This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Snow Dog Appropriate Diet

The Good, The Bad, and the Truly Awful

If ever there was a volatile subject in Snow Dog groups it is the topic of what to feed your dog. Just mention the subject and watch for the proverbial fur begin to fly. People will argue at length how their choice of diet is preferable over the others.

Regardless of whether you choose to feed raw, home cooked, kibble or combination of all the above, the diet has to be good quality and appropriately balanced for this breed of dog.

All diets can have their strengths as well as their weaknesses.

  • Feeding your dog poor nutritional quality kibble is an incomplete diet.
  • Feeding your dog only chicken necks and too many raw bones is an incomplete diet.
  • Feeding your dog white rice, cooked chicken, and few cooked veggies for every meal is an incomplete diet.

This series of articles will address keeping your dog healthy, so instead of debating, I am going to offer you information so that you can make your own well informed choice about what to look for when choosing foods to feed your Snow Dog.

To look at Siberian Huskies and Malamutes you would not think that these tough and hardy dogs would be prone to sensitive stomachs and easily upset digestive tracts. But these dogs do have special needs and requirements when it comes to feeding and diet.

All breeds of dogs require good nutrition that optimally supports their daily requirements for the production of fuel for their body. Huskies and Malamutes have a need for good quality, high protein, moderately high fat, and low carbohydrate needs (sources not from wheat, corn, or soy). Why these grains are undesirable in the Snow Dog Diet will be further discussed later in this article.

Good quality nutritious foods suitable for your Snow Dog will:

  • Get their protein from whole meat and meal and it will appear as the first ingredient on the list. This tells you that a food primarily contains protein. Good sources of protein come from Grades of meat A through C.
  • Primarily use fish, fowl or other grassland animals as a protein base.
  • Use quality sources of fat in their food obtained from their whole meat sources.
  • Be over 30% protein, approximately 20% fat, and approximately 30% complex carbohydrate.
  • Use a source of complex carbohydrate from legumes, seeds, fruits and vegetables (but not corn or wheat for Snow Dog diets).
  • Include whole sources of fruits or vegetables.
  • Include dog safe herbs for digestion or immune system support.
  • Contain pre and probiotics to aid with digestion.
  • Use natural sources for their vitamins, minerals, and supplements, not synthetic.
  • And will use natural pure Vitamin E oil sources ( not synthetic), to preserve the food.

High Protein and Mid Range Fat

These dogs require a higher than average protein in their diet. That means if you are feeding kibble, the protein content should be close to 30% to 40% (depending on the activity level of the dog). The fat content should be around 18% to 20%. The best proteins for Snow Dogs come from lots of fish and fowl based foods. Red meats like beef, lamb, or bison should constitute a smaller percentage of their protein intake. Adding rabbit, venison, elk, and bison as a switch up from their regular protein source is also a good option.

Change the Protein Base With the Changing Seasons

Very often Snow Dogs do well with a change of protein base as the seasons change.

  • That means you may want to feed primarily a fish based kibble high in Essential Fatty Acids in the Winter to support healthy skin and coat.
  • In the Spring you may want to start adding lighter proteins like more fowl to the diet.
  • In the Summer months with their lowered energy levels and calorie requirements, they really don’t require as much protein and fat in their diet, so switching to a mixed protein base lower in fish and higher in fowl and some added grassland animal protein may be welcomed thing for them.
  • Then in the cooler temperatures of Autumn, begin adding more fish based protein and higher fat content to support their need to grow a thick and healthy coat.

How Much Food Does My Snow Dog Need?

Huskies and Malamutes require a comparably small amount of food for their size. They have a very high metabolism so a small amount of nutritious food will adequately supply their nutritional needs. These Snow Dogs differ from some other breeds that are notoriously well known for eating as much food as they can to the point of becoming sick.

Notably, when a husky is full, they will not eat. If they get a lot of physical exercise, they will eat a bit more food to adjust for increased activity. If they are inactive, they will eat less to adjust for their activity level. In cold weather, huskies will consume more calories. In the hot weather, huskies will consume less calories because they simply do not to burn as many calories. As always, there are notable exceptions to these “husky eating rules”.

Nutrient dense foods supply nutrition efficiently so less food is fed at each feeding as compared to feeding of cheaper foods. When feeding kibble, it can be hard to imagine that you only need 1 to 2 cups of good food per day while you may be required to feed 3, 4, or even 5 cups per day on a food that is full of corn and animal by-product.

This is something must be factored when calculating the true cost of your dog’s food.

