You get dogs that eat without issues for years, and then you get huskies! It’s well known that huskies can be fussy eaters and have unpredictable appetites.
If your husky has stopped eating then it can be both worrying and confusing. In this article, we’ll explain the SEVEN main reasons why this happens and what to do next.
Huskies stop eating if they: Disagree with their food, don’t receive enough exercise, receive too many treats, have no set feeding time, are not comfortable in their environment, or have underlying health issues.
7 Reasons Why Your Husky Isn’t Eating
As I cover each reason in detail, one may stand out to you that’s more relevant and likely.
Identifying the cause is important, yet it can be challenging… The best thing to do is consider if there have been any recent changes to your husky’s routine, as well as their overall lifestyle and habits.
1. Your husky disagrees with their food
Huskies are not a glutenous breed, so if they aren’t getting on with their food, they will have no problem leaving it!
Most huskies have something called a soft stomach, meaning they are sensitive to a lot of ingredients they eat.
If your husky doesn’t tolerate any particular ingredient and it negatively affects their digestion, then they are intelligent enough to leave that ingredient the next time around.
Diet quality & breakdown: It’s crucial to feed huskies a high-protein (& low-carb) diet that is of premium quality. Unfortunately, many inferior kibbles nowadays cram their products with a high amount of carbs to keep costs low. Carbs, however, provide little nutritional value to our canine companions.
Huskies are an active working breed with bodies designed to run off protein and fat with little to no carbs. It’s best to choose a food that mimics these macronutrient ratios. This gives huskies the best chance of getting on well with it.
I would say, however, if you find out that your husky does have a very sensitive stomach, then it could be necessary to lower the fat content too. While we generally recommend high fat, it is harder to digest, meaning sometimes it’s the right thing to do.
If your husky has been consuming this same food/diet for several months without any problem, then it’s more than likely a different issue at play. Read on!
2. Insufficient exercise
Huskies are one of the world’s fittest breeds. They absolutely NEED a high volume of exercise to be at their best in terms of health and behavior. 2 hours per day is good for most adults.
Over thousands of years working and running several hours every day, huskies developed an extremely efficient metabolism. Due to their environment, lifestyle, and food availability, their bodies adapted to go for long periods of time on very little food.
Still to this day, huskies can go a while without eating. One thing that helps them keep a healthy appetite is sufficient exercise.
If your husky doesn’t receive at least 2 hours of moderate to intensive exercise per day (ideally one hour in the morning and evening) then it could simply be that your husky doesn’t feel like they need to eat.
Please note that I am referring to otherwise healthy adults. Puppies and seniors, or those with health conditions should have a less intense exercise plan.
3. Too many treats or table scraps
Whether it’s healthy dog treats or juicy table scraps, too many of them throughout the day can really disrupt eating habits.
TWO things can happen…
Either your husky gets clever and decides to refuse their food in hope that you eventually give them more treats or table scraps…
Or your husky has consumed enough treats and tidbits throughout the day to suppress their appetite by the time their real food gets put down.
Whatever the cause, your husky should not be receiving too many treats every day. While I completely understand that treats are a crucial part of any dog’s day, especially when it comes to training, they must be limited.
I’ll run through the best advice on treats and tidbits below in the next section.
Interesting article: Why huskies don’t get frostbite
4. No set feeding times
I was recently helping my parents with their dog who had recently stopped eating. I explained how important it was to remove the food bowl throughout the day, avoid giving treats, and stick to rigid feeding times.
This essentially trains a dog to build an appetite and become hungry at set times of the day, which is very important for healthy eating habits.
Ironically enough, because they were so worried about their dog not eating their food when they did put it down, they began trying to feed her whenever they could, randomly throughout the day. In an attempt to “get some food in her!”…
What ended up happening is that their dog was essentially day grazing, eating little bits of kibble throughout the day when they tried feeding her. Ultimately, she was likely eating her full meal, just in tiny bits across the day!
After I realized what they were doing I quickly told them to stop the day grazing and go back to very strict mealtimes in the morning and evening. After they did, their doggo realized when she is supposed to eat, and got right back at it.
