Zinc Deficiency in Huskies

Zinc Deficiency in Huskies

Sadly, zinc deficiency in huskies and malamutes is relatively common yet can go undiagnosed. So are you and your vet constantly chasing symptoms in your dog, but your vet can never quite manage to solve the medical mystery of what is wrong with your Husky?

While you should always consult and work with your vet, your vet may only know about zinc deficiencies in huskies and malamutes if he has specialised knowledge of the breed.

Zinc deficiency in huskies and malamutes is common. Ask any savvy and experienced breeder of Northern Breed dogs who can confirm that their diets require more than average Zinc amounts and that Zinc Deficiency and malabsorption can cause the root cause of a host of illnesses in these dogs. However, it’s not just Northern Breed dogs that have a problem with this issue. This condition can also factor in many Giant Breed dogs like Great Danes and St. Bernards.

Important Foreword

If your husky is sick, please take him to the vet. The information in this article is meant to be supplementary.

Zinc supplementation can cause lethal zinc toxicity in your dog, so please only apply what you learn under vet supervision. It would be best if you did not recklessly begin zinc supplementation or change your dog’s diet without fully understanding the implications of what you are doing.

Wild, reckless, and uninformed choices will only make your dog more ill, so please do everything you can to arm yourself with as much information as possible so you can make a well-informed choice about your dog’s treatment options.

Talk to your vet about what you have learned and discuss different treatment options and supplementation schedules with them first.

If you feel that your vet’s recommendations or course of treatment do not satisfy you or your dog’s needs, do not hesitate to ask for another vet.

Zinc Deficiency Basics

What is Zinc and why is it Important?

Zinc is the second most abundant essential trace mineral found in the body after iron. Zinc is required in a dog’s diet to maintain good health.

It is considered one of the most potent antioxidants and is involved in a variety of metabolic processes in the body. Zinc works alone and with copper, b-complex vitamins, vitamin A, calcium, and phosphorus in many bodily functions.

Because it performs multiple critical functions, it must be supplied at adequate, consistent levels or deficiency states will result. In addition, since the body has no specialised zinc storage system, a steady and proper supply of zinc is crucial for optimal health.

Zinc is not considered highly absorbable by the body. Studies show that only 15% to 40% of the ingested Zinc in the mammalian diet is well absorbed.

These absorption percentages are thought to be even lower in dogs with additional malabsorption issues. Another problem is that some foods interfere with the absorption of available Zinc.

How Dogs Bodies Utilise Zinc

There is a hierarchy for how Zinc is used in the body. The chain begins at one end of the body processes and continues down the line until it arrives at the end processes. Unfortunately, if there is not enough Zinc, the body’s overall health eventually begins to suffer and erode.

What is Zinc Malabsorption?

Malabsorption Syndrome occurs when the body fails to absorb vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients through food placed into the body. There can be several causes of nutrients being unable to be used by the body. Still, the two most common factors are impaired digestion (mal-digestion) and absorption (malabsorption). In Huskies and Malamutes, Zinc Malabsorption and Zinc Deficiency are problems primarily attributed to the food these dogs eat. Therefore, a high-quality diet rich in Zinc is essential to continue good health for these dogs.

When it comes to Zinc Deficiency and Malabsorption, it is likely the most underdiagnosed condition in huskies and malamutes. Unfortunately, the problem with getting an accurate diagnosis of Zinc Deficiency is that vets only attempt to address the symptoms they see.

Symptoms of Zinc Deficiency in Huskies

The symptoms of this affliction are not only varied, but they will differ according to what level the disorder has reached in your husky. The longer your dog has been in zinc deficit, the further along the chain of symptoms your dog will likely be.

The ever-changing spectrum of symptoms in your husky contributes to the challenge of correct diagnosis and treatment. Sadly, many owners of Snow Dogs will join the ranks of people who find themselves paying for endless medical tests and professional guesstimates of cures only to have new symptoms show up as fast as the old symptoms subside.

It is not only essential to know what to do to make your Husky symptom accessible, but it is helpful to understand how and why this disorder happens beyond the explanation of it being a “genetic predisposition” disorder. Education is the key to better health for your husky and vital in minimising this disorder from further and unnecessarily spreading through the genetic lines of dogs. Huskies and Northern Breed dogs may have a predisposition to this affliction, but this does not mean that with education and proactive measures, you cannot keep the occurrences of this disorder to a minimum.

Digestive Issues

It is usually here that the first signs of Zinc Deficiency show up. Huskies having trouble processing their food is a widespread complaint among owners. Vets often advise owners to change foods thinking that dogs must be allergic to something in the food, but this seldom fixes the problem. The dogs continue to have cycles of diarrhoea, causing Zinc to leave the body too soon without being absorbed. The more digestive issue the dog has, the less appetite they have. Lethargy and failure to thrive become concerns. Unfortunately, many vets fail to see the Zinc cycle that is often behind these digestive issues.

How Does Zinc Deficiency Cause Digestive Issues?

There is one of two issues happening at this point, the need for more available zinc through their diet or the present zinc needs to be absorbed efficiently in the intestine. Huskies on a poor diet of cheap food filled with meat by-products need more zinc. The best sources of dietary zinc are found in whole meats and fish. Therefore, husky diets that are low in meat quantity or diets that contain meats that are heavily processed will cause Zinc Deficiency and the associated problems.

The second problem that occurs in poor diets is zinc malabsorption. Diets high in corn, wheat, and soy cause zinc to be unavailable in the body. As the huskies’ digestive system breaks down these grains, they create phytates, and phytic-acid binds to available zinc in the intestine and causes Zinc Deficiency through Malabsorption. You should remember that the only way to reduce the manufacturing cost of dog kibble is to make it with cheap grain filler as one of its primary ingredients. Ongoing Zinc Deficiency through Malabsorption will eventually cause the illnesses associated with this disorder.

Husky owners who think they are saving money by feeding their dogs cheap food will eventually end up losing any money they may have saved on food to ongoing vet bills because of their dog’s ongoing medical issues caused by long-term Zinc Deficiency.

Zinc Responsive Dermatosis

These raised patches of challenging crusty areas are not only itchy for your dog but also spread. Far too often, vets focus on making the symptoms of this condition disappear without fully understanding the root cause behind the problem. These lesions nearly always respond to topical zinc creams, but once the cream is no longer administered, the lesions return, causing yet another trip to the vet.

The constant unavailability of Zinc causes zinc deficiency in huskies, which leads to issues with the skin and coat due to a disruption to normal cell division (another process that requires Zinc), causing the skin to become dry and flaky. Over time, the scaly lesions related to ZRD begin to form, and hair growth also can be affected. These skin changes are also attributed to a depressed immune system functioning (another process that uses Zinc). Secondary bacterial skin infections also become frequent in dogs with ongoing Zinc Deficiency.

Below are images of how Zinc Responsive Dermatosis (ZRD) commonly appears in Huskies.

Zinc-responsive dermatitis around the eye.
Zinc-responsive dermatitis around the snout.
Zinc-responsive dermatitis on the nose.

One of the cells responsible for good immune system functioning is the T-cells. These cells are responsible for a large part of the immune system’s functioning. Their job primarily is to help recognise foreign invading cells like bacteria, viruses, and even cancer cells.

The immune system has trouble recognising normal cells and invading foreign cells without sufficient T-cells that do not function well. This can cause immune system over-reactions (chronic inflammatory responses) or under–reactions (ongoing infections and wounds that seem unable to heal). In addition, the constant use of antibiotics to fight persistent infections only causes more intestinal issues as all the intestinal bacteria are killed off, causing digestive problems.

Zinc is essential for T-cell factor production. Without adequate available Zinc, the dog will have seemingly endless issues with infections and inflammations. Antibiotics and other drugs serve only as band-aids to address the symptoms of a more significant root problem. This problem stems from Zinc Deficiency. When Zinc is made available to the body, many secondary and tertiary immune system problems dissipate. The runaway inflammation process can attack the Thyroid, which will cause endless other symptoms in the body.

Thyroid Problems

Thyroid issues are a severe problem for huskies suffering from zinc deficiency. The Thyroid Glands are a pair of butterfly-shaped glands located at the base of the neck. It is found nestled where the trachea enters the chest. The job of Thyroid gland is to thyroid gland’s job is to send a signal to the thyroid to produce hormones and signal to the thyroid to produce hormones and to secrete and regulate the hormones that are ultimately responsible for metabolism and organ function.


When there is a Thyroid deficiency or when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the Thyroid glands, a host of symptoms begin to manifest in your dog, including brittle hair, hair loss patterns, dry flakey skin, weight issues, persistent infections, organ failure, and digestive issues with lack of normal stool. Your Vet will begin chasing and treating the symptoms as they appear in your dog, but unless the root issue is addressed, the dog will continue having endless medical problems.

In the hierarchy of how zinc is used in the body, the thyroid is in the middle of the group. Once available daily Zinc supplies have been depleted, the rest of the body processes remain incomplete. This occurs as a direct result of an attempt for the body to stay in Homeostasis (balance body). The body pulls available zinc to where it feels most vitally needed leaving other body processes incomplete.

