Great Dane Survives Severe Neglect & a Rare Condition, Now Seeks Loving Home

Ryder, a severely neglected Great Dane, was on the brink of despair when the Dogwood Animal Rescue Project intervened after an urgent call from a local animal shelter in Sonoma County, California. Found in dire condition, Ryder was not just emaciated; he was also suffering from severe mange, skin infections, and a worrisome respiratory illness. The rescue team faced the daunting task of saving a dog who seemed barely able to survive the harsh reality he had been living. Their commitment to his recovery marked the beginning of Ryder’s challenging journey back to health.

Great Dane Survives Severe Neglect & a Rare Condition, Now Seeks Loving Home

A Loving Dog in Life-Threatening Condition

When Ryder arrived at the rescue, it became clear just what horrible shape he was in. Dogwood Animal Rescue Project explained in a later Facebook update, “He was raw, and in so much pain on arrival and literally dripping blood. He vomited up most of what he ate, even on a careful refeeding program, and mucus poured from his nose. ” His rescuers feared fatal complications such as aspiration pneumonia, but the sickly pup was unable to tolerate the medication. He had to receive injections to reverse this scary illness, but he couldn’t have been any braver throughout his treatments.

Miraculously, this little fighter began to get better and better every day. With some vet visits, medications, skin treatments, and lots of love, Ryder healed on both the outside and the inside. His contagious case of mange was replaced by beautiful gray fur, and he gained some much-needed weight. Best of all, that life-threatening upper respiratory infection was as good as gone!

Soon, he was healthy enough to start exploring his surroundings and making new friends at the shelter. That’s when they began to see his friendly and playful spirit shining through!

Great Dane Survives Severe Neglect & a Rare Condition, Now Seeks Loving Home
via Dogwood Animal Rescue Project

A Mega Bright Future For a Dog With Megaesophagus

While many of Ryder’s health concerns are resolved or currently being treated, recent vet visits revealed a long-term struggle: megaesophagus. This condition occurs when a dog’s esophagus is larger than it should be and loses the ability to effectively transport food, and it’s likely the main reason why this Great Dane pup has had so much trouble tolerating food and medication. For Ryder, it results in frequent regurgitation and vomiting, but there are several things his rescuers and forever family can do to help.

Just ask pro dog rescuer Rocky Kanaka! Rocky and his wife, Kelly, fostered a dog with megaesophagus and they learned so much about the condition and its treatments. For their foster pup, Jalapeño, it was essential to feed him food with a “smoothie-like consistency” and to keep him upright in his specially-made Bailey chair during and after eating. This helps the esophagus do its job with the aid of gravity and reduces the risk of dangerous compilations like respiration pneumonia.

Rocky Kanaka and his foster dog Jalapeño.
Rocky Kanaka and his foster dog Jalapeño. He is sitting in a Bailey chair, which helps dogs with megaesophagus digest food as they are forced to eat upright.

Sadly, aspiration pneumonia will always be a concern for dogs like Jalapeño and Ryder. This is a fatal complication of having megaesophagus, but Ryder’s rescue friends are experimenting with different food textures and upright eating positions to find what works best for him. His forever family will need to commit to this special mealtime protocol 100% of the time, including finding him a Bailey chair big enough for his Great Dane size. Don’t worry–there are many resources to help with this!

Great Dane Survives Severe Neglect & a Rare Condition, Now Seeks Loving Home
via Dogwood Animal Rescue Project

Despite all he’s been through, Ryder is just an 8-month-old puppy who has so much love to give. His rescuers describe him as “affectionate, playful, friendly,” and “happy,” though he’ll be even happier when he’s settled in in a dedicated forever home!

If you want more information about Ryder and his application process, visit the Dogwood Animal Rescue Project website to learn more.

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