HEALTH AND THE AKITA
Akitas are generally a robust and healthy breed of dog, but as with all breeds, there are some health concerns that potential owners should be aware of before purchasing a puppy.
Listed below are health issues that can affect Akitas;
Potential owners should
be aware that there are other conditions, as
Gastric Volvulous (Bloat); Bloat is a life threatening emergency that all large breed dogs are susceptible to. It occurs when the stomach of the dog fills with gas and fluid. The distended stomach can then rotate on itself restricting the blood flow to the stomach and spleen. Bloat is a genuine medical emergency that happens suddenly in healthy active dogs. The dog may have just eaten or drank a large amount of water immediately after eating. Emergency Veterinary treatment is required in all cases. To try and reduce the risk of bloat it is recommended that a dogs daily allowance of food is split over two meals and that the dog is not allowed to drink copious amounts of water after exercise or food.
Entropion/Ectropion; Entropion describes a condition where the eyelid rolls in on itself so that the eyelashes are up against the eyeball of the dog. It can affect one or both eyes and can be secondary to an eye infection. Entropion causes severe irritation to the eye. Eyelashes and hairs rubbing on the corneal surface are highly abrasive and if left untreated can cause permanent damage to the eye. Entropion requires corrective surgery to rectify the problem.
Ectropion is the opposite of Entropion where the eyelid rolls out exposing the sensitive inner eyelid which is then prone to damage. Ectropion usually occurs in the middle of the lower eyelid of one or both eyes. Ectropion symptoms can be range from mild to severe, mild cases just needing treatment with eye lubricants, severe cases can require corrective surgery.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy; PRA is a slowly developing disease process that causes affected dogs to gradually lose their eyesight. Affected dogs initially present with ‘night blindness’ or the inability to see in dim light. This is due to the atrophy or degeneration of the retina. In later stages of the disease the dogs’ daytime vision will degenerate. There is no cure for this condition. All reputable breeders should screen any breeding stock to ensure they are not affected by these eye conditions. Details of the eye screening schemes available are given at the bottom of the page.
Auto Immune Conditions; Akitas are susceptible to some Auto-immune conditions. These are Hypothyroidism, Sebaceous Adenitis and rarely VKH.
Hypothyroidism is a natural deficiency of thyroid hormone. It normally manifests in affected dogs aged 3 years upwards. Hypothyroidism is easily treated, after Veterinary diagnosis, by oral administration of T4 Thyroid hormone. Once the ideal dose of Thyroxine is found, dogs usually manage well.
Sebaceous Adenitis is an Auto Immune mediated inflammatory skin disease that affects many breeds of dogs. Affected dogs present at around 3yrs of age usually with poor coats and itchy skin. As the disease progresses the skin can become sore and inflammed with skin lesions usually found along the back and flanks of the dog. There is no cure for this condition, however it can be managed with oral steroids and special medicated baths which help ease and manage the inflamed skin. At times of stress the condition can worsen.
VKH is a rare auto immune disease that has been found in Akitas. It can cause eye and skin problems and often presents as a lack of pigment around the dog’s eyes and nose. There is no cure for this condition and it is often a progressive condition.
Hip Dysplasia; Is common and found in all large breed dogs. The initial symptoms could be lameness after walks or the dog seems reluctant to jump or play as usual. It is caused by mis-alignment of the ball and socket joint of the hip and can have an inherited element. The abnormal position of the hip joint can eventually leads to wear and tear which in turn causes pain and restricts movement. Dogs affected by Hip dysplasia should never be part of a breeding program. All breeding stock should be Hip scored under the BVA/KC scheme and have a total hip score on or below the breed average.
The Kennel Club works alongside the BVA and encourages all reputable breeders to health test their breeding stock before allowing their dogs or bitches to be mated.
The two health schemes that the Akita association recommend for all potential breeders are the KC/BVA eye testing scheme and the KC/BVA hip scoring scheme.
We strongly recommend that all potential Akita owners only purchase puppies from breeders who have a current clear eye certificate for the dam and sire (certificate valid for 18 months from date of issue) and can produce a below average hip score (with certificate) for the Dam and Sire.
Further details of these health screening schemes can be found at www.thekennelclub.org.uk