Eventually, the Thyroid gland cannot signal the thyroid to produce hormones, and the thyroid can no longer produce adequate hormones. As a result, long-term hormonal imbalance takes its toll on the health and well-being of the body. However, your husky can avoid zinc deficiency with sufficient available zinc.

Note: It has been discussed in previous articles how neck collars and dogs constantly pulling against the leash can cause Thyroid trauma, which can cause Thyroid failure. Ensure you protect your dog’s thyroid by avoiding using neck collars on dogs that pull against the leash.

Organ Failure

Zinc deficiency in huskies can be deadly. As you move down the hierarchal list of how and where Zinc is used in the body, the support to significant organs is nearing the bottom of the list. If other body processes are in a long-term deficit and incomplete state, they cannot further support the functioning and well-being of the major organs.

As already mentioned, Vets will tend to focus on and treat the symptoms the failing organs exhibit. Unfortunately, this will be a band-aid effort at best, as the continued lack of sufficient Zinc causes more and more signs to appear in your Husky.

Often one of the pre-cursors to organ failure was the Thyroid not functioning well. With adequate and available daily Zinc to complete all the body processes, the health of body organs will improve over time.

Trying to treat the individual symptoms of each organ without addressing the root cause of the issues, insufficient zinc, and the lack of sufficient hormone secretions from the Thyroid, will not solve the medical problems. In addition, as this disorder progresses, the symptoms will continue to mutate and advance, creating more and more medical issues as overall health and well-being decline.

Epileptic Seizures

Epileptic seizures in huskies and malamutes are common. While some vets will tell you that, not too many of them can explain why this is so since there is no definitive gene marker for this issue, making it an actual genetic disease. But at the same time, it seems that Epilepsy and Seizure Disorder run in certain genetic lines. Veterinary medicine can tell you how a seizure happens (neuroreceptors in the brain firing erratically), but they know little about controlling it.

A host of drug therapies are commonly prescribed, and they seem to work inconsistently. Even with the introduction of prescribed anti-seizure medication, there are no guarantees that your dog’s seizures will be controlled. At best, attempts are made to manage this disorder.

One part of the problem is that without adequate available Zinc, Taurine uptake is impeded. Without adequate Taurine in the brain, neurotransmitters in the brain are overexcited and may fire randomly, causing a seizure episode. Seizures can be minor (momentarily fixed staring) (Petite Mal) to full attacks with loss of consciousness (Grand Mal). Having adequate Zinc available may help in limiting seizures from happening.

The other part of the problem is that your husky’s genetic makeup and health are primarily inherited from the parent dogs, especially from the mother. Since we know that Zinc needs to be present for DNA and RNA replication and for normal cell division to take place, puppies born to parents with Zinc Deficiency are very likely to have already faulty genes that further predispose them to the illnesses that were discussed earlier in this article.

Zinc Deficiency Treatment in Huskies

Zinc and The Husky Diet

While it makes sense to add sufficient Zinc levels back to the diet of the Husky to overcome Zinc Deficiency, it makes even better sense to make sure that we find the best and easiest to absorb forms of Zinc for our Snow Dogs.

While every Snow Dog needs a higher than “average” amount of Zinc, not every husky diet automatically needs massive amounts of Zinc supplementation. If your Snow Dog shows the symptoms, you can rightly assume that your Husky’s diet could use some extra supplementation. How much Zinc does your dog need and how best to introduce it to your dog’s diet?

It is not understood why these Snow Dogs have such a high Zinc requirement, but it is commonly believed that it has something to do with the Prey Model diet. A wild canine’s diet is rich in fish, meats, and offal. While we may have domesticated dogs, the dietary requirements of some breeds still heavily reflect their origins.

Before resorting to mineral supplementation, check your dog’s diet to see if improvements can be made.

Important Dietary Factors

  • Could you make sure that your Snow Dog is on a grain-free diet? Kibble diets high in wheat, corn, or soy will tie up available Zinc and can be one of the most significant contributing factors to the Zinc Deficiency problem. However, sometimes removing this one factor is enough to correct the Zinc Deficiency in your Husky.
  • Not all protein bases will yield the exact amounts of Zinc in your dog’s diet. Kibble diets that rely on meat by-products or heavily processed meat as their protein base will NOT yield sufficient daily Zinc total. Diets that use whole meats as their protein base yield much more available Zinc to your dog. Adding fresh meat to your dog’s diet can increase Zinc levels naturally. For example, adding 100 grams of beef, salmon, or chicken can supply 100mg of Zinc to your dog.
  • Mediocre dog food manufacturers add zinc to dog food but add a cheap source of Zinc Oxide or Sulphate to their food. These forms are not easily absorbed or used by the body, so it can be easy to assume that your dog is getting enough Zinc in his diet because of what it says on the dog food label.

Dog Food Advisor is an excellent source of information regarding your dog’s food, and they review the most commercially available foods.

Foods Naturally High in Zinc

  • For most meats, 100 grams yield 100 mg of Zinc (beef, chicken, duck, pork, and salmon)
  • Turkey 120mg (per 100 grams)
  • Lamb 150mg (per 100 grams)
  • Liver 130mg (per 100 grams)
  • Tuna in oil 120 mg (per 100 grams)
  • Eggs 70mg (per 100 grams)
  • Apples, blackberries, and strawberries 100mg (per 100 grams)
  • Plain yoghurt 200mg (per 100 grams)
  • Carrots (raw) 50 mg (per 100 grams)
  • Pumpkin 100 mg
  • Potato (baked) 120 mg (per 100 grams)
  • Sweet potato and yams 100mg (per 100 grams)

Adding Kelp and Seaweed To Your Husky’s Diet

Kelp and other green food products benefit your dog’s diet as they provide Zinc ( 100gr = 1.23 mg of Zinc) and a wide range of different vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Adding a tablespoon of this green food to your dog’s diet 2 or 3 times a week can help naturally support your Snow Dog’s thyroid and top up and avoid zinc deficiency.

Fish Oil

Because fish naturally contains Zinc, so will fish oil. Along with the Essential Fatty Acids found in the oil, this is a wonderful nutritional additive for the Snow Dog diet. However, there is such a thing as too much fish oil. More oil is not necessarily better for your dog. Healthy doses of this oil should remain 100 mg to 150mg per 10 pounds of dog weight, administered 2 or 3 times a week.

Too much fish oil can deplete necessary Vitamin E in the body, causing other health problems, can supply too much Vitamin A to the body, causing other health problems, and cause an imbalance between critical omega 3 and 6 fatty acids ratios in the body, also causing other health problems. Remember to factor in all the different sources of Essential Fatty Acids in your dog’s daily diet when choosing how much fish oil to give your dog.

Zinc Supplementation

If you have adjusted your husky’s diet to address zinc deficiency and have not seen any improvement, you may consider adding a Zinc supplement to your dog’s diet. There are several types of supplements for you to choose from.

A commercially produced product, Zinpro, is used to supplement Zinc to a Husky’s diet. Zinpro is an organic supplement that links Methionine with Zinc to create Zinc Methionine. This product is easily absorbed directly into the bloodstream. This product also helps to produce and support healthy coats and skin in Snow Dogs.

Important Note Before Supplementing with Zinc

Zinc is the second most utilised trace mineral in the body, second only to iron. Unfortunately, the body needs a way to store or bank Zinc, so you must introduce sufficient daily levels. Dogs need more daily Zinc than humans do. A human needs only 15 mg of daily Zinc, while dogs, especially Huskies, require substantially more minerals in their diet, sometimes up to 100mg. Calculating how much Zinc your Snow Dog gets in his diet is complicated, and this amount varies slightly between Huskies.

Usually, the only way to know that your husky is suffering from zinc deficiency is when they develop one of the abovementioned illnesses or other health conditions. However, before supplementing Zinc, you also need to know how Zinc interacts with other nutrients in the body.

Nutrient Interactions with Zinc

Adding the mineral Zinc to your dog’s diet, when done incorrectly and for the wrong reasons, can cause other medical problems in your dog because Zinc will interact with the copper, iron, calcium, and Vitamin A levels in your dog’s system.

  • High Zinc levels can cause problems with copper availability and absorption. Copper is needed in several body processes. It aids in the absorption of iron, developing red blood cells, and forming collagen, bone, and connective tissue. It also acts as an antioxidant in the body.
  • Iron and Calcium levels are affected by too much Zinc, and too much Zinc affects the iron and calcium levels in your Husky’s body. Too many raw bones fed can cause too much calcium in the diet. Calcium is necessary for strong bone health. It also helps the heart muscle to contract efficiently and helps with nerve transmission and hormone secretion. The primary function of iron is that it combines with copper and protein to create haemoglobin to oxygenate red blood cells. Iron works synergistically with some enzymes to create and maintain many normal body functions.
  • Vitamin A and Zinc also work synergistically. Zinc is a component of a retinol-binding protein that is necessary to transport Vitamin A in the blood. This protein is also required for the eye to see well in low-light conditions.
  • Feeding a Raw Diet that is not well balanced can further cause a problem with Zinc, calcium, and copper levels in your Husky. Likewise, feeding a disproportionate amount of raw bone, liver, and heart will cause adverse interactions between these minerals, so ensure you understand how to feed a well-balanced Raw Food Diet.

