Guide to Making the Siberian Husky Live Longer


If you’re a Siberian Husky owner then you’re a special type of person. Anyone can own one but not everyone is able to be a good one, however, and there’s a big difference between the two.

The Husky is a very special breed of dog with a very special set of requirements. They need to be handled in a certain way and if you don’t get it just right you’ll have an anxious, unhappy Husky on your hands. A good owner provides these things and it is for these owners that this article is for.

I salute you, you are very special people.

From the Beginning

One of the best ways to ensure a long life of the Siberian Husky is to give yourself a good foundation. There’s a lot of work we can do after we get them home, of course, but if you have the opportunity to think about these things beforehand then it’s worth considering.

Use a Certified Breeder

There are many positives to buying your Husky from a certified breeder, however, there’s one downside so let’s get that out there straight away. You’re going to pay more money for your Husky through a certified breeder, without doubt.

However, that is the only negative and there are many positives. If you’re in the lucky position where you can afford to buy a Husky through a reputable breeder, then try and do so.

Buying through a breeder will also mean all the vaccinations are complete for that age of puppy and you will get to know all about your puppy’s parents. Particularly how healthy they are. Also, the breeder should be able to provide you with proof of DNA testing to demonstrate to you that there are no genetic diseases present.

Costs for a Siberian Husky bought through a certified breeder vary but expect to pay around $1000-$1500. You get what you pay for, as they say.

Genetic Testing Your Husky

These testing kits are becoming more and more popular in recent years. I put this down to how the manufacturers allow us to take the test. Previously, it used to be via blood which meant that most people wouldn’t even consider it and rightly so.

DNA tests for us humans became a lot easier when you could just provide a swab of saliva, stick it into a container and pop it into the post. It took a little longer for us to get the same test for dogs but this is now possible. But why would you want to DNA test your dog anyway?

A DNA test will tell you if your dog has inherited any genetic diseases. Not only this, a DNA test will tell you exactly what breed of dog you have (if you have an element of doubt) and if it is a cross-breed then you should find this out also.

This article isn’t about selling you something but there’s only one DNA test kit I’d recommend and if you’d like to find out a bit more about this kit then do take a look here (opens in a new window).

If you haven’t bought your Husky through a breeder then this is quite a good option. Although there’s not much you can do about the results, at least you know if they are clear of any genetic diseases.

Maintaining the Vaccination Schedule

To ensure you keep your Husky healthy and protect them from known diseases they must be vaccinated and these vaccinations must be topped up when required. There are some essential diseases you must vaccinate your Husky against and some are optional, these are:

Essential Vaccinations

These vaccinations are considered essential for your Husky’s health:

  • Hepatitis – this is a long-term disease of the liver which causes inflammation and causes a reduction of functioning within the liver itself.
  • Canine Parvovirus (DHPP) – a highly contagious viral disease that can come in a couple of different forms. The most common comes in the form of an intestinal variety which can cause diarrhea and vomiting. There is a less common form that cat attack the heart which, unfortunately, often leads to death.
  • Distemper – this is a virus that can affect the intestines, brain, and lungs. It is contagious and can be very serious and has no known cure. It is spread through the air or by contact with an animal that is infected. The symptoms would start with a fever before the dog becomes lethargic.
  • Canine parainfluenza – is one of the causes of kennel cough. This isn’t life-threatening but is contagious and has similarities to our human flu.

Optional Vaccinations

  • Leptospirosis – a disease that’s caused by a bacterial infection that is found within water and soil. Symptoms can include shivering, fever, lethargy, and problems with their eyes. The disease can cause kidney failure and lung-related problems.
  • Bordetella – a bacterial infection that can cause kennel cough and are highly contagious, transmitted through the air or direct contact. In puppies, this can be particularly dangerous.
  • Lyme disease – one of the most common diseases that are transmitted by ticks but doesn’t cause symptoms in all dogs, in fact only 10%. More serious problems can occasionally occur and can lead to kidney, heart or nervous system problems.
  • Coronavirus – highly contagious disease that affects the intestines. Doesn’t always show symptoms and in many cases, mild however on very rare occasions it can be fatal, typically to puppies.

