The food we feed our pets has significant consequences for their happiness and well-being.
Huskies and other sled dogs can be fussy eaters, and are often sensitive to some of the ingredients found in many pet foods, particularly the many of the cheaper, more widely-available brands.
Fortunately, there are a wide variety of dog foods available today, some of which seem to suit huskies and sled dogs particularly well.
The choice of diets and feeding plans available can make finding a suitable diet solution seem like a daunting task!
Don't worry though - feeding your husky or sled dog can quickly become very simple. The key points to remember are;
Generally speaking, most husky and sled dog owners feed either 'Complete' Kibble Diets or Raw Diets, or a combination of the two.
Complete Foods such as kibble are ready made foods that provide all the basic nutrients your dogs needs. Feeding a Kibble is often the simplest, and generally the least time consuming option, as well as involving less mess, storage space etc.
Many owners feel that Raw Diets significantly improve the overall health of their dogs. There is no doubt a raw diet provides lots of variety for your husky. Many of the foods involved, such as raw meaty bones, provide entertainment as your dog will chew away on them happily for hours.
Feeding a Raw Diet requires some initial research into the nutritional needs of your husky, and sourcing food suppliers takes time and patience. You will probably also need to acquire an additional fridge and/or freezer in order to store food, and may want to designate an area in your kitchen or utility room specifically for meal preparation as much raw meat is involved.
Although feeding a Raw Diet may seem a daunting and complicated prospect, in reality, once you have done a bit of initial research, it does become very easy to manage and is very often cheaper on the whole than feeding kibble. Indeed, for many owners the sourcing and preparation of raw food is an interesting and satisfying task, particularly once they see their dog's enthusiastic reaction to the foods on offer.
Many husky and sled dog owners feed both Raw and Complete foods at different times, depending on circumstance, availability and time constraints. This is perfectly acceptable, although it is not recommended that you feed both types of food at the same meal, as they are digested at different rates and health problems-specifically an increased risk of bloat (gastric torsion) may occur. Some owners choose, for example, to feed kibble in the morning and raw food later in the day, or they may feed raw food for the most part and kibble if travelling with their dogs or attending rallies or shows.
Huskies and sled dogs generally require a lot less food than many other breeds of dog. Sled Dogs evolved in harsh and unforgiving northern environments where food was scarce, and as a result their bodies adapted to process food very efficiently. As a result they can extract a relatively high percentage of the available energy and nutrients in their food compared to other breeds. It is often the case that the feeding instructions provided by food manufacturers will suggest feeding more than is necessary for a husky or sled dog, as instructions are not generally breed-specific. This is something to bear in mind when feeding complete dog foods such as kibble or wet food, and is discussed in more detail here
Feeding your sled dog too soon before or after exercise is to be avoided. It can not only be uncomfortable for your dog to exercise on a full stomach, but feeding too close to physical exertion has been linked to one of the most serious and life-threatening medical emergencies sled dogs can incur; 'bloat' or gastric torsion. It is recommended that you wait AT LEAST 30 minutes (longer if at all possible) after exercise before feeding. This gives the dog's body a chance to settle down and cool off before having to deal with the digestive process. You should also wait AT LEAST 2 hours after a meal before you exercise your sled dog, longer if possible, especially if you are exercising your dog vigorously (i.e. if you are 'working' the dog on a rig or scooter).