Akita Inu
Image © Seth Abaci

Entropion

Entropion is an eye condition where the eyelids roll in towards the eye, causing the fur and lashes to rub onto the surface of the eyeball. It is mostly noticed in dogs under 6 months of age, and causes a lot of pain and irritation to the eyeball. It can affect one or both eyes. This is a genetic condition, and normally affects dogs that have wrinkly skin on their face such as chow chows, pugs and shar-peis, but is not limited to these breeds.

Symptoms:

  • Red eyes
  • Rubbing eyes or pawing at eyes
  • Runny eyes
  • Eye ulcers
  • Discharge from eyes
  • Squinting eyes
  • Closing eyes repeatedly

Treatment:

Treatment depends on the severity of the condition. Some dogs have very mild entropion, and can go on to live happy and healthy lives, where the condition may cause an eye infection once or twice a year. Other dogs have very severe entropion and cannot be managed medically. Options including waiting or the puppy to grow up and grow out the condition, if the dog is still affected by 1 years old, the only cure is eyelid surgery. A vet will remove a small wedge of excess tissue from the affected eyelid, to make the eyelid turn outwards again, and stop rubbing on the surface of the eyeball. Surgery is incredibly successful, and will rectify the problem. If dogs are affected in both eyes, surgery can be done on both eyes at the same time.


Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

This is a genetic condition that affects the retina. The age of onset of this disease varies from dog to dog. It causes gradual degradation of the retina over time, and a loss of rod cells which detect light in the retina, it will eventually lead to blindness. This condition is not painful, and there are very limited changes to the eye itself. There is no cure.

Symptoms:

  • Initially poor vision in low light conditions
  • Eyesight worsens over time
  • Eyesight will become worse in daylight as well as low light
  • Bumping into things
  • Inability to follow where you are unless there is sound present
  • Complete blindness

Treatment:

Unfortunately there is no cure for progressive retinal atrophy. The cause of this disease is not well understood, and there are 7 different types of PRA, all of which lead to the same result. It can be diagnosed by your vet with a series of eye exams, you vet may refer you to a specialist veterinary ophthalmologist to diagnose this condition. Dogs can deal very well with being blind, however it is recommended you do not let your dog off lead if they are blind.


Myasthenia Gravis

This is a condition in which there is a malfunction in the transmission signals between the nerves and muscles. Akita Inu’s are predisposed to Aquired Myasthenia Gravis. It is a complex condition requiring that multiple factors come into play, including environmental, infectious, and hormonal influences. It can be diagnosed in dogs 1-4 years of age, or in dogs at 9-13 years of age.

Symptoms:

  • Extreme weakness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Megaoesophagus (dilation of the esophagus)
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Collapse
  • Inability to close eyes, even when asleep
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Voice changes
  • Exercise intolerance

Treatment:

Your vet may diagnose this condition via blood tests and a medical history. This condition is incredibly expensive to treat, and often dogs are hospitalized for weeks due to complications, and until their medication dose can be controlled. The medication used to treat this condition will help the muscle and nervous system transmit signals to one another. Due to many dogs inability to swallow, they will inhale food or liquid, causing aspiration pneumonia. This is a life threatening condition and is one of the main reasons these dogs spend weeks hospitalized. Treatment for this includes antibiotics, aggressive oxygen therapy, IV fluids, and supportive care. Some dogs may take 6-8 months to make a complete recovery, others may never get better from this condition.


Pemphigus Foliaceous

This is a skin condition that typically begins in early middle age in dogs. It causes pustules and crusting on the skin’s surface, and the skin may become raw underneath the crust. It commonly affects the face and head, but can spread to other parts of the body. The dogs immune system attacks the skin, as the body thinks some of the skin’s normal components are foreign. This results in inflammation, redness, and lesions over the dogs body. There little information as to why the body attacks the skin in this way.

Symptoms:

  • Red skin
  • Crusting of the skin
  • Raw sore skin under the crust
  • Hair loss
  • Skin infections
  • Foot pad thickening

Treatment:

Your vet will diagnose this condition with skin biopsies. These are normally performed under a sedation or general anesthetic. To treat this condition, you vet may prescribe tablets and/or injections to help with your dog’s overactive immune system. These will suppress the immune system just enough to stop it attacking the skin, and to control the disease, whilst being careful to not suppress the immune system enough that your dog is compromised. Dogs will require life long medication for this condition. Constant monitoring by yourself and your vet is essential for the management of this condition.


Uveodermatologic Syndrome

This is a rare disease in which the dog’s immune system forms antibodies against its own pigment cells in the skin and light-sensing cells in the back of the eye. It causes red, painful eyes, skin depigmentation on the face and footpads, and premature whitening of the hair.