Providing a Healthy Diet to your Husky

One of the easiest ways to ensure your Husky leads a healthy life and gets all the nutrients it needs is to, of course, feed it a healthy diet. None of us are perfect though and you will be forgiven for throwing in the occasional treat! As important as it is to feed the Husky a good diet, it’s equally important to not feed them too much.

However, we are somewhat fortunate with the Husky. It is not a greedy breed of dog and because of the amount of exercise it requires tends to burn a lot of it off anyway.

Guide to Making the Siberian Husky Live Longer

Unlike other dogs, who will feed until they fall over, the Husky will only feed until they are full. In fact, the Husky will eat different amounts depending on how much exercise they’ve had. If they haven’t done much in a day then they’ll eat a lot less than if they’d been out on a long run.

When to Feed

You will soon get into a pattern for when you will be taking them out for exercise each day. Ensure that their mealtimes aren’t just before this happens. Ideally, at least an hour or two should pass between the point where they finish their food and when you go outside.

Similarly, don’t feed them as soon as you get back in from a run. You don’t need to leave it a couple of hours but leaving it around 30 minutes is probably a good idea.

Stubborn

Don’t be surprised if, for no apparent reason, your Husky stops eating something that they have eaten perfectly well for several months. The problem is, the Husky is a stubborn dog and if it decides it has become bored of a certain meal then it may choose it is not going to eat that again. I have found that variety is essential to keep your Husky happy.

Guide to Making the Siberian Husky Live Longer

What To Feed Your Husky

This is where common sense will hopefully kick in. These days we are well and truly spoilt in the number and variety of dog foods that are available to us.

The core of their diet should include carbohydrates, protein, and fat. How you deliver this will be up to you. Actually, that’s not quite accurate – it will be up to your Husky 🙂 You should try various types until you find something that they like. Whether it’s dry food, kibble or even raw – make sure you keep the carbohydrates to a minimum as this can cause diabetes in dogs easier than it can with us.

You shouldn’t just assume your Husky will like a certain type of food just because another owner says theirs loves it. Yours may not. I like parsnips, for instance, that doesn’t mean my son will. As it happens, all my son seems to like is chicken nuggets and chips, but that’s another story 🙂

A lot of people swear by feeding their Husky raw food only. When you speak to vets about this though you get different reactions. Where one will say it’s the absolute best diet for any dog, another vet will say the exact opposite.

So, what should you make of this? As I said at the start, use common sense. Find a few things that they like and alternate them from time to time.

What Should you NOT feed your Husky

There are a few foods that you should absolutely not feed your Husky, avoid any of the below:

  • Bacon
  • Chocolate
  • Avocado
  • Onions – really, who feeds their dogs onions?
  • Grapes
  • Anything too salty
  • Any dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Any kind of candy or baked foods

Exercise and the Siberian Husky

Anyone who knows anything about the Husky knows about its exercise requirements. They are a dog that was originally bred to pull sleds all day, a true working dog. They were perfect for the role and are in their element when outside and running, it is their natural state.

It is also the main reason why they are sent back to the breeder or a rescue home a few months after being bought. The new owners didn’t realize how much exercise the Husky required as they didn’t do the research. Unable to keep on top of it, they have to send them back, which is desperately sad.

Guide to Making the Siberian Husky Live Longer

If the Husky doesn’t get enough exercise and you can’t compensate by playing and exercising with it inside (unlikely) then it is going to become depressed and its anxiety levels will be elevated. You will have an unhappy Husky.

The anxiety it feels can manifest into other problems and you should not be surprised to see a destructive personality emerge. Anxiety can cause physical changes within the Husky and can cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal related disorders.

