Huskies are a beautiful-looking breed of dog, and one of their most significant physical properties is their thick, wolf-like coat. Unfortunately, like all dogs that have been bred via selective evolution, Huskies have their share of problems. One of them is skin problems. Siberian Husky skin problems go hand in hand with Husky hair loss and Husky allergies.
But do not worry, if you know what to look out for you can catch these issues early on and seek the right treatment from your vet.
First, a quick note on selective breeding
Purebred dogs have been bred to look and act a certain way. Your Husky is no different. All purebred dogs are susceptible to genetic conditions due to selective breeding.
Selective breeding is when humans choose the desirable traits in an animal or plant and breed many generations of the species to pick out the best examples of the desired trait.
To use the Husky as an example, they were bred for cold weather conditions. Therefore dogs that did not have thick double coats would not have been used as breeding stock.
Dogs that could withstand harsh winters, ice and snow would have been used to breed more dogs with that trait.
Unfortunately, selective breeding has disadvantages. Because the gene pool is much reduced, certain abnormalities and conditions not noticeable to the naked eye can be passed down from generation to generation.
Rare disease genes, physical abnormalities, and reduced genetic variation are the unwanted side effects of selective breeding.
Husky Skin Conditions
Huskies lack the correct enzymes to properly absorb a mineral called zinc. Zinc is essential for immune function, DNA synthesis, and growth. Huskies are genetically predisposed to this deficiency.
One of the main effects of zinc deficiency is hair loss. It can also lead to the dog having lesions on their paw pads, around their genitals, and on the face. These lesions are itchy for your dog.
A veterinarian can diagnose this if you suspect your Husky has this skin condition. They will need to take a biopsy (a small skin sample) to make a diagnosis. Do not diagnose this yourself and treat your dog at home! They need proper medicine from the vet, called zinc methionine.
The sad news is that this is a lifelong condition and therefore requires lifelong medication. Your vet can also give you dogs antibiotics to clear up the lesions, and they may also prescribe enzymes for your pooch.
This Husky skin condition can also cause Nasal Dermatitis.
This skin condition is sometimes called “Collie Nose”, as it seems to affect this breed a lot. But it affects Huskies too.
If your dog suffers from this, the nose hair will fall out, and there will be lesions in the nose. There will be redness and pigment loss too.
These are really important symptoms to look out for in your Husky. It seems to be the first sign of zinc deficiency in this breed.
Your vet should run tests to rule out skin cancer and dermatitis before making this diagnosis.
This is another condition that is common in northern dog breeds, including Huskies. The thyroid regulates metabolism. When the thyroid does not produce enough hormone, Huskies can end up with thickening skin near the tail, which leads to the tail fur falling out. Huskies may also suffer from lesions with this disorder too.
Your vet will do blood tests on your dog to see if their thyroid is functioning normally or not.
If your Husky does have hypothyroidism then sadly, as with a lack of zinc, your dog will be on medications for the rest of its life. This comes in the form of a daily pill.
Husky Hair Loss
Autoimmune skin diseases can cause skin conditions and hair loss in Huskies.
Autoimmune Skin Disease in Huskies
Another health problem that can cause Husky hair loss is caused by a bacteria called pemphigus foliaceous. This bacteria is common in Huskies.
Symptoms include crusty skin on the nose, in the ears, and on the feet (toe pads and nails), and hair loss in Huskies. These symptoms have a tendency to come and go. It is common for secondary skin infections to flare up.
Sadly there is no cure, but there are treatments available. Please note that if your Husky does have this condition, then keep them out of the sun because the sun makes it worse.
Once again, this condition is found in high rates amongst Huskies.
“Uvo” means “eye”; “derm” means “skin”. Therefore it affects the skin around the Husky’s eyes, and sunlight makes it much worse. Because it is an autoimmune disease, it means that the body starts to attack its own cells. In this case, it is the pigment in the skin and in the eye. The skin on the nose and lips is susceptible to turning from dark to light with this condition. Very unfortunately, blindness can occur suddenly when the eye tissue swells due to inflammation and this makes the retina detach.
Husky allergies can be caused by the food the dog is eating. Many dogs have food allergies. Your Husky can be allergic to protein foods like meat and eggs. If your Husky has a food intolerance, there will be digestive problems as well as skin problems.
Husky allergies can also occur if your Husky is allergic to things outdoors such as dust, pollen, grass, and mold.
Things like ticks, mosquitoes, mites, and fleas can also cause a Husky to have an allergic skin reaction.
Huskies can have allergies to inside cleaning products and chemicals too.
Husky Allergies: Things To Look Out For
It will be very obvious if your dog has a skin allergy because they will be scratching, rubbing, and gnawing at their itchy spots continually. Their coat may be dull-looking too. There are signs that your Husky is in great discomfort, so you need to take them to the vet for treatment and relief.
Your vet can prescribe soothing medicated dog wash to deal with the discomfort, and also steroids and antihistamines to medicate the underlying issue.
If the allergy is food-based, then your vet can talk you through an elimination diet. This means removing one food at a time from your dog’s diet, to see if the condition improves – if it does, then you have the culprit and should stop feeding this food to your Husky.