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Zinc Deficiency in Huskies (Everything You Need To Know)

Zinc Deficiency in Huskies
Zinc Deficiency in Huskies

Zinc deficiency in Huskies is a serious health concern that, unfortunately, Siberian Huskies seem more likely to experience than other breeds.

Aside from iron, zinc is actually one of the most important nutrients in a dog’s body. It helps aid the body in all sorts of essential functions. 

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Why do Huskies need zinc? 

Interestingly enough, though zinc is incredibly important, the body just doesn’t have any way to store it. Instead, zinc absorption is based on more of a ‘use it or lose it’ concept.

Just some of the ways it helps the body includes:

  • Acting as a catalyst for enzymes
  • Helping strengthen the immune system
  • Helping wounds heal
  • Helping in the production of hormones
  • Zinc deficiency can cause birth defects when breeding huskies

And so many more important things! 

What happens when Huskies don’t get enough zinc? 

For Huskies with zinc deficiency, they can eat the recommended amount of zinc daily and still be deficient. This is because some Huskies can’t metabolize zinc properly. This has been found to be true for other northern breeds, too, like the Alaskan Malamute. 

Symptoms of zinc deficiency in Huskies

It is important for Husky owners to be vigilant and know the signs and symptoms of zinc deficiency. One such sign is that of a weakened immune system which can present as other illnesses like frequent various infections. 

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Weakened immune system (frequently sick)
  • Slow wound healing
  • Sores
  • Dry skin
  • Skin cracks
  • Skin lesions
  • Digestive issues
  • Seizures
  • Organ failure

Other symptoms include slow wound healing, sores, cracks, or lesions that are a bit crusty that can be found on the dog’s lips and nose, around the mouth, and on the inner legs or groin. 

Husky skin problems, issues and conditions are often referred to as zinc-responsive dermatitis. This can usually be seen in excessive licking and scratching, paw biting, as well as hair loss. 

If left untreated, zinc deficiency can lead to much more serious health problems like digestive issues, seizures, and even organ failure. It really is essential! 

Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency in Huskies
Not feeling well. 🤒 Image from @leothegreatpup

Causes of zinc deficiency in Huskies

Genetics

Because it is so common in northern breeds like the Siberian Husky, it is likely that zinc deficiency in dogs is a genetic trait that is passed down. This results in the malabsorption of zinc, or in other words, the Husky is unable to metabolize it properly. 

For example, it could be that while a dog consumes 100% of its daily zinc requirements, it may only be actually benefiting from or absorbing 60% of the zinc it consumes. Of course, this is just an example, and the numbers may vary from one dog to the next.

But regardless, the dog needs to eat or consume well above the normal daily amount of zinc in order to actually utilize the appropriate amount of zinc. 

Malabsorption

Another possible reason for zinc deficiency is, again, related to malabsorption. But instead of being the result of a genetic trait, it could be a nutritional issue.

Though a dog may be consuming the appropriate amount of zinc daily, if there are low levels of essential fatty acids or high levels of phytates, calcium, phosphorus, or magnesium, the zinc can bind with these and cause issues with absorption. 

Gastrointestinal disease and parasites

Other things that can cause zinc deficiency are gastrointestinal diseases and parasites. Various gastrointestinal diseases and parasites can all wreak havoc on the digestive system and lead to malabsorption of various nutrients including zinc. 

Causes of Zinc Deficiency in Huskies
Getting some much needed rest! Image from @mother.of.snow.dogs

Diagnosing zinc deficiency in Huskies

A clinical exam will be required at a veterinarian’s office. You likely will be asked a number of questions to try to troubleshoot your dog’s problems. There are blood tests that can be run, but they are fairly inaccurate. 

The best way to get a diagnosis is, under the watchful eye of a veterinarian, to start slowly introducing more zinc into their diet to see if that starts to alleviate some symptoms. 

Prevention and treatment of zinc deficiency in Huskies

Because zinc deficiency is a more common health problem in huskies than other breeds, it is important to provide these pups with a nutritionally complete and balanced diet. There are also various foods that you can add to your dog’s diet that are higher in zinc content.

Some examples of zinc rich food include:

  • Fish like salmon and sardines
  • Red meat
  • Eggs
  • Nuts like cashews and almonds

Additionally, there are also various zinc supplements or supplements containing zinc for pets that are on the market today. 

However, it is always best to consult with your veterinarian in regard to adding additional sources of zinc to your dog’s daily diet. It is possible for dogs to get too much zinc. 

Though a high-quality dog food with a whole meat source as its primary ingredient should have an appropriate amount of zinc, there are still some dog food brands on the market today that don’t provide a wholesome and nutritious diet for dogs. Instead, they fail to meet the required nutritional values and use low-quality ingredients, fillers, and additives.

The best dog food for huskies with zinc deficiency is a dog food brand with quality ingredients that considers itself to be complete and balanced. This usually indicates that the food has been approved through various appropriate channels.

For example, in the United States, to have the words ‘complete and balanced’ on a bag of dog food, the ingredients have to be approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). 

Further reading:

Treatment of Zinc Deficiency in Huskies
Being brave during a vet checkup! 👏 Image from @losdukesdelaluna

Zinc toxicity 

It is important to mention that too much of a good thing can quickly become harmful to a dog. Supplementation of zinc should only be done under a veterinarian’s guidance. Too much zinc can actually lead to zinc toxicity aka zinc toxicosis, which can be quite lethal. High zinc levels can result in problems like copper malabsorption as well as problems with calcium and iron levels.

Some signs and symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundice
  • Rapid or erratic heart rate

Ultimately, it can lead to organ failure. Don’t try to diagnose or treat zinc deficiency at home, as it could very well turn into a case of zinc toxicity. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, zinc deficiency can be commonly found in Siberian Huskies due to various reasons, and it is an important factor of Husky ownership to be aware of. However, it is also important to remember to not try to treat or even prevent zinc deficiency in a Siberian Husky without first consulting with a veterinarian. 

Too much zinc can be just as dangerous to a dog as a deficiency. Thankfully though, with a veterinarian’s guidance, anyone can help prevent and treat zinc deficiency in their Huskies. 

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Author
Max Jacobs
Max Jacobs is the owner and lead author of Husky Gifts. He loves spending time with his family, who have two huskies. Max loves to write and is passionate about creating interesting and engaging content. To learn more, visit the team section of the about page.

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