Zinc Toxicity Levels in Huskies

Zinc does have a toxicity level in the body, but because there is no way to store Zinc in the vital organs, toxic levels come from one-time large doses. For example, single doses of 225mg to 450mg will cause vomiting in a dog. Lethal amounts of Zinc begin at about 900mg.

The signs of zinc toxicity in dogs are vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, jaundice, excessive panting, and rapid breathing with rapid or erratic heart rate. They will also have excessive haemoglobin levels in their blood and urine. Emergency medical intervention is necessary to deal with the rapid destruction of red blood cells and the high possibility of organ failure, so ensure that you keep zinc tablets out of the reach of dogs.

Best Form of Zinc

There are several forms of zinc. Not all forms will work the same way, and some forms absorb much better than others. The below list is ranked in order of preference. When buying your supplement, select the best quality you can afford.

  1. Zinc citrate, picolinate and gluconate are well absorbed and utilised by your dog’s body. (25mg up to 100mg daily)
  2. Chelated Zinc does not bind to iron so it tends to upset the stomach less than some other forms of Zinc but is slightly less absorbable than picolinate and gluconate forms. (25mg up to 100mg daily)
  3. Zinc Methionine combines Zinc with Methionine and is reasonably well utilised in most dogs (40mg daily).
  4. Zinc Sulphate tends to be very hard on the stomach causing unnecessary stomach upset. For that reason, it is recommended that it be crushed and added to food but this also makes it less absorbable. (200mg daily dosage)
  5. Zinc Oxide is cheap and much more difficult to absorb. Sadly this is the form of Zinc used by most mid to low-end dog food manufacturers.

Did you know: while Zinc is less likely to cause stomach upset when given after food is in the stomach, it works best when given 4 hours after a meal has been eaten? The reason for this is that calcium interferes with the efficiency of Zinc absorption.


Dosage is weight dependent, so before starting supplementation, it’s essential to work out your husky’s daily requirements. Then, stay under 100mg with vet supervision.

Dosage Calculation

The calculation formula for zinc dosage is a complicated mathematical process guaranteed to leave anyone without a Mathematics degree scratching their heads. Therefore, the National Research Council recommends the following protocol for arriving at the Recommended Daily Allowance for dietary zinc for dogs.

2.0mg / KGbw / 0.75. This translates as follows; to figure out the ideal dosage for your dog, take the dog’s body weight in kilograms to the power of 0.75 and then multiply this by 2.

If all that sounds like hard work, there is an easier way. Simply calculate 25mg of Zinc per 50 pounds (23kg). Since zinc toxicity levels, even mild ones, do not start until after 220mg and lethal toxicity doses occur after 900mg, you do not need precise totals for this process.

The average husky weighs around 23kg, so starting with 25mg of zinc is a sensible start. If you don’t see improvement within a few weeks, you can safely double the amount to 50mg. Then, remember to make the necessary adjustments to your dog’s diet.

In Conclusion

As you’ve learned, zinc deficiency in huskies and malamutes can be a real problem. The symptoms are vast and chronic, often leaving vets confused and dogs misdiagnosed.

Remember, diet plays a crucial role in the malabsorption of zinc. Therefore, correct any problems in your huskies diet while supplementing with a quality zinc supplement.

If you own a northern breed dog and believe it has a zinc deficiency, please take it to the vet as a first port of call. Feel free to share the information in this article with medical professionals.

80 thoughts on “Zinc Deficiency in Huskies”

  1. Thank you for this good article. Have you ever seen zinc deficiency in a Samoyed dog? Since 2 months he is now treated for allergy. Bloods and biopsies were fine (no test for zinc though). His lesions started at the forehead, around eyes, ears, now upper lip. Again on antibiotics and steroids + cone since he scratched himself bloody. Since 5 years he gets raw food Natural Instinct. Ps. While walking he seems to gets “cramps” in his left hind limp again and again. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for your very informative article. We had started supplementing with Nutrazinc for the patches around the eyes and for the itchiness, but our husky seemed to be having digestive problems nonetheless. We recently switched her to the 4health Sensitive Skin formula and are seeing positive results. Would you recommend using zinc cream to speed the healing around the eyes? If so, what creams would be useful? Also, we recently discovered she loves olive oil and will gulp it down eagerly. She prefers it to fish oil. Is this indicative of remaining digestive issues, do you think?

  3. My 14 year old siberian husky/australian shepard mix started losing chunks of fur with skin attached. Dead skin seemed to spread, sometimes scabbing but mostly smelling and thick and almost oily..with continued loss of fur. So bad now that he has large patches of missing fur. The vet tried an allergy medicine (not steroid) that didn’t seem to work although things seemed to accelerate after stopping that medication. He doesn’t have any jaw or nose sores. He did have a bit of a crusty nose for awhile but it didn’t stay around long. I wonder if this could be related to a zinc deficiency as well. Any thoughts?

  4. Karli Goodall

    Our boy developed zinc deficiency aged 6 when we emigrated and I think the stress of the move & being in quarantine for 30 days triggered it in him. It took a while to diagnose but once we did I found a high dose capsule on line & slowly increased the amount of capsules I gave him each day until I could see that the sores around his mouth were starting to reduce in size. I then kept him on 2 capsules a day until it fully cleared up & then 1 a day for maintenance which worked along with a high dose fish oil in his meals every day. We changed his diet to a raw food diet & only changed this when his tummy couldn’t handle that anymore because of old age. Then we fed him an easier to digest diet of rice that had been cooked with lots of coconut oil & turmeric in the water (it actually tasted lovely) fish & veggies. He lived to a great age of 16 years with no other ZDD breakouts so I think a diet change & good supplementation can really help.

  5. My husky was diagnosed with zinc difiecency order years ago by an animal dermatologist. It took some trials to find the right dosage and we learned that she was not absorbing the zinc so she takes a steroid to help her body absorb it. If anyone is questioning this disorder for their dog please see a vet bc maybe someone’s dog cannot absorb it as well.

  6. What an amazing site this is. My Alaskan Malamute has EPI so his diet has to include raw pancreas, which is very time consuming to blend etc. but it has kept him healthy for the last 6 months. In the last few days he’s developed sores on the side of his muzzle.
    Has anyone got experience of whether I can give him zinc, as he has EPI?

  7. Sara,

    Thanks again. This is great information and I truly appreciate your taking the time to answer.

    I have been trying a zinc called zinpro – which is a zinc and methionine combination said to be more easily absorbed by canines. I used one in chew tablet form that she would not chew so I had to break it up and hide it in food. I had thought that this was the only option so I’m glad to hear that the dermatologist had suggested trying the different forms of zinc till you found one that worked (because I question if this one is working)

    I did see the country life zinc supplement on Amazon – did you go with the zinc chelate, citrate or picolinate? I am going to go ahead and try these alternate forms of zinc in similar fashion (a month at a time) to see if I can get results and find one that works.

    I am also going to reach out to Dr. Dennis Crow at the Animal Dermatology Referral Clinic to see if he will do a consult or refer me to someone closer to me. I am in the Boston metro so TX is a bit of a drive – but not out of the question ;-)

    1. Hi Gerry,
      We went with zinc chelate to start with, and it ended up being the right zinc for our dog. We tried a few different brands before settling on Country Life — some capsules and some tablets. In the end our dog never balked at the small Country Life tablets when we hid them in some salmon, so we stuck with it. I have no experience with zinpro but I think that when it comes to minerals the “organic” designation isn’t terribly important, only the type. Some dogs apparently have an easier time absorbing certain types of zinc and can’t absorb others, which is why the vet recommended going with one type for a month and then switching if it didn’t work. Seemed like good scientific reasoning, and it worked for us!
      Good luck with your dog — I hope you can find the right solution soon!

  8. Hi Gerry,
    Sorry to hear about your sick dog. Our experience with the dermatologist who diagnosed our dog was extremely straightforward in that he didn’t seem to have much doubt that it was a zinc issue — the only question seemed to be what type of zinc could be effectively absorbed by our dog’s system. I have to assume he recommended 100mg twice daily based on the dog’s weight (75 lbs), but he didn’t say at the time. Although that dose does seem higher than some of the doses I’ve seen recommended on this site, the dermatologist seemed confident about trying it out for a month to see if there was any improvement (there definitely was). Over the years when the dog has had small relapses of occasional sores we’ve actually upped the dose a little for a few days at a time to 125mg twice daily, which has seemed to work. We’ve been supplementing at the 100mg dose for close to 3 years now with no symptoms that might indicate over-dosing.

    We were told to hide the zinc in our dog’s food, and we give it to him with his morning and evening meals with a bit of canned salmon or mackerel (the cheapest human-grade kind). I think this helps counteract any gastro-intestinal issues (we never had any but were told zinc could upset a dog’s stomach). We like Country Life brand zinc because it’s been effective and the tablets are small, free of additives, and odorless. At the time we were told to go with any brand we could find that clearly identified the type of zinc in the ingredient list in case we needed to try something different.

