Huskies were bred to be extremely tough, to endure harsh Arctic climates. Generally, they live long healthy lives of 11-14 years. However, like any pet, they are susceptible to certain illnesses, caused by either genetic or environmental factors.
As a loving doggy parent, you want your Husky gal or guy to suffer as little as possible from anything that life throws at them!
Here are some of the common conditions that Huskies may experience, and some tips on how you can avoid or treat them.
Huskies and certain other dog breeds often have heterochromia, which is the phenomenon of different coloured eyes. Don’t be alarmed – this is perfectly normal, and not harmful in itself. However, it can mask some other eye issues which ARE harmful, like cataracts or glaucoma.
Cataracts are a common cause of blindness in Huskies, but are generally painless and medically treatable. Glaucoma is a worse eye disease that can be very painful, as well as causing blindness. You can catch and treat these conditions early on by simply staring deeply into those baby browns (or blues, or greys!) on a regular basis. Look for cloudiness, squinting, wateriness or redness, and get your pooch checked out by a vet ASAP if any of these are present. Don’t panic – more than likely, what you’re seeing is just a mild injury or infection.
Hip dysplasia is a genetic abnormality in which the thighbone doesn’t fit properly into the hip socket. It’s a condition that often presents in litters of puppies produced by unscrupulous backyard breeders who don’t get their animals checked out properly.
Hip dysplasia presents during the first two years of a dog’s life, and can cause progressive inflammation and pain. As Huskies are so relentlessly active, they can aggravate the condition even more than other dog breeds.
Hip dysplasia is treatable, but it’s a skeletal deformity and therefore can’t be “cured”. You can alleviate the symptoms in your beloved pooch that has been diagnosed with this condition. Limiting exercise (especially on hard surfaces), avoiding staircases, making sure the dog doesn’t become overweight through overfeeding, and having your vet prescribe corticosteroids to reduce inflammation are all helpful.
Obesity is on the rise in humans – and unfortunately, in pets too! The availability of cheap low-quality food and a sedentary lifestyle combines to cause weight gain – which in turn causes painful and debilitating joint problems, muscular issues, diabetes, and heart disease.
Many Husky owners are surprised by how “thin” their dogs look when their fur is flattened down by water. Don’t be alarmed – the breed isn’t supposed to be stocky and muscular. Huskies are marathon runners, not body builders! Don’t be tempted to fatten up your gal or guy with extra food or treats – show your love to them with vigorous walks and games instead. And remember that people food can be dangerous for dogs.
Huskies are more likely than other dogs to have tooth problems. This is partly because they tend to chew everything they come across!
Tartar build-up on your dog’s teeth can eventually lead to gum and root disease if left untreated, which can then affect their organs and joints – sometimes even fatally. If your canine companion develops bad breath or starts pawing at their mouth, it’s time for a vet appointment.
Prevention of tooth decay is always better than cure, so make sure you start your Husky pup off with a regular twice-weekly tooth-cleaning. Get your vet to show you how to do the cleaning, then make it a habit throughout your dog’s life. Dental chews are also a great way to clean your dog’s teeth between brushings.
Dogs tend to happily chew and swallow all kinds of things that to us humans seem pretty unsavoury. They eat insects, dirty water, spoiled meat – and even poop! This natural curiosity is one of the main reasons our pooch pals are prone to intestinal parasites.
Various types of worms can infest your dog’s digestive tract and cause bloating and discomfort. If left untreated, they can even cause severe wasting ilness, and death. There are plenty of over-the-counter remedies to prevent worms, but keep an eye on your pooch to make sure he or she doesn’t seem to be suffering any intestinal discomfort. If unsure, call your vet for advice.
Related: Spot Those Poop Parasites, and Other Husky Care Hints
Huskies are very prone to a kind of skin infection known as zinc-responsive dermatosis. This is caused by either a low-zinc diet or an inability of the intestine to absorb zinc. It’s easily prevented by giving your gal or guy a zinc supplement – so if you spot any hairless, red, crusty patches around your dog’s mouth or ears or on their feet, it’s usually a sign that they lack this mineral for one reason or another.
Make sure you give your dog the right amount of zinc – too much can also be harmful. The right dosage will usually have to be administered throughout the pooch’s life for optimal skin health.
Managing Your Dog’s Environment
Besides keeping a close eye out for doggy ailments that your pet might be suffering from, remember that prevention also works well to keep them healthy and happy.
Make sure pups get their parvo and distemper shots to prevent these deadly diseases. Keep your dog’s environment clean – make sure their bedding is regularly washed and free of parasites. Keep any garbage or spoiled food well out of reach of inquisitive noses. Clean up all poop daily. Regular brushing of teeth and coat can help fight infection, and you’ll be able to see if anything is wrong. Last but not least – lots of exercise and a healthy diet are the cornerstones of caring for your canine!