Siberian Husky Health
All reputable breeders know about and preform health clearances on their dogs and take health very seriously. Any dog who is used in our breeding program will have had their eyes cleared by a registered Canine Ophthalmologist who specializes in eye diseases. Our dogs from Europe also have been checked and clear for Goniodysgensis (Can be an issue in European dogs). Our breeding dogs also have their hips x-rayed after the age of 24 months (when they are fully developed) and are rated either ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ by the Orthopedic Foundation for Dogs. For Siberian Huskies, the required health tests are for Eyes (against hereditary disorders such as cataracts, corneal dystrophy, progressive retinal atrophy etc.) and Hips (for hip dysplasia). If you are looking to purchase a Siberian Husky puppy, please insist on seeing at least a CERF, OFA or SHOR eye certificate and an OFA hip certificate. We also highly encourage our puppies who are placed in companion homes to have their eyes tested at least once after 1 year old (which we cover the cost for) to ensure our lines are clear as well!
We believe it is important for anyone considering a Siberian Husky to be aware of the health issues that could potentially occur within the breed.
There are many eye defects that dogs can develop, but the three that are the current main concern in Siberians are as follows:
- Cataracts: This is the most common eye issue in Siberian Huskies. A cataract is an abnormality of the lens, where an opacity or a cloudy change in tissue scatters light. The normal composition of the lens is disrupted and it’s transparency is lost. If a large potion of the lens becomes a cataract, it prevents formed light from reaching the retina, causing poor vision. Most cataracts in dogs are hereditary, though cataracts can also result from injury or inflammation in the eye, or systemic diseases that have an affect on the eyes. Diabetes is the most common disease associated with cataracts in dogs. Although it may be difficult to name the specific cause of cataracts, generally the cataracts that develop in the eyes that are free of signs of disease (whether ocular or systemic) are considered to be inherited. Cataracts are always assumed to be hereditary unless associated with known trauma, inflammation in the eyes, specific metabolic diseases or nutritional deficiencies.
- PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy): PRA is a degenerative disease of the retina that ultimately leads to loss of vision. The retina is the neurosensory structure in the back of the eye that transmits images to the brain. In one of the most common forms of PRA (Called Progressive rod-cone degeneration), the rods degenerate first leading to loss of night vision followed by the cones with the loss of day vision. The Siberian Husky breed has a unique type of PRA that is only found in Siberians and human. This type of PRA is called XLPRA (X linked PRA) since it is transmitted through the “XX” chromosome of the female. It will cause a loss of night vision followed by a loss of day vision, and eventually blindness. The recessive gene for XLPRA is situated on the “X” chromosome of the female. Females who inherit a defective gene on the “X” chromosome from one parent and a normal gene on the other “X” chromosome from the other parent will not be seriously affected. They will be carriers with very subtle retinal defects and no loss of vision. A male puppy from a carrier dam will receive either a defective gene or a normal gene, depending on what chromosome was copied with DNA replication. If he has the defective gene, the dog will be affected with PRA since male dogs carry an “XY” chromosome. The disease in males can be devastating with the loss of vision coming as early as 5 months.
- Corneal Dystrophy: Corneal dystrophy is a term used to describe several conditions that occur in dogs and cause the corneas to become opaque. There are three major categories of corneal dystrophy: epithelial, stromal, and endothelial. Each is named by the anatomic location of the abnormality tissue and opacity.
- Canine hip dysplasia typically develops because of an abnormally developed hip joint, but can also be caused by cartilage damage from a traumatic fracture. Severe hip dysplasia with cartilage damage or a hip joint that isn’t formed properly, will over time cause the existing cartilage to lose its thickness and elasticity. This breakdown of the cartilage will eventually result in pain with any joint movement. No one can predict when or even if a dysplastic dog will start showing clinical signs of lameness due to pain. The severity of the disease can be affected by environmental factors, such as caloric intake or level of exercise. There are a number of dysplastic dogs with severe arthritis that jump, run, and play as if nothing is wrong and some dogs with barley any arthritic x-ray evidence that are severally lame. Hip Dysplasia is not common in Siberians and affects less than 3% of Siberian Huskies.
- Epilepsy is the most common neurological disorder seen in dogs, and has been estimated to affect approximately 0.75% of the canine population. The term epilepsy refers to a heterogeneous disease that is characterized by the presence of recurrent, unprovoked seizures resulting from an abnormality of the brain. The condition can be inherited (genetic or idiopathic epilepsy), caused by structural problems in the brain (structural epilepsy), or stem from an unknown cause (epilepsy of unknown cause). Determination of an appropriate treatment regimen for canine epilepsy depends on an accurate diagnosis of the type and cause of seizures, only after which appropriate therapeutic options can be identified.
- In some cases seizures can be influenced by environmental factors such as Lyme disease, meningitis, a severe allergic reaction, viral infection, trauma, eating poison or toxins, liver disease, low or high blood sugar, kidney disease, electrolyte problems, anemia, head injury, brain tumors, encephalitis, strokes, cancer, vaccines, flea and tick medication and more.
- The mineral zinc plays an important roll in many substances in the canine body including enzymes, proteins, and hormones. Zinc is also important for the immune system function and thyroid function. Zinc deficiency can result in many problems for the dog including lack of protection from infection, abnormal iodine metabolism and interference with normal cell development including wound healing and replacement of some cells.
- Zinc deficiency is common in northern breeders and can be easily maintained by giving your dog a zinc supplement everyday. Severe zinc deficiency is rare.