    I don’t know what area of the country (or continent) you’re located but if you’re anywhere near North Texas I would highly recommend Dr. Dennis Crow at the Animal Dermatology Referral Clinic. In fact, even if you’re not near them you might try getting in touch with the clinic to ask for a local referral. They were amazing and I think the visit cost us a grand total of $150 (after spending over $2,000 on biopsies, blood tests, and medications at our regular vet). Most importantly, the vet had a lot of experience diagnosing and treating zinc-deficient dogs, and that was the key to treating our dog effectively and getting him off the prednisone steroid that he’s been prescribed that was totally wrong for his issues.

  9. A lot of vets really don’t know anything about zinc deficiency, unfortunately. We were in Canada the summer the sores first appeared, land of huskies, but the local vet was totally clueless after the biopsy didn’t reveal any zinc level abnormalities. Ironically, the specialist who helped us was down in Texas! Good luck — and FYI we were advised that any brand of zinc would be ok as long as the type was clearly identified so we could switch if it didn’t work. We go with Country Life brand now because the tablets are small/easy to hide in food, and we haven’t had a recurrence of symptoms in over a year.

    1. Gerry Plante


      Thanks so muchg for sharing this information. I have a 2 1/2 year old husky that has had her share of issues and vet visits in her young life. when she was just one year we did bloodwork to prepare for spaying and she was diagnosed with Lyme (so we held on spaying) – we treated that for the recommended period but the c6 test a couple months later was still high so she went on a 3 month course of Doxycycline which seems to have worked. Then Last spring while trying to identify some of her problems (extreme lethargy, not eating, a fit of pain that in hindsight may have been a seizure) we had run multiple tests. One vet thought it was addisons disease based on some blood work values but the addisons test came back negative. There also seems to always be elevated liver enzymes with no explanation on the multiple blood tests we have run. Thanks to a friend who is a nurse I was pointed to zinc malabsorption as aa possible cause, She was started on low dose Zinc (15mg day) then and then that was upped to 30 within a couple weeks. All seemed to be well till late this summer when she went into heat again (just as we were preparing to spay her) now she has had the lethargy since then and also is getting what I believe to be the ZRD around her nose, lower jaw and eyes. My long winded response to your question comes down to these two questions.

      1 – Did this specialist you saw have any comments on the zinc dosage he reccomended feeding your Husky? 100mg twice a day seems to be on the higher end of the spectrum

      2 – Do you feed the zinc with food or do you feed it some time after a meal?

      Thank you in advance for any feedback you might have,


  10. Kycheung,
    One of our husky-malamutes was diagnosed with a zinc deficiency three years ago. It took several rounds of vets and bad diagnoses to correctly identify the problem. Initially our vet said it was probably pemphigus and put our dog on steroids + antibiotics, which only held the sores in check and also eventually caused a gastric ulcer and muscle loss due to the steroid use. When we finally found a specialist who understood zinc deficiency in dogs, he diagnosed our dog on the spot just by asking about where the lesions had first appeared (near the nose but not on the nose-skin itself). Our previous vet had taken biopsies and everything had come back normal, including zinc levels. Apparently this isn’t a reliable indicator of zinc deficiency, and neither are allergy tests. The dermatologist who diagnosed our dog advised weaning him off steroids and antibiotics, and then supplementing with one type of zinc, 100mg twice a day in his food(our dog is 75 lbs). If that didn’t work we were to try a different formulation of zinc, and avoid dog food with corn or soy. It our case it was a total life saver because our dog’s sores vanished within a month, the fur grew back over the scars on his muzzle, and we’ve only occasionally seen one or two small sores reemerge over the years. I would highly, highly recommend finding a qualified dermatologist who has experience dealing with zinc deficient dogs if you’re going to pursue treatment, because the number of tests and diagnostic possibilities can go on and on and on in the hands of a vet who doesn’t understand zinc-deficient illness in dogs. Your regular vet should be able to recommend a specialist; if not, ask around.

    1. Great thanks Sara! I am due to take her into the vet this month so ill see if they can recommend another specialist. I am so surprised that there are so few vets that know much about zinc deficiencies in dogs. Its mind boggling! I am going to try switching her from zinc citrate to zinpro and then try taking her off the antibiotics again once shes been on the zinpro for a few weeks and see how we do!

  11. Thanks for this interesting article! We have a 2.5 yr old husky cross who has sufferred from skin lesions around her muzzle since easter. We took all of the typical routes – antibiotics, diet change, etc, but within 3 days of coming off the antibiotics the lesions would re-appear. We had a biopsy and culture completed – antibiotics strain was still deemed ok to kill off the secondary infection and auto-immune and food allergies were ruled out. At this point, she was sent to a Dermatologist. Blood work was completed and it was determined she was a 4 out of 6 – allergic to wool and 3 out of 6 for typical dust mits etc. She has been receiving shots for immunotherapy associated with these alleriss since september – meanwhile has been on apoquel since early/mid summer. I started her on 30mg of zinc citrate about 4 wks ago and stopped the apoquel dose on wddnesday, but its sunday and the lesions have re-appeared. If her lesions are related to a zinc deficiency, would it be expected for the lesions to re-appear that fast? Is it best to keep her on the apoquel while we venture down this road? We are still continuing with the autoimmune therapy in case it is indeed a cintact allergy but im not terribly convinced and feel like there is still some underlying issue. Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Tribal Shark


      I am not an expert like the SnowDog guru who made this fine forum to discus these issues. That said, here’s my 2 cents from what I have learned and experienced troubleshooting this problem.

      I would get an allergy free kibble and a good protein source that is healthy and not full of hormones. For our doggie that is mostly fish and chicken. I supplemented with the Beryle Zinpro as a start – I order it on Amazon. I read an hour of reviews there. I believe it is worth EVERY penny. Our husky is getting better everyday. It’s almost been a month since I posted. Our husky does not have any more pink dots by the nose and muzzle. The pink lesions on the lip line which the vet said were probably allergy related are almost totally gone. Huge improvement since my last post. We did not ramp up the zinc dose. We were cautious and decided to give 3 spoon scoops a day which for a 60 pound dog was around the maintenance amount recommended per his weight. Guess what? He has also lost some blubber around his middle which had become worrisome. Nothing but the zinc and fish oils has changed. Six pounds since our last vet visit and he is looking better every day. Over the last 3 months he has developed that more toned look he had a year before all this stuff started. The fish oil is 3 times per week and not very much. I don’t remember what brand but it was one of the recommended 5 star ones here. We also added kelp to his diet a year earlier and stayed with that as well because everyone said the nutrition was smart and ancestral for his diet.

      One thing I would say about our vet I find very frustrating… He scoffs at zinc supplementation. He said last time that Husky’s have been bred out of this problem years ago. All he wanted to do was more allergy or skin tests. Then he said if we supplemented with zinc we should make sure he doesn’t get a copper problem as a result. I will definitely pay attention to the caution but I know the zinc has made a difference and according to the dosage found here it is close to the maintenance dose which is totally safe. My dog is not scratching anywhere close to what he was. His face and overall coat looks so much better. He is softer and not shedding as much either.

      Antibiotics can mess up people and they can mess up dogs. I would say you have to expect a normalizing period after doing antibiotics. Pro-biotics, fiber and extra water to flush out the system is probably a good idea. We tried multiple kibbles and finally settled on one that he seems to like and his poops show is working for him too. Not soft or too hard. When you are troubleshooting it is good to write things down and it is good to investigate what you see. How are your dogs poops? How often? What is your doggie eating? What kind of exercise is she getting? Is she biting herself? Scratching a lot? What treats / snacks does she get? Pay close attention to everything. Try the Beryle Zinpro and get the 1lb bag like I did. It won’t break the bank and I think it is more digestible than chew-able and citrates. It will sound zen but trust your gut and what you see. Don’t do anything crazy in dosage and write down what you are doing so you can evaluate later if you need to. Keep posting results so people can weigh in if they want to. I wish you success for your doggie.

      1. Hi Tribal Shark

        Thanks for all of the info! Our dog is currently on a grain free salmon kibble (our other husky type can’t take grain so I’ve never had them on it – can’t do chicken as other husky is allergic to it too). While your dog was going through this did you keep him on the antibiotics? Her lesions come back so fast once she is removed from it, that I’m afraid to take her off of them at the moment. I was tried giving her kelp in the past as well, but it seemed to not help, but that being said maybe I need to do a kelp, multi, probiotic, zinc concoction. I was told not to give her probiotics if she is still on the antibiotic because it could counteract the effects of the antibiotic – but yet put her on the probiotics as soon as she is off of them. Thoughts?

        We were previously feeding our dogs a no grain kibble that was giving Cypress soft poops, but the one she is on now seems to be agreeing with her stomach more (and not negatively affected our other dog’s). She is a pretty regular pooper – expect it about an hour after meal time. We feed our dogs three times a day, 3 cups a day – it started as a twice a day while pups with a monster ball full of food in the afternoon to keep them busy, and we found the scheduling to work fine for us so we have continued with it. Our other dog sometimes gets acid reflux and has to eat at night before bed time. They are currently on Canidae (1 cup during each feeding), she’s 48 lbs, which is, looking at her, a pretty good weight. Both dogs get a lot of exercise – the trail network starts at the end of our street where we take them for off-leash trail runs, and walks daily – they are out for at elast an hour and a half almost every day, along with wrestling in the backyard. She bites her back toe nails a lot, but that’s it – not anywhere else on her body. She doesn’t scratch much when she’s on the apoquel, but when she’s off of it, she scratches at her muzzle a ton. I’ve put a soft cone on her in the past, but the lesions still persist. Treats – she gets beef liver mainly.

