Health Problems: Common Issues And Allergies For Shiba Inus

My first visit to the vet with Faith ended with a bottle of medication and a “she’s slightly sick” diagnosis, which was very upsetting because I didn’t notice. Thankfully if was incredibly minor and my vet was being cautious, but that left me with a lot of questions. This article is everything I was able to find.

Although considered a healthy “well built” breed, Shiba Inus do have a weak point, their eyes. Cataracts, Glaucoma, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) are quite common. Females easily get Pyometra when they aren’t spayed. Hip dysplasia and Patellar Luxation are also common pain points.

sick shiba inu

After several questions and a couple of hours of research, here is what I’ve found to be the most common health issues I and many others may run into with. If you are interested in seeing what you may be in store for you, feel free to continue reading.

Health Issues Shiba Inus Face

Shiba Inus, originally from Japan and known for their distinct red color, face several health issues. As a Shiba Inu pet parent, awareness of these issues can help extend your dog’s lifespan and improve their quality of life.

Addison’s Disease

Addison’s Disease, a rare condition in Shibas, affects the adrenal gland’s functionality. Keep an eye out for lethargy and changes in appetite, as these could be early symptoms for this issue. Regular blood testing and replacement hormone therapy can manage this condition.


Your Shiba Inu may experience inhalant allergies from airborne inhaled allergens like pollen, molds, and dust mites. Symptoms include itchiness and skin irritation. To relieve discomfort, provide your dog with frequent baths and consult a vet for appropriate medications. More on this below.


It’s essential to ensure mental stimulation for your Shiba Inu, as they are highly intelligent and prone to anxiety when bored. Puzzle toys or regular socializing can help keep anxiety at bay.


Atopy, an inhalant allergy characterized by itching and chronic skin inflammation, is relatively common among Shiba Inus. Consistent treatment through skin therapies, medications, and environmental changes can help manage this condition.


Chylothorax, the accumulation of fluid in the chest cavity, is rare in Shiba Inus but worth noting. Consult a vet if you notice labored breathing or lethargy in your dog, as early intervention can be crucial.

Dental Disease

Dental issues like gingivitis and periodontal disease are common in small breeds like Shiba Inus. Regular dental cleanings and providing toys or treats that promote dental health (such as puzzle toys or aggressive chewers) can help prevent these issues.

Digestive Problems

Maintaining a healthy diet with high-quality dog food can reduce digestive problems in your Shiba Inu. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and other health issues, so ensure proper portion control when feeding.


Epilepsy is a genetic disorder in Shibas, and seizures can vary from mild to severe. Consult a vet for proper diagnosis and treatment if your dog experiences any seizure activity.

Eye Problems

Shiba Inus are prone to various eye problems, including cataracts, glaucoma, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which can lead to blindness. Regular eye checkups can catch issues early and help preserve your dog’s vision.

Heart Disease

Routine vet checkups can catch early signs of heart disease and help avoid potential complications in your Shiba Inu’s health.

High Potassium

High potassium levels in Shibas can be a symptom of underlying health conditions, such as diabetes or Addison’s Disease. Regular blood work can help monitor and manage potassium levels.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a genetic issue common in larger breeds, but it can also affect Shiba Inus. This condition causes the hip joint and socket to develop incorrectly, leading to arthritis or lameness. Early intervention through surgery, physical therapy, or joint supplements can help your Shiba Inu maintain mobility.


Hypothyroidism, the underproduction of hormones by the thyroid gland, is common in Shibas. Symptoms include weight gain, lethargy, and skin issues. Blood tests and hormone replacement therapy can effectively manage this condition.


To prevent infections in your Shiba Inu, ensure proper grooming and clean their living environment. Regular vet checkups can help catch early signs of infection and prevent complications.


To prevent obesity in your Shiba Inu, ensure proper portion control and provide daily exercise. Dry food can contribute to weight gain, so consider a diet with minimal carbohydrates and high-quality protein. A healthy weight can help prevent numerous health problems.


Shibas, like all dogs, can suffer from parasites such as fleas, ticks, and worms. Flea allergy dermatitis causes skin irritation and discomfort in Shiba Inus. Regular veterinary visits can identify issues early and provide appropriate treatments.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation occurs when the kneecaps dislocate and is common in small breeds like Shibas. Physical therapy or joint supplements may help in mild cases, but severe cases may require surgery.


Pyometra, a severe uterine infection, can affect unspayed female Shiba Inus. Spaying your dog can eliminate the risk of developing this life-threatening condition.

Spay or Neuter

Spaying or neutering your Shiba Inu prevents reproduction and reduces the risk for various health problems such as pyometra and hormonal imbalances.

Thyroid Problems

Shibas can suffer from various thyroid issues, including hypothyroidism. Regular blood tests can help monitor thyroid health, and vet-prescribed treatments can manage symptoms.

VKH Syndrome

Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada (VKH) Syndrome is an autoimmune condition in Shiba Inus that affects the skin, eyes, and ears. Early intervention and treatment with anti-inflammatory medications can manage this rare condition.

How To Know If Your Shiba Inu Has Allergies

Allergic reactions for dogs are different from us people, where we would normally sneeze and get a runny nose they start developing skin problems. Usually shown as a constant itching called “atopy”.

The most common “itchy” spots are around their paws, belly, ears, armpits, groin, and between folds of skin.

Allergy issues are more common for Shiba Inus in warmer, summer-like, climates.

While itching and scratching is the most common sign of allergies, here is a list of some other possible warning signs:

  • Itchiness
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the face, ears, lips, eyelids, or earflaps
  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Sneezing*
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy ears
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Itchy, runny eyes
  • Consistent face rubbing or paw licking

If your Shiba Inu seems to have constant sneezing problems. While some allergy triggers such as perfumes, shampoos, and latex are uncommon there are plenty that is fairly common. Lets go into a bit more detail for those common allergies.

Food Allergies

There are two possibilities when it comes to food, food allergies or food intolerance, and knowing the difference is important.

Food allergies involve a response from your pet’s immune system, seeing the food as an invader. These are commonly shown as itching and skin rashes.

Some severe food allergies may even lead to anaphylaxis shock, leading to a possible life-threatening situation. Contact your vet immediately if you believe your Shiba Inu is suffering from an acute food reaction.

Food intolerance is a bit different, it involves a response from your dog’s digestive system. This usually leads to them being unable to digest the food, similar to lactose intolerance in people.

Food intolerance usually causes diarrhea, vomiting, and an upset stomach. Thankfully most intolerances do not pose a serious health issue.

In both cases it’s best to contact your vet to get their opinion, you may be able to run some tests to see what is causing your Shiba Inu’s food issues.

Skin Allergies

Unlike other types of allergies, skin issues can be complex and time-consuming to remedy. The core three causes are:

Food allergies – This is possible, but only 10% of skin allergies are caused by food. A simple diet change can solve this.
Flea allergies – Second most likely cause. Fairly straightforward, also labeled as (F.A.D)
Environmental allergies – The most common and difficult possibility. Usually caused by dust mites, mold, and pollen.

Skin allergies, or Atopy, shows as:

  • Itchy skin
  • Dry skin / dandruff
  • Red / inflamed skin
  • Scratching, licking, gnawing
  • Scabs
  • Loss of fur
  • Oily skin
  • Itchy / red eyes / eye discharge
  • Face rubbing
  • Recurrent skin and ear infections

Typically around the face, ears, paws, armpits, belly, groin, or between folds of skin.

Dogs suffering from skin allergies usually have skin barrier dysfunctions as well, secondary infections are also quite common.

Each Shiba Inu will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but typically medication and frequent baths are prescribed to help reduce Atopy.

Acute Reactions

Acute allergic reactions, or anaphylactic shock, is alarming and possibly fatal if left untreated. If you notice your Shiba Inu is going through this, drop everything and drive either to your vet or a pet-ER.

Every second counts and your pet’s health and safety are the first priority.

Some possible causes are:

  • Acute food allergy – usually caused by the protein ingredient
  • Bee stings
  • Medications
  • Vaccines
  • Spider bites
  • Insect stings – Wasps, bees, spiders, fire ants.
  • Flea bites – Rare but still possible

Some signs of anaphylactic shock in dogs are:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Pale to bluish-colored gums
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cold legs
  • Seizures – Rare but still possible
  • Coma – Rare but still possible

Unlike in people, little to no swelling around your pet’s face or throat will occur.


Are you a Shiba Inu owner or considering becoming one? Here’s a guide to help you understand common health issues your furry friend may face. From weak eyes, with conditions like cataracts and glaucoma, to typical problems like allergies and obesity, Shibas have concerns.

But don’t worry, we’ve got your guide to identifying symptoms, prevention, and treatment options for minor infections or serious genetic disorders like epilepsy. With regular check-ups, proper diet, and a watchful eye, you can help your Shiba Inu lead a healthy and happy life.

The most common health issue is allergies, but with some careful observation and care, you can keep sneezes and itchiness at bay. Continue reading to see what might be in store for your furry friend.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Shiba Inus Hypoallergenic?

Shiba Inus aren’t hypoallergenic, as they produce dander and shed their coats. Non-shedding breeds are typically more allergy-friendly, although no dog is completely hypoallergenic.

What Are Common Health Problems In Shiba Inus?

Although generally healthy, Shiba Inus can face health issues such as allergies, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, cataracts, and glaucoma. Monitor your dog for signs of distress and consult a vet if you notice any changes in their health.

How Long Do Shiba Inus Typically Live?

On average, Shiba Inus have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years. While this can vary depending on factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and diet, keeping your Shiba Inu healthy with regular vet visits and a proper diet can contribute to a longer life.

What Genetic Issues Do Shiba Inus Face?

Shiba Inus can be prone to some genetic issues, notably hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and certain eye conditions. Responsible breeding practices can help reduce the risk of these issues, but it’s essential to be aware of the potential for hereditary problems in your Shiba Inu.

Are Shiba Inus Prone To Any Specific Illnesses?

Although Shiba Inus are not particularly prone to any unique illnesses, they may experience certain health issues that are more common in the breed. Besides the genetic issues mentioned before, Shiba Inus may also be prone to allergies that can cause skin irritation or digestive problems.

Do Shiba Inus Need Frequent Vet Visits?

Regular veterinary check-ups and vaccinations are crucial for maintaining your Shiba Inu’s overall health. If your pet experiences any health issues or concerns, more frequent consultations may be necessary. Building a strong relationship with your vet can help ensure the best possible care for your furry friend.

How Can I Ensure My Shiba Inu Stays Healthy?

To keep your Shiba Inu healthy, ensure a balanced diet, regular exercise, and mental stimulation. Watch for signs of health issues and changes in behavior or appearance. Regular vet visits and a trusted veterinarian are crucial for maintaining your Shiba Inu’s well-being.

Colby Adkins

I am a proud Shiba Inu owner who is just looking to share any tips, tricks, or advice I have to help others.

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