Do huskies need higher zinc levels in their diet?
Huskies are gorgeous creatures that do best when in extremely cold environs. However, there are many who find this breed adorable and naturally wish to have them as pets in their homes. Before you do, please understand that despite their robust size, these snow dogs have special dietary requirements that often get overlooked, accidentally, of course, leading to a range of health issues.
Through this article, we would like to highlight the possible pitfalls and the deficiencies that an incorrect diet can cause in a husky.
But before that, a little background on the breed
Huskies come from harsh environmental conditions and were bred over hundreds of years to be able to work hard. They were developed by native Arctic inhabitants to cover large distances while pulling heavy loads that too in brutal winters. On their journey, they had to make do with whatever food was available in that environment, usually small amounts of densely concentrated animal protein and fat.
The requirement continues to date and your husky will thrive on small quantities of food per day when compared to other dogs of the same size. However, the food has to be of superior quality –specially-formulated raw diet very works well.
Let’s learn more, shall we?
The right diet for your husky
The ideal husky diet is almost entirely made of animal protein and fat. Dogs (most carnivores in general) need very little carbohydrate in their diet and huskies need almost none. Among the needed minerals, zinc is one of the most important that a husky’s body should contain and maintain. Did you know that it comes second to iron?
Zinc is a powerful antioxidant that can fight and eliminate several illnesses. Zinc works well by itself and also with other vital minerals and vitamins such as B-complex, vitamin A, calcium, copper, and phosphorus.
Unfortunately, a dogs’ body doesn’t have a storage system of zinc. Hence it becomes imperative to offer adequate zinc each day to your dog to ensure your dog's best health condition.
The absence of zinc and its side effects
The absence of sufficient zinc in your husky’s diet can lead to a range of symptoms, such as:
- Chronic digestive issues
- Picky eating
- Zinc responsive dermatosis
- Immune system illnesses
- Thyroid issues, organ failings
Coupled with the dog’s body being unable to store zinc, several dogs also suffer from mal-absorption, which means they cannot take in the right quantity of zinc from their food.
Understanding mal-absorption in dogs
Mal-absorption is when the body can’t successfully absorb vital elements such as minerals, nutrients and vitamins and minerals from its diet. For huskies, as well as other dogs, mal-absorption of zinc is what leads to deficiency and one of the leading causes for this is an unhealthy diet.
Deficiency in zinc doesn’t always happen through an insufficient intake. Though you might be closely monitoring your dogs’ diet, the body’s inability to absorb the minerals is also one reason for the zinc deficiency. Studies have shown that every time your dog ingest zinc-rich foods, only 15-40% of what has been ingested is actually absorbed.
If your snow dog shows any of the symptoms discussed earlier in the article, you might be right to believe that your husky could use some extra supplementation. But the question that arises is how much zinc does your dog need and how can you introduce it to the diet?
High zinc needs for northern breed dogs
A wild canine’s diet is rich in fish, meats, and offal. Yes, we may have domesticated our dogs, but their dietary requirements haven’t changed much from their origins.
Before you decide to add supplements check your dog’s diet to see if you can make improvements there first. Here’s what you should be checking in your dog’s diet:
- Always feed your husky a grain-free diet. Kibble diets that score high on wheat, corn, or soy will prevent zinc absorption and are one of the leading causes of zinc deficiency. Sometimes just changing the diet can correct the zinc deficiency in your husky.
- Also, even protein-rich kibble diets are not enough. If these rely on meat by-products or heavily processed meat as their protein base they will NOT meet the daily zinc requirements. Offer whole meats and fresh meat to your dog’s diet to increase zinc levels naturally. Simply adding 100 grams of salmon, beef, or chicken can supply 100mgs of zinc to your dog.
- Agreed, some dog food manufacturers do add zinc to dog food but they use a cheap source of zinc oxide or sulfate. These forms cannot be easily absorbed or used by the body and you might get fooled into thinking your dog is getting enough zinc in his diet because of the dog food label.
Ensuring you are adding sufficient zinc to your huskies diet
The best way to ensure your husky gets enough zinc in the diet is by feeding the right foods. Like we said earlier, a husky only needs animal protein and fat. Here are a few foods that are naturally high in zinc:
100 grams of each of these foods will yield zinc in the following quantities:
- Most meats(beef, chicken, duck, pork, salmon) 100mgs
- Liver 130mgs
- Tuna in oil 120 mg.
- Eggs 70mgs
- Apples, blackberries, and strawberries 100mgs
- Plain yogurt 200mgs
- Carrots (raw) 50 mg
- Potato (baked) 120 mg
- Pumpkin 100 mg
- Sweet potato and yams 100mgs
- 5 raw peanuts25 mg
Additionally, you can offer your dog:
- Kelp and seaweed (2-3 tablespoons per week) 1.23mgs
- Fish oil(100-150 mg per 10 pounds of dog weight) 2-3 times a week
Please note, too much fish oil can deplete necessary Vitamin E levels in the body causing other health problems. It can also up Vitamin A levels which is also harmful. Do consult your vet before administering too much fish oil.
If all these adjustments have made no difference in your dog’s overall health, you could consider adding a zinc supplement to the diet. Again, check with your vet before supplementing on your own.
Pet parents of a husky, or any other northern breed, need to know all about common zinc issues that these breeds are susceptible to. However, by ensuring you feed your husky adequate quantities of zinc in the diet, you will be able to keep most health issues at bay.