        Thanks again for all of your advice I really appreciate it!

        1. Tribal Shark


          Here is what we have been doing: Nulo Freestyle Adult Trim – Cod and Lentils kibble. Nature Vet digestive enzymes + pro-biotics just a little bit every day. Norwegian Kelp Vegi Blend – 2 scoops a day. Grizzly Salmon Oil – 1 pump – every other day. (3 to 4 times a week)

          As far as ratings go this is a 4.5 star on dogfoodadvisor.com BUT we also always give a little fish, turkey or chicken pieces to keep our dogies interest in the kibble. Every once in a while he gets some steak or lamb but this is only a treat and it is a tiny amount in little scraps mixed in with the kibble. He LOVES the real thing and judging from how well this worked for our first Husky that lived a great life to 17 years we believe they need a good kibble and natural meat source free from hormones that balances the fat, carbs and protein needs.

          We keep proportioned baggies in the freezer on hand to thaw which makes it easy and affordable. It is interesting you mentioned the acid reflux. Our dog was having quite a lot of this. We are noticing less and less since we went on this routine over the last 4 months time. I’ll keep watching that. We noticed it the most when he was drinking water. We thought it might be him drinking too fast but I’m not sure. I think his gut flora has been messed up for a while and I think it is improving doing this routine.

          As far as antibiotics and pro-biotics I think both can be administered at the same time but I’m no vet. That is just my gut talking and what I have always done for myself. I am a big believer in gut flora balance. I think health in general starts and ends there. Just like in people, antibiotics are tough on the body. Good bacteria is killed along with the bad stuff. Weening off of antibiotics is what I would advise but again I’m no expert or vet.

          That said, I really think my vet is a very nice person with NO clue about how zinc deficiency could of been the problem we were experiencing this whole time. I’m convinced that since I went on this zinc and fish oil program every area of my doggie has improved. I guess the proof will be to continue to see the results. So far after 4 months I’m amazed and very happy in the continued improvements.

          Hope this helps…

          1. Thanks Tribal Shark! Unfortunately Nulo isnt an option here in Canada :( i do give the pups pieces of steak and small type fishes too every once in a while. I am a strong believer of probiotics too, and ive only been told recently by non-vet batural medicine type folk to not mix them with the abtibiotics. Our intent would be to get her off the antibiotics, but i think we are going to need to beef up her zinc greatly before thats even an option :( im going to try the zinpro and will add some more oils (fish or coconut) to her diet. As for my acid refluxy dog, we never have issues with him if we give him food before bed, only if we feed him too early on in the night (before 8pm), so the regiment has worked and he seems pretty happy :) hes a pretty high energy dog (mixed with kelpie/heeler likely?) so he seems to burn through his food pretty fast. I think we give him almost half a cup to a cup more than he is meant to have and he is far from overweight :)
            Wish me luck and thanks again!

    2. UPDATE ON CYPRESS: After trying multiple forms of zinc and doing more reading, we decided to try giving her one and a half tablespoons of ground pumpkin seeds a day along with fish oil. We have successfully managed to decrease her dosage of apoquel to 1/4 tablet a day which is a huge win! So far this is the only thing that has allowed us to decrease her dose. Next step this week is to remove her from the apoquel completely. Crossing our fingers that this continues to work!

  12. Tribal Shark

    This forum is awesome! Thank you for making this blog and giving Siberian Husky owners a place to bounce ideas and look for solutions. I came here for help. I’m very glad to report what was recommended here is working and so I thought it was right to come back with some feedback.

    A couple years ago we bought a 1.5 year old Siberian Husky from a girl who couldn’t keep hers. We had been searching or a rescue or similar. We thought we were getting a healthy husky but after a couple month’s we were wondering if we rescued a lemon. One of the first things we noticed was that this particular Siberian seemed to have balance issues and he ate really slow. Compared to our other Siberian this just didn’t seem like normal behavior. We found out after a few weeks of scratching our heads our new husky had ear infections and probably had them for a while. We got treatment from the vet. A few weeks later the eating was normal.

    Then a few months later our Siberian was having bowl issues. For weeks and months this went on and off. We changed foods and kibble but it didn’t go away. We were like the “poop arazzy” inspecting and taking pictures of his poop wondering if we could figure out what was wrong. We took him to the vet multiple times. Finally we were told he had colitis. We got all the medications and it cleared up, but then it came back. The vet said he was free of worms but we visibly saw worms in his poop after a particularly big movement a few weeks later. The vet was shocked but we got treatment… again. Our husky seemed to improve.

    Months went by, the ear issues came back. Our vet treated. We all noticed that ever since we got him he is constantly shaking his head and scratching all over the place. We wondered if it was ticks or fleas. We knew our pup was getting into the dirt and getting fleas so we treated for that. For a while he was getting a ton of ticks but ticks are very common in Los Angeles and so we just make sure we check him after walks on the trails. We didn’t want to give him a toxic collar so we were just vigilant to inspect and take off what we found.

    But then a couple months ago he got a really bad hot spot on his head and another ear infection. It wouldn’t go away. A patch on his head had to be shaved and again the vet treated and said try to keep him from scratching.

    At this point I begin to believe our expensive vet is clueless about Siberian Husky’s. This is our second husky. We are pretty familiar with their traits. After all these trips to the vet on and off we all began to wonder if something more serious was going on with our beloved doggie. That’s when I began to research and I found this forum. When I saw the pictures here of the dermatitis, I was sure this was the place to start. Those pictures of the dogs muzzle were exactly what our doggies muzzle looked like. Red and pink inflamed gum line and pink dots on the chin.

    I started wondering if a zinc deficiency was partially the cause of our Husky’s overall health issues… My wondering went to convinced. So we began to look at all aspects of our doggies health and diet. First we made sure we were giving him a recommended kibble free from grains and corn. We got him on one recommended here. Next we wanted to make sure any treats we were giving him were high quality and not full of junk and stuff he could be allergic to. That was easy because we only give him vegetables, egg and chicken or fish for treats. Lastly, as recommended here we bought Zinpro and fish oil supplements.

    It’s been about 6 months with the new kibble and a little over a month with the zinc and fish oil supplementation. Our doggie seems to be on the mend. His hot spots have cleared up. His skin and hair is coming in softer and he is not scratching at all like he was. He is not shaking his head as much either. The pink and red around his muzzle and mouth is improving every day. His skin condition around his mouth is not fully healed yet but the improvement is visible and we are very glad to see him looking more healthy.

    I’ll update later when I know more, but for now I’m really glad we got our doggie on zinc and fish oil supplementation as recommended here. Thanks SnowDog Guru!

  13. wow your dog is going thru a lot. and yes you need to get to the bottom of what is causing this. I am not the expert here and I am sure she will respond soon. but I have suggestions you need to rule out that may be causing the skin issues.i myself am a husky owner and have had them for over 19 yrs. for one is your dog walking in or playing in an area where it has been treated with chemicals such as fertilizers or weed control. are you using topical flea control?

  14. Jenny O Meara

    Hi my 5 year old husky had all the symptoms of zinc deficiency and i got a supplement but it turned out to be skin cancer and she is now having chemotherapy so I would urge people to investigate more if your dog gets the rash around the nose and the pink around the eyes and also pink lips

    1. Maricel Paraiso

      Hi! PLS HELP MY DOG..I’m Ycel from the Phils. My 19mos old female husky is really sick. Her wounds are all over her legs from back to face. Her 1st vet said it was allergy so we change natural shampoo but feed the same beef kibbles. Her 2nd vet said it was food allergy so we change to Eukanuba dermatosis FP but still the same wounds. My dog even nearly blind & experience seizure at the clinic & was given 7days to live. The vet suggest mercy killing instead of suffering but we choose to let her die the natural way. So we confined her at the clinic for 2 weeks, does a lot of blood test & medicine. She was skinnned all over where the wound is present but it is dry already so the vet send her home. The vet said its in the genes so it will definitely get back over & over again. At home we feed her Eukanuba dermatosis as per vets advise. Now it’s cominng back again starting at her feet and im panicking again. So I try to search for answers in my own since if I get her back to her vet I will get the same answer as it was before. Until I found your article. I want to try for zinc supplementation but afraid I might do it wrong so please help me how to start. I would really appreciate your early response. Thanks

      1. Maricel, how’s your husky? I’m also from the Philippines and our husky also have sores all over his limbs and on his back. Were you able to find a vet experienced in zinc deficiency disease? I’m desperate to find any means to cure our husky.

        1. Brenda Drummond

          have you ruled out he maybe walking into fertilizer on lawns or some other chemical such as weed killers and such

  15. Maria Esmeral

    Hello! I found your article really interesting. All that you describe fits a lot with the way my husky life has developed during the last years…. always stomach problems… diarreas… lack of appetite… and last year convulsions started… currently he is again sick from his stomach and as always treatments help him a few day and then all repeats again… I am located in Belgium.. is there any supplement you can recommend for my dog?? how can we determine is in fact the zinc deficiency is his problem? is there any sort of blood test to check this?

