Common Health Problems Associated With Huskies
Do Huskies suffer from health problems?
Siberians are generally a healthy breed that don't suffer from many inherited disorders but there are a few, that potential owners need to be aware of including:
The most common eye disease found in the breed, affecting around 10%, these are different to the cataracts suffered by senior dogs and are caused by one or both parents carrying a recessive gene. The condition can be seen in puppies as early as 12 weeks of age and results in cloudiness of the lens, this prevents light entering the eye and reduces vision.
It is possible for it to affect one or both eyes and the severity varies with some dogs gradually losing their sight over a long period of time while others go completely blind very quickly. Surgery is an option but it is very expensive costing around £2,000 per eye so it is vital, if you are purchasing a puppy from a breeder, to make sure they have conducted the relevant health screening.
PRA (Progressive retinal atrophy)
This disease affects the retina which is the light-sensitive lining at the rear of the eyeball. The Siberian Husky has a type of PRA that is only found in that specific breed and us humans which is called X-Linked PRA and is transmitted through the female XX chromosome. The condition progresses from the loss of night-vision through to complete blindness, with more males being affected.
This is because they only carry one X chromosome while females have 2, an unaffected chromosome combats the other, meaning she is more likely to be a carrier than suffer PRA. Unfortunately, there is no treatment available which is why it is important genetic tests are carried out to eliminate XLPRA from breeding programs.
The eyeball is filled with fluid called aqueous humor this fluid keeps the eye in shape and provides nutrients to the tissues within the eye it drains away naturally but when a dog suffers from Glaucoma the drainage is inhibited putting increased pressure on the eye, damage to the optic nerve and eventually loss of vision. Generally, Glaucoma will begin in one eye but eventually will involve both. It is an extremely painful condition for your pet similar to a migraine, early diagnosis is essential to prevent removal of the eye. Symptoms are often overlooked but can include:
- Lack of appetite
- Unwillingness to play
- Rubbing eyes against furniture or pawing the face
- One pupil being larger than the other
- Redness or bulging of the eye
There are treatments available to slow down the progression of the disease if found early enough, including pain relief and draining fluid from the eye however in most long- term cases surgery is required to remove the eye. Many dogs adapt to losing their vision especially if it occurs gradually. Click here for some tips on living with a blind dog.
This is the lack of the thyroid hormone something that Sibes and other sled dogs seem more prone to than other breeds as they naturally have lower levels of the hormone. Dogs may show weakness, lack of balance even sometimes seizures after vigorous exercise especially racing, not producing enough thyroxine can result in loss of hair, lethargy and either weight loss or gain. Once diagnosed however, the condition is easily controlled with a daily tablet.
One of the most common problems for Husky owners is caused by overfeeding or giving the wrong type of food. Sibes do not have the digestive system to cope with cereal based foods as originally their main source of food was fish, seal-meat and whale blubber. They do well on a diet rich in protein and fat preferably with fish as the main ingredient. They were also bred to work on small amounts of food so feeding the recommended amount for similar sized breeds is often too much for their digestive systems to cope with, resulting in upset stomachs.
Sled dogs are often prone to this as their original diet of fish was rich in zinc and vitamin A. Even a balanced diet of good dog food may not provide enough zinc and this may result in itching and fur loss especially around the facial area. It can be prevented by giving a daily zinc supplement and adding fresh oily fish or shellfish to meals.
Huskies are not prone to this condition like some breeds but breeders will still have the parents hip scored as standard to prevent future problems so always make sure you see the certification when purchasing a puppy.
More About the Siberian Husky
We have a huge write up all about the Siberian, check it out here.