Correcting Zinc Deficiency in Huskies

In the first part of this article I talked about how Zinc Deficiency and Malabsorption were often the root cause for many of the mystery illnesses and conditions that we see in our Snow Dogs.

These problems are often misdiagnosed or not understood by vets who are not familiar with the specialized needs of our Snow Dogs. In this article I discuss how through diet and supplementation, you can often correct these medical issues in your Snow Dog. But before you begin this protocol please ensure you’ve read the first article.

dog, puppy

Why Is It Many Vet’s Don’t Know This Information?

I often get challenged by people who feel that if the information that I am presenting to them were valid or had merit, then their Vets would be already be aware of it. Sadly, this is not necessarily true.

When you take your dog to a licensed Veterinarian, they have gone to school to learn Veterinary Medicine. The information they learn is based on not necessarily what is true or possible, but what has been acceptably proven and accepted by the College of Veterinary Medicine. When their treatment protocols are followed, it means that there is a medical precedent for a certain treatment and the use of a medicine as the cure can be medically proven to their standards of satisfaction.

And here begins the problem; it does not matter if a supplement or alternative medical protocol is effective in helping a dog with their medical issue. If it has not been tested and scientifically proven to the satisfaction of the Allopathic Medical community, then to them the protocol is unproven and has no legitimacy. It does not matter that the proof is self evident when a dog’s health begins to improve after using an alternative treatment protocol. All that will matter is that the protocol has not been “proven” to be effective as far as they are concerned.

While I have no issues with the need for quality control, testing, and legitimacy when it comes to issues of health and medicine, there comes a point where every vet should be questioning their own ethics and medical practices. When your job is to give medications that cause more harm than good and you prescribe them without question because it is the “medically accepted form of treatment”, this now starts to fly in the face of what it is that we want and need from our medical professionals when our beloved animals become sick.

Thank goodness that there seems to be a growing trend among vets whereby they see the limitations caused by the Medical Model their profession is required to follow and they are striving to change the face of modern Veterinary Practice. There are already a few notable internet vets who are actively trying to incorporate Holistic Healing and Allopathic Medicine such as Dr. Karen Becker, Dr. Peter Dobias and Dr. Richard Pitcairn. There is a place for both of these Medical Models. Used together, they can truly help our dogs in their greatest time of need.

But for now, many of us feel frustrated by the current level of understanding that our Vets have when it comes to our dogs, especially our Snow Dogs and their specialized needs. Many of us have had to become advocates for our dogs’ health. However, I don’t recommend nor advocate for people to begin randomly giving their dog supplements without fully understanding the principles and the science of what they are doing. Alternative medical interventions can and do work but people must educate themselves before they begin implementing these protocols with their dogs.

Zinc And The Husky Diet

In the previous article I discussed the common ailments caused by the absence of sufficient Zinc. Chronic Digestive Issues, picky eating, Zinc Responsive Dermatosis, Immune system illnesses, Thyroid issues, organ failings, and Seizure Activity all have a common factor, Zinc Deficiency as the catalyst for these problems. While it makes sense to add sufficient Zinc levels back to the diet of the Husky in an effort 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 in their diet, not every husky diet automatically needs massive amounts of Zinc supplementation. If your Snow Dog shows the symptoms that I discussed in the previous article, you may be able to rightly assume that your Husky’s diet could indeed use some extra supplementation. How much Zinc does your dog need and how best to introduce it to your dog’s diet?

High Zinc Needs For Northern Breed Dogs

It is really 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 there first.

Things you should be aware of regarding your dog’s diet:

  1. Make sure that your Snow Dog is on a grain free diet. Kibble diets that are high in wheat, corn, or soy will tie up available Zinc and can be one of the largest contributing factors to the Zinc Deficiency problem. Sometimes removing this one factor is enough to correct the Zinc Deficiency in your Husky.
  2. Not all protein bases will yield the same amounts of Zinc in your dog’s diet. Kibble diets that rely on meat by-product 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. Just adding 100 grams of beef, salmon, or chicken can supply 100mgs of Zinc to your dog.
  3. Mediocre dog food manufacturers add zinc to dog food but they 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.
  4. Dog food Advisor is a great source of information regarding your dogs food, they review the majority of commercially available foods.

Foods That Are Naturally High In Zinc

  • Most meats, 100 grams yield 100 mgs of Zinc ( beef, chicken, duck, pork, salmon)
  • 100 grams of the following foods yield Zinc in the following quantities:
  • Turkey 120mgs
  • Lamb 150mgs
  • Liver 130mgs
  • Tuna in oil 120 mgs
  • Eggs 70mgs
  • Apples, blackberries, and strawberries 100mgs
  • Plain yogurt 200mgs
  • Carrots (raw) 50 mgs
  • Potato (baked) 120 mgs
  • Pumpkin 100 mgs
  • Sweet potato and yams 100mgs
  • Peanuts( raw) 5 = 25 mgs

Adding Kelp and Seaweed To Your Husky’s Diet

Kelp and other green food products are beneficial to your dog’s diet as they provide not only Zinc ( 100gr = 1.23 mgs of Zinc) but a wide range of other vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. By adding a tablespoon of this green food to your dog’s diet 2 or 3 times a week you can help naturally support your Snow Dog’s thyroid and top up his Zinc levels.

