Most husky and sled dog owners who feed their dogs on conventional prepared dog foods feed them a type of food commonly known as 'kibble'.
Kibble is a complete dry food for dogs that comes in pellet form. Kibble diets offer an easy and convenient way to feed huskies and sled dogs. There are many brands and varieties of kibble available on the market today, catering for all breeds, ages and activity levels of dog. Many huskies and sled dogs thrive on kibble; however a large number of sled dogs are intolerant of the ingredients commonly found in many of the cheaper brands. It is important that husky and sled dog owners are aware of this, as food intolerances can lead to health problems such as upset tummies, skin conditions and other complaints common to these breeds of dog.
It is important to find a good quality food that caters to the specific needs of your dog. The food you give your husky or sled dog, whether kibble, raw food, or other, must take account of the dog's age, health and exercise levels. Kibbles are also formulated to take account of variations in activity levels, for instance for working dogs. Hypoallergenic kibbles for dogs with food intolerances are widely available these days, and are often an appropriate choice for huskies and sled dogs, who do have sensitive digestive systems.
Personally, we have found the kibbles that have suited our own huskies and sled dogs to be the Innova, Annamaet, and California Natural ranges. Orijen is another brand of dog food widely recognized as being suitable for huskies and sled dogs.
Specific kibbles are available for senior dogs. Innova Senior suits our own 'oldies' well.
Most husky and sled dog owners would suggest that the best way to feed kibble is to divide the daily amount into two portions and feed half in the morning and half in the evening. Personally, if feeding kibble, we add an equal volume of water just before feeding (i.e. one cup of kibble and one cup of water). We do not let the food soak as if it gets soggy it may stick to the dogs' teeth and cause dental problems. We feed this way as we were advised to do so by more experienced owners who felt this method would possibly lessen the chances of Bloat. We make sure that fresh, clean water is available for our dogs at all times.
When it comes to feeding time, we would recommend that you leave your dog's food out for a ten minute period and then remove the bowl.
Siberian Huskies in particular can be fussy eaters.
Obviously if a dog with a normally healthy appetite suddenly goes off its food then you should get a vet to check there are no health problems.
Sled dogs are often picky when it comes to food and owners often make the mistake of fussing over their dogs if they start being choosy.
If your husky or sled dog is otherwise healthy, and simply turns its nose up at its dinner from time to time, do not offer alternate 'tastier' treats to try and persuade the dog to eat; simply remove what it rejects and do not feed again until the next scheduled meal-time. Your dog should soon get the picture and realize that what you give it is all that is on offer! Obviously, as mentioned, if a dog refuses to eat for more than one or two meals, or shows any changes in general behavior (i.e. lethargy, sullenness, distress etc) you should get a check up with the vets as soon as possible.
One very common mistake, especially amongst new owners of huskies and sled dogs is a tendency to provide more food than is necessary. .
Huskies and sled dogs require a lot less food than most other breeds of dog.
Sled dogs evolved in harsh and unforgiving northern environments where food was scarce, and their bodies adapted to process food very efficiently.
As a result huskies and sled dogs can extract a relatively high percentage of the available energy and nutrients in their food compared to other breeds.
Very often the daily amounts recommended on dog food packaging will actually be much more than is required for a husky, malamute or other type of sled dog.
Over-feeding can lead to stomach upsets and diarrhea in the short term and excess weight gain over longer periods. It is difficult to prescribe an amount to feed as each dog is different; exercise levels and metabolic rates vary with ages, sex, and activity levels. The best thing to do is to judge by the dog's weight and adjust accordingly.
Personally, we have found in the past that our adult dogs have required around 60% of the amount of food recommended by manufacturers. Working dogs with heavy exercise regimes will require more, as will puppies and young dogs.
Changing brands or even flavors of kibble too quickly can lead to upset stomachs in huskies and sled dogs.
It is often the case that new owners get 'stuck' in a cycle of changing brands too quickly in response to digestive upsets.
If one brand causes a bad reaction, owners will often chop and change in an attempt to find one that agrees with the dog.
Changing between brands can itself cause upsets, even if the dog would react well to the kibble in the longer term. Huskies and sled dogs need their food changed gradually over a period of one or two weeks. The proportion new food should be increased very slowly as the old is gradually phased out.