5. Not feeling comfortable in their environment
Dogs are very sensitive to their environment, especially breeds that are in tune with their survival instincts like huskies!
If anything seems “off”, either inside your home or outside, your husky may completely avoid eating for now.
In the wild, eating is considered a very vulnerable moment, just like when sleeping. And so dogs would rather be observant and alert.
If there are any unusual smells, noises, or your husky is spooked by something, then the “safest” thing for them to do is to leave their food.
Some scenarios include:
- Perhaps someone new is in your home
- You’ve recently got new neighbours
- You’ve got a new pet
- There are new and unusual sounds in your neighbourhood (building work)
- Your husky can smell other animals outside
- Your husky can sense something is “off” with someone at home
As I mentioned earlier, to identify the cause of the food refusal, it’s important to take a step back and consider your husky’s routine, recent changes, and overall behavior and habits. This could shed some light on the issue.
6. Stress or anxiety
General stress and anxiety could also result in food refusal.
Huskies are a sensitive breed in general, and many things can cause them extra stress and anxiety, including:
- Being left alone too much
- Not receiving enough attention & quality time
- Understimulation (physically and mentally)
- Lack of training
- Moving homes or changes to their environment
- New pets or partners
- The loss of a family member or pet
While we might think of dogs as less sensitive to certain situations than we are, that isn’t always true. New research now shows that dogs can feel a wide range of emotions from happiness, sadness, jealousy, anger, and can even get depressed…
It’s crucial to consider any recent changes or events that may have happened, as well as your husky’s general daily routine.
7. Pain or health issues
In the worst cases, your husky may not be eating due to pain or underlying health issues.
Many dogs suffer from poor dental hygiene (mainly because pet parents aren’t brushing their dogs teeth as much as they should!).
If your husky has any pain in their mouth from their teeth or gums, it could stop them from eating. As can any other pain from injuries throughout their body.
While there are many health issues that can cause a lack of appetite, huskies, in particular, suffer from Zinc Deficiency as many other northern breeds do.
Zinc is one of the most important minerals in the body and is responsible for the normal functioning of a lot of bodily processes. Huskies suffering from ZD may experience a lack of appetite.
Ultimately, food refusal isn’t a symptom to be overlooked. This is why if your husky doesn’t eat for 2 days, it’s best to schedule a vet appointment. Typically, if health issues are at play, other symptoms will also be present, like lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, unusual behavior, or extreme shedding.
When To See a Veterinarian
Having a husky that won’t eat can certainly be worrying and should always be taken seriously. Let’s run through when you should seek veterinarian help.
When to seek help from a vet:
- Your husky is a young puppy (under 6 months)
- Your husky is a senior (over 8 years)
- Your husky has existing health conditions (you know about)
- Your husky is on medication
- Your husky hasn’t eating anything in 2 days straight
- Your husky isn’t drinking
- Your husky has other symptoms like lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, or unusual behavior
- Something doesnt seem right with your husky and you think calling the vet is the best thing
If any of the situations above are relevant to you, then it’s advised to call your vet for professional advice.
If, however, your husky is an otherwise healthy adult that has just started refusing their food, you do have some time to handle this problem yourself at home.
How Long Can Huskies Go Without Eating?
We receive this specific question a lot, let’s explain how long a husky can go when they stop eating.
According to Dr. Philips Animal Hospital, we found out the following:
An otherwise healthy dog can go around 5 days without eating, assuming they are still drinking plenty of fluids.
If a dog is not eating OR drinking, then this is a more serious situation and reduces the time down to 1-3 days depending on prior health and reasonings.
If your husky refuses to drink, you should waste no time in calling your veterinarian.
Your husky’s overall health and age will also dictate how long they go. The information above would account for otherwise healthy adults.
Not eating is one thing, but not drinking something else!
How To Get Your Husky Eating Again
Assuming your husky is otherwise healthy, try the following to get them eating again.
1. Give them a day
The best thing you can do for the first 24 hours is nothing. Simply to wait and see if the behavior reverts itself. And in many cases, it does.
