Zinc Deficiency in Huskies

Zinc Deficiency in Huskies
This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Zinc Deficiency

Does is it seem like you spend all of your time at your Vet’s office with your Husky? Are you and your vet constantly chasing symptoms in your dog but your vet can never quite manage to solve the medical mystery as to what is wrong with your Husky?

While you should always try to consult and work with your vet, today I am going to give you some information that your Vet may not know about unless he has specialized knowledge of Huskies and Malamutes. Today’s article is about Zinc Deficiency in Huskies.


If your husky is sick, please ensure you take him to the vet. The information in this article is intended to be complimentary.

In this article, I will give you information about Zinc Malabsorption and Zinc Deficiency Disorder. Before you take zinc supplementation into your own hands, learn everything you can about it.

Zinc supplementation, if applied incorrectly or for the wrong reasons, can possibly cause lethal zinc toxicity in your dog. What you should not do is to recklessly begin zinc supplementation or changing 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 that you can to arm yourself with as much information as you can so that 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, then do not hesitate to ask for another opinion from another Vet who has more experience with this specific dog breed.

What Does Zinc Have To Do With My Husky’s Illnesses?

It may have everything to do with your Husky’s illness. While the Veterinary medical field recognizes and understands that Zinc is the second most commonly used mineral in the body, it does not seem to be very good at connecting the dots when it comes to understanding how the absence of available Zinc in your Husky’s body may be behind your dog’s constant source of illnesses.

Ask a savvy and experienced breeder of Northern Breed dogs and they will be able to confirm that Northern Breed Dogs’ diets require more than average Zinc amounts and that Zinc Deficiency and malabsorption can cause be the root cause of a host of illnesses in these dogs. And it’s not just Northern Breed dogs that have a problem with this issue. This condition can also be a factor in many of the Giant Breed dogs like Great Danes and St. Bernards, and also Dobermans, Beagles, German Shepherds, German Shorthaired Pointers, Bull Terriers, and Poodles too.

What Is Malabsorption?

Malabsorption Syndrome occurs when the body fails to absorb vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients through food that has been placed into the body. There can be a number of causes of nutrients not being able to be used by the body but the two most common factors are, impaired digestion (mal-digestion) and impaired absorption (malabsorption). In Huskies and Malamutes Zinc Malabsorption and Zinc Deficiency are problems primarily attributed to the food that these dogs eat. A quality diet high in Zinc is essential to continue good health for these dogs.

Why Is This Disorder So Hard to Correctly Diagnose?

When it comes to Zinc Deficiency and Malabsorption problems it is likely the most misdiagnosed and the most under-diagnosed condition in Huskies and Malamutes. The problem with getting an accurate diagnosis of Zinc Deficiency and Malabsorption is that Vets only attempt to control the problem by just addressing the symptoms of what they see.

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.

Also contributing to the challenge of correct diagnosis and treatment is the ever-changing spectrum of symptoms that will occur in your Husky as this disorder runs its course. Sadly, many owners of Snow Dogs are going to join the ranks of people who find themselves paying for endless medical tests and for professional guesstimates of cures only to have new symptoms show up as fast as the old symptoms subside.

Vets Not Familiar With Zinc Malabsorption

Vets that are not familiar with the predispositions of certain breeds to Zinc Malabsorption issues, will not likely make the connection between the presenting symptoms and this disorder. And because this disorder is of a nutritional nature, a vet has to be not only well versed in the complex processes of how nutrition works in dogs, but also in the specialized nutritional requirements of these specific dog breeds. Even when vets have some understanding of Zinc Deficiency, it is attributed to being a genetic predisposition without any further knowledge or understanding about why this is so.

It is not only important to know what do to make your Husky symptom free, 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 not only better health for your Husky but it is also the key to minimizing 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 the occurrences of this disorder cannot be kept to a minimum.

What Is Zinc And What Does It Do In The Body?

Zinc is the second most abundant essential trace mineral found in the body after iron and is required in a dog’s diet to maintain good health. It is considered to be one of the most powerful anti-oxidants 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. Since the body has no specialized Zinc storage system, a constant, steady, and adequate supply of Zinc become crucial for optimal health.

