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 Akita 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 Akita.
  • 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 JA 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 JA 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, your vet may suggest dental cleaning or dental X-rays to enhance your dog’s dental health. The majority of DVMs will only perform the most thorough form of dental cleaning and X-rays while a dog is under anesthesia.

  • 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 are not addressed, where periodontal disease is active. 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.

Shopping List:

  • Choose a vet for primary care
  • Locate nearby 24/7 emergency vet hospitals
  • Pest control

Back to New JA Owner Checklist