Acute Immunological Reactions in Akitas

By: Nancy McEachern, DVM

We are all aware that any dog may have reactions to routine vaccinations.

These are not common, but they can occur in any species and in people as well. In the Akita we have a very specific and severe post (after) vaccination reaction that can occur. The condition is genetic and at this time it is believed that both the sire and dam must be carriers in order for a pup to be afflicted with this condition.

Pups that are affected have severe vaccination reactions 3 to 10 days after their first or even their second modified live virus vaccination. They may exhibit any or all of the following symptoms: fever, lack of appetite, painful and/or swollen joints, enlarged lymph nodes, a reluctance to rise and move normally, bone marrow suppression and anemia for up to 21 days.

Frequently this vaccination reaction is misdiagnosed as hip dysplasia, unknown systemic infection or toxic ingestion. if the pup is vaccinated again, death is almost sure to occur.

It’s impossible to know which pups may be affected until this reaction has occurred but precautions can be taken to avoid this by following a new and very specific vaccination regime specifically for Akitas.

Once a pup or litter of pups is discovered, their sire and dam should be looked at very carefully since both are probably carriers. If bred again, breeders should warn potential puppy owners of the problem and complete out-crosses should be made when possible carriers are mated.

The reaction can be worsened or even created by certain medications as well as vaccinations. Akita owners should always carry the list of medications with them. They should be avoided or used very cautiously.

The new vaccination schedule recommended for all Akitas and the list of medications
to be avoided in the Akita, when possible, follows:


6 weeks – DMP given IM
8 weeks – Killed Parvo given SQ
10 weeks – killed Parvo given SQ
12 weeks – distemper MLV (Fromm D Solvay) given SQ
20 weeks – distemper MLV(Fromm D Solvay) given SQ
20 weeks – killed Parvo (give at separate site)
22 weeks – Rabies

Medications not to be used:

Trimethoprim sulfas – often prescribed for urinary infections, etc.
Ormetoprim sulfa – often prescribed for the control of coccidiosis
Milbemycin oxime – found in some heartworm/hookworm/roundworm/whipworm
Lufenuron – found in some flea control products
Nitrofurans – often prescribed for the control of coccidiosis
Butazolidin – contains phenylbutazone; often prescribed for pain
Diethylcarbamazine oxybendazole – found in prescribed drugs for the control of heartworm, i.e., Filarabits PLUS
Carboprofen – an NSAIDS anti-inflamatory
Ivermectin – often prescribed for heartworm prevention and/or the treatment of scabies (mange)
Selamectin – used as a topical parasiticide for the control of flea, heartworm and other parasites
Phenobarbital – prescribed primarily to control epileptic seizures, used occasionally as a sedative
Primidone – used as an anti-convulsant primarily for epilepsy

Note: product descriptions and frequent prescribed use info added by Judy King

This list, as provided by Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM, has recently been modified to include additional drugs to be avoided.

Akitas are not the only breed exhibiting adverse reactions to vaccinations utilizing old vaccine protocols.

We encourage all dog owners to investigate the limited vaccine protocols or the alternative; homeopathic nosodes.