- I find this helpful & informative, thought i'd share for those interested
by Margit Maxwell February 02, 2015
The Good, The Bad, and the Truly Awful
If ever there was a volatile subject in Husky and Malamute groups it is the topic of what to feed your dog. Just mention the subject and watch for the proverbial fur begin to fly. People will argue at length how their choice of diet is preferable over the others. Regardless whether you choose to feed raw, kibble, home cooked, or combination of all the above, the diet has to be good quality and appropriately balanced for this breed of dog.
All diets can have their strengths as well as their weaknesses.
-Feeding your dog poor nutritional quality kibble is an incomplete kibble diet.
-Feeding your dog only chicken necks and too many raw bones is an incomplete raw food diet.
-Feeding your dog white rice, cooked chicken, and few cooked veggies for every meal is an incomplete cooked food diet.
This article will address keeping your dog healthy so instead of debating, I am going keep to offering you information so that you can make your own well informed choice about what to look for when choosing foods to feed your Husky or Malamute.
The Breed Specific Husky and Malamute Kibble Diet
To look at Siberian Huskies and Malamutes you would not think that these tough and hardy dogs would be prone to sensitive stomachs and easily upset digestive tracts. But these dogs do have special needs and requirements when it comes to feeding and diet. All breeds of dogs require good nutrition that optimally supports their daily requirements for the production of fuel for their body. Huskies and Malamutes have a need for good quality high protein, moderately high fat, and low carbohydrate needs (sources not from wheat, corn, or soy).
High Protein and Mid Range Fat
These dogs require a higher than average protein in their diet. That means if you are feeding kibble, the protein content should be close to 30% or just a bit above that (depending on the activity level of the dog). If you have too high protein ( way over 40%) unless your dog is actively working every day, this amount of protein might cause loose stools. The fat content should be around 18% to 20%. The best proteins for Huskies and Malamutes come from lots of fish and fowl based foods. Red meats like beef, lamb, or bison should constitute a smaller percentage of their protein intake. Adding rabbit, venison, elk, and bison as a switch up from their regular protein source is also a good option.
Change the Protein Base With the Changing Seasons
Very often Huskies and Malamutes do well with a change of protein base as the seasons change.
*That means you may want to feed primarily a fish based kibble high in Essential Fatty Acids in the Winter to support healthy skin and coat.
*In the Spring you may want to start adding lighter proteins like more fowl to the diet.
* In the Summer months with their lowered energy levels and calorie requirements, they really don’t require as much protein and fat in their diet, so switching to a mixed protein base lower in fish and higher in fowl and some added grassland animal protein may be welcomed thing for them.
*In cooler temperatures of Autumn, begin adding more fish based protein and higher fat content to support their need to grow a thick and healthy coat.
Whole Meat, Meat Meal, Meat By-Product, and Meat Meal By-Product
Whatever protein you choose to feed, the protein must come from a good quality protein source so look for the label to tell you that the protein comes from Whole Meat. If the food label says Meat By-Product, then know that the meat in this food gets its protein from a nutritionally sub-standard kind of meat protein.
The rules for what a food manufacturer can legally use as a meat by-product is staggering. If you see the words meat by-product on the food label, know that this means that the by-product protein comes from the left overs that come from slaughtered animals after the edible parts have been removed as the protein source for their food. This by-product protein can also include 4-D animals (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter) animals or other condemned parts of the meat that have been declared inedible and unfit for human consumption. These condemned meats and left over body parts can still be legally used to making dog food that is made using meat by-products.
While using meat by-product allows the manufacturer to produce the food less expensively, it also means that this food is far less nutritious than a food that is produced using only whole meat. There is only ONE WAY for manufacturers to produce an inexpensive food and that is to use cheap sources of meat protein and add lots of corn as a filler to the food. Sorry, but cheap dog food means cheaply made food using inexpensive ingredients. In the end, you will get what you pay for.
Some people think that they are saving money by buying inexpensive and nutritionally sub-standard food for their dogs but unfortunately what they end up paying in Vet visits will more than surpass whatever money they may have saved at the till.
Sled Dogs, Carbs and Grains
Huskies and Malamutes do not require a food high in carbohydrates. A food with about 30% carbs is sufficient and the carbs should come from complex carbs, not simple carbs. Feeding a diet high in simple carbs (like processed wheat or corn) will cause much needed zinc, iron, and calcium to bind to the carbs making them unavailable to your dog.
This will eventually cause issues of Zinc Deficiency and Zinc Malabsorption issues that will lead to, but not limited to, Zinc Responsive Dermatosis, a condition of raised patches of itchy lesions that lead to irritated hot spots. There is a more comprehensive list of medical issues associated with this condition to follow.
Once ingested, grains such as wheat, corn or soy produce phytic acid and will bind to available Zinc in the body. Huskies and Malamutes (and other northern breed dogs) already have a higher than average daily Zinc requirement and feeding foods that contain wheat, corn or soy will only end up causing health issues that have Zinc Deficiency as its root cause. Cheap dog foods often have corn as the first or second item on the ingredient list. That means that corn is the first or second most abundant item contained in that food. This explains why Huskies and Malamutes that are fed cheap foods end up with so many health issues.
