Cold Facts: Common Health Concerns Among Siberian Huskies

Siberian Huskie

It is no wonder why the popularity of Siberian Huskies has grown exponentially over recent years; they are just so hard to resist. There aren’t many other breeds that are quite as strikingly gorgeous as the Siberian husky, what with those piercing blue eyes, that thick coat of fur and those disarming wolf-like looks. But it isn’t just their appearance that makes them such amazing pets. It is their joyful demeanour, their buoyant energy, their loyalty and friendliness. But the fact they make the best furry friends imaginable is also what makes it so hard to cope with when they get sick. There is an emotional bond that can crush your soul like nothing else.

Yes, Siberian Huskies tend to be incredibly healthy compared to a lot of other breeds, but that doesn’t mean they are free of all health concerns. Quite the contrary, in fact. Of course, the best medicine in your arsenal is knowledge and prevention, which is why we are going to highlight the main health problems of this very special breed:

Huskie in the snow

Corneal Dystrophy
Unfortunately, Siberian Huskies are known for suffering autoimmune disorders that affect the eyes and one, in particular, is to do with the cornea. Unfortunately, this tends to be a hereditary disease and one that your local veterinarian will probably tell you has no known cure, whether medicinal or therapeutic. What it looks like is tiny white spots in the cornea, with the condition affecting your pups vision. It’s not nice, but the good news is it isn’t painful.

Zinc Deficiency
Another autoimmune disorder your husky is susceptible to is a low level of zinc in their body, which tends to cause hair loss. The most common areas of hair loss are on the face – lips, chin and eyelids – but it can also occur at their elbows, hocks and feet. The obvious thing to do is add a zinc supplement to their diet. However, before you do this we would strongly recommend you speak to your vet first.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Yeah, Huskies tend to get it pretty rough with their eyes, and this is another hereditary example of this. This is a condition whereby your dog’s retina slowly disintegrates over time. The best way to ensure that this condition doesn’t affect your puppy is to have your Husky screened at an early age and let it undergo the necessary examination. While this won’t cure them, it will allow you to make lifestyle adjustments to ensure any progression is put off for as long as possible.

Hip Dysplasia
Ask any vet and they will tell you that a lot of big dogs are prone to hip dysplasia and Siberian Huskies fall into the category. To give you a little more information on it, hip dysplasia is where the joint doesn’t quite fit together properly, making later life a lot harder for them. There are certain things you can do to help your dog if they suffer from this. However, we would also recommend you ask the breeder whether the pups parents have been screened for hip dysplasia. It is hereditary, so those parents who were fine on this front tend to produce a litter that is unaffected too.

The prevention education of vet school that no one tells you about

Jenni Falconer and her dog Alfie

Something that many people do not realise is that vet school is not all about treating diseases or cool surgeries to put animals back together again. A lot of it is about learning how to stop animals getting sick in the first place. This training involves both infectious diseases as well as parasitic diseases – in fact vets are often better trained in this area than human doctors.

It is often said than an ounce of prevention is better than cure, and in the case where it is so simple to do there is little reason not to. However, a survey of 1056 dog owners carried out in February 2017 shows that whilst some people know what dog parasites exist, they do not know the risks.

Over a third of these dog owners said they never think about the parasites their dog may be hosting even though they sleep in the same bed, sit on the sofa together or even lick their face. In fact one in four people didn’t realise that their pet could have parasites without them even being visible.

One of the reasons that so much effort goes into prevention is that sometimes parasites and diseases can affect both animals and humans as a zoonosis. So helping to protect a pet against these parasites in turn also helps protects you and your family especially for those with children. So let’s take a quick look at some of the types of parasites out there, what people think, and what really is true…

Most dog owners are worried about lungworm with 82% of people knowing that it could be fatal to their pet. However 43% also believed it was a big risk for humans, this is not true as it is actually harmless to humans.

Ticks were second on the list with 36% saying they were worried about them, however less than half realised that ticks could cause death because of the diseases they can transmit. Just 28% realised that ticks could also be harmful to humans as they can transmit Lyme disease.

The most dangerous parasite came bottom of the list with just 15% worrying about roundworms and only 7% believing they could be harmful to human health. Roundworms of the Toxocara variety can cause big problems in humans if their eggs are swallowed such as blindness or neurological disease with children at most risk.

Prevention for these parasites has become easier with palatable oral chews available as well as spot-on medications so you can still interact as your dog as normal after the treatment. With so much at risk it was a surprise that the Pet Parasite Action survey found 1 in 6 hadn’t treated their dogs for parasites in the past year.

Your vet is trained to support you in helping to keep your pet healthy, and there are many options of different treatments. Their expert guidance and support can really prove priceless.

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How To Take Care Of Your Pedigree Pooch

happy-dog-problems

These days, more and more people are choosing to get their new pets from shelters – and let’s face it, that’s an incredible thing to do. Not only are you giving a home to an animal that really needs some love and care, but you’re also getting a pet that’s probably going to live a long time and be healthy. But not everyone wants to go for a shelter animal – if you want a specific breed, then you might just want to go for a pedigree pup. If that’s the case, here are a few tips that you might want to bear in mind…

Look For Breed Specific Problems

One of the biggest problems with buying a pedigree dog is that a lot of breeds have health problems that have been caused by unscrupulous breeders essentially breeding birth defects into them. French bulldogs and pugs often have breathing problems, while golden retrievers often suffer from hip issues. It’s important that you keep an eye on your dog carefully for any of these issues – take them for plenty of vet check ups, and educate yourself on the specific needs that your breed has.

breed specific problems

Keep Your Pup Healthy

Although your new dog is basically a member of your family, if you’ve spent a lot of money on him or her then you might be looking at them as an investment as well – that means that it’s all the more important to keep your new dog healthy. Make sure that you take them for all their jabs and vaccinations, and if you aren’t intending to use your dog for breeding then make sure you get them spayed. It’s important that you get the right food to keep them healthy. Some breeds even have specific food that’s good for them, like Royal Canin bulldog puppy food, which will be fab for your new bulldog baby. It’s important to make sure that your dog gets plenty of exercise – take them out as often as possible, and remember that large dogs like huskies and labradors will require a lot of exercise.

dalmatians-dog-animal-headKeep Your Dog Safe

There are two ways to keep your dog safe: firstly, make sure that you train them fully. Obedience classes can work wonders and will teach you how to be a good dog owner just as much as they teach your dog how to behave well. It’s important to make sure that your dog has good recall if you’re planning to let him or her off their leash on public, and it’s also important to make sure that they’re socialised well with other dogs so they don’t freak out whenever they encounter another dog when you’re out on walks. Secondly, you need to remember that some breeds are in high demand and can be targets for theft thanks to how much they’re worth. If you have one of those breeds, make sure that when they’re outside, they’re in your line of sight all the time – some thieves have been known to reach into people’s yards to steal their dogs.