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The Natural Diets of Huskies and Other Sled Dogs

The Siberian husky and other sled dogs evolved over the centuries in cold, northern regions of Russia, Siberia, Alaska and Scandinavia. These regions have harsh climates and very limited resources, and so the food available to dogs both wild and domesticated was very limited and often in short supply.

In response, the Siberian husky, Alaskan malamute and other sled dogs have evolved specific physical characteristics which allow them to cope with such harsh environmental conditions and dietary constraints. As owners, we can aim to optimize our sled dogs' health by providing a diet that takes the specific requirements of these breeds into account, and providing them with extra supplements that may be otherwise lacking.

Metabolic Rates and Food Requirements

Notably, the Siberian husky and other sled dogs require a lot less food than most other breeds of dogs - roughly only 60% of what is usually suggested by pet food manufacturers for a dog of their size. This is due to the fact that sled dogs' metabolism is extremely efficient. They have adapted to absorb a relatively high level of the energy and nutrient contents of their food. In their natural Arctic environment, this would enable huskies and sled dogs to survive on small amounts of food in times of scarcity when other animals requiring more food would have struggled to do so.

Main 'Natural' Food Sources

The diet of the husky or sled dog in its native land would mostly consist of fish (especially oily fish like salmon), and perhaps caribou, seal and whale meat. They would have hunted small mammals such as Arctic hares and perhaps caught birds on occasion. Most of these creatures themselves are part of the marine food chain, (i.e. whales eat fish and krill; fish eat algae, plankton, smaller fish and crustaceans, etc). The plants and animals in this food chain contain high levels of certain minerals in their bodies, such as Zinc and Vitamin C. Sled dogs have consequently evolved to require higher amounts of such minerals etc. than dog breeds from other geographic regions. Some of the most common health disorders seen in sled dog populations today are a result of dietary deficiencies of these minerals.

Dogs living in arctic regions would usually eat small animals and fish whole, including their stomachs and the contents. Their diets would thus include a certain amount of vegetable matter. This is one reason why it is important to include vegetables as part of a raw diet. They would also perhaps occasionally graze on seaweeds or algae along shorelines in times of scarcity.

Whether from grazing or from the stomachs of prey animals, much of the vegetable matter dogs Arctic regions ingest would be kelp and other seaweeds. Amongst other minerals, these plants are very high in Zinc, which is very important to for good health in northern breeds.

Food supplements such as Solid Gold Seameal Powder contain dried seaweed. You can add these to the diet of your husky or sled dog to help provide minerals and vitamins that may be beneficial to northern breeds. Pet Kelp Natural Multi-vitamin is an all-natural kelp based multi-vitamin and mineral complex made from Nova Scotia kelp, organic flax seed, blueberries and has over 70 nutrients for your dog.


Zinc naturally occurs in very high quantities in the 'Northern Diet', in fish, crustaceans, seaweeds etc. Zinc Deficiency is a common ailment of sled dogs today, as complete pet foods often do not contain the levels of zinc they require. Zinc Deficiency manifests as Zinc Responsive Dermatosis (ZRD) in many dogs. This is a skin condition that primarily affects areas of the face and head, particularly the muzzle, ears and around the eyes, where hair-loss occurs and red, scaly patches of skin develop.

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