Communicable Diseases In Akita

Akitas might not like to mingle but they can still catch communicable diseases just like any dog breed that does. These diseases quickly spread through a litter, especially an unvaccinated one, even without physical contact; all it takes is an infected bowl, toy, or blanket to spread the disease.

Table of Contents

Viral diseases

Viruses are specks of genes in a protein envelope. They have a short lifespan in the open, where the sunlight and heat destroy the protein and shatter the genes. For a virus to become a danger, there need to be many susceptible hosts in close proximity.

An Akita can have many viruses in its body without any consequences. Viruses are most often dedicated to certain organs, such as the liver, the pancreas or the brain, making them a nuisance in the wrong part of the body. Still, exposure to the virus increases what’s known as “viral load”, which is a cumulative risk of it overwhelming the body’s defenses.

If the virus infects the Akita’s body, it hijacks the cells’ living machinery to copy itself, which increases the viral load. The body will try to shed the virus through sneezing, coughing, vomiting and diarrhea, all of which can infect the environment.

For most viral diseases there is no effective treatment; antibiotics don’t affect viruses but vaccines given before the infection can lessen the symptoms. Most cures for viruses are actually supportive treatments to boost the immune system, shed the viral load and prevent a secondary infection that can do real harm.


Rabies is a viral disease that spreads through saliva, most often through bites and scratches of wild animals, such as bats and foxes. The virus travels from the point of infection to attack the brain, causing behavior changes.

The infected Akita becomes defensive and irritable, withdrawing from contact and light. In some cases, rabies causes aggressive biting. When the paralysis starts setting in, the Akita stares into space and becomes unable to swallow.

There is no cure for the rabies virus. The vaccination schedule against rabies begins at 4 months and may be mandated by law.


A contagious intestinal virus. Symptoms are similar to parvovirus that include diarrhea, vomiting and depression. A warm resting place for the Akita will help it overcome the symptoms without trouble. Severe dehydration can be a problem too.

The coronavirus vaccine has varying efficacy and should be used only if the vet keeps seeing the disease in the local dog population.

Kennel cough

A common disease wherever several dogs are kept indoors. Dry, harsh cough that aggravates when the Akita is excited or becomes active. Mucus builds up in the throat, causing fits of coughing and puking. If a secondary bacterial infection takes hold, the Akita could develop a fever.


A hardy virus that causes vomit and diarrhea. Bloody stools and dehydration are the most serious symptoms, requiring immediate attention, though puppy Akitas most often can’t be saved when that happens. The recovery rate in adults is 80% if the treatment is immediate.

This virus goes through a region in waves, each of which is a separate mutation. Cats can be affected by some strains of parvovirus too, indicating they can be a source of mutations.


A disease similar to measles with flu-like symptoms that come and go:

  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • nose or eye discharge
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

Treatment is managing symptoms and hydration with intravenous fluids. If untreated, the virus attacks the skin on the nose and feet, causing them to thicken and harden but also attacks the brain to cause seizures. Puppies are first vaccinated against distemper when 5–6 weeks old and then annually.

Canine hepatitis

A virus similar to the kennel cough virus, except that it affects the liver, damaging the blood vessel lining. Often confused with poisoning, seeing how the symptoms appear out of nowhere:

  • bloody vomit
  • diarrhea
  • stomach pain/cramping
  • seizures

May spread to kidneys as well. Treatment involves huge doses of B vitamins, antibiotics and fluids. The first vaccine is given at 12 weeks of age, with yearly boosters.

Bacterial diseases

Bacteria are single-cell organisms that create sturdy bacterial films that resist removal. They can be harmless or even beneficial, for example by helping digestion, but when they’re harmful they are devastating. What bacteria can’t stand is a drastic increase in pH value, meaning an alkaline environment that dissolves the film.

Unlike viruses, bacteria are actually harmed by antibiotics but harming them is not enough. If they survive the antibiotic treatment, they come back more resistant, creating an even stronger film. Antibiotics must be taken exactly as prescribed and for as long as prescribed to avoid creating resistant bacterial diseases.


A bacterium existing in over 200 variants in all kinds of wildlife. Attacks the kidneys and the liver. As the disease progresses, the Akita hunches over and changes gait to relieve pressure from the tender spots around and on the kidneys. Those that recover will keep shedding the bacteria for up to a year, which may require more treatment to avoid reinfection. Vaccines currently only protect against those leptospirosis variants carried by rats, with limited protection and potentially serious side effects.


A highly contagious disease, affecting the respiratory system to cause a dry, harsh cough and a nasal discharge. Risk factors include high humidity and cold drafts. Antibiotics, cough relief and good old rest solve the problem.

Fungal diseases

Fungi are by far the most resilient life forms on the planet. They spread through spores that can lay dormant for decades until they find humid conditions, such as those inside lungs. A fungus that takes hold is very difficult to eradicate, releasing toxins that neutralize its competition or weaken the immune system of the host.

For something so hardy, it’s ironic that fungi in the environment are defeated by — air. Ventilation ensures no humidity buildup that would grow fungi but also scatters spores before they become a threat. A fungal infection is a definite sign your Akita needs a lifestyle revamp.