However, a contributing factor in Zinc Deficiency is that Zinc is not considered to be highly absorbable by the body and studies show that only 15% to 40% of the ingested zinc in the mammalian diet is actually well absorbed.

In dogs with additional Malabsorption issues, these absorption percentages are thought to be even lower. Another problem seems to be that there are some foods that can actually interfere with the absorption of available Zinc in your dog’s body further adding to the deficiency problem.

The Process Of How Zinc Is Used In Your Dog’s Body

There is a hierarchy for how Zinc is used in the body. The chain begins at one end of the body processes and it continues on down the line until it arrives at the end processes. Unfortunately, if there is either not enough Zinc or when the body processes are left consistently incomplete, the overall health of the body eventually begins to suffer and erode.

In Huskies and Malamutes the progression of illnesses due to chronic Zinc Deficiency may present as follows:

  1. Chronic digestive issues (often mistaken for food allergies), often accompanied by bouts of diarrhoea, and lack of appetite (often mistaken for being a picky eater).
  2. Raised itchy crusty patches of dermatitis,( ZRD) ( often diagnosed as allergies or hot spots) around the nose, mouth, eyes, groin, or paws that may respond temporarily to topically applied Zinc Cream. These crusty patches seem to come back with more intensity each time.
  3. A host of seemingly unrelated illnesses that are actually immune system related. The immune system may under function and not respond well to clearing up infections in the body or it may overreact and your dog’s immune system may be treating everything as if was an invading force. This issue can lead to the development of cancers.
  4. Thyroid gland malfunctioning causes problems with weight gain or loss, increase or decrease in appetite, skin and coat problems including excessive shedding, a constant cycle of secondary infections, and possible ongoing cough. Hormone levels in the body become out of balance.
  5. Major organ failures; liver, kidney, heart from a lack of sufficient support from the Thyroid.
  6. The last process in line where Zinc is used is in the brain. Adequate Zinc has to be present in order for Taurine to be used as a neurotransmitter smoother. The end result of inadequate available Zinc can be erratic neurotransmitter firings(seizures).


This is a general overview of the hierarchy of how Zinc is used in the body. However, there are exceptions to the rules. You may find that your Snow Dog shows very few of the first few classic symptoms and skips ahead directly to having epileptic seizures. It can happen.

What Is Really Causing These Medical Issues In Your Snow Dog

Chronic Digestive Issues In Huskies and Malamutes

It is usually here that first signs of Zinc Deficiency show up. Huskies having trouble processing their food is a very common 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 of an appetite they have. Lethargy and failure to thrive become concerns. Many vets fail to see the Zinc cycle that is often behind these digestive issues.

The Real Problem

There is one of two issues happening at this point, the lack of available Zinc through their diet or the Zinc that is present is not being absorbed efficiently in the intestine. Huskies that are on a poor diet of cheap food, filled with meat by-products are not getting enough Zinc in their diet. The best sources of dietary Zinc are found in whole meats and fish. Diets that are low in meat quantity or diets that contain meats that are heavily processed will cause Zinc Deficiency and the problems that are associated with it.

The second problem that occurs in poor diets is Zinc Malabsorption. Diets that are high in corn, wheat, and soy, cause Zinc to be unavailable in the body. As these grains are broken down in the digestion they create phytates and phytic acid binds to available Zinc in the intestine and create a Zinc Deficiency through Malabsorption. It should be remembered that the only way to reduce the manufacturing cost of dog kibble is for it to be made with cheap grain filler as one of its primary ingredients. Ongoing Zinc Deficiency through Malabsorption will eventually cause the illnesses that are associated with this disorder.

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

Zinc Responsive Dermatosis

These raised patches of hard crusty areas are not only itchy for your dog but they also spread. Far too often vets focus on trying to make the symptoms of this condition go away 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 Real Problem

The constant unavailability of Zinc begins to causes issues with the skin and coat. This is 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) and as well, secondary bacterial skin infections become frequent in dogs with ongoing Zinc Deficiency.

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

[columns size=”1/3″ last=”false”] Dermatitis in huskies eye [/columns][columns size=”1/3″ last=”false”] Dermatitis on huskies mouth [/columns][columns size=”1/3″ last=”true”] Dermatitis on huskies nose [/columns]

Immune System Related Illnesses

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 functioning. Their job primarily is to help recognize foreign invading cells like bacteria, viruses, and even cancer cells.

