Siberian Husky Diet and Nutrition
The subject of the Siberian Husky diet is a very volatile subject in Husky Groups, mention the subject and the fur begins to fly. People will argue at length how their choice of diet is preferable over the others.
All diets can have their strengths as well as their weaknesses.
- Poor nutritional quality kibble is an incomplete diet.
- Only chicken necks and too many raw bones is an incomplete diet.
- White rice, cooked chicken, and few cooked veggies for every meal is an incomplete diet.
To look at Siberian Huskies and Malamutes you would not think that these tough and hardy dogs would be prone to sensitive stomachs and easily upset digestive tracts. But these dogs do have special needs and requirements when it comes to feeding and diet.
All breeds of dogs require good nutrition that optimally supports their daily requirements for the production of fuel for their body. Huskies and Malamutes have a need for good quality, high protein, moderately high fat, and low carbohydrate needs (sources not from wheat, corn, or soy).
Huskies are very active animals, so it’s important that they have the right amount of calories to keep up with their lifestyle. Despite their small size, they need high-energy foods to get them through the day.
Most dogs will eat whatever food is put in front of them. This leads to the danger of over-eating and getting sick. However, huskies are quite different. They watch their intake of food to regulate how many calories they’re burning. If a husky is already full or isn’t very active, they won’t eat at all or will eat a lot less respectively.
Typically, a husky will only eat after he has had a lot of exercise. That isn’t to say that huskies won’t overeat, however. When they do, they put the weight on very quickly and it becomes quite difficult to lose.
Overweight huskies have shorter life spans than healthier ones, as they are more prone to other diseases and conditions that are associated with weight gain.
Another eating habit that is very common in huskies is a result of their stubborn nature. The smallest things could put a husky off of a certain food, and he may choose to avoid it altogether.
Huskies are very individualistic, and can be quite particular of the food that they are being given. From the size and texture of the food, or being bored of eating the same food all the time, there are a number of reasons that a husky may not eat.
Even experiencing sickness after eating can result in a husky not eating that kind of food ever again.
TOLERANCE AND HEALTH ISSUES
Many huskies and sled dogs are unable to tolerate specific ingredients that are commonly found in commercial dog food. The cheaper brands of dog food are mostly guilty of this, which means that you’ll have to spend a little more at the pet store to find the right food for your dog. Avoid brands that include wheat in their ingredients, as this can lead to the irritation of the digestive system.
Your dog may also develop Zinc Responsive Dermatitis. The signs of this disease include scabs and hair loss, especially around the muzzle, ears and eyes. This is due to the fact that huskies and similar breeds of dog have difficult time absorbing zinc, so they will start to show signs of deficiency, even if the food that they’re eating has the right amount.
Symptoms can appear when your dog is stressed or being fed a diet that is high in plant material and/or calcium. Adding a zinc supplement to his food should clear up the symptoms within a week or two.
FOODS THAT YOU SHOULD AVOID
Foods that you should never give to your dog include:
Large amounts of dairy:
Many dogs are known for being lactose intolerance and are unable to digest the specific protein that is contained in milk. Ingesting large amounts of dairy can lead to gas and loose stools. Each dog is different, however, and reacts to different amounts and kinds of lactose. Foods like whole milk and ice cream can have a sudden, adverse effect on your dog. However, low fat Greek yogurt and some kinds of cheese can be fine for your dog to eat, as long as they’re provided in moderation.
Cooked bones and fat trimmings:
You may think that it’s best not to waste food by giving your dog your table scraps, but you could be doing more harm than good. Fat that has been trimmed from meat can lead to pancreatitis, where the pancreas becomes inflamed from infection and causes serious abdominal pain. Dogs can choke on the bones from cooked meat, and they can also splinter within the digestion tract. This can lead to the obstruction of the bowels or lacerations that can cause internal bleeding.
Onions/anything in the garlic family:
This ingredient in any form should not be included in your dog’s diet. Onions and garlic are known to destroy a dog’s blood cells, which can lead to anemia. Signs of this occurring include vomiting, weakness, difficulty breathing, having no interest in food and lethargy. Avoid these foods in any form, included powdered, dehydrated, cooked, or raw. Putting your dog’s health at risk simply isn’t worth it.
Raisins, grapes or prunes:
You may have heard recently that grapes and raisins can be detrimental to your dog’s health, but may not know why. Raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure; the kidneys are responsible for cleaning the blood of any waste products and removing any excess water to be excreted as urine.
The failure of these organs can lead to the rapid decline of your dog’s health. The first sign is repetitive vomiting for an extended period of time. Lethargy and depression soon present afterwards; once you notice these, you should take your dog to a vet immediately.