The dermatophytosis fungus family causes circular skin rashes from the point of contact. A serious threat in Akitas with weak immune systems, where ringworm can take hold for months. Hot, humid weather favors the spread of ringworm.

Causes bald, itchy, inflamed spots that can get encrusted or scaly. If ringworm enters a deeper skin layer, it can cause a long-lasting, painful inflammation.

Visual inspection is enough to set a diagnosis but there is the option of skin testing for confirmation. Neem oil extract clears ringworm within a few days, with neem cream afterward preventing reinfection. Colloidal silver water applied on the spot helps as well.

Valley Fever

This desert fungus grows underground, waiting for the soil to be disturbed or the wind to release its spores. The spores lodge themselves inside the lungs and within 10–15 days form small cysts that release more spores. If untreated, Valley Fever can infect the Akita’s entire body within a few months.

Akitas infected by Valley Fever have a dry cough, poor appetite, heightened temperature and a wasting disposition. Blood tests and chest scans confirm the Valley Fever diagnosis.

The treatment consists of anti-fungal drugs taken for at least a year, though the side infections can’t ever be fully cured. Homemade remedies can curb the impact of the fungus and help recovery.


Another fungus that lives in the soil and waits for moisture to spread spores through the wind. The primary symptoms of histoplasmosis inhalation are coughing, diarrhea and damaged skin, especially that of mucous membranes. A chest x-ray, skin test or stool exam confirms the presence of histoplasmosis. If the Akita likes to dig or roll on the ground, avoid damp spots, especially those with bird or bat droppings since birds and bats can host histoplasmosis as well.


Pythium is an algae-like water mold that spreads in stale, dirty water during warm weather but survives in the soil as well. It attacks plants and mammals just the same, sometimes being spread through insects. In an Akita, pythiosis may show up as stomach distress or skin lesions, depending on the route of entry: through the mouth or broken skin. The symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea and poor appetite or swollen lesions that break and ooze on the legs, the head and the base of the tail.

Anti-fungal therapy is ineffective against the stomach pythiosis, while the skin pythiosis can be removed with swift, broad surgery. Early diagnosis improves recovery chances, though there is no simple, reliable test.


Inhabits damp soil rich in rotting debris around rivers and lakes. The spores are released in the autumn. When inhaled, they infect the lungs and then the rest of the body to cause:

  • blindness
  • testicle inflammation
  • enlarged lymph nodes

If the spores touch broken skin, they cause a localized skin infection and sores that ooze liquid rich in blastomycosis. About a quarter of Akitas experience reinfection by blastomycosis after successful treatment. If the fungus infected the testicles or the eyes, their removal might be necessary as well to prevent reinfection.


Colloidal silver is a simple, non-toxic cleanser that incapacitates viruses, bacteria and fungi by disabling their breathing and reproduction enzymes. Available as a gel for skincare and liquid for ear and eye care. A few drops of liquid colloidal silver in the water bowl will purify the water.

Milk thistle and its active ingredient, silymarin, shield the liver from damage, helping the body detoxify itself. Available as liquid and capsules, silymarin is safe in daily doses of 1,000mg. To fortify Akita’s liver health, add these to its food:

  • carrots
  • dandelion root
  • turmeric (food and paste)

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a vitamin-like nutrient found in raw beef, yeast, spinach and broccoli. It thoroughly detoxifies the body, even from heavy metals, and shields the brain from damage.

Echinacea root stimulates the immune response and the lymphatic system. Used for a few weeks at a time to curb viral and bacterial infections.


Your Akita is full of life, just like the world out there, but the two aren’t always agreeable. To draw the line between them and spare your Akita of communicable diseases, you need to use some common sense and regular hygiene.

Find a trusty vet and discuss these diseases, how to prevent them, their symptoms and cures. Ask about outbreaks and the risk of endemic diseases before deciding on vaccination. Some diseases are a nuisance for a healthy adult Akita but may be dangerous for a puppy or a sick adult.

Further Reading

The Akita Inu — Breed Characteristics

The iconic Akita dog is first recognized by its curled-up tail, pointed ears and fluffy fur. It has an imposing size but also a noble, calm demeanor that can still quickly turn sour if it’s agitated. It’s one of the most impressive dog breeds, carrying in itself the spirit of ancient Japan.

Read More »

Akita health

Akita Joints And Spine Problems

A limping Akita is a sad sight to behold. It seems to need help but suddenly the limp disappears and the Akita acts fine. This is a warning sign that trouble is afoot and the Akita is about to develop an issue with its joints, spine or both. Here is an overview of joint and spine problems in Akita, with probable causes and suggested remedies.

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Communicable Diseases In Akita

Akitas might not like to mingle but they can still catch communicable diseases just like any dog breed that does. These diseases quickly spread through a litter, especially an unvaccinated one, even without physical contact; all it takes is an infected bowl, toy, or blanket to spread the disease.

Read More »

Eye Health Of The Akita Inu

Akita eye problems always happen because of a nutritional deficiency and a congenital defect. Diet fortified with nutrients and early eye exams are the simplest way to detect and manage eye problems in Akita

Read More »

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