 500 mg daily with food

    Probiotics - Purchase a "multiple beneficial bacteria" Probiotic product from the refrigerator section of the health food store - (acidophilus) and double dose for 2-3 days, according to the container for an adult human - then just once a day to get the flora of the gut established.

    If you do not have a health food store, ask the pharmacist for want a Probiotic or Lactobacillus Acidophilus product. Yogurt does NOT have enough cultures or guaranteed living cultures so don't bother to use it for this purpose.

    Purchase a small bottle of MSM- Nutritional sulfur start dosage 1000 - 1500 mg daily divided into two meals. MSM is critical in helping with malabsorption of nutrients/minerals.

When your HOD Kit#5 comes - you can discontinue these band-aid supplements. You personally can take the balance of these vitamins listed above, for yourself so there is no waste and it's better for you anyway. You might consider a Wellness program for you as well.


With HOD - feed two times a day - if the dog is in stage 4 which means not moving much without help, cut the rations to 1/2 what you would normally feed and add broth to it so the dog takes in enough liquids. Liquids are more important that food right now.

Day 1 - Start with the MSM and the Spark of Life in the Morning

Day 2 - Continue the MSM and Spark of Life and add the 4 in 1 Probiotic - Morning

Day 3 - Continue the MSM and Spark of Life and add the 4 in 1 Probiotic - Morning
Day 3 - Introduce the Level 5000 joint supplement - Evening

Day 4 - Continue the MSM and Spark of Life and add the 4 in 1 Probiotic - Morning
Day 4 - Introduce the Level 5000 joint supplement - Evening

Day 5 - Continue the MSM and Spark of Life and add the 4 in 1 Probiotic - Morning
Day 5 - Introduce the Level 5000 joint support and Nzymes granular -- Evening

Day 6 and there after: MSM and Spark of Life and 4 in 1 Probiotic - Morning
Day 6 and there after: Level 5000 joint spport and Nzymes granular -- Evening

When you have completed the HOD Kit#5 you can use it again or you can move to these maintanence choices CORE 4 Kits you can rotate or use once the growth patterns have stopped. Check them out when you have time and this is a life long program for wellness.


Amount to Feed of Dog Food:

Giant Breed Puppies medium range - for Large Breeds Puppies
use the low end on the chart - the numbers marked in Green

2 months - 2-4 cups per day - (divided into 3 meals daily)
3 months - 3-5 cups per day - (divided into 2 meals daily)
4 months - 4-6 cups per day - (divided into 2 meals daily)
5 months - 5-7 cups per day - (divided into 2 meals daily
6 months - 6-8 cups per day - (divided into 2 meals daily)


Chart In Detail :
Amount To Feed Chart

What is in the HOD Kit# 5

1) MSM-Nutritional sulfur - dosage is on the container. .It is my understanding from reading the patent info and discussing this with Vita-Flex the oldest distributor of MSM, that this is the recommended dosage and it is my experience that this helps to level out the uneven growth spurts the dog has gone through. Vita-Flex MSM corrects malabsorption of other nutrients such as minerals whose imbalance relate to problems such as osteochondrosis (HOD, OCD, Pano). It also helps with pain and inflammation.

2) 4 in 1 Probiotics - (multiple cultures/digestive enzymes/Ester C and Barley Grass)

3). Spark of Life Trace Minerals - all commercial diets on the market are missing critical micro-minerals necessary to make proper bone and run the body's electrical system. Often unusable or lacking micro-minerals are at the core of many developmental orthopedic problems.

4). Liquid joint support supplement - Level 5000 Joint Support - a comprehensive liquid joint to prevent and correct orthopedic problems.

5).Nzymes - dietary enzymes that are natural anti-inflammatory - and important in you not having to use risky medicine like Rimydal. Nzymes are part of every one of my comprehensive feed programs so you will need these anyway, when you switch to the whole program for the life of your dog. Nzymes come in pet treats or granular. If you have more than one dog, the granular goes further.

To order: 765-287-8288 - or -

Other Important Info:

Water is far more important than food! - dehydration is life threatening. You can entice with ice chips or Pedialyte popcicles, to get liquid in them and canned broth works as well.

Have the vet show you how to check for dehydration. If you pull up the skin on the neck of the dog it should spring right back, if it does not, it stays up or slowly snaps back the dog is dehydrated and could need IV fluids. This is by far more important that eating!! Fluids they can't live without, food they can go without for a couple of days. At Petsmart or any pet store or he vets, you should be able to find something called Nutri-Cal. It is a brown paste and it is very calorie dense and you can wipe it on the roof of their mouth to get some energy in them, if they go more than 24 hours without eating.

One of the reasons they do not eat when they have HOD is they are 1) in pain and 2) the body is trying to use up all the nutrients that are stored in the body.

One of the very worst things you can do is cook chicken or hamburger and rice and feed it to the dog. It is very unbalanced in it's calcium and phosphorus content and will only make matters worse.

If you are really worried about them eating something, just feed any Holistic balanced Cannd dog meats,(Precise, Eagle, Merick, Wellness) it are balanced in calcium and phosphorus and they are moist which will help with a dehydration issue. The dogs many have a soft stool with only canned food, this is not a problem. Some people add a little broth to the canned meats and the added salt from the broth will encourage the dog to drink water. This will at least provide some nutrition when they are not really wanting to eat.

IF YOUR DOG STARTS TO IMPROVE TO NOT INCREASE THE FOOD AUTOMATICALLY.. we need to allow them to utilized all the nutrients that are stored before we can move them up to normal rations which takes 3-4 days.

