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Upset Tummies in Siberian Huskies, Malamutes and Sled Dogs

Huskies and sled dogs often have sensitive digestive systems.

They may react badly to many of the common ingredients in cheaper brands of dog food and suffer from upset tummies.

Huskies tend to be better suited to 'kibble' type dry dog foods that wet, tinned foods. Tinned dog food tends to be made of cheap ingredients, such as wheat, that don't agree with husky tummies.

Avoiding Upset Tummies

Upset tummies are common in huskies and sled dogs, particularly in Husky puppies. The first course of action if your dog or puppy is showing any signs of illness should be to consult a vet. Upset tummies may be the first sign of serious illnesses, and should not be left to chance. However, if there is no obvious reason for your puppy or dog to have an ongoing tummy upset, or they experience problems on a regular basis, the cause may well be their diet.

The main diet-related reasons huskies and other sled dogs get upset tummies are:

Changing food too quickly is a common cause of tummy upsets. If you want to change the type of food you give your husky, malamute or sled dog, you must make sure you change foods SLOWLY.
Changes should be made over the course of a week or more. Start by substituting a very small amount of their food for the new kind. If you feed your husky on kibble, swap just a few biscuits at first, gradually adding more and more until you have switched completely.

Many huskies and sled dogs are sensitive to ingredients found in some dog foods. The main ingredients that cause problems are:
  • Wheat
  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Soya
This is not to say that every husky or sled dog will react badly to these ingredients, but many do, particularly to wheat. In a few rare cases, Huskies have been known to suffer other food allergies, including chicken, rice, egg and beef. Though uncommon, such allergies do exist, and may be worth keeping in mind if your dog has long term digestive issues with no obvious cause.

If you suspect your husky has a food allergy, the standard course of action is to simplify the dogs diet until its system has stabilized, and then gradually reintroduce foods one by one. Plain boiled rice with boiled chicken breast or scrambled eggs (made without milk), are a good simple starting point for a dog with tummy troubles. After a few days on such a diet, if the dog's tummy has settled, you can start GRADUALLY introducing kibble or other food.

*If your husky still as an upset tummy after a few days on rice and chicken, and your vet can find no obvious explanation, your Husky may have have an allergy to one of these foods. In this case, you could try porridge oats soaked overnight in water, with some tinned salmon. Boiled potatoes are another alternative instead of rice, and can also be mashed up with tinned salmon.*

Stick to one type of food, and aim to gradually switch from rice and chicken/eggs over two weeks (so after 3 days each meal would be about 25% kibble, after 1 week 50% kibble, and 100% kibble at the end of 2 weeks). If your husky gets an upset tummy as you introduce the kibble, go back to the rice diet, give it a couple of days to settle, and start again with a different type of kibble, i.e. one with different ingredients. If a rice-based kibble doesn't agree with your dog, try one of the varieties based on oats or potatoes.

Kibbles such as Annamaet, California Natural Puppy Food and Innova Puppy Food are often used by husky and sled dog owners.

Annamaet Encore in particular has been formulated for dogs with food allergies.

Orijen is another brand of dog food widely recognized as being suitable for huskies and sled dogs.

Treats are often the cause behind sudden cases of upset tummies. Many owners feed their huskies and sled dogs with suitable kibble or other diets, but forget that treats are often just as bad, if not worse for huskies than the regular foods that cause them problems. The problem is really common for new owners, who will usually be trying to train their new husky puppy or dog, and feeding them lots of treats. It is important to make sure that you find some treats that does not upset your dog or puppy.

Remember that if you go to a puppy training class the other dog owners present may try and reward your husky with their own treats. As an owner you have to be really strict with other people - don't let them feed your dog with their treats. Like many other new owners, we were woken in the middle of the night after the first puppy-class we went to, by our husky who was not feeling well at all. She had been fed a whole range of treats by the other owners at the class, and it made her sick all night and the next day.

The lesson is: don't let other people feed your husky - this goes for old ladies in the park with pockets full of dog biscuits too. As sweet as their intentions are, it does not do your husky any favors if it means they get sick afterwards. For young puppies it may only take a couple of cheap dog biscuits to cause tummy upsets.

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