Secure a local veterinarian appointment for a wellness exam within a few days of bringing home your new family member. Starting your vet search and making that first appointment should be done before the dog is in your possession. Good vets get booked up early!

  • Ideally your vet will have familiarity with the JA breed. See Raising Your Japanese Akitainu Puppy Series for suggestions on how to identify a well qualified vet. If you already have an established relationship with a vet who hasn’t had much experience with the breed, be proactive, speak up and let the doctor know what you’ve learned on your own. What you know may be the clue that’s needed in a life or death situation for your Japanese Akitainu.
  • Locate the nearest 24-hr emergency vet and your local poison control number and always keep their numbers handy. Make sure everyone in the household has access to this information. This safety principle also goes for the breeder’s contact information in case of non-urgent healthcare situations. Reputable breeders are happy to offer suggestions or advice to their puppy owners.
  • Be aware of any current local canine disease outbreak and consult with your vet on preventative measures.
  • Vaccinations
    • Many members and breeders follow standard vet recommendations and experience no ill effects, but some JAs are more sensitive to vaccines and medicines. Please discuss potential side effects with your vet if you have concerns.
    • (If allowable by law) Reference Dodd’s protocols if minimal vaccination is desirable or advised by your vet.
  • Microchip
    • Puppies do most of their growing between 4 and 8 months old. Vets generally do not chip the puppies until they are more than 6 months old, as chips can migrate towards the joints as the puppy grows.

Pest control/prevention

  • If you are bringing home a puppy, check with the breeder to see if de-wormer was already administered and inform vet to avoid a double dose.
  • Your vet should be able to prescribe age-appropriate Rx for pest control/prevention of heartworm, fleas and/or ticks. Again, some JAs may be more sensitive to pest control/prevention medication. Please discuss potential side effects with your vet.
    • Avoid oral three-in-one flea/tick/heartworm medications as a few members’ dogs have experienced neurological side effects with certain brand name medications prescribed by well-meaning vets.

Dental hygiene

There will come a day when despite your best efforts to maintain your doggy’s dental hygiene at home, such as daily brushing your dog’s teeth, administering dental chews, plaque removing supplements or biscuits, etc., your vet may suggest dental cleaning or dental X-rays to enhance your dog’s health. Do not regard this procedure as a mere option. It may, in fact, prove to preserve and prolong your dog’s overall health and life. The majority of DVMs will only perform the most thorough form of dental cleaning and X-rays while a dog is under anesthesia. Do not underestimate the importance of dental hygiene for your Japanese Akitainu. As in humans, gum disease can reflect underlying health issues or cause them. A dog’s mouth can be prime real estate for bacteria and toxins, so it is extremely important to take care of those pearly whites and healthy pink gums.

  • Keep in mind that dental x-rays cannot be performed thoroughly on animals who are not under sedation, so developing or prevalent problems (e.g., bone loss) cannot be diagnosed.
  • Please avoid the non-anesthetic route. Although the risks involved with anesthesia are avoided, the cleaning is only cosmetic and any problems below the gum line, where periodontal disease is active, are not addressed. The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) details some of the disadvantages of non-anesthetic cleanings such as accidental aspiration of bacteria being scaled away from their teeth. Please see dental scaling.
  • Some symptoms which can lead to or be indicative of more serious health problems include loose or cracked teeth, rotting sockets, bleeding or inflamed gums, bad breath, pus, plaque, and tartar.
  • Infections of the gums or teeth may travel through the bloodstream and eventually lead to organ failure and even death.

Shopping List:

  • Choose a vet for primary care
  • Ask your vet to recommend dental care products
  • Locate nearby 24/7 emergency vet hospitals
  • Pest control