Dry dog food, aka kibble. There are many conflicting beliefs in regards to a puppy should be transitioned to adult dog food. Because the Japanese Akita is a large breed, some of our members feel a JA puppy should transition from puppy food to adult food before he starts teething; others believe that the puppy should transition some time between 6 – 12 months. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide, so we recommend you consult your breeder or a trusted vet who is familiar with the breed to determine an appropriate time. When you consider making the transition, find a food designed for adult or all life stages with appropriate Calcium and Phosphorus levels to prevent rapid growth. The Integrative Veterinary Care Journal recommends a 1:1 to 1.3:1 Calcium:Phosphorus ratio.

  • When switching from breeder’s food or introducing new foods, do so over a period of one-two weeks by gradually introducing more and more of the new brand of food mixed with the old as you phase out the old brand entirely. This applies to all food transitions in order to avoid tummy upset.
  • If your dog experiences diarrhea during food transition,
    • For immediate relief, try Proviable KP paste and provide water only for 24-48 hours until no more loose stool.
    • If and when your dog has an appetite, try adding probiotics such as plain yogurt or FlortiFlora to a bland diet. A bland diet can be boiled chicken breast and rice, cottage cheese, mashed roasted yams/sweet potato, or unsweetened puréed canned pumpkin
  • Keep an eye on any allergy or food intolerance symptoms (e.g. wheat, corn and chicken are common JA allergens)
  • Dry food storage: while it may be tempting to buy a larger bag of kibble to save money, once opened, it should be consumed within 3 months or they will lose the freshness, especially foods that use natural preservative such as tocopherols (vitamin E) and citric acid (vitamin C)
    • An airtight container, such as a Vittles Vault, can help maintain freshness while preventing a determined dog from breaking in.
    • Do not store opened dog food in a garage. The temperature fluctuations can create for mold growth not to mention attracting pest such as rodents and ants.
  • Canned foods, dehydrated raw and frozen raw are other commercially available options if you have a picky eater or special storage considerations.
    • We do not recommend a 100% canned food diet for dental hygiene and breath.
  • Consult your vet or a canine dietitian if you are interested in pursuing homemade dog food or a raw diet to avoid nutritional deficiencies or GI tract upset. For reference:
  • A healthy dog won’t starve itself. If you can feel muscle by lightly rubbing your hand down the ribs, then the dog is in good shape. Do not over supplement food with treats and/or human food. Reference this link to see if your dog is at a healthy weight.

Treats. Introduce treats/snacks slowly so the dog can adjust. This is also helpful if allergic reactions arise because you can more easily pinpoint the culprit.

  • Edible chews. Only provide chews under supervision, make sure you give the appropriate size depending on the size of the dog, and take the chew away before it gets small enough to swallow. Experiment with what works and use your best judgment.Treats

Rawhide and cow hooves are not recommended since neither is 100% digestible and may either cause stomach obstruction or teeth shearing.

  • Puppy-safe chew treats:
    • Dehydrated vegetables such as Sam’s Yams
    • Bully sticks, tripe sticks
    • Dehydrated meat-based treats (e.g. tendon, trachea, jerky, rabbits ears, duck feet). Watch out for the fat content; some treats such as pig’s ear might be too rich for young pups.
  • Additional chew treats for after adult teeth come in, around 5 months of age. Again, only provide under supervision, give appropriate size depending on dog, and take away before it gets small enough to swallow:
    • Himalayan Dog Chew or Yeti Chew
    • Split elk/moose/deer antler. Get the ones that provide for larger surface area of exposed marrow
    • Edible dental chews may add unnecessary calories in the form of carbohydrates, so use with discretion
  • If your pup is super food motivated, try some treat dispensing puzzle toys or stuffed frozen Kong with baby food, yogurt, processed cheese paste, peanut butter and kibble. Your pup will be satisfying his brain and his appetite with puzzle-treat activities.
    • If you choose to use processed cheese paste and or peanut butter in the Kong, make sure to scrub out the inside thoroughly. Members have found baby food and yogurt to be much easier to clean due to the water-soluble nature of baby food and lower fat content. In addition, please ensure the peanut butter is sugar-free and unsalted.
  • Ice cubes, fruit & veggies as treats. Some puppies enjoy chewing ice cubes, apple slices, and baby carrots, especially during teething because of the hard, cold texture.
  • Your dog may also enjoy cucumber slices (seed removed), green beans, baked sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli, etc. Don’t worry if your dog refuses to eat his fruits and vegetables. It is more important to be familiar with produce items that should be avoided for toxicity reasons. For more comprehensive information on the subject, reference World’s Most Adorable Degenerate Produce.
  • Raw treats. Some dogs love the taste (and texture) of raw meat! If your dog (and you) can stomach raw meat, give it a try! Duck neck, chicken feet, green tripe, and beef tongue are just a few ideas.
    • If giving raw treats, ensure the source is reputable. Dog’s digestive tracts are short and highly acidic so they can handle some level of bacteria, but cleanliness and safe handling is still extremely important since you cannot rely on heat from cooking to kill any pathogens.
    • Think of raw treats with the same standard you have for yourself when eating raw food (e.g., sushi grade or steak tartare high quality beef). You wouldn’t ingest just any old raw salmon or rare meat, would you?
    • See if you are lucky enough to have a local supplier that specializes in providing high grade raw meat from sustainable sources.

DO NOT feed your dog cooked bones of any kind. Yes, all of those cartoons have misled you! Cooked bones can splinter and cause damage to your dog’s delicate intestinal lining, causing bloody stool.

There is controversy about providing recreational bones for chews. See video Dog Owners Beware: Ignoring These Rules Can Lead to Injury or Death

  • There are too many good treat choices to list! If you are using treats for training vs. chewing activity, try to keep training treats small and easy to chew/swallow since you’ll be administering them a lot, especially in training mode. Try the rapid fire approach of several small treats as opposed to one big whopper for marking a great behavior.
  • If applicable, consider investing in a dehydrator to make your own dog treats to save $$$. Our members have good experience with:
    • Nesco American Harvest FD-61WHC Snackmaster Express Food Dehydrator All-In-One Kit
    • Excalibur Food Dehydrator

Supplements. If unsure about dosage, please consult with your breeder or vet.

  • Healthy skin and coat. Omega-3 supplements such as coconut oil, salmon oil or olive oil
    • Butler-Schein has Omega oils in capsule forms available that provides for minimum guaranteed analysis by capsule dose.
  • Thyroid health. Iodine supplements like ProDen PlaqueOff or other kelp products
    • PlaqueOff has the added bonus of promoting good dental hygiene and fresh breath.
  • Overall digestive health
    • Probiotics such as yogurt, kefir, or in powder form
    • To firm loose stool: use a prebiotic (not to be confused with probiotic) like The Honest Kitchen Perfect Form, unsweetened canned pumpkin purée, or low (or no) sodium canned green beans. An advantage of firm stool is naturally expressed anal glands. And that it’s easy to pick up!
    • Constipation: mashed roasted yams/sweet potato, green beans, unsweetened canned puréed pumpkin, or low (or no) sodium canned green beans.
  • Joint supplements such as Glucosamine/Chondroitin
    • This may not be necessary for younger dogs, though through a range of motion test, a competent vet can advise whether a puppy shows early signs of dysplasia and could benefit from supplements at a younger age.

Suggested reading:

Shopping List:

  • Food
  • Treats
  • Optional:
    • Dehydrator
    • Supplements