Zinc Malabsorption and Zinc Deficiency in Huskies and Malamutes
One of the most misunderstood issues in northern breed dogs is the role that Zinc plays in their diet. Zinc is the second most utilized mineral in the body. It is used as a building block for nearly every one of the body processes. Huskies and Malamutes both have a higher than normal daily requirement for zinc in their diet and they have the added complication of having problems being able to absorb enough Zinc from their diet. This malabsorption and deficiency will cause a host of health issues that seem to constantly be morphing and shifting into secondary and tertiary health problems.
Some of the most common Zinc Deficiency related ailments in Huskies and Malamutes are:
-Zinc Responsive Dermatosis and other skin and coat issues,
-chronic digestive issues including vomiting and diarrhea,
-anorexic eating patterns,
-failure to thrive,
-immune system issues,
-and even idiopathic seizure activity/ epilepsy.
If the food that you feed your Husky and Malamute has any wheat, corn or soy in it, it will eventually cause health problems in your dog. No matter how healthy the other ingredients in the food are, if it contains grains, it is not an appropriate food for this breed of dog.
How Much Food Does My Husky or Malamute Need?
Huskies and Malamutes require a comparably small amount of food for their size. They have a very high metabolism so a small amount of nutritious food will adequately supply their nutritional needs. These dogs differ from some other breeds that are notoriously well known for eating as much food as they can to the point of becoming sick.
Notably, when a husky is full, they will not eat. If they get a lot of physical exercise, they will eat a bit more food to adjust for it. If they are inactive, they will eat less to adjust for their activity level. In cold weather, huskies will consume more calories. In the hot weather, huskies will consume less calories because they simply do not to burn as many calories. As always, there are notable exceptions to these “husky eating rules”.
Nutrient dense foods supply nutrition efficiently so less food is fed at each feeding as compared to feeding cheaper foods. When feeding kibble, it can be hard to imagine that you only need 1 to 2 cups of good food per day while you may be required to feed 3, 4, or even 5 cups per day on a food that is full of corn and animal by-product. This is something must be factored when calculating the true cost of your dog’s food.
The Picky Eater or the Overeater
Some Huskies and Malamutes are notorious for being finicky eaters. It is important to determine the cause of the lack of appetite because there could be numerous causes for it.
If your dog is turning up his nose at his food check the label and look for meat by-products. Your dog may be telling you this food is not good for him. If a food is not nutritious, these northern breed dogs may under eat or over eat. Though not usually known for over eating, some dogs’ bodies may be telling them to eat more because the body demands more nutrition from the food. If your dog is always hungry but seems to be overweight, check your food label and look for wheat, corn, or animal by-products.
If your dog eats his food with enthusiasm for a while but then begins to turn his nose up at it, he may be telling you that the type of protein is not right for him at this time. Try switching up the protein base as the seasons change and see if that does not entice him to eat with more zeal.
Some dogs like their food dry and crunchy while some others may prefer their food dampened with liquid. Try adding some Chicken Soup for Dogs (look for the recipe on The Divine Dog Project Facebook page) to his kibble to add moisture and also a wonderful array of extra nutrition from the soup.
What Ingredients To Look For and What Ingredients to Avoid In Your Dog’s Food
Good quality nutritious foods suitable for your Husky and Malamute will:
-Get their protein from whole meat and meal and it will appear as the first ingredient on the list. This tells you that a food primarily contains protein. Good sources of protein come from Grades of meat A through C,
-Primarily use fish, fowl or other grassland animals as a protein base,
-Use quality sources of fat in their food obtained from their whole meat sources,
-Be over 30% protein, approximately 20% fat, and approximately 30% complex carbohydrate,
-Use a source of complex carbohydrate from legumes, seeds, fruits and vegetables (but not corn or wheat for Husky and Malamute diets),
-Include whole sources of fruits or vegetables,
-Include dog safe herbs for digestion or immune system support,
-Contain pre and probiotics for aid with digestion,
-Use natural sources for their vitamins, minerals, and supplements, not synthetic,
-And will use natural pure Vitamin E oil sources to preserve the food, not synthetic.
Avoid These Items
If you see any of the following items listed in the ingredients of the food that you are reviewing, then this a tell-tale sign that this is a lesser quality food.
Stay away from foods that contain these ingredients:
*Poor Protein Sources
If protein is not the first ingredient on the list, it is tell-tale sign that that a filler (most likely corn) is the primary ingredient in this food.
*Generically labeled Meat Meal - Most likely a combination of random meat cuttings. You have no way of knowing what kind of animal protein your dog is eating. A good food will use specific types of meat and will tell you what they are.
*Specific or Generic Meat By-product or Meat By-Product Meal tells you that the meat used as the protein source is sub-standard nutritionally and quite often contains meat from 4 D (dead, dying, diseased, disable animals.
Products used to bind the kibble together. Corn Gluten or Wheat Gluten (adds no nutrition and aids in facilitating Zinc Malabsorption and Zinc Deficiency in Huskies and Malamutes).