Symptoms:

  • Eye inflammation
  • Sensitivity to bright light
  • Small pupils
  • Clouding of the eye
  • Vitiligo (skin depigmentation)
  • Premature whitening of the hair
  • Blindness

Treatment:

It is important to remember that the whitening of fur and skin, is merely cosmetic, so vets will focus on treating the eyes to prevent blindness. Often however, vets will try to suppress the immune system with medication just enough to control the disease, as well as maintain the dogs’ immune response. Eye conditions will be reoccurring, and often, affected dogs will go blind eventually.


Sebaceous Adenitis

This condition is an inflammatory skin disease which leads to poor hair and coat quality. It is commonly diagnosed in young to middle aged dogs. The exact cause of this condition is unknown but it is thought to be due to dog’s immune system attacking the sebaceous glands unnecessarily. These glands produce an oily secretion known as sebum, which keep dogs coats and skin shiny and healthy. Without the sebum, dogs coats become brittle, and hair loss occurs.

Symptoms:

  • Hair loss (mainly on face, around eyes, and trunk, but can happen all over the dog)
  • Poor coat quality
  • Matted coat
  • Dry and brittle coat
  • Flaky, dry skin
  • Skin inflammation and infection
  • Crusting of the skin
  • Cracking of the skin

Treatment:

Your vet may take skin scrapes, hair samples, and/or skin biopsies in order to diagnose this condition. Your vet may prescribe various medications to treat this condition, such as specific veterinary medicated shampoos and moisturizers, and various tablet medications. Treatment is long and often required lifelong management of the disease, as lapses in medication will cause it to flare up again. It is important that this condition is managed well with little to no lapses in treatment, as it can cause skin infections. Response to the treatment is dependent on when the dog was treated. The more advanced the condition, the harder and less successful treatment will be. Some dogs may never grow their hair back.


Von Willebrand Disease

This is an inherited bleeding disorder in dogs that causes a deficiency in the amount of a specific protein needed to help platelets (the blood cells used in clotting) stick together and form clots to seal broken vessels. The severity of the disease in Akita is variable. Symptoms vary, and are not always obvious.

Symptoms:

  • Spontaneous bleeding from anus, vagina, nose, mucous membranes (gums and insides of the lips)
  • Bruising on the skin with no obvious cause
  • Prolonged bleeding after trauma, or surgery
  • Blood failing to clot
  • Females may bleed excessively after giving birth
  • Death can occur if no veterinary intervention

Treatment:

A sample of blood can be taken at your vets and sent off to an external laboratory for very specific testing, however it is normally suspected after routine procedures such as neutering, where animals may continuously bleed even after surgery, and bruising of the skin may occur. Certain medications may increase the risk of bleeding with this disease, please speak to your veterinary surgeon for advice. Please note, human medications must never be given to dogs unless specifically advised by your veterinary surgeon. If your dog does suffer a bleed due to this disease, in emergency cases, a blood transfusion will be required if enough blood has been lost. Veterinary attention should be sought immediately if your dog is at risk of this disease, and your dog starts to bleed. Treatment for this condition is normally only in a bleeding emergency, where your veterinary surgeon should be contacted immediately.


Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV)

Although not a genetic condition, GDV is a condition where the stomach twists on its axis and begins to inflate, increasing the pressure inside. Also known as ‘bloat’, this mainly affects deep chested, large breed dogs, where the stomach has space to move and rotate. It can be caused by a dog gorging itself on food, or simply by the dog rolling over on its back. Stress has also known to be a factor. There is no way to prevent this condition initially, so its important to know the signs as it is a medical emergency and is fatal if left untreated.

Symptoms:

  • Drooling
  • Unproductive retching (trying to vomit but unable to bring anything up)
  • Distended abdomen (bloated abdomen)
  • Pale mucous membranes (gums) (normal colour of gums should be salmon pink, please note some dogs have BLACK gums due to pigment, other places to observe mucous membrane colour are inside of vagina, anus, inside of the eyelids, or penis)
  • Shock
  • Excessive Panting
  • Collapse
  • Rupture (bursting) of the stomach wall
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Reduced blood flow to and from the heart

Treatment:

This condition requires emergency veterinary attention. It is important to act quickly, as this condition progresses very rapidly, and can cause death within an hour or two. The aim is to reduce the pressure in the stomach, and treat the shock. Most dogs go into shock with this condition, and surgery is the only treatment. The vet will need to stabilise your dog, as his/her condition will be very unstable and dangerous. This will include IV fluids, blood tests, pain relief, oxygen therapy, removal of gas from the stomach (this will attempted to be done via a stomach tube on your animal consciously), and surgery. The surgery will involve going into the dogs’ abdomen, and removing the excess gas from the stomach, and permanently stitching the stomach to the wall of your dogs’ abdomen. This will prevent a GDV from happening again. This surgery is a high-risk procedure, and it is not something your vet will suggest lightly, however, it is the only treatment for this condition. Your dog will hospitalised for several days until they make a full recovery.

Tags: