Shiba inus are known for their friendly and independent personalities, curly tails, and unique, cat-like voices. A Japanese breed, they are becoming increasingly common in the United States, where they make wonderful family pets. Shibas are generally pretty healthy little dogs, and there are many responsible breeders who carefully select their parentage to reduce the risk of major diseases. Still, there are certain health conditions that are more common in shibas. Here are four conditions to watch out for in your furry companion.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a genetic deformity in which the dog's hip does not form properly. The ball of the femur does not fit properly into the pelvic socket, and this causes the dog to walk with an abnormal gait. Dogs with hip dysplasia often develop arthritis in the hips, which makes their pain and stiffness worse over time. However, if your dog does have this condition, you should begin noticing symptoms by the time he's a year old.

There's no definite cure for hip dysplasia, but your vet can prescribe pain relievers to keep your dog more comfortable. You can also keep everything on one floor so your dog does not have to navigate stairs; this can minimize his pain.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is a fancy term for "dislocated kneecap." The kneecap may move out of position due to overly loose ligaments in the knee. When this happens, your dog may lift and hold up his back leg. He may also yelp or refuse to let you touch the leg.

If you think your dog has patellar luxation, your vet can teach you how to pop the kneecap back into place when it becomes dislocated. Your dog may need pain relievers, like NSAIDs, to remain comfortable with this condition. Gentle exercise can help keep the knee strong, but you should try to avoid letting your dog jump onto furniture as this can make things worse.

Allergies and Itchy Skin

Shiba inus tend to be more prone to allergies than most other dogs. They may be allergic to particles in the air, like pollen and dust, or they may be allergic to certain foods. Grain and corn allergies are particularly common. So, it's a good idea to feed your shiba inu a grain-free dog food.

If your dog begins itching himself intensely, sneezing a lot, or developing watery eyes, this is probably due to allergies. Try to keep your home environment as clean as possible by switching to a HEPA filter, cleaning often, and laundering your dog's bedding. Avoid giving treats and foods that contain grain ingredients. If the symptoms persist, your vet might recommend an antihistamine medication to keep symptoms under control.

Periodontal Disease

If your shiba has terrible breath, it is probably because he or she has periodontal disease. This condition causes the gums to become red and sore. Eventually, it can cause the ligaments that anchor the teeth into the jaw bone to erode, loosening the teeth.

Brushing your dog's teeth two or three times per week can help prevent periodontal disease or at least minimize it. There are also tooth health treats and foods you can feed your dog. Make sure your vet looks over your dog's teeth annually as some of them may need to be removed to keep your dog comfortable.

Keep a close eye on your shiba inu, and if you think he or she may be developing any of these diseases, contact your vet sooner rather than later. With proper treatment--whether than means NSAIDs or tooth removal--your pet can get back to being his happy, healthy self. For more information, contact establishments like Seattle Emergency Veterinary Hospital.