Cheap sources of simple carbohydrates often used as fillers in dog food. They offer no nutritional value and are used to fill out or fluff up the dog kibble. Brewers Rice, Cereal Foods, Soy Flour,Grain Fermentation and Maltodexdrins- suspended solids from grain fermentation like Malt.
*Fruit Pomace and and Previously Used Vegetables
Rather than using whole fruits and vegetables, they use cheaper sources like fruit and vegetable peelings to make it look like their food contains more natural nutrition than it actually does. Any fruit or vegetable pomace is made from peelings and leftover pulp and does not have the same nutritional value as using whole fruits and vegetables.
Fibre from cheap source fibrous plant materials to add bulk and consistency to food. Stay away from Unspecified Cellulose, Corn Cellulose, Corn Bran, Oat Hulls, Peanut Hulls, Rice Hulls, Wheat Hulls and Soybean Hulls.
*Fats and Oils
This is the source of the fat that is used in the making of this food. Using a mixture of cheap fats results in a listing of Generic fat or oil. You have no way of knowing the source of the fat used in the food. -Undesignated Animal Fat, Lard, Tallow, Undesignated Vegetable oil, Canola oil or Mineral Oil.
*Preservatives and Colouring Agents
Cheap foods are chemically preserved instead of naturally preserved. These cheap foods also use artificial colouring agents.- Common chemical preservatives include: BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, Propyl Gallate. Common artificial colouring agents used in foods are: Blue 2, Red 40, Titanium Dioxide, Yellow 5 and 6.
*Sweeteners and Salt
Dogs have no need to have sugars, sweeteners, and salt added to their food. Common sweeteners that used in cheap food are: Cane Molasses, Corn Syrup, Fructose, Sorbital, and Sugar.
*Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements
Cheap foods often use cheap sources of vitamins and minerals and supplements in their food to help give the impression that their food is healthful. Unfortunately, the sources for these additives makes them useless to the body. Commonly used Vitamins: Di-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate or synthetic Vitamin E , Menadione Sodium Bisulphate or Synthetic K. Commonly used Supplements: Zinc oxide (cheap source of zinc not well used by the body, Bone Sulphate (used to balance calcium and phosphorous in the food), yeast cultures and yeast fermentation solubles ( used as a cheap source of Vitamin B)
A host of cheap low grade sources used to make the food more palatable. Stay away from animal digest, generic digest, generic designations of Flavour (chemical in nature), and glandular meal (a cooked source of flavourings obtained from livers and other glands of unspecified animals and sprayed onto the food).
If you are feeding a puppy, you not only have to feed a Breed Appropriate food but an age appropriate food as well. Many high quality puppy foods are designed to feed for the entire first year of a puppy’s life. The nutritional requirements of a growing puppy are very different from that of adult dog so please feed a Puppy Formulation to your puppy. Also, for dogs that will grow to be 50 pounds and over, a Large Breed Formulation is recommended. These foods actually pay careful attention to keeping growth in check as not to overwhelm the immature skeletal and musculature system of a larger dog.
Where To Buy Your Food
Generally, the cheaper low quality foods are the foods that you can find at the grocery stores and department stores that have a pet section. You can also find cheap quality foods at large pet store chains.
Most large pet stores have a system for how they stock their shelves. Dog foods are often ranked. These cheaper foods are located in the first few food aisles closest to the front of the store because these items yield the highest profit margin for the store. They prefer that you buy these cheaper foods for your dog because it means higher profits for them. The higher quality expensive foods already cost a lot of money so profit mark ups on these items are quite slim for the store.
Some pet stores specialize in selling only holistic healthy foods. If you shop at one of these stores you are sure to find only good foods but you will still have to find a good Breed Appropriate food for your Husky or Malamute.
What Brand of Kibble To Feed
There is no obvious or easy answer to this question. The reason being is what food you are able to feed might depend on where you live. If you cannot find a certain food in your country then recommending it to you is pretty pointless. While the cost of some high quality foods within their country of origin make them a good candidate to feed, in another country, with the high added shipping costs, suddenly this food is just not feasible to feed.
Rather than suggesting a certain brand of food, I can give you the tools to be able to find good foods that are local to your area. By using the links to Dog Food Advisor and All About Dog Food, you can review all the kibble based dog foods available to you. Then it is up to you to look for good Husky and Malamute appropriate nutrition in these foods.
To choose a good food, look through the 4 and 5 star rated foods. These sites will give you a total nutritional breakdown of all the ingredients in the foods giving you a complete guide to help you choose a Breed Specific and nutritionally sound food for your northern breed dog.
A Master List Of 4 and 5 Star Dog Foods
A. Lists of 4 and 5 star rated dog foods for North America:
B. Starting at this page link, there are 9 pages of 4 and 5 star dog foods available in the UK and Europe listed in alphabetical order for you to choose from:
If you make a commitment to own a dog then you must also make a commitment to meet your all your dog's needs. Feeding a breed specific and appropriate diet will help to ensure that your Husky or Malamute can have the best chance at leading a long and healthy life.