Cashews and peanuts may be provided to your dog as an occasional treat, but macadamia nuts are a no-no. These nuts can actually be fatal to your dog and lead to poisoning. Signs include muscle tremors, paralysis of the hindquarters, weakness in the hind legs, vomiting, increased temperature, and a rapid heart rate.
It’s best if you avoid giving any foods that contain these nuts. If you have done so accidentally, get your dog to a vet immediately.
Guacamole may be delicious, but your dog may not think so. Avocados contain persin, which affects dogs differently from humans. It can damage your dog’s heart muscles, which can lead to lethargy, difficulty breathing, vomiting and diarrhea.
Persin is present in the leaves, seeds and bark of avocado plants, so if you’re growing your own indoors, it’s important that you keep your dog way from them. Resist the temptation to share your nacho dip with your dog, and leave him to his regular treats instead.
Coffee or tea:
Caffeine can be great as a pick-me-up in the mornings, but your husky is not going to appreciate the effects of it in his system. Caffeine intake in large amounts can be fatal for dogs and there is no known cure. Your dog will become restless, have muscle tremors and fits, heart palpitations, rapid breathing, and bleeding. Caffeine can also be found in cocoa, chocolate and energy drinks. Why not wake up your dog the old fashioned way with a good daily run and high-quality food?
Good quality nutritious foods suitable for your Snow Dog will:
- Get their protein from whole meat and meal and it will appear as the first ingredient on the list. This tells you that a food primarily contains protein. Good sources of protein come from Grades of meat A through C.
- Primarily use fish, fowl or other grassland animals as a protein base.
- Use quality sources of fat in their food obtained from their whole meat sources.
- Be over 30% protein, approximately 20% fat, and approximately 30% complex carbohydrate.
- Use a source of complex carbohydrate from legumes, seeds, fruits and vegetables (but not corn or wheat for Snow Dog diets).
- Include whole sources of fruits or vegetables.
- Include dog safe herbs for digestion or immune system support.
- Contain pre and probiotics to aid with digestion.
- Use natural sources for their vitamins, minerals, and supplements, not synthetic.
- And use natural pure Vitamin E oil sources ( not synthetic), to preserve the food.
High Protein and Mid Range Fat
These dogs require a higher than average protein in their diet. That means if you are feeding kibble, the protein content should be close to 30% to 40% (depending on the activity level of the dog). The fat content should be around 18% to 20%.
The best proteins for Snow Dogs come from lots of fish and fowl based foods. Red meats like beef, lamb, or bison should constitute a smaller percentage of their protein intake.
Adding rabbit, venison, elk, and bison as a switch up from their regular protein source is also a good option.
Change the Protein Base With the Changing Seasons
Very often Snow Dogs do well with a change of protein base as the seasons change.
- That means you may want to feed primarily a fish based kibble high in Essential Fatty Acids in the Winter to support healthy skin and coat.
- In the Spring you may want to start adding lighter proteins like more fowl to the diet.
- Summer months their energy and calorie requirement lower so they don’t need as much protein and fat in their diet, so switch to a mixed protein base lower in fish and higher in fowl and some added grassland animal protein will be welcomed thing for them.
- In the cooler temperatures of Autumn, begin adding more fish based protein and higher fat content to support their need to grow a thick and healthy coat.
How Much Food Does My Snow Dog Need?
Huskies and Malamutes require a comparably small amount of food for their size. They have a very high metabolism so a small amount of nutritious food will adequately supply their nutritional needs.
Notably, when a husky is full, they will not eat. If they get a lot of physical exercise, they will eat a bit more food to adjust for increased activity. If they are inactive, they will eat less to adjust for their activity level. In cold weather, huskies will consume more calories. In the hot weather, huskies will consume less calories because they simply do not to burn as many calories. As always, there are notable exceptions to these “husky eating rules”.
Nutrient dense foods supply nutrition efficiently so less food is fed at each feeding as compared to feeding of cheaper foods. When feeding kibble you only need 1 to 2 cups of good food per day but you may need to feed 3, 4, or 5 cups per day on a food that is full of corn and animal by-product. Factor this in when calculating the true cost of your dog’s food.
Note on Feeding Puppies
If you are feeding a puppy, you not only have to feed a Breed Appropriate food but an age appropriate food as well. High quality puppy foods are designed to feed a puppy for the entire first year of it’s life. The nutritional requirements of a growing puppy are very different from that of an adult dog so please feed a Puppy Formulation to your puppy.
Dogs that grow to be 23 kg’s and larger require a Large Breed Formulation. These foods actually pay careful attention to keeping growth in check as not to overwhelm the immature skeletal and musculature system of a larger dog.
Sources of the Siberian Husky diet:
http://www.snowdog.guru/snow-dog-appropriate-diet/ – Helping ALL Snow Dogs … one owner at a time.
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