Most parent breed
clubs do not mandate participation in genetic testing. It is
recommended, but ultimately the decision rests with each individual
breeder. The Akita Club of America's Breeder Referral List, sent out
to the public on request, does not require that breeders conduct
genetic screenings--they simply pay a fee for the listing.
Therefore, when interviewing breeders before selecting a puppy, you
should be aware of the health problems in your chosen breed.
the Akita Rescue Society of America (ARSA) has worked with Akitas,
giving ARSA volunteers a good background in breed specific
disorders, congenital problems, familial and heritable diseases.
Rescue organizations can be a useful resource for anyone interested
in the breed. Nearly all rescues keep pedigrees sent to us from
owners who have lost Akitas to diseases known to occur with some
frequency in the breed and invariably, we eventually rescue an
with some disorder that makes us aware of an existing problem. To
help Akitas enjoy good health and longevity, we must begin an
honest, open discussion of these diseases seeking ways to control,
treat and halt the increasing number of fatal or crippling ailments.
In addition to
the usual reproductive disorders like monorchidism, cryptorchidism,
and pyometra, the following disorders have been seen in the Akita,
listed in order of frequency:
are sensitive to many drugs, especially those used for
anesthesia. Remind your veterinarian each time a drug is prescribed
for your Akita and prior to any surgical procedure. These adverse
reactions are often fatal.
hypothyroiditis: During the years rescue has been working with the
breed, our veterinarians have conducted tests and estimate the
incidence is now at over 70%. We have seen symptoms ranging from
extreme hyperactivity and emaciation, to lethargy and obesity.
Aberrant or sudden onset aggressive behavior, seizures, have also
been linked to this disease in the Akita. The thyroid gland is part
of the immune system and like any machine, it cannot function well
when a part doesn't work. Poor immune responses due to hypothyroid
disease prevent the immune system from protecting the body leaving
the dog vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections. We recommend
full thyroid studies before breeding or for any chronic skin
problem. A young Akita should be in the UPPER RANGE of normal.
occurrence of sebaceous adenitis with concurrent thyroiditis is
escalating. Pemphigus foliaceus with concurrent thyroiditis is
becoming a condition of major concern; lupus erythematosus and
systemic lupus appear to respond to immune suppressive drugs in many
Akitas; demodectic and sarcoptic mange, atopic dermatitis and
vitiligo are seen. Allergic (food and inhalant) or idiopathic skin
diseases are a severe problem in this breed, but we have seen good
response to treatment with Keflex and medicated baths for these
gastric torsion has become a very serious problem in Akitas. Please
see the article on
bloat at this website.
elbow dysplasia are again on the rise and all Akitas should be
x-rayed for these problems BEFORE breeding. Cruciate ligament
ruptures occur with some frequency in Akitas lacking rear angulation
and/or suffering from obesity; patella luxation and spondylosis
(appears to be degenerative) are problems of concern. Degenerative
myelopathy of slow progression has been documented in this breed. DM
appears in dogs aged 7 and up. Joint degeneration caused by an
immune response is often seen in Akitas in their prime and has been
seen in puppies. Arthritis appears in most Akitas in the latter
stages of life and both Adequan and Rimadyl have been used with good
results. If using Rimadyl or Etogesic do quarterly liver function
tests and try not to mix with other drugs.
widespread but appearing in this breed with alarming increases are
myasthenia gravis, epilepsy, diabetes, Cushings disease and acute
immunological reactions to vaccines, pesticides used in combination,
some drugs and heartworm preventatives.
...Immune-mediated blood disorders are on the increase. Autoimmune
hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, von Willebrand's disease (21%),
and platelet disorders. The rate of occurrence of liver dysfunction
associated with an autoimmune response has been increasing. Please
refer to the work by Dr. Jean Dodds for further information on all
blood and immune-mediated diseases.
disorders are another serious problem seen with increasing frequency
in the Akita. Uveitis with dermatologic syndrome (similar to VKH in
humans) is increasing; microphthalmia with multiple ocular defects
is also increasing, and PRA has been seen with some frequency in the
Akita. Ectropion, glaucoma and cataracts can occur in this breed. We
recommend CERF exams annually for all breeding Akitas.
Akitas can suffer a sudden onset vestibular syndrome recognized by
tilting to one side, walking in circles, bracing of front legs. It
is a sudden loss of balance that usually corrects itself within a
few weeks. It happens in many breeds but the cause is unknown.
important to note that unique to some (not all) Akitas is
pseudohyperkalemia without further symptoms. Immediate separation of
plasma from red cells is important when conducting any blood work on