In our last article we discussed the costs of owning an Akita. One of the ongoing costs of owning an Akita or any dog is food. The topic of food for Akitas and other dogs is hotly debated. Should you only feed your Akita raw food? Grain free? Vegan (don’t do this)? In this article we are going to break down what a full day of eating for our American Akita looks like. This will be covering both food and treats! At the end of this article hopefully it will give you a better idea of how to prepare for bringing your new Akita puppy home.
Since bringing our Akita, Haga, home, we have always fed him Victor Purple Bag (click here to view).
Victor is a dry dog food kibble, and while it is not grain free, it is gluten and wheat free, with the first ingredient being beef meal, which is typically a higher quality “meal” rendering than generic “meat meal.”
If you’re wondering what beef meal is, it’s a process where various parts of a cow are cooked down “rendered” until they can be formulated into a powder. This increases the protein concentration of the food and removes a lot of the unnecessary water. Generally, when a dog food specifies what type of meal the dog food is made of, it’s a higher quality meal, like “beef meal” or “chicken meal.” You want to avoid foods that aren’t specific like “Animal meal” or “meat meal.”
We have received multiple comments from our Akita’s veterinarian, dog trainer, and others about how healthy Haga’s stool is, which is why we have stuck with the same food since he was a puppy. While Victor Purple Bag isn’t the cheapest dog food you can get, it’s certainly not the most expensive, and food is not something you want to cut corners with when it comes to owning an Akita.
When it comes to serving sizes, we give Haga 1 cup of the Victor Purple Bag, four times daily. His feeding times are typically: 7am, 11am, 2pm and 6pm.
A 40lb bag of the Victor Purple Bag dog food lasts us about 5 weeks, and Haga absolutely loves his food! One thing to be aware of is Akitas LOVE to play after feeding time, which is dangerous because it can increase the risk of your Akita suffering from bloat, so we highly recommend trying to exercise your Akita thoroughly before feeding them, so they are nice and tired after they eat.
Haga may also get some additional kibble in the form of dog training, but more on that later.
We also give our Akita a good amount of human food on a daily basis. One of Haga’s favorite treats is whole sweet potatoes, however he will only eat them if they are frozen, which is good because he really has to work to eat them, which helps stimulate both is mind and his jaw, so he’s usually fairly tuckered out after eating one! Many people say you should peel a sweet potato before giving it to your Akita, however we always feed our Akita whole and uncooked sweet potatoes with no issue, but you may want to check with your vet before giving your Akita any human food.
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Unsurprisingly our Akita also loves two staples in the dog world: Peanut butter and yogurt. With the yogurt we smear them onto textured pads, and for peanut butter we typically stuff a bone with a few spoonfuls. Just like with the sweet potatoes, we freeze these treats before giving them to our Akita. The freezing slows down the eating process, which has two primary benefits, first eating slowly reduces the risk of bloat in your Akita, and secondly it prolongs the treat experience, keep your Akita engaged for longer, which is good!
What About Scraps?
If you’ve ever seen an Akita pout, you know they are so cute it’s almost impossible to say no to them. Like many dog owners, we give our Akitas scraps from our food. The most important thing to remember when giving your Akita scraps is if there are any foods that dogs do not tolerate well such as grapes, raw onions, chocolate, etc…As ingesting some of these foods can be life threatening for your dog. If you’re not sure, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and you can always pull a frozen treat out of the freezer to appease your Akita if they missed out on part of your dinner.
With that said, Haga loves pizza, bacon, steak, chicken, rice, eggs, pancake batter, but his absolute favorite is probably fish skin from salmon or other fatty fish.
Even if there are no real scraps to eat, our Akita is happy to lick our plates clean, which makes doing dishes a breeze!
Best Dog Treats for Akitas
We occasionally also spoil our Akita with dog specific treats such as Bully Sticks or Bully Rings, however they are not very cost effective. A bag of three bully rings is typically about $25, although we have found Bully Strips to be more affordable.
There is some debate in the dog community if these treats are safe for your dog, but we have never had a problem with them, however, given the structure and texture of the bully products, we do not recommend giving your Akita one of these on the way out the door, because they could be a choking hazard, so we only will give our Akita a bully product or something similar, if we are in the same room as them. Also, be warned, they can smell quite rotten when they get wet with your Akita’s saliva.
When it comes to other treats, and more specifically training treats we tend not to use them. The idea behind a training treat is that they are an extra tasty snack for your Akita, however having these extra special snacks around devalues your Akita’s regular food, that means if you need to encourage a certain behavior, and all you have around is kibble, you may have a hard time getting your Akita to listen to you…and they are known to be stubborn dogs!
When you use your dog’s regular kibble as a training treat, it makes the kibble seem extra special, so for this reason, we tend not to keep training treats around too often.
Using your Akita’s kibble as a form of training also has other benefits. Instead of just pouring your Akita’s food into a bowl, if you partition out the serving throughout a 10-20 minute training session, you not only get to slow down the feeding, which decreases the risk of bloat, but it also helps to train your Akita and strengthen the bond between the two of you. It’s for these reasons we try to hand feed our Akita at least 1 of the 4 cups we serve him each day.
Feeding Your Akita
When it comes to feeding your Akita, it’s not an exact science. Different dogs will have different preferences, and some dogs may develop allergies over time. It’s not uncommon for Akita owners to need to switch dog foods due to allergies when their Akita reaches adulthood.
The most important thing is to always read the ingredients list in any food or treat you plan on giving your Akita, and talk with your veterinarian about what they suggest, and check with them on any products you’re not sure about. A good quality food can completely change not just the lifespan of your Akita, but also the quality of life for your Akita as well.