Sometimes we get so caught up in our worry that we forget this could be a totally random blip in behavior. Dogs do this all the time.
This way, you won’t go making changes before you really need to.
2. Stop treats & table scraps
For treats, stop them temporarily, but for table scraps, stop them forever! Our food contains so many ingredients that are not healthy for dogs, so it’s simply best to avoid giving it altogether.
For now, stop the treats as they could be what’s disrupting your husky’s normal eating habits. Of course, treats remain to be an important part of a dog’s day so this only needs to be until they start eating again.
3. Make the kibble wet (or add meat broth)
Perhaps the most simple trick to make their existing kibble tastier is to make it wet! or actually add some flavored meat broth.
Wet kibble is easier to eat, chew, swallow and digest, not only that, but it will smell much stronger. Sometimes too strong to resist!
If you want to take it a step further than water. You can add real meat broth for added flavor. Just be sure that the broth is natural and doesn’t contain spices or a high amount of salt.
4. Set strict mealtimes
In conjunction with removing treats, it’s crucial to set mealtimes and stick to them.
I know it can be tempting to try and get your husky to eat “at least something” randomly throughout the day, but this isn’t helping the overall problem.
Set convenient mealtimes you know you can stick to (7 am and 6 pm) and avoid letting your husky day graze.
5. Check the kibble you have
If your husky has been eating this kibble for a while then it’s likely not going to be an issue. (although sometimes, certain intolerances take a while to develop!)
If the kibble you have has a high amount of carbs compared to protein and fat, then it might be worth considering a switch.
In addition to this, you may want to remove common allergens. Surprisingly, chicken, beef, and pork are all common allergens, yet are the most popular sources of protein for most kibbles. This could be what’s upsetting your husky’s stomach.
Kibbles and diets that get their protein from sources like turkey, duck, and fish generally digest better.
Always research the brand you are using, and never skimp on quality! Even if it hurts the bank account!
6. Increase exercise and activity
If you husky’s exercise routine is already at around 2 hours, then there is room for a little improvement.
Assuming your husky is a healthy adult 1-7 years, then most will handle 2 hours without a sweat. And to be honest, this should be the minimum.
If your husky’s exercise routine is lacking then this may be the only change that’s needed.
7. Mix wet dog food into kibble
Veterinarians often recommended feeding a dry/wet split. This means 80% dry kibble, with 20% wet dog food (preferably of the same brand).
Wet dog is extremely rich, tasty, palatable, and irresistible to most dogs. By substituting a bit of their dry kibble for the wet dog food and mixing it in, most dogs will instantly start eating again.
While wet dog food has a lot of benefits after dry kibble, it’s too rich to feed on its own. So it’s best to save it for an occasional treat, or when you need to get your dog eating again.
Some consider this almost to be an emergency trick that works right away (for most dogs).
What to do if my husky puppy isn’t eating?
If you have a young husky puppy that starts refusing their food the best thing to do is call your veterinarian. Puppies are different from adults in that their need for food and nutrients is greater. Calling your vet is the first thing to do.
How long can huskies go without eating and drinking
Huskies can only go for one to three days (depending on prior health and environment) if they are not eating or drinking. If your husky isn’t drinking you should always contact your vet immediately.
Should huskies eat more in winter?
Huskies may benefit from a slightly higher caloric intake during winter, this will help their body remain warm and may supplement healthy coat growth. Just be sure not to increase their calories too much (100-200 is fine)
What can I give my husky to make them eat?
The easiest trick to try is to wet their kibble or pour a little meat broth over it. This only works providing their kibble isn’t the aggravator.
How many calories per day do huskies need?
Caloric intake for huskies depends on their age and activity levels. In general, husky adults that have moderate activity levels need around 1250-1750 calories. If a husky has a very high activity level, they may need up to 3000 calories.
Do huskies eat less in summer?
In most cases, huskies with healthy appetites should continue to eat the same amount of food. But yes, in some situations when it’s very hot some huskies do tend to eat a little less. Assuming the change is only minimal, this should be a cause for concern.
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