WHAT'S THE BEST DOG FOOD FOR A JAPANESE AKITA?
A gorgeous ball of fur with a thick and abundant coat, the Japanese Akita is a very affectionate dog (with friends!), more suited to a calm lifestyle than to life in the great outdoors. This dog breed’s unwavering loyalty has earned one of its most famous members, Hachikô, his own statue in front of Shibuya Train Station in Tokyo. As the story goes, Hachikô accompanied his master to the station every day and patiently awaited his return. After the latter's death, Hachikô continued to visit the station every day for nine years to look for his deceased master, until his own death. But what are the nutritional needs of this big, courageous dog? Below we outline some tips to help you choose the best dog food for your Akita, to ensure they live a happy, healthy life!
Japanese Akita: Specific Dietary Needs
The Japanese Akita is a large dog that can measure up to 70cm in adulthood and weigh up to 40kg. With this imposing build, you would be forgiven for thinking this was a tough and athletic dog. Think again: the Akita Inu is much more fragile than it looks. Particular attention must therefore be paid to the composition of its dog food. These are some of the factors that you should consider when choosing the right food for your Japanese Akita:
This dog is not a big eater. This behaviour is often a source of concern for dog owners who find their Japanese Akitas sulking near their food bowl. To ensure that your dog’s nutritional needs are well met, their dog food must be rich and comprehensive.
Like many large breed dogs, this pooch is predisposed to joint disorders, in particular hip and elbow dysplasia. Adding certain nutrients to your dog’s food can prevent and relieve these disorders.
The Japanese Akita’s skin is very sensitive; they frequently suffer from skin diseases. A balanced diet with a high intake of vitamins or essential fatty acids can help promote good skin health.
What Type of Dog Food Should I Feed My Japanese Akita?
It's essential to ensure that your Japanese Akita's food contains all the nutrients necessary for a balanced diet. Your dog’s needs will change throughout their life, so be aware that your Japanese Akita’s diet, and in particular the composition of their dog food, will therefore have to adapt. In general, always check the levels of animal protein, carbohydrate, and fat in your dog’s food. These three macronutrients are essential to the good health of your pooch. Additionally, for the Japanese Akita, we recommend:
Dog food that contains glucosamine: Due to its large size, this dog is predisposed to joint disorders, such as hip and elbow dysplasia. Dog food containing a high level of glucosamine can help prevent or relieve these problems by taking good care of your dog’s joints and bones.
Dog food that is rich in protein and essential nutrients: Japanese Akitas are a bit picky and tend to sulk at their food bowls. To make sure that your dog’s food satisfies all their energy needs, keep an eye on the composition. Opt for dog food that contains at least 25 to 28% animal protein, between 8 and 16% carbohydrate (to be adjusted according to its level of activity), and around 10% fat. This should provide your Japanese Akita with a sufficient energy supply.
Dog food that contributes to the good health of your Japanese Akita’s skin and coat: Dog food supplements such as Brewer's yeast can help maintain your dog’s coat, which then acts as a protective barrier to limit the onset of skin problems. Zinc supplements may also be beneficial in this respect.
The Hector Kitchen Motto
Every dog is unique, so their diet should be too! We cannot stress it enough: each dog has their own specific dietary needs. And these recommendations are not the only things to take into account when choosing the best dog food for your Japanese Akita; their age, weight, activity level, and any potential or reported diseases are equally important factors. No one is better qualified than an animal nutrition specialist to help you create a suitable diet for your dog.
When and How Should I Feed My Japanese Akita?
Once you’ve chosen the ideal food for your Japanese Akita, you need to understand how and when to feed them correctly. And this is no mean feat! There are certain rules you need to follow when considering how to feed your dog properly. Each dog has their own little habits, especially a stubborn dog like the Japanese Akita!
Here we outline some recommendations for feeding your Japanese Akita in the best way possible:
Give them the correct amount of dog food: Since this dog doesn’t exercise a lot, be sure to calculate the daily amount of kibble your pooch needs. This will protect them from any weight gain. Seek advice from your vet to determine the correct amount of dog food for your Japanese Akita.
We recommend that you split your Japanese Akita's daily food ration into two or three small meals: The idea is to distribute their food throughout the day to not overload their digestive capacities. This will let you know exactly what your dog is eating and also prevent waste.
Give them their meals at the same time each day and, if possible, in the same quiet place: This helps to establish a feeding routine, which is important for facilitating digestion and promoting a balanced diet.
Water, water, water!! Don't forget that hydration is key and that it's important to make sure your Japanese Akita is drinking enough water, especially if they mainly eat dry food! Fill their bowl with fresh water every day. A little tip: You can also moisten your dog’s kibble a little to make it more digestible and more appetising for your pooch.
Treats: In addition to their regular food, you can certainly offer your furry friend a healthy treat from time to time. Little pieces of fruit or cooked vegetables are the best options for healthy, balanced snacks.
Forbid certain foods: Some foods are toxic to dogs and should be banned from their diet. Sugar, cold meats, and chocolate should be avoided as part of a healthy diet. Likewise, chicken or rabbit bones are not recommended.
Japanese Akita: Characteristics of the Breed
A Brief History of the Japanese Akita
The Japanese Akita originated in the Akita region of northern Japan. A descendant of the Akita Matagi, the Akita Inu was used for hunting bears, deer, and wild boar. During the 19th century, the Akita was crossbred with the Tosa and different types of Mastiff, which led to an increase in the breed’s size and strength. In 1931, the Akita Inu became a "natural monument" in Japan, but the breed nearly died out with the onset of World War II.
Several Akita dogs were imported to the United States in 1938 by Hellen Keller, after which the two breeds started to diverge. As the American Akita line developed in the United States, Japanese breeders set out to preserve the original Akita type to save the breed. Today, the two breeds are considered quite distinct. The Kennel Club officially registered the American Akita and Japanese Akita as separate breeds in 2006.
Japanese Akita Temperament
The Japanese Akita is known for being very social and affectionate with its family, but stubborn and aloof with strangers. This makes for a very good watchdog, with the breed’s large size being an added deterrent. Gifted with great intelligence, the Akita Inu enjoys the company of children, for whom it makes a great playmate, so long as proper socialisation has been practised from an early age. This is a calm and quiet dog who never barks without reason. Be careful, however: Japanese Akita’s don’t get along well with other animals. It’s best if your Akita is the only animal in the house.
Japanese Akita Health Problems
Japanese Akitas are known for their robust health; like many primitive dogs, they have a strong constitution. However, the breed is known to be affected by two autoimmune diseases: Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome (VKH) and sebaceous adenitis. They are also subject to epilepsy and hip or elbow dysplasia. Due to their abundant fur and thick undercoat, the Japanese Akita’s coat requires regular brushing, especially during moulting periods. Regular care can help limit the onset of skin diseases.
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