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

The Real Problem

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 greater root problem. This problem stems from Zinc Deficiency. When Zinc is made available to the body many of the secondary and tertiary immune system problems dissipate. The rampant inflammation process can attack the Thyroid which will cause endless other symptoms in the body.

Thyroid and Thyroid Gland Problems

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 the Thyroid gland is to send a 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 issues.

The Real Problem

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 remain in Homeostasis (balance body). The body pulls available Zinc to where it feels it is most vitally needed leaving other body processes incomplete.

Eventually, the Thyroid gland cannot signal the Thyroid to produce hormones and the Thyroid no longer has the ability to produce adequate hormones. Long term hormonal imbalance takes its toll on the health and well being of the body. With sufficient available Zinc levels, this chain of symptoms can be avoided.

Note: It has been discussed in previous articles how neck collars and dogs constantly pulling against the leash can cause trauma to the Thyroid which in turn can cause Thyroid failure. Make sure you protect your dog’s Thyroid by avoiding the use of neck collars on dogs that pull against the leash.

Major Organ Failure

As you move down the hierarchal list of how and where Zinc is used in the body, the support to major organs is nearing the bottom of the list. If other body processes are in long term deficit and in a state of incompletion, then they are not able to further support the functioning and well being of the major organs.

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

The Real Problem

Without adequate and available daily Zinc to complete all the body processes, over time, the health of body organs will begin to suffer. Often one of the pre-cursors to organ failure was the Thyroid not functioning well.

Trying to treat the individual symptoms of each individual organ without addressing the root cause of the issues, Zinc Deficiency, and the lack of sufficient hormone secretions from the Thyroid, will not solve the medical issues. As a matter of fact, as this disorder progresses, the symptoms will continue to mutate and advance, creating more and more medical issues as overall health as wellbeing declines.

Epileptic Seizures and Idiopathic Seizures Activity

While some vets will tell you that some Huskies and Malamutes are predisposed to having epileptic seizures, not too many of them can explain to you why this is so since there really is no definitive gene marker for this issue making it a true genetic disease. But at the same time, it seems that Epilepsy and Seizure Disorder do run in certain genetic lines. Veterinary medicine can tell you the process by which a seizure happens (neuroreceptors in the brain firing erratically) but they know very little about how to control it.

There are a host of drug therapies that 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.

The Real Problem

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 very minor (momentarily fixed staring) (Petite Mal) to full seizures with loss of consciousness (Grand Mal). Having adequate Zinc available may help in at least part with limiting seizures from happening.

The other part of the problem is that your Huskies 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 already have faulty genes that further predisposes them to the illnesses that were discussed earlier in this article. So it is that Zinc Deficiency can have far-reaching effects that can be passed on to future generations of offspring.

Breeding Should Be Left To The Experts

This one of the main reasons why breeding of Huskies and Malamutes should only be done by seasoned well informed ethical breeders, who are well aware of the heavy Zinc requirements of this breed. The issue of Epilepsy and Idiopathic seizures in Huskies are best addressed by the prevention of the condition through ethical and knowledgeable breeding practices and by not breeding any dogs that present with symptoms of Zinc Malabsorption.

The other strategy is for potential Husky owners not to purchase or get dogs from back yard breeders and Puppy Mills who have no knowledge of how to support the mothers while the puppies are gestating. The only “cure” for this issue lies in the prevention of the problem. Once the problem manifests itself all we have at our disposal are methods of managing the problem.

In this article, I discussed why your Husky may always be sick. In the next instalment to this article, I will discuss the additions of Zinc Protocols and how best to help your husky to achieve sustainable good health and vitality.

As always, we welcome your comments, questions, and your stories related to this topic. When we share our wisdom and our stories we may well be helping someone who is struggling with their Snow Dog.

Helping All Snow Dogs … one owner at a time.

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  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. 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 ;-)

    • 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.

    • Sara,

      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.

    • 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!

    • Kycheung,

      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.

      • 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!

        • Kycheung,

          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…

          • 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!

    • 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. 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. 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

    • 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

      • 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.

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

  15. 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. 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. 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?

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