In summary, keep your Husky happy – give them what they need exercise-wise. This is at least two sessions of exercise a day and each one should really last for an hour. This shouldn’t just be a gentle walk but must be quite brisk, it needs to be a work-out. If you think you’re a bit overweight, you won’t be after a couple of months of doing this!

Training your Husky

You may wonder how training your Siberian Husky can lengthen its life. Well, it is an unfortunate fact that the Husky has a high prey-drive. This means that if it is outside and catches a glimpse of a small mammal, it will be after it in a shot. This is the reason why it is advised that the Husky never ventures outside without a leash attached.

However, if you have properly trained Husky then at least you have a chance. Giving them an order to stop may work. There’s a good chance it won’t as the prey-drive is so strong but there’s a better chance if they’ve had good training. If you can’t stop them from running off, there is, unfortunately, a chance you may not see them again. They can go a long way away very quickly.

Guide to Making the Siberian Husky Live Longer

Another use of training is to prevent traffic accidents. Being able to control your dog around dangerous situations is obviously a great skill to have. However, put a leash on them and you won’t have any of this risk, right? Many dogs are lost unfortunately to traffic accidents, don’t let your Husky be one of them!

Neutering your Siberian Husky

There are many good reasons to neuter your Siberian Husky and arguably, no negative ones. In case you didn’t know, neutering a male is called castration and neutering a female is called spaying. When neutering can happen should be discussed with your vet but usually occurs around the 6-month mark.

One of the obvious reasons to neuter your Husky is to avoid unwanted litters. The cost of any neutering will be a lot cheaper than trying to take care or find new homes for your new little puppies!

Males

Castrating the male Siberian Husky can prevent many prostate-related problems and also testicular cancer.

The male Siberian Husky will be a lot less likely to want to get away from your home. Although, it certainly won’t prevent this behavior in the Husky. If a male hasn’t been castrated it will try even harder than usual to try and escape and this is when they can come into harm.

The castrated male will most likely be better behaved. Unneutered Huskies will be more likely to try and mark all their territory by spraying urine. Usually, this will be all over your house. They will also be a lot less likely to mount other dogs (and people) after being neutered.

Neutering a dog can also help to reduce aggressive tendencies although this isn’t usually a problem with the Siberian Husky anyway.

Females

Spaying a female should mean they will live a happier life and for longer, too. It can prevent breast tumors (which can be cancerous in around half of all cases) and it can prevent uterine infections.

The female Husky won’t go into heat. This can usually occur for around five days every three weeks or so during the breeding period and during this time (and in an attempt to capture a mate) they will howl and most likely urinate a lot more than usual, probably inside your home.

Mental Stimulation and the Husky

The Siberian Husky is a very complex beast. Despite it being independent and quite frankly, not needing us to survive, to be able to keep a Husky as a pet requires substantial effort. It is not for a first-time dog-buyer. If you’re not outside with them, you’ll be inside and they won’t always be content to sit on your lap watching some rubbish on television.

They’ll need to be played with and without this mental stimulation they may suffer from anxiety-related problems.

Guide to Making the Siberian Husky Live Longer

Having a stress-free life is obviously one of the factors that ensure life isn’t cut short by any anxiety-related problems. You can do this by spending as much time as you can with them and playing with them.

If you’re not getting enough time to play with them inside then you need another way to burn some of their energy. Have you thought about an indoor doggy treadmill? Probably not as if you’re anything like me you won’t have had any idea that these things even existed!

Siberian Husky Teeth

Something that many people forget about or many people don’t really care about is taking care of the Husky’s teeth. Also, sometimes we just get caught up with other stuff and the things like cleaning your Husky’s teeth drop down on your list of priorities.

However, I think all of us know how tooth problems for us can give us a lot of pain so you can probably imagine what it’s like being a dog and in the same kind of pain but not being able to do anything about it or communicate it.

