When looking to welcome a new furry addition to the family, one of the first questions we’ll ask ourselves is, “how long will my pet be around?”
For those of you who are considering becoming, or have already become, owners of an Akita, the simple answer is about ten to twelve years.
However, the longevity of your pet will also depend on several factors, many of which are within your control.
Establishing a good relationship with a vet you trust is a must when it comes to owning any pet, but especially an Akita.
As Akitas have a predisposition to several health problems, it is a good idea to plan for a visit to the vet at least twice a year.
Make sure you raise any concerns you may have regarding your pet and talk through what to do in the case of an emergency. Be clear about what times you can contact your vet, and have a backup, just in case.
Being prepared and well informed will mean your pet can have a chance at a healthier, longer life.
One of the most common disorders that Akitas are susceptible to is gastric dilation volvulus (GDV), more commonly referred to as “bloat”.
Bloat occurs when the stomach of an animal twists, impeding the digestion of food, sometimes leading to rupture, and even death. Knowing what signs to look for (restlessness, loss of appetite, vomiting, gagging, continuous whining) and having a carefully thought out plan of action will help in the case of an emergency.
Hypothyroidism can lead to skin infections, excess shedding, and weight gain. While common in Akitas, it is also easily treatable with replacement hormones and can be diagnosed with a simple blood test.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is an inherited eye disease often linked to Akitas. Visual deterioration is a gradual process, beginning with impaired night vision and leading to complete blindness over a period of one to two years. Keep in mind, while no-one wants to see their loved one go blind, dogs adapt quite easily to blindness as long as no major changes are made to their surroundings.
Another common problem in Akitas is hip dysplasia, a condition that occurs due to abnormal development in the joints. Several factors can lead to the disease including heredity, size, rapid growth, and a high-calorie, calcium-rich diet.
Paying close attention to your dog’s diet, especially in later years, will reduce the chances of his developing the disease.
While Akitas may be susceptible to some health issues, this does not necessarily mean they will develop any one of them.
In any case, awareness, prevention, and treatment, where possible, will ensure the best possible lifestyle and longevity for your pooch.
Nutrition and the impact on your Akita’s life
Your Akita’s nutrition is probably the area where you have the most control in determining his overall health and well-being. Keeping in mind your companion’s health concerns, you must provide a diet that won’t exacerbate any underlying problems, or lead to issues further down the track.
As Akitas are susceptible to joint and thyroid problems, they require a nutrient-dense diet, free from empty calories found in so much doggie “junk food” these days.
Avoid ingredients such as corn, gluten and especially soy, which Akitas seem to have a particular aversion to.
Akita pups need to grow slowly, so choosing a high-quality dog food designed for large breeds is crucial. There are many products available, such as the Wellness Core large breed, grain free puppy food range, or the Eukanuba puppy dog food for large dogs.
Adult Akitas also need a diet rich in foods tailored to the needs of large breeds. Why not try the Lifelong grain free dry dog food range for medium and large breeds, or Iams for Vitality large breed senior dry dog food which is specifically tailored to the needs of your older, more vulnerable buddy.
Portion control is another factor to keep in mind.
Akitas will often gulp down their food, so it is probably best not to feed your pet in a single serving.
Experts suggest two cups each serving, twice a day.
A specialized bowl such as the Neater Pet Brands slow feed bowl can help you slow down your pal and reduce the risk of bloating.
Summary of Akita lifespan
While experts can give us a rough estimate of how long we can expect different dogs to live, none of us know exactly how long we have with our furry family members.
When it comes to the Akita, ensuring that your companion reaches his life expectancy of ten to twelve years, or even beyond, is partially in your hands.
Finding a trustworthy and reliable vet, familiarizing yourself with the breed’s potential health problems, and providing healthy and nutritious meals throughout your pet’s life will improve his chances of well-being and happiness.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment below.