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 start of Veterinary Embryology… (Day 218)

Histology of the eye section of the retina

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Pets Bureau

For those that don’t know what embryology is; it is the growth of an animal after fertilisation of an egg (ovum) by sperm (or in the case of some species self-fertilisation). The sperm and egg fuse together with the haploid DNA contained in each combining to form diploid DNA within the nucleus. This single cell the goes on to rapidly divide multiple times with the number of cells doubling with each division (2-4-8-16 etc). Talking simply, this then folds in on itself (invaginates) to form a tube through the middle which will later become the digestive system. At this stage 3 different layers are formed; the ectoderm which is the outer later, the mesoderm which is the middle layer and the internal layer which is the endoderm. The cells in each of these layers are then differentiated to form different organs and structures related to that part of the body – for example the ectoderm forms the majority of the skin.

After embryology we then had the histology lecture that we had missed previously on the senses and today looked at the eye and ear. Personally I think the eye is amazing as the cells here are some of the fastest replicating cells within the body – most injuries to the surface layer heal within hours! The retina is the part of the back of the eye that is responsible for processing images into nerve pulses for the brain to understand and under the microscope looks like this…

Histology of the eye section of the retina

Looking at it quickly the layer at the top which is thick forms the fibres that holds the eye together known as the choroid and is attached to the sclera. Under this we then have a layer of pigment before the layer of rods and cones with the associated ganglionic nerve structures.

We finished this afternoon with our Physiology lecture which was looking at the brain, this is something so complex that by the end of the lecture most of use had our head aches. As vets we need to understand how different signals are processed, and the areas of the brain that deal with different functions of the body. In fact if we wanted we could actually progress to become Veterinary Neurosurgeons…. Is that cool or what?!?!