Did you know that around 85% of all dogs over 4 years old are affected by inflammation of the area around the teeth? This is called periodontal disease. Take a look here if you’d like to check out the source of this information (opens in a new window).

So how can you tell if your Husky has a problem? Well, one of the first symptoms you will notice is bad breath. If you do notice this then don’t just ignore it, investigate further.

If you choose to brush their teeth daily then this can prevent it (as well as other dental problems) but brushing can be very difficult to introduce if you didn’t start doing it from when they were a puppy! However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it and like so many things with the Husky, patience, perseverance and consistency is the key here.

Once you get into a pattern, it’ll literally take you a couple of mins in the morning and night and it’ll form just part of your normal routine.

Keeping Anxiety Levels Down

We’ve mentioned anxiety a few times within this article and for good reason too. The Siberian Husky can be a very difficult dog to keep content. It’s going to take a lot of your time to keep this animal happy for the entirety of its life and you have to be a very special person to be able to do this. I guess this section should cover keeping your anxiety levels down also!

However, if you are the right person then owning a Siberian Husky is no hassle at all and doesn’t really require any effort. You see, if you’re the right person to own a Husky then it all comes naturally for you. You’re already a person who spends a lot of time outside.

You’re already a person who isn’t bothered about going away for a couple of weeks to lie on a beach. You’re already someone who understands dogs and their needs. Being this person is the best way to keep anxiety levels down of the Husky and ensure they lead a long, healthy life.

Siberian Husky Insurance

In my opinion, it should be mandatory to have insurance when you buy a dog. But then I guess a lot of people wouldn’t be able to afford them and a lot more would be destroyed each year rather than end up in loving homes. However, don’t underestimate the importance of having insurance for your Husky.

Vet bills can surpass $1000 very quickly and very easily after only a few nights kept at the vets. Obviously, in the ideal world, you’ll never need to use it but the chances are you will. Hopefully, the problems won’t be serious but you’ll have to be a very lucky owner to go their whole life without a problem that doesn’t require veterinary help.

As harsh as it may seem, having insurance gives your Husky a greater chance of a longer life. You are a lot more likely to get an operation done or get some medication for them if you’re not paying for it, that’s just a fact.

My advice would be to factor the cost of insurance into the cost of ownership as you’re looking to buy.

Regular Vet Check-Ups

In the same way that a lot of us, as we get older, have annual check-ups at the doctors, your Husky should have annual check-ups with your vet. This is a good opportunity for you to discuss anything that you’re concerned about and it will allow your vet to take all the vital measurements of your dog.

After your Husky reaches 7 they are considered ‘Senior’, which sounds odd to me considering they will most likely last double that age. But, you may decide, as they get older to visit your vet twice a year.

Going to the vets for a check-up is an opportunity for them to spot any potential problems before they become serious. Early diagnosis is key to fixing many health problems and this is a great opportunity to do just that.

Summary

We all want our Husky’s to live as long as possible and I sometimes think it’s so unfair that they live such short lives, compared to us. However, to maximize the amount of time we have them, as you have seen, there are some basic things we can do.

They are all common sense though really when you think about it. Give them some good, healthy food. Get them neutered after around six months. Spend time with them and give them lots of exercise and keep them happy. Get insurance and have regular veterinary check-ups.

Most importantly though, enjoy every second you have them when they are here with you. Take lots of photos and videos, give them the best life possible and when it’s time for them to cross the bridge, let them go with dignity.

Matt

I'm Matt Pettitt, joint founder of the Pets Knowledge Base alongside my wife, Jane. Since I was just 2 years of age I've had pets in my life - which I don't mind admitting is 47 years! I strongly believe that when you introduce a pet into your family you should do everything you can to give it the best life possible. I've learned a lot during the past (almost) five decades and this blog gives me a medium to share everything I have learned ( both good and bad) about pets. If you'd like to know more about us, and how to contact us - take a look at our About page here!

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