Note on Feeding Puppies

If you are feeding a puppy, you not only have to feed a Breed Appropriate food but an age appropriate food as well. Many high quality puppy foods are designed to feed for the entire first year of a puppy’s life. The nutritional requirements of a growing puppy are very different from that of an adult dog so please feed a Puppy Formulation to your puppy.

Also, for dogs that will grow to be 50 pounds and larger, a Large Breed Formulation is recommended. These foods actually pay careful attention to keeping growth in check as not to overwhelm the immature skeletal and musculature system of a larger dog.

As always, we look forward to your comments and questions regarding this topic. Please feel free to share your stories for when we do, we may helping someone who is currently struggling with their Snow Dog.

Helping ALL Snow Dog … one owner at a time.

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24 Comments

  1. While these are grains, they are complex carbohydrates and are broken down and used differently in the body than simple carbohydrates.

  2. Brian Brunner on

    This brought a smile to my face : Malamutes you would not think that these tough and hardy dogs would be prone to sensitive stomachs and easily upset digestive tracts. Our male Bow got into the kitchen unknowingly when a boiled 5# chicken was sitting on the counter and had cooled off in a bowl ! He cleaned it all up, bones & all, left the dish there ! Worried about a perforated intestine/bowel,diarrhea,vomiting, etc. Other than some over eating discomfort for a few hours, never saw any indication of upset !! Cast iron guts !

  3. Brian, you were very lucky that the cooked poultry bones passed right through without incidents. But I agree, some of the stuff they try and eat … yikes!

  4. Hi! My husband & I are new to the Siberian Husky family- we just adopted our girl (Laika) on Tuesday!! 🙂 I was wondering- how much kibble do you guys feed your puppies? We were told to serve Laika 1 cup three times daily but she’s eating maybe 1-1.5 cups total throughout the day (provided on a free-feeding basis).

  5. Emily – Siberians are bred to consume less food than other breeds. How old is your puppy? Three cups is likely far too much for her needs, especially if you feed high quality food as mentioned in these articles. My girl gets the equivalent of 1.5 cups of high quality food a day, and she’s 40 lbs. Pups need almost the same as an adult but more frequent feedings.

  6. I asked this question on the FB page because my computer would connect to the website, anyway our 16 month old husky/mals go to the dog park to run and play 1x a day during the week and 2x a day on the weekend. Because of all the exercise should we be feeding them more food? They are fed Orijan, the girl gets 3 cups a day and the boy gets 3.5 cups a day based on weight (she is 66 lbs and the boy is just short of 80 lbs). They are both trim/average..not under weight. They always act like they are hungry which is why I ask the question.

  7. Hi i need help,
    I have 7 and a half month husky boy and he stopped eating…till 7 month he was eating everything i give…now he doesn’t eat practically anything…he loved kibble for puppies…not anymore…i mixed with meat…so he picks out the meat and thats it…people say that they give rice and chicken…he doesn’t eat that at all…he is shedding alot… i’m scared that maybe he is ill 🙁 please help…

  8. Mary --Annie's mom on

    During the extreme shedding season, my husky’s skin gets very tender so she does not like to be brushed. My vet told me to give fish oil or omega 3 supplements. It really works year round for a beautiful coat.Problem…. She started taking the capsule out of her dish and I would find them all around the house. So, I started cooking her fresh or frozen salmon, not from China, a few times a week, or I add a tiny bit (1/8 to 1/4 tspn.) of virgin cocoanut oil to her food. She loves it but too much will cause loose stools………..On a regular basis, I feed her 1 cup of Canidae kibble and about 1/2 to 1 cup of cooked chicken, fish, or beef, or two eggs. On occasions when I ran out of kibble, I would substitute rice or a flat bread grilled cheese sandwich. When I have run out of meats or was too sick to cook, I gave her a 6 oz. can of salmon or tuna. I worry about the mercury content in any fish, so I try to stagger it. Also, for treats, I cook up a batch of turkey bacon, and keep in in a zip lock in the fridge. You can break it into bite size or your choice. I do not know if it is very healthy, but I also do not know how healthy the treats are from the pet store. A little bit should be okay. She is 5 yrs. and has maintained 60 lbs. for the last 4 yrs. ALSO, I give her only filtered water. Over the last few years my neighbos’ dogs and cats all died of cancer, so I worry about the water. My last husky became diabetic and went blind, so I try to NOT give her extra carbs and do not let fiends share their pizza or fries with her. I plan to try to introduce her to some carrots and sweet potatoes soon and maybe some watermelon. Any suggestions are welcome.♥♥

  9. My male Siberian Husky puppy 2 months old.

    Usually weekdays i have to leave my house from 8am to 9pm. The question is can i feed him once at 7am and another time at 9pm later ? Will him feels unconfortable ? Or i just left 2 meals for him before i leave my house so he will eat whenever he is hungry ?

