Shiba Inu
Image © Adele Eckelmann


Glaucoma is a condition where the pressure of the eye is higher than normal, due to inadequate fluid drainage to and from the eye. It can cause severe pain, eye rupture, and blindness. It is genetic. The Kennel club recommends that Shiba Inu are tested for glaucoma via Gonioscopy under the BVA/KC/ISDS guidelines. Gonioscopy will test the drainage system of the eye, and is done by an veterinary ophthalmology specialist and is separate from a routine eye exam. Graded 0-3, where 0 is normal, 1 is mildly affected, 2 is moderately affected and 3 is severely affected. It is recommended that gonioscopy is tested at 1, 4, and, 7 years of age due to age progression of the disease.


  • Pupils of eyes are different sizes
  • Mild to severe eye pain (rubbing eye on the floor or with paw)
  • Appearance of vessels in the white of the eye
  • Redness of the eye
  • Cloudy cornea.
  • Fluttering eye lid
  • Squinting
  • Tear staining
  • If left untreated, will cause blindness, and/or rupturing (bursting) of the eyeball


Treatment depends on the severity of the glaucoma. The aim is to regain normal internal pressure of the eye. Glaucoma, if left untreated, it will become a medical emergency, and can cause blindness, or the eye to rupture (burst). Glaucoma is excruciatingly painful, and must be treated if you even suspect your dog is showing any of these symptoms. Your vet will perform an eye exam, and test the pressure in the eye. Your vet may prescribe a number of different eye drops in an attempt to control the high eye pressure, this can take several weeks and visits to the vet to come back down to normal. If this is not successful, sometimes the only option left is to remove the affected eye completely under general anaesthetic. Dogs cope very well with one or even both eyes missing, and the surgery is less painful than the pain of high pressure inside the eye.

Bladder Stones

There have been reports of a number of Shiba Inu who have experienced bladder stones. Bladder stones are caused by a build up of minerals in the urine. They can be caused by infections, abnormal metabolism, or increase in minerals in the diet. Male dogs seem to be more commonly affected than females, but it is thought that this is due to the urethra (hole where dogs urinate from) being smaller in males. Females have a shorter, and wider urethra meaning they can pass bigger stones than males can.


  • Frequent urination (can present as wanting to go out to the toilet more, or messing in the house)
  • Bloody urine
  • Foul smelling urine
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Inability to urinate
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty urinating or inability to urinate in both sexes (ESPECIALLY males) is a medical emergency and requires IMMEDIATE veterinary treatment and must not be left untreated. If left untreated this can cause total rupture (bursting) of the bladder, causing excruciating pain and urine to leak into the abdomen, which can cause peritonitis (infection of the abdomen), and death.


A clinical exam of your pet by your veterinary surgeon, and a urine sample will help a vet diagnose whether its an infection, or bladder stones affecting your dog. A conscious ultrasound or x-rays under general anesthetic are often used to diagnose bladder stones. Surgery is the most effective way to remove bladder stones: this involves opening up the dogs abdomen, and then manually removing the bladder stones from the bladder; this is often a live saving surgery especially if your dog has complete blockage of the urethra due to the stones. Your dog may be put on a long-term prescription veterinary diet to help dissolve any tiny remaining stones after surgery, or if bladder stones are a recurring problem.

Lysosomal Storage Disease

There is limited information regarding this condition. It is caused by a lack of the enzymes that are needed to perform metabolic functions. It is genetic, and Shiba will start to show symptoms around 6 months of age, which will get progressively worse, with most dogs dying between age 3-5 years old. It may be diagnosed via blood tests, urine tests, x-rays of the chest and abdomen, ultrasounds, enzyme measures, and tissue biopsies. There is currently no cure for this condition.


  • Failure to thrive
  • Muscle tremours
  • Head tremours
  • Head tilt
  • Hindlimb weakness
  • Collapse
  • Compromised vision
  • Seizures
  • Balance problems