  16. Janice Bowman

    CIARA FLYNN: I am in Los Angeles as well. Have you been able to find any answers since your post?

  17. My 5 years old female husky has raised crusty patches around her eyes and is low in mood. The vet did some research and wondered if it was zinc deficiency so she started her on 220mg of zinc a day. This has made her vomit even though i give it with food. What do you think?

  18. According to the dermatology specialist we saw, there is no test to diagnose zinc deficiency in dogs. Blood tests and biopsies can’t diagnose it. You have to rely on an experienced practitioner to correctly identify the symptoms. In our case, there were visible sores around our dog’s nose and muzzle. Our regular vet ordered a biopsy and blood tests but the results never indicated a zinc issue. He thought it might be pemphigus, an auto-immune disorder. Our dog was on heavy doses of prenisone that almost killed him when the vet suggested seeking out a specialist’s opinion after we refused to keep him on the steroids. The specialist diagnosed the problem on the spot and told us to start supplementing with zinc tablets twice a day, avoid all food with corn in it. The sores disappeared completely within a month. Obviously the dermo vet had his own criteria for identifying the sores as zinc-related and not some other disorder, but he very clearly told us the diagnosis almost never takes place on the basis of blood or tissue samples. It’s based on outward presentation + taking into account the dog’s breed.

  19. joanne frederick

    Hi, I have an 8 yr old husky. He was diagnosed with airborne allergies (after several tests including bronchialscope ) he had an ongoing limp and cough for over a yr, also crusts on his nose. Low thyroid, overweight too. I started giving raw whole meats and switched kibble to acana, give him apple cider vinegar( which cleared his limp in 2 days) and zinc supple 25mg gluconate. The crusts have gone but his cough is still there, should I increase his zinc suppl to 50mg? He weighs 88lbs. Also, I read that giving raw whole meat like chicken legwith thigh attached or whole beef with bone attached is good for them? I give him one wholemeat a day and kibble . He gets sardines 3x week and cottage cheese. Hope I’m feeding him right? Any advice would help …thanks! Love this site

  20. I wish I saw this article before last January. My 14 to husky was on a decline for a number of years following a reaction to prednisone. He got weakness in hind quarters and continued to decline. We were told it was probably neurological but no real solutions were offered. In later stages his fur started falling off in patches and he tired very easily. After a stressful Friday night when a meter reader left the gate open and he wound up in an animal hospital because he was unable to stand after “running” half a block away. We brought him home but he started vomiting at vet and by Sunday he started seizing and we had to euthanize. I now wonder if he had been helped with zinc earlier if he would have improved. I also had a young husky many years ago that had ideopathic seizures early in life on IAMS which twenty five years ago was considered high end. We changed foods and he never had another seizure. I always wondered why he got the seizures but was just glad they went away. I wonder if he wasn’t absorbing the nutrients and zinc he needed until the food changes. Thanks for this article.

  21. I have an 8 month old male husky. And he just recently went to the vet to get treated for explosive diarrhea and bloody stool. It was the first time he had ever had diarrhea that bad. They did a fecal analysis and everything came back normal but the treated him with antibiotics anyway. Now he has a patch of fur on his butt that isnt normal. It looks as if his undercoat is his fur, like i shaved a patch and its just starting to grow back. Its not red from what i can tell because his skin is black so its hard to see but the skin gets flaky like he has dandruff. Would this be a type of dermatitis due to zinc def? And will it go away if I change his diet or do I absolutely need the cream?

  22. Hi i live in the UK i have a 3 year old female husky who has ZRD can you recomend a dry food for her she has gotten worse since she had her puppies

  23. I have a 4yr old female Siberian Husky (Mishka). I am concerned about her vomiting bile 3-5 times per month. Could this be part of a zinc deficiency?

  24. oykubuyukdere

    I come back to this article series on a regular basis. I have 3 rescued husky-mix dogs. One of them had the undiagnosed dermatosis last year. For about 6 months we kept visiting different vets, getting all kinds of tests done, so many wrong treatments, etc. It got worse and worse to the point that he had a hard time opening his eyes because they’d be stuck due to the lack of fur around the eyes.
    Anyways finally we saw a vet who knew about zinc deficiency and Cesar got much better with supplements in 4-5 months. By the way I’ve always fed my dogs BARF and grain-free kibble. With Orijen they had so much gas, so I buy Acana or N/D.
    Now we have a new problem, open wounds especially around his elbows. Even the vet who knew about the zinc is having a difficult time understanding what these are. I’m considering to increase the zinc supplements, but I’m hesitant. I’m also very confused about the miligrams. I have been giving him GNC’s 25 mg, 4 of them a day (zinc picolinate) and biotin and fish oil. I just bought a few bottles of this supposedly great multivitamin suggested by our vet which has 12,000 micrograms of biotin and 2,000 mg. of zinc oxide among other things. Now why wouldn’t they have a better quality of zinc in the pills? :/ Anyways I’m trying to figure out a treatment plan. By the way I live in Turkey, and we don’t have very knowledgeable vets here :( We have many strays, abandoned dogs, serious puppy mill issues and not the greatest vet tech and knowledge (I love visiting clinics with pet owners when I’m abroad and see how things are done).
    Oh and Cesar has more than a hundred pellets in him. He was shot many times and survived. My poor boy goes to everyone thinking that they’ll pet him, and somebody shot him with a rifle many times. I always have that in my mind as well, whether all that lead could poison him from inside out but I get blood tests done on a regular basis and his liver seems to be okay so far.
    Do you think the open wounds could still be related to zinc deficiency, although other zinc deficiency symptoms have faded greatly?
    Thanks so much for these articles and your answer if you can :)

  25. Hi, I have a Siberian Husky that has been having a lot of the issues you list in this series. I loved reading through the three articles you wrote, and I found them all to be extremely helpful for me in my search for answers. I have my own blog, and in telling my story about my own experiences with my dog, I quoted some sections of your posts. I cited you as the source, but I wanted to also leave you a comment to let you know that I’m not trying to steal your credit. I’ll provide you with the link to the article I wrote, in case you want to read it to ensure that I give you proper credit. Feel free to comment back and let me know if you see any issues, and thanks again for providing such helpful information to help my husky!

    Melanie Motley, from MotleyPartyOfTwo Blog.

    The article won’t be posted until 7/18.

  26. Hello. I have a 9yo male husky. We live in Australia. I am so glad I found your articles and I’ll be straight to the vet on Monday to get him back into the hills prescription diet ZD (zinc deficiency). He was eating that food as my other husky has digestive issues and now I think about it he didn’t have any seizures while sharing that food. He recently pulled a disc in his neck so we had to temporarily relocate our other dog, which meant we changed our males diet while she’s been gone.. And what do you know? Two days ago he had a massive fit (she’s been gone for a month). It seems that zinc deficiency might be the answer.

    I did have a question. My dogs got the implant rather than being de sexed. They are desexed now because the implant did not work!!! We ended up having 8 puppies and I did not even know she was pregnant until a week or so before, I thought she was just getting fat (the poor dog- I just ran her longer and faster until I sa her stomach moving! I was so shocked and felt really guilty) I adopted all the pups out and keep in close contact with the owners, the litter of pups are nearly 5 years old now…. My question is: is this something they should be worried about? Could this have been passed on to the pups?
    Thank you in advance!

  27. I am so glad I found this article! My husky is 3 years old, on Taste of the Wild (which is grain free), but has been continually refusing food several times a week and will eat grass and vomit regularly as well. She has not yet formed the scaly, rough patches on her skin yet. However, she has been starting to have trouble with recurring UTI’s. I am guessing her digestive issues and the recurring infections may be the result of zinc deficiency. I am looking into feeding her Orijin or another higher quality food and adding a zinc supplement like kelp to her diet right away! Thank you!

  28. When the dermatologist diagnosed our malamute with zinc deficiency, he recommended 100mg of zinc 2x a day with meals, and no corn or corn by-products, which interfere with absorption. He also suggested starting with chelated zinc first, and then if no response after a month, switching to a different type of zinc. Apparently many dogs will only absorb certain forms of zinc, so it can be trial-and-error until you find the right formulation.

  29. fiona smith

    You could try coconut oil rub it into sore patch could stop the itch that keeps making him rub it..mine has some to eat too on food was recommended it good for coat and skin

  30. Margit-

    Thanks for the amazing article. I do have a question…..so our husky also has zinc deficiency. He has had all the symptoms for four months (he is six) and had this deficiency confirmed by an unnecessary biopsy. We feed him high zinc foods (liver, meat, ground chicken) , use fish oil every other day, and he is on 45-50mg of Zinpro every night before bed.

    We can’t seem to get rid of the dermatosis on his right eye, as it’s pretty bad, and then he rubs in raw and bloody all the time. Everything else has cleared up except that spot. Do you have any suggestions, or maybe an ointment/shampoo that will help in conjunction with him wearing a cone? Do we need to raise his Zinpro?