CRITICAL - What Drugs to Use:

Well, I am not a vet so all I can tell you is my 40 yr experience in helping vets and owners with this problem. I have come to realize the best way to handle true "Nutritional HOD" is with a change of feeding protocols and steroids. This is also the same course you would take for vaccine reactions - except it will require longer used of steroids to pull the dogs through vaccine mediated auto-immune problems.

And again for vaccine reactions, we have found the best route is to change the feed program and use a shot of Dexamethasone followed up with Azium or Dexamethasone pills for 7 days, sometimes a little longer is necessary for vaccine issues. Dexamethasone is indicated for use as an anti-inflammatory and/or glucocorticoids agent in conditions such as acute arthritis. Supplement with SAMe (S-Adenosyl-Methionine) to protect the liver.

Also as Dr. Brown states: "Administer antacids (Pepcid, Zantac) to counter acid secretions stimulated by the Prednisone."

I am not a fan of steroids, but in the case of nutritional HOD or Vaccine reaction HOD, we have no choice, because Rimydal or Deramaxx also compromise the liver and are really worthless in this instance, it provides little help with pain and both drugs are very questionable anyway. Prednislone and Prednisone do not work well either, for some reason, nothing works in HOD the Dexamethasone. Dr. Brown recommends Clavamox, Antirobe or even Amoxicillin for at least 3 weeks.

It is my experience that Chephalexin or a Sulfonamide antibiotics produce far too many sensitivities to these drugs especially during an HOD flair up, so if it were my dog I would use the ones Dr. Brown suggests.


S. Gary Brown, D.V.M.,D. A.C.V.S. offers this information in his article on Hypertophic Osteodystrophy, presented to the Irish Setter Club of America and located at their website.

1. "Be sure sepsis or other infection has been ruled out before initiating glucocorticoid therapy (Prednisone, Prednisolone). Do a compete workup including a CBC and radiographs.

2. Dosing regime is as follows:

a). Place dog initially on a 1.5mg/kg/day dose of Prednisone for 4-5 days if symptoms show regressions, and up to but not more than 7 days if signs are persisting, with half given in the AM and the other half in the PM.

b). Gradually wean down for 4-5 weeks, cutting the total daily dose by on-half each week and 30 administer 5 mg of Prednisone every other day for an additional 1 to 2 weeks.

3. Cover with Clavamox, Antirobe or even Amoxicillin for at least 3 weeks.

4. Administer antacids (Pepcid, Zantac) to counter acid secretions stimulated by the Prednisone.

5. Two cases of HOD also evidenced sore mandibles(jaw)before treatment. These cases showed more tenderness than that normally associated with normal puppy teeth eruptions."

More information from Dr. Brown your vet will find helpful:

"Early in the disease the metaphyseal regions of the long bone (the area above the diaphysis (mid-shaft of long bones) and below the physis (growth plate) will be tender to digital palpation, slightly swollen and warm to the touch (using the inside wirst). The disease is bilateral, most commonly affecting the distal radial/ulna metaphsis above the wrist joints, although the metaphyses of all long bones are susceptible."

"Radiographic changes reflect the underlying histological changes, and include a radiolucent line (HOD line) parallel and immediately adjacent to the growth plate in the metaphyseal regions. (Trostel, Pool, McLaughlin*). This HOD line represents bone necrosis and reabsorption of some of the microspicules of bone. With treatment and effective healing, the cuff of metaplastic cartilage and bone bridges to the cortex and moves toward mid-diaphsis (midbone)."

*Tostel, C.T.; Pool, R.R.: McLaughlin, R.M.: Canine Lameness Caused by Developmental Orthopedic Disease, in Compendium volume 25(4). Pp282-293; April 2003.

For a complete copy of Dr. Browns article for your veterinarian go here: Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy. or go to the Irish Setter Club of America, then Health and Welfare Tab.

If This is Vaccine Reaction

Once I look at the info and photos you send me, I can better tell if this might be a vaccine reaction or with a nutritional problem. We hope it is a nutritional problem, because we can fix that if it is, vaccine reactions are tough to fix. If it is a vaccine reaction we need to be very realistic, we do not always have a very high success rate unless we get the dog on a good feed program and steroids as soon as possible.

If a dog has a vaccine reaction (a vaccine mediated auto-immune response) it is my experience that it happens within the first few days of being vaccinated. It is more common in merles or Danes that carry a merle gene, such as blacks out of harlequin breeding. It is also more prevalent when a rabies shot is given at the same time as the other multivalent shots.

I have two vaccine reaction success stories ( Camden and Abby ) at my website and it requires changing to the Immune Boosting Feed Program and Dexamethsone to get the dogs turned around. The biggest problem with vaccines is lumping them all together, repeating them so many times and often with a rabies in conjunction with the other shots.

I can tell you how to prevent these reactions, which Danes are so prone to have, but we can't always save them. It is my experience that harlequins and merles are more prone to vaccine reactions, based on the photos and cases in my files. If your situation is vaccine related, I can't tell unless I see photos of the legs, vaccine schedules, and feeding protocols.

This is what Vaccine Reaction looks like in Great Danes. I have other breeds photos in my files as well.

Now the Homework Begins:

After you get your resources together, then sit down and read:
A Guide To Recognizing Bone Diseases so you understand what you are dealing with HOD.

I am a dog breeder, not a veterinarian, so any phone consultation with me is not to be used in lieu of veterinarian advice or diagnosis, and is done so only as to provide support information
for you and your veterinarian to consider and investigate.

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