Siberian Husky Health Problems & Common Issues

The Siberian husky is a fun-loving dog with a lot of goofy joy to give. This is a dog which is likely to blend well with big families, and those who can give huskies a lot of exercise and playtime. This should be obvious – a Siberian husky is a sled dog, after all! They work hard, play hard, and rest harder.

However, what you may not know is that Siberian huskies could develop problems and health issues which can impact their life span. Are you aware of eye problems in dogs? Do you know what to do if faced with corneal dystrophy or hip dysplasia? How long can you expect huskies Siberian and otherwise to live in a happy and healthy environment?

Don’t worry – all Siberian huskies are different, but it’s worth looking into common husky problems you may have to support them within the years to come.

Do Huskies have any health problems?

Are you keen to adopt a husky? Of course, before you choose to adopt any Siberian husky from a centre or kennel, you must make sure you are aware of some of the problems they can face.

Siberians generally make up a healthy breed that doesn’t suffer from many inherited disorders but there are a few, that potential owners need to be aware of. From retinal atrophy to hip dysplasia, let’s take a closer look at what you may need to consider for your dog:

Eye Disease

Hereditary Cataracts

The most common eye disease found in the breed affects around 10% of Siberian huskies. These are different from 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 the cloudiness of the lens, which prevents light from 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 for your husky is an option but it is very expensive, costing around £2,000 per eye. Therefore, it is vital, if you are purchasing a Siberian husky puppy from a breeder, to make sure they have conducted the relevant health screening. Not every husky will suffer from these conditions – but great care and attention pay dividends when looking after the eye health of your dog.

PRA (Progressive retinal atrophy)

Unfortunately, the Siberian husky breed is at risk of further common health difficulties relating to their eyes. Progressive retinal atrophy is not always common in Siberian huskies, but it is prevalent enough to cause concern.

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 are called X-Linked PRA and are transmitted through the female XX chromosome. The condition progresses from the loss of night-vision through to complete blindness, with more husky males being affected.

This is because they only carry one X chromosome, while husky females have 2. One 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. All pet owners need to be aware of these risks if they have a husky.

Glaucoma

The eyeball is filled with a fluid called aqueous humour. This fluid keeps the eye in shape and provides nutrients to the tissues within the eye it drains away naturally but when a husky or another breed of 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. It is similar to a migraine, and 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 is 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 or Siberian husky.

Hypothyroidism

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. A dog that is not producing enough thyroxine can result in their loss of hair, lethargy and either weight loss or gain. Once diagnosed, however, the condition is easily controlled with a daily dog tablet.

Diarrhea

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. be careful with what you feed your husky to ensure the best digestive health!

Zinc Deficiency

Sled dogs such as the Siberian husky 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. It’s surprising how many health issues you can stave off with the right dog supplements!

Do Siberian Huskies have hip problems?

As one of the most energetic breeds of dog, the Siberian husky may fall prey to health issues such as hip dysplasia. But is your own husky necessarily at risk?

Hip Dysplasia

Huskies are not prone to this condition like some breed,s but breeders will still have the parents hip scored as standard to prevent future problems. Therefore, always ensure you see the certification when purchasing a puppy.

Vets may advise that hip dysplasia may occur in Siberian huskies thanks to their intensive energy and exercise needs. Make sure your dog takes it easier as they get older. That applies to all dogs and breeds!

How To Avoid Common Health Issues Arising

There are two common elements to making sure your Siberian husky can avoid the issues listed above. These areas you might expect – giving your husky enough exercise and making sure you feed them the best food. As with all breeds, too much of the wrong food and too little exercise is going to result in an overweight pet.

How much exercise does a husky need?

How many hours are there in a day? A Siberian husky is going to need a huge amount of exercise – several walks a day are ideal for husky health – and you must ensure your dog has a lot of stimulation at home. As with many dog breeds, your husky demands freedom from boredom.

Conclusion

As with many dogs, the husky is at risk of a variety of different conditions such as corneal dystrophy and hip dysplasia. However, providing you care for them correctly, and arrange regular vet appointments, there are no reasons why they won’t have a long and healthy life with you.

John Devlin

Husband, father and avid dog lover. Currently the proud owner of George a pedigree Golden Retriever that barely leaves my side. However, cute this sounds a little break from the dog hairs every now and then would be nice!
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