Siberian Huskies are high-energy, friendly, and social family dogs. Ranked #12 on the AKC’s list of most popular dog breeds, it’s easy to see why many are drawn to the Husky’s wolf-like looks and piercing blue eyes. Given what this dog was bred for – pulling a light load over long distances with only a small amount of food – a little food lasts them a long time, but it needs to be the right, high-quality nutrition. In this article, we’ll help you figure out the best dog food for your Husky.
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Considerations for Huskies
Truly Unique – How The Husky’s Genetic History Relates To Their Current Eating Habits
When the semi-nomadic Chukchi people of Siberia had to expand their hunting ground some 3000 years ago, they sought to breed the ideal sled dog. These dogs had to have endurance, a high tolerance to cold, and the ability to survive on very little food. Siberian Huskies are widely believed to be the closest to these original Chukchi dogs.
It’s not clear how, but sled dogs, in particular, somehow flip a switch on their metabolism during long stretches of highly strenuous exercise. While we humans “hit the wall” and start stripping our bodies of energy reserves (glycogen and fat stores) which leads to major fatigue and burn-out, Huskies are able to switch back to a resting baseline metabolism despite running 100 miles per day. This is the mechanism that makes sled dogs “fatigue-proof.”
How they maintain such a high level of caloric burn for an extended period without tapping in to their body’s reserves of fat and glycogen remains a mystery, but is currently the focus of heavy research. Researchers want to see if they can find a way to flip this switch in humans as well. Imagine what an endurance athlete could do with that superpower!
What does this mean for Husky owners at meal time? It means that while Huskies are active by nature, they tend to eat less than other breeds of their size. It’s not unusual for Huskies to eat only when hungry, skipping a meal or two every now and then. For this reason, you may want to feed smaller portions and consider a high calorie food.
I’m Bored, Mom.
Huskies are one of the few breeds actually capable of becoming bored with food and eating. If your pup becomes bored with his meal, try adding a few small pieces of cheese or meat that he doesn’t normally get.
There are also some great mix-ins, like Stella and Chewy’s Chicken Meal Mixers, which are an easy, convenient way to add raw, nutrient-rich meat, wholesome fruits and vegetables, probiotics and antioxidants to any diet. Just mix a scoop on top and go. No rehydration is required. Or try Instinct Raw Boost Mixers. These high-quality, freeze-dried mixers are grain-free and are intended as a supplement topper to your dog’s kibble. They can also be used as treats, and do not need to be rehydrated ahead of time. (Please note that these two mix-ins I have referred to are raw, freeze-dried foods and should be handled accordingly.)
It’s never a good idea to change your dog’s meal completely without any transition period, as this may cause digestive issues, or he may not like the meal and refuse to eat it. If you do intend to change his meal completely, do so over a 10 day period. Start day 1 with 25% new food, 75% old food, and gradually increase the new while decreasing the old until the transition is complete on day 10.
What is particularly challenging about your Husky occasionally refusing to eat is that many of us consider a lack of appetite a sign of illness in most other breeds. If our dog, Buddy, doesn’t eat his dinner, we KNOW that something is wrong. But a Husky could simply not be hungry. Or he could have just had enough of that particular food, and, true to Husky form, refuse to eat it ever again. Knowing the breed and making sure your pooch is receiving proper nutrition is definitely a balancing act.
Energy to Burn
Huskies were born to run… and run… and run. Every Husky owner knows that if not given a proper outlet for pent-up energy, their pooch will find their own way to get the vigorous exercise and stimulation they need, often in the form of seriously destructive behavior or fence-jumping. (If you’re looking for ideas on how to wear your Husky out, check out our article A Tired Dog Is A Good Dog.)
What’s important to keep in mind when you’re doing your best to meet this breed’s activity requirements is that you need to feed your Husky around their exercise schedule. Some Huskies won’t eat until they’ve been out for a walk or run or a brisk game of fetch. They simply don’t have the instinct to eat until after they’ve had some vigorous exercise.
Never feed your Husky right before exercise, and wait at least two hours after a meal so she’s not exercising with a full stomach. This will help avoid bloat, which can turn into gastric torsion – a life threatening condition that must be treated immediately.
Wait to feed your Husky 30 minutes after vigorous exercise, as this will allow her body to cool down. No one likes eating when they’re over heated, and the Husky’s double-coat, designed to keep them alive in Arctic temperatures, definitely keeps them from cooling down quickly in the more temperate climate of the United States.
The Best Dog Food For Huskies
Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Original
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CORE products are 100% free of grain, animal by-products, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Wellness CORE uses higher amounts of protein (34% protein, 16% fat), and real chicken is the #1 ingredient. CORE also supplements glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health. This nutrient-dense recipe is formulated with optimum fat and calorie levels to help Huskies maintain a healthy weight, and after cooking, each kibble is coated with probiotics to help support a healthy digestive tract. Wellness CORE is made in the USA.
Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Adult
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This food has sustainably-sourced salmon as its first ingredient, providing high-quality protein and omega fatty acids for skin and coat health. It is free from corn, wheat, and filler, and contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. This formula is also egg-free, for dogs experiencing egg sensitivity. Taste of the Wild adds doggie probiotics, their own Proprietary K9 Strain, developed specifically for dogs and added after the cooking process to make sure they survive and thrive in the GI tract. They add dried chicory root as a source of prebiotic fiber. This food is also made in the USA.
CRAVE Grain-Free High-Protein
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This high-protein dog food (34% protein, 17% fat) uses salmon as the number one ingredient. Crave is dedicated to quality, and contains no chicken by-product meal, no corn, wheat, or soy protein, and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Reviewers overwhelmingly agree that the nutrition you get for the price in this food is five star.
Purina Pro Plan SAVOR Grain-Free Shredded Blend Adult Turkey, Duck, and Quail Formula
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With 32% protein and 16% fat, this formula combines multiple protein sources, with real turkey as the number one ingredient. There are also two different textures in the shredded blend – crunchy kibble and tender shredded pieces – to help entice those finicky Huskies. This grain-free, nutrient-dense recipe is free from poultry by-product meal, and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. And Purina adds 23 essential vitamins and minerals to help support overall health and wellness, as well as probiotics to support digestive health.
Purina Pro Plan SAVOR also has a Grain-Free Beef and Salmon Recipe that dogs love.
Merrick Grain Free Puppy Formula
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The #1 ingredient in all of Merrick’s Grain Free food is high-quality deboned meat. They add DHA to support a puppy’s healthy brain development, supplement with industry-leading levels of Omega fatty acids to support healthy skin and coat, and glucosamine and chondroitin to foster joint health. This food is specifically formulated to support healthy digestion and ensure maximum nutritional benefits. All of Merrick’s foods are cooked in the USA one batch at a time, and contain no by-products, artificial preservatives, corn, wheat, soy, or gluten ingredients.
Please note that Merrick also has a variety of amazing, grain-free Adult formulas to choose from.
While Husky owners may find it challenging to find a food their dog loves to eat, these are a few of the best high-quality, nutrient-dense options to try. There’s no arguing that the Husky’s eating habits link back to their history of being bred to travel far distances on very little food. The key to their long-term health and wellness is in making sure the calories you’re feeding them are top notch.