Akitas need plenty of daily exercise to maintain their physical health and sharp minds. Akitas who live in urban dwellings need a vigorous walk or jog every day, while those who live in a rural setting will do well with daily runs around the property. As an Akita ages it’s important to watch for any symptoms of hip dysplasia or arthritis.
Akitas have a reputation for being aggressive hunters in the wild, yet as home pets they are tame and gentle, adapting easily to a quiet family life. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll cuddle up on the sofa and watch TV with you; their instinctive nature tends to keep them alert and responsive to any possible danger.
Akitas make loving, dependable companions and they get along very well with children. They can be a little aloof with people they don’t know, but they eventually warm up to new people and situations. They don’t bark a lot which is good for apartment dwellers, but they’re very intelligent and responsive, making them first-rate guard dogs. Think of them as tough, smart and loyal companions.
Akitas are made for outdoor sports whether it’s hiking, hunting, playing games, or jumping in rivers and lakes. They have weatherproof coats that keep them warm in cold temperatures.
An Akita needs ample daily exercise to maintain its physical health and sharp mind. Akitas who live in urban dwellings need a vigorous walk or jog every day, while those who live in a rural setting will do well with daily runs around the property.
In addition to their boundless physical strength, Akitas also have dominant personalities and need an owner who can devote the time and patience to train them properly.
Akitas have large, sturdy frames covered in thick, water-resistant coats that shed a lot in the spring and fall. Daily brushing becomes a must. They have broad heads with short muzzles, black noses and pointed ears that face forward. Their triangular eyes are dark and deeply set. Their bodies are slightly longer than they are tall, and their thick coats come in black, gray, tan, and brown, all with white markings.
A healthy Akita can live as long as 12 years. Common health issues include immune deficiencies, eye problems, thyroid problems, and hip dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that primarily affects large and giant breeds of dogs but can also affect medium-sized breeds and occasionally small breeds. It is primarily a disease of purebreds, although it can also occur in mixed breeds.
To understand hip dysplasia and the resulting arthritis, you need a basic understanding of how the dog’s hip joint is affected. The hip joint is comprised of a ball and socket that forms the attachment of the hind leg to the body. The ball portion is the head of the femur and the socket is located on the pelvis. In a normal hip joint the ball rotates freely within the socket. The bones are shaped to perfectly match each other with the socket surrounding the ball. To strengthen the joint, the two bones are held together by a strong ligament. The joint capsule, a strong band of connective tissue, circles the two bones to provide added stability.
A normal hip joint:
Hip dysplasia is linked to abnormal joint structure and a laxity of the muscles, connective tissue, and ligaments that would normally support the dog’s hip joints. As the disease progresses, the articular surfaces of the two bones lose contact with each other. This separation of the two bones within the joint causes a drastic change in the size and shape of the articular surfaces.
An abnormal hip joint:
Most dogs who eventually develop hip dysplasia are born with normal hips, but due to their genetic make-up the soft tissues surrounding the joint develop abnormally. This leads to the symptoms associated with hip dysplasia. The disease may affect both hips, or only the right or left hip.
The symptoms of hip dysplasia cause afflicted dogs to walk or run with an altered gait, similar to a bunny-hop. They begin to resist any movement that requires full extension or flexion of the rear legs. They will experience stiffness and pain in their rear legs after exercising and on first rising in the morning. Climbing stairs becomes difficult if not impossible. Some dogs will limp and are less willing to participate in normal daily activities, including walks they formerly enjoyed.
It appears that the amount of calories a dog consumes, especially during its fast-growth period from three to ten months, has the biggest impact on whether or not a dog genetically prone to hip dysplasia will develop the disease.
Obesity can increase the severity of the disease in dogs that are genetically susceptible and the extra weight will intensify the degeneration of a dog’s joints and hips. Dogs who are genetically prone to hip dysplasia and also are overweight, are at a much higher risk of developing hip dysplasia and eventually osteoarthritis.
Exercise can be another risk factor. Dogs genetically susceptible to hip dysplasia may have an increased incidence of the disease if they are over-exercised at a young age. Moderate exercise like running and swimming is best for exercising young dogs.
Because hip dysplasia is primarily an inherited condition in Akitas, there are no products that can prevent its development. Through proper diet, exercise, and a daily regimen of Winston’s Joint System, you can slow, and sometimes halt, the progression of these degenerative joint diseases while providing your dog with relief from its pain. Winston’s provides many of the raw materials essential for the synthesis of the joint-lubricating synovial fluid as well as the repair of articular cartilage and connective tissue.
There are different assumptions on how to prevent the progression of hip dysplasia. Poor nutrition, inadequate or improper exercise, and increased body weight may all contribute to the severity of osteoarthritis after the hip dysplasia has developed. By watching the calories your puppy or young dog consumes and preventing obesity in your dog, allowing only non-stressful types of exercise, and a daily regimen of Winston’s Joint System, are the best things you can do for your dog.
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