  31. forgot to mention, Sky was not always skinny….just more and more in the past year – old age I guess…I’ve been trying the recipe for Satin Balls (but cooking it as I don’t agree with the risks associated with raw – even if I did I wouldn’t try raw on an 18 year old dog) hoping to get some weight back on him.

  32. my 18 year old male Siberian is so skinny – eats willingly but not enough quantity – lately he has some reddish fur between his paws (doesn’t lick) and a bit of reddish fur along his mouth – mostly on one side. I’m desperate to get some weight on him (most of the food he’s ever had is cooked recipes I was given by the vet – human food ingredients). I’m wondering about zinc deficiency – he was still running last summer but now getting frail :( especially back legs – i have to put rubber soled booties on him so he has traction on the indoor floors. Any suggestions welcome – thank you…Shane

  33. Hi

    I have an 8 year old male siberian husky who is experiencing some of the systems described above. Dry skin that has turned into hair loss on his lower back. In the past month he has dry skin on the inside of his ears as well. His black nose now has a pink streak down the center with hair loss around the edge. He is not as active and sleeps much without an appetite. These symptoms appeared after I had to go out of the country for 9 months with my job and my parents cared for him. Against my instructions they took him off his food and feed him everything they ate.. He now is 20lbs over weight.
    I have taken him to the vets and now he is on antibiotics (Ketocoazle) for his issues. Med shampoo (Keratolux) for his hair loss which I apply to his lower back every 3 days. His thyroid is on the low side so he is also on thyro-tab 8mg once a day for the past 3 weeks. It’s hard to believe my healthy active baby is in such rough shape.
    He is a big husky and 75lbs was perfect weight for his tall large frame and is exercised 2-4 hours everyday. I would appreciate your input on how to take care of his issues and weight. I am considering EVO weight management dog food. I would appreciate your input on how to care for his skin and weight issues. Also is the zinc you use made for humans or do I need to find zinc for dogs?

    Thank you

  34. Most runny tummies from a quality (meat first ingredient at least) dry food is overfeeding or changing foods. Huskies don’t eat much and shouldn’t be allowed to graze. Feed twice a day and remove food after 10 min, eaten or not.

  35. Kath, I assure you that putting your dog on “cheap food” will only make the problem worse as they contain corn as a filler. It is not the cost of the food that determines how well your dog will do on the food. How well the food addresses the the unique needs of this breed of dog will determine how well he does with it.

    Additionally, there are numerous reasons why a Husky might have constant digestive issues:

    could have internal parasites,
    sudden and frequent food changes cause digestive upsets,
    wheat, corn, or soy in the Husky diet will cause digestive. Know what is in the food that you are feeding,
    poor quality protein ( that comes from meat by product) not only not well tolerated, but very bad for your dog,

    Also, unless it was for emergency reasons that this puppy was removed from it’s mother at 5 weeks of age, this puppy nor its nursing mother was likely to be well cared for. It may be well predisposed to Zinc Deficiency ( also known to cause chronic digestive issues).

    The fixes to the problem:
    Feed a breed appropriate grain free puppy food. I will include a link to the dog food advisor where you can check out the ingredients in dog food. If you have not already tried it, I suggest Acana for puppies. Less rich than Orijen but still a great quality food.
    Consider adding a good dog probiotic to help with food digestion.
    Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree ( not pumpkin pie filling!) to your dog’s food to firm up stools
    Add fresh foods naturally high in Zinc.

    You also may need to supplement Zinc to this dog to front load this mineral as he may be very Zinc Deficient at the moment.

    Here is the link to the food review site: https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/

    Here is the link to my PDF about Zinc Deficiency in Northern Breeds and what you can do to help them: https://www.snowdog.guru/wp-content/uploads/zincdeficiencyinsleddogs.pdf?4e8813

  36. huskys are highly sensitive to food changes and this would be an indication of this also huskys love to eat fast which would cause runny stool slow the dog down some how when he eats. I would first rule out parasites most pups are born with them and if not ridden of them this will occur. my husky does well on holistic dog food called INNOVA. another caution is when he was younger did he swallow something and it got lodged runny stool can be an indication of this. lots to rule out first.

  37. Hi there
    Our Siberian is now 13 months old and we bought him, when he was 5 weeks old.He has never had normal poo.Most of the time it’s very messy and he is also sick at times.Not happy with my vet because all he said is to put him on the cheap food and if the runny poo doesn’t stop then we just have to live with it.Please can anybody advice us on what to do? At the moment,well for the last six months he has been on chappy (chicken).We have tried 5 different makes before that and they were all expensive dry dog food.

  38. Sara, how very lucky for you that you found someone who understood the need for zinc in these cases and how sad for us that most Vets are so utterly clueless about the importance of zinc in the Snow Dog diet. If people just did two things for their Snow Dogs …. remove wheat, corn, and soy out of their diet AND make sure that zinc was adequately front loaded in their diet …. most of the common ailments that plague our breed of dog would disappear.

  39. I wish I’d found this article several months ago! Our 3 year old malamute started having terrible sores on his muzzle that were spreading quickly. When we brought him to our vet they ordered blood tests, a biopsy, and the results were inconclusive, but the pathology report from the biopsy hypothesized a diagnosis of pemphigus or lupus, both of which are treated with high doses of prednisone. Let’s just say our dog’s health deteriorated rapidly after we started in on the prednisone, and the sores never even cleared up. Rapid weight loss, extreme lethargy, massively increased appetite, thinning coat, massive personality changes. Well, the saving grace came when we found a dematology specialist who had experience with zinc-deficient dogs, and he put our dog on daily chelated zinc while weaning him off the prednisone. Within three weeks, every negative symptom was gone, and fur regrowth was appearing on scarred areas of his face. I guess I’m putting this comment out there/in here because this really could have and did make the difference for our dog, and can for others who are similarly afflicted. I’m convinced our dog would have died if we’d kept him on high doses of immunosuppressant steroids, and now that we understand his condition, he’s been restored to his usual playful, beautiful self!

  40. Hi I am not sure if you can help, we live in Austria but I am from the UK originally. Our Husky Diezel is five and half years old and I am running out of ideas with what is wrong with him, its not major just a collection of small things and the feeling that he is not right. He has had episodes of ZRD in the past which we have always solved with Nutrazinc and a small piece of liver. However, over the last 6 months he has become increasingly tired and run down with some small typical ZRD patches on his nose and some brown fur patches on his elbows, legs and ankles which just dont seem to heal.

    He has black gums normally however the pigment has started to fade and in patches it has gone to pink / red. It changes on a daily basis from normal dog pink to bright red (our vet is great but she is lost with this) issue.

    He has been at the vets and had full bloods done which showed 2 levels to be high so they thought it was addisons disease, but the ACHT test was negative. They have also checked for parasites etc and he is all clear. We feed him BARF (well we are 5 weeks in) prior to that he was feed on Acana withe terra canis wet food. He seems to be a little better on BARF.

    Any ideas / help would be great. Many thanks Duncan

    1. margitmaxwell

      Duncan, this all sounds like it is related to Zinc Deficiency issues. Since the dog was fed Acana ( and now BARF) this is not likely to be a Zinc malabsortption issue caused by grains in the diet. For some dogs you really need to front load the Zinc. That fact that he has issues with ZRD and what was suspected to be thyroid issues tells me that there is not enough Zinc to complete all the body processes.

      My advice to you is incorporate fresh foods that are naturally high in Zinc, make dried kelp and spirulina part of the supplementation routine as well as adding a Zinc supplement. Look for 25 mgs size tablets in either picolinate, gluconate, or chelated form. Administer once daily 3 to 4 hours after his last meal. If you do not see any improvement after one month you can safely increase the Zinc to 50 mgs daily.

      When dogs have a problem with Zinc uptake then the body processes that use this element will suffer.

      1. Hi guys thank you so much for the advice, we have started to front load his zinc so hopefully we should see some improvement, will keep you posted. Thanks again. Duncan

  41. margitmaxwell

    I am glad to hear Aurawra is doing better with the addition of zinc, Ashley.

  42. Thank you for your help, Aurawra is doing much better on the zinc alone. And the diet i have been feeding her, i don’t want to add too many types of supplements as she is very sensitive and young. I am not using flea control and that is definitely not what caused the loss of hair. since the zinc she has grown all her hair back, put on some weight, her activity levels are back up, and her life is back in her eyes. Not to argue but they both are spread through the blood stream of any dog and applied the same way. topical solutions all enter the blood steam. Thank you for your concern! Aurawra is much better!

    1. that is wonderful Ashley that you got her on the road to recovery. I was told by my vet that an allergy was the reason my husky had patches. the zinc deficiency makes me wonder now that is what he actually had. I was shocked to read about the early pyometra your female had she is so young. I was also told that the advantix goes into the blood of the dog which I have no science behind it but I am believing that it may wreck havick with a huskys zinc level. and maybe that is what causes the patches.