    • That is awful that you would leave a dog shut up without company for that length of time – poor animal. I would never have a dog if I was away that long – you will have serious problems with that dog and it will be your fault.

    • The best thing you could do would be to re-home your dog to someone who has the time to look after him.

  10. joanne frederick on

    I have an 8 yr old Siberia husky. He was diagnosed with low thyroid… put him on meds and didn t see much difference. He has had a continual cough for over a yr, he also has crusty on his nose, limping o one leg, overweight. After many visits to the vet he had a bronchialscope done due to the constant coughing. Results were airborne allergies, the vet prescribed prednisone and after 4 days I stopped it. Horrible medication! I changed his diet to freeze-dried raw diet food I get through 5star company..it s been 2 months and yes there s been a bit of difference but I find the symptoms keep returning (crusty nose, limp, cough). My question is do you think it would be good to add zinc supplement to his everyday schedule? I ve been reading up on your site and seriously think that this is what his problem is. He s had a whole blood panel done, xrays, bronchialscope. …and the vet can t find anything other than low thyroid and airborne allergy. I m at my wits end and I’m worried that this problem will progress to where it s fatal for my furbaby..any advice would be appreciated.

    • Hi Joanne,
      Just a suggestion, have you considered using turmeric to help with the allergies? You make a golden paste with it and include it in their food. ( see http://www.turmericlife.com.au/turmeric-dogs/ ).
      It seems to work in the majority if cases(animals and humans) and may be worth a try. Our cat has had similar issues with allergies to something in the environment (food has been ruled out), and it seems to help him – we also went down the prednisone route to start with and did not like that as a long term solution.

    • Hi Joanne!
      I saw your concern and had something similar happen to my 9.5 yr Malamute (although we’ve had problems for years). Crusty nose, hypothyroidism, hair loss (no shedding, but bare skin showing always diagnosed as a hotspot), weight gain, non-active, brittle hair, constant skin and ear infections, yeast growth…you name it, we’ve been there.

      I’ve gotten fed up with Vets myself and dove into research and probably described as stupid by anyone in the medical field, I ordered a zinc supplement online called Zinpro. For as long as we’ve had the problems, I knew it couldn’t constantly be allergies requiring antibiotics and steroids. I was tired of doing that to my girl. I gave her high quality kibble, if anything extra was bought it was organic and well sourced.

      Just a few days into her regimen of Zinpro supplement (about 3-4 hours after last meal so there’s no absorption competition with other food) I could tell the different. The insides of her ears weren’t red, she was already starting to grow hair back in her bald spots (places the vet said she was scarred and would probably never grow hair again), her energy levels were up, and then her paw pads and nose started to de-crust.

      I currently have her on a hypothyroid medicine but have read that once Zinc levels help “revive” a sick body, it can help kick the under-active thyroid back into correct working order so in a few months time I will try her without it.

      I’ve learned a lot from my experiences with Vets, and these days I rarely trust them because they have been taught first and foremost, apply medications to problems. Yes, some are necessary but other things can be done naturally. Like heart worms for example. About a year ago the same pup was diagnosed heart worm + and was told to come in and do the shots for “a chance at beating it”…but she could die from it. I passed on the offer, did my research (they give a mild form of arsenic to try and kill the eggs…doesn’t always work!!). I found someone that’s had success with natural remedies, ordered the short book ($8 I think), and then ordered the herbal supplements. Don’t get me wrong, there were numerous things to give twice a day (around 5 herbals) for about 8 weeks but it paid off in the end…she was diagnosed heart worm free.

      Moral of the story…it takes time but definitely do the extra research. Your pup and bank account will thank you. Besides, you have to live with them, you know them better than a textbook. Definitely consult with the Vet or find one that practices more natural remedies.

  11. joanne frederick on

    Would also like to know if vitamin e supplement would help with absorption? Any recommendations?

  12. Hi Ive just got a husky puppy. The lady I git him off said I should feed him puppy dog biscuits pedigree ones and tuna in sunflower oil and cooked chicken also give him goats milk.
    I’m not to sure if this is the right food ?

  13. Hi I have a 6 and a half year old huskie on his recent visit to vet was told he needs to loose weight.What is recommended amount of dried complete dog food for him to have a day?

  14. Hi everyone so I have an 8 week old husky. Previous owner had the puppy on pedigree. I switched the puppy to a whole meat with no grain dog food that I had read was best for huskies. But I noticed about 30 minutes after eating the new dog food, Togo started throwing up and slightly itching. Stayed up with him all night he finally got some rest and was completely normal this morning. Could he possible be allergic to the chicken in it?

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