Adding Fish Oil

Because fish naturally contains Zinc, so will fish oil. Along with the Essential Fatty Acids found in 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 mgs to 150 mgs 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 the all the other sources of Essential Fatty Acids in your dog’s daily diet when choosing how much fish oil to give your dog.

Adding A Zinc Supplement

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


There is a commercially produced product used for supplementing 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 blood stream. This product also helps to produce and support healthy coat and skin in Snow Dogs.

Adding A Zinc Mineral Supplement

Before you add a Zinc Mineral supplement to your Snow Dog’s there are some things that you need to know about Zinc.

Things You Need To Know About Zinc

Zinc is the second most utilized trace mineral in the body, second only to iron. The body does not really have a way to store or bank Zinc so sufficient daily levels must be introduced. Dogs need more daily Zinc than humans do. A human being needs only 15 mgs of daily Zinc, while dogs, especially Huskies, need substantially more of mineral in their diet, sometime up to 100mgs. Calculating how much Zinc your Snow Dog gets in his diet is a complicated thing to figure out and this amount seems to vary slightly between Huskies.

Usually the only way to know that your Husky is not getting enough Zinc is when they develop one of the aforementioned illness or health conditions. 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 a number of body processes. It aids in the absorption of iron, in the development of red blood cells, and assists with the formation of collagen, bone, and connective tissue. It also acts like 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, helps with nerve transmission, and with hormone secretion. The primary function of iron is that it combines with copper and protein to create haemoglobin to oxygenate red blood cells. Iron also 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 necessary for the eye to be able 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. Feeding a disproportionate amount of raw bone, liver, and heart will cause adverse interactions between these minerals so make sure you understand how to feed a well balanced Raw Food Diet.

Zinc Toxicity Levels

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

The signs of Zinc toxicity in dogs are vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, jaundice, excessive panting, rapid breathing with rapid ore 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 make sure that you keep Zinc tablets out of the reach of dogs.

Do All Forms Of Zinc Work Equally Well For My Husky?

No, not all forms of Zinc work as well to add available Zinc to your dog’s diet. There are several different forms of Zinc that you could use. Know which forms work well and which ones work less well.

Zinc forms ranked from best to worst:

  • Zinc citrate, picolinate and gluconate are very easily absorbable and well utilized by your dog’s body. ( 25mgs up to 100mgs daily)
  • Chelated Zinc does not bind to iron so it tends to upset the stomach less than some other forms of Zinc but maybe slightly less absorbable than picolinate and gluconate forms.( dosage is the same as above)
  • Zinc Methionine combines Zinc with Methionine and is reasonably well utilized in most dogs. ( 40 mgs daily dosage)
  • 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 in with food but this also makes it less absorbable. ( 200mgs daily dosage)
  • Zinc Oxide is a very cheap and highly un-absorbable form of Zinc. Sadly this is the form of Zinc being used by most mid to low end dog food manufacturers. No wonder so many Snow Dogs suffer from Zinc Deficiency.

Did you know: while Zinc is less likely to cause stomach upset when given after food is in the stomach, it works best when it is given 4 hours after a meal has been eaten. The reason for this is has to do with calcium interfering with the efficiency of Zinc absorption. So try giving the Zinc supplement just before the evening bedtime. There will be food in the stomach but it will be far enough into the digestive process that calcium will not interfere with Zinc absorption.

Calculations For Adding A Zinc Mineral Supplement To Your Husky’s Diet

The actual calculation formula for Zinc dosage is a complicated mathematical process guaranteed to leave anyone without a Mathematics degree scratching their heads. But I will share it with you none the less.

The National Research Council recommends the following protocol for arriving at the Recommended Daily Allowance for dietary zinc for dogs.

It is 2.0 mgs/ KGbw/0.75.

For those folks who like a challenge, here are the instructions of how to use this number to arrive at the dosing rate for Zinc:

To figure out the individual dog doses for Zinc, take the body weight in kilograms to the power of 0.75 and then multiply this number by 2.0 ( used for Zinc) These numbers are used to calculate all dietary requirements, including energy.

For a 50 pound dog that would be Pounds = 50, and pounds to kgs = 22.68 kilograms.

  1. Now take that number to the power of 0.75 – using a calculator set to Scientific, that function looks like this: x^y
  2. Now you have the “magic number” – 10.39.
  3. Next, multiply this number by 2.0 and you have 20.78 mgs. For ease use 21 mgs daily.

OR you can just use the average rule of thumb that says to use about 25mgs of Zinc per 50 pounds of dog weight. Since Zinc toxicity levels, even mild ones, do not really start till after 220mgs and lethal toxicity doses occur after 900mgs, you really do not need precise totals for this process.

Start your Zinc dosages at this level and if you have made all the other dietary adjustments and you have tried adding 25 mgs of mineral Zinc and you still do not see an improvement in your dog in six weeks, you can move the daily dosage up to 50mgs or in some cases you may need closer to 100mgs daily to see marked improvement.

Please, use good judgement when adjusting your dog’s diet or adding supplements to your dog’s nutritional intake. Whenever possible check with your Vet before adding any of these interventions to assure your dog’s safety and well being.

In the last part to this article series, I will be discussing one last aspect to Zinc Deficiency; Seizures in Huskies. As this is a very involved topic I have decided to give it the focus and attention it deserves by allocating an article to it.

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

Helping All Snow Dogs …. one owner at a time.