  43. Ashley Phillips

    Hey there, I know you don’t know me but my name is Ashley Phillips. I read your articles on zinc deficiencies in huskies. I was wondering if you could help me! I have an 11 mo old Siberian Husky named Aurawra. It all started with open pyometra, once that was addressed, my vet and i did an emergency surgery to take her uterus out. Since then and even before then she has had many different ailments including, itchy patches on her face and front legs with loss of hair kind of looks like the second picture in your article. Another is she is extremely under weight 15,9 kg and has little to no appetite at all. she also throws up and has issues with diahhreah .. now we ran a cbc and chemistry test which revealed she has some sort of liver damage possibly and also anemia. I am at my wits end thousands of dollars later and many different vet opinions. I am willing to make a trip to see you and possibly your vet if thats what it takes. I am quite worried about her and my vet seems to not know very much or want to recognize zinc def in lots of different northern breeds. Its not that he fights it he just simply doesn’t understand it cause he has not heard very much about it and he said i should maybe talk to you or and your vet and see what happens from there. For now we have her on a low protein high carb diet to try to help out with her liver. i mean i love this dog to pieces and would do anything to keep her happy and healthy. If you think you could help me or have any suggestions i am open to pretty much anything.

    1. margitmaxwell

      Ashley, I am very sorry to know that your dog is having so many health issues. Many of the ailments you mention can easily be attributed to zinc deficiency. Unfortunately, the allopathic medical community just does not seem to get this zinc connection for these northern breeds. There really is no blood test for this. You can add the zinc on your own. No prescription needed. Just go to health food store and find some zinc in 25 mg dose. You can use zinc in chelated, picolinate, or gluconate forms. Start by giving your dog 25mgs daily. of zinc three hours away from the last feeding. I usually give last thing at night. You don’t want to give zinc on an empty stomach but you also do not want food competing with the absorption either. Also, make sure that you try to feed as many of the foods that are naturally high in zinc. You want to make sure that you front load zinc every day as the body has no capacity to store the zinc. Also, make sure that the food you are feeding to Aurawra has no wheat, corn, or soy in it as this only causes zinc to be unavailable to the body. Read the label on your kibble and double check. Sadly I butt heads with my own vet regarding zinc deficiency so seeing my vet would not be terribly helpful to you. I wish that allopathic medicine and natural medicine did not clash so much. There is a place for both of these healing modalities. The ones who end up suffering the most is the dogs :( If you see no result from the zinc in 6 weeks you can raise the zinc dosage to 50grms. I hope this helps, Ashley. <3

      1. Ashley Phillips

        Thanks for getting back to me i am currently feeding Aurawra a home cooked diet, of chicken, rice, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower is there anything besides zinc you would suggest adding . my vet has said milk thistle to help liver function but hasn’t given me a dosage yet. he is checking tomorrow morning and will get back to me.

        1. Margit Maxwell

          Because of the powerful antioxidant properties of silymarin , milk thistle is an ideal herb for detoxification of the liver. For dogs with advanced liver disease, a dosage as high as 200 mg per 10 pounds of body weight is possible. For other liver problems or health conditions, 75 to 100 mg per 10 pounds of body weight per day is sufficient to see results. Your Vet will tell you the most appropriate dosage for your dog and for its level of liver functioning. I would not recommend adding too many different kinds of supplements at this time as the liver will not be able to handle it. Try using just these these two supplements and watch for improvements.

    2. ASHLEY, there is a vitamin by prescription you can get from the vet for the liver to be rebuild and cleansed it is called DENYSOL it is a sam-e TYPE OF vitamin. also apple cider vinager organic only add 2 tsp in drinking water for dogs may take them awhile to get accustomed to it but once they drink it they love it. and it will cure and prevent many things in dogs. add a dab of honey to get the dog attracted to the water. then no need to add honey once the dog drink water with the ACV. earthclinc.com for all natural cures for pets and people. another thing I would like to stress is that many flea controls such as advantix will cause patching skin in huskys. you may need to change the type of flea control you are using. the safest for a husky that I use would be the advantage not the advantix. the advantage goes only to the glands of a dog the advantax goes directly into the blood stream of a husky which in hand cause severe reactions.

  44. Jen Caillier (@jeny_fur)

    My malamute gets that dry flaky patch on his nose> I attributed it to allergies…Now I will be looking at his food more closelyto see if more zinc is needed. For the breed- what is the reccommeded dosage for a 120 lbs( yes he is BIG)

    1. margitmaxwell

      Jen you can start the dosage at 50mgs and then safely go up to 75 mgs. Make sure that you are giving the zinc away from meals. And with this higher dosage you may want to break up the doses so you are not giving all at once. Also, remember to feed the foods that are naturally high in zinc so you are giving a varied supply of zinc to your dog.

      1. Laura Kish

        I wonder if lack of zinc has anything to do with humans starting to have seizures at the age of 20yrs. ? She’s a vegan and is training for a short course triathalon

  45. Ciara Flynn

    This is fascinating, and seems to explain our issues. I own an 8mo female husky pup, rescued, originally from a breeder I personally wouldn’t have chosen. Very kindly and caring, but not the wisest practices as I saw. One of her sisters suffered Gran Mal seizures at a very early age, undiagnosed, nobody knew why. My pup is fed Orijen Large Breed kibble, and Evo 95% meat canned food as a topper. She gets a joint supplement, random fruits/veggies as treats and all her other treats are high-quality, USA-made, usually grain-free as well. Yet she has had diarrhea & very occasional vomiting (only two occasions) off & on since the day I brought her home. It’ll go away for a couple weeks then come back with a vengeance. Vet always diagnoses her with Giardia due to sample testing, but then it clears up and she’s still sick. We’ve run every blood test, x-rays, etc. that the vet offered. She also gets Giardia way more than I think she should (immune issue?). She had a skin irritation in her crotch they prescribed an antibiotic cream for. It cleared but the fur is now perpetually stained brown. Now she’s become an uncharacteristically picky eater! Refuses even treats sometimes, especially in the morning. She’s also slowed down, doesn’t like running anymore, is tired most of the afternoon and exhausts quickly when out on adventures. Our vet is refusing to address my concern, claiming it’s just recurrent Giardia and she’s a puppy and to quit worrying, but I know an 8mo shouldn’t push away good food when they haven’t eaten all day, or be that tired after 20 min of fetch in the hallway. Is there a husky-knowledgeable specialist in Los Angeles you could recommend, or another route I can go through to know for sure if I need to supplement zinc? I don’t want to just start supplementing on a hunch without guidance.

    1. In your case, I would say it is more likely to be overfeeding, as otherwise that is a quality diet. Take care how much you give, never leave food down for a husky to graze, etc., and don’t start adding things to something you know is a good diet, you will end up with a very fussy dog. And a husky playing fetch for just 20 min? That’s about 18 min longer than any of mine would bother. ;-)

    2. Margit Maxwell

      Ciara,the eating issues and the infections are all likely connected to zinc issues. The unusual lack of energy can also be a thyroid symptom which is again a zinc issue. The problem as I discussed in my article, the Vets will not likely understand this zinc connection and unless the thyroid levels are way far out of whack, they won’t register on their tests yet. I will be addressing how sometimes when we cannot get the help that we need from the Allopathic Medical community, we are forced to deal with it ourselves. I agree that all supplementation should be done carefully and only after considering all possible options. I have no idea who is available in your area that can help you. I can tell you that I will be addressing dosing instructions for zinc in tomorrow’s article.

    3. Hi, Try contacting Rhonda at Husky Haven of LA. She runs a non profit Husky/Husky Mix rescue in LA. She would definitley be able to refer you to a vet in Los Angeles. She also
      Has a facebook page too.

  46. fiona smith

    How do I know if the food I give my husky is high enough in zinc.

    1. Margit Maxwell

      Fiona, there are many other factors to consider including what form of zinc the manufacturer is using and and whether or not the food the contains wheat, corn, or soy. If it does then phytic acid binds to the zinc making it unavailable in the body. It does not matter how much zinc is in the food, it matters how much zinc your dog is actually getting. Then you have to consider how much of the food your dog is eating in a day.Then you also have to consider that the “recommended” amount of zinc does not take breed specifics into consideration. I will discussing these issues in the second part of this article. I will also be addressing daily zinc recommendations at that time.

      1. fiona smith

        My 10 month old is on burns which is high quality food ..do you get this overseas I’m in UK. He has couple of patches on his paws which got me thinking when I saw your article but I thought could be flea reaction but now I’m little worried

        1. Margit Maxwell

          if you want an evaluation of the food that your dog is on you can always check here https://www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk/the-dog-food-directory

          1. fiona smith

            Wow. So many, very interesting…so what do you use or recommend. .is it best to find one grain free with high meat content? . .The one he’s on is average not impressed with price we pay!

          2. Margit Maxwell

            Fiona, I am located in Canada so we don’t have many of the brands that are mentioned in the UK version of the dog food advisor. I feed Orijen in my house. I know that this food is available in the UK. As far as price is concerned,yes it is expensive, however bad food will only serve to cause expensive health problems in dogs later on. As far as what you should look for in a food … it should have no wheat, corn, or soy in it, it should have whole meat as it’s protein source and not meat by product, and it should not be full of chemicals and artificial garbage. If you search the link I gave you, look for 4 and 5 star rated foods in your country. If you go with one of those you cannot go wrong.

        2. We used burns it’s rubbish!! Our husky she got covered in patches!! Quest dog food is the best to use in uk. If u google it u should find there website

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