If you suspect your husky is overweight then this is the article for you.
The most common reason for a husky being overweight is a lack of exercise or simply eating too much food. In some cases, it can be due to hormone-related problems or simply genetics, but it should always be the owner’s responsibility to monitor and keep in the correct range.
In this guide I’ll share the best tips for keeping track of your husky’s weight, what causes your husky to be overweight in the first place and what to do about it. Let’s get straight into it.
- How To Tell If Your Husky Is Overweight
- 8 Reasons Why Your Husky Is Overweight
- How To Help Your Husky Lose Weight
- How Long Does It Take For A Husky To Lose Weight
- When To See A Veterinarian
How To Tell If Your Husky Is Overweight
There are three ways to check if your husky is overweight:
- Check your husky’s ribs – If you can’t feel the ribs then your husky is overweight, and if you can’t see a waistline then your husky is likely obese.
- Consult with your veterinarian – Sometimes we aren’t the best judges of weight, and speaking to your vet can give you the reality check that you might need.
- Use weighing scales – Male huskies should weigh between 45-60lbs (20-27kg) when fully grown, with females weighing 35-50lbs (16-23kg). If your husky is not mature yet, use the chart below to see the average weights with age.
Remember that these are just average figures – your husky may just be built differently from another and weigh more without having excess fat (more muscular, for example).
Is It Bad If Your Husky Is Overweight?
If your husky is overweight it is not ideal for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, being overweight will put your husky at a higher risk of health problems like cancer, heart disease and many others. Secondly, huskies have a strong history of being working dogs that are capable of running over 100 miles when trained properly.
This means if your husky becomes overweight it will not be able to exercise as much which can make them depressed and possibly develop destructive behaviors.
8 Reasons Why Your Husky Is Overweight
Here are 8 of the most common reasons why your husky is overweight.
1. Lack Of Exercise
Huskies have a super high requirement for exercise (2+ hours per day), so it’s no surprise that a lot of husky owners don’t meet this requirement every day.
If this exercise requirement isn’t met there’s a good chance your husky will put on weight, assuming you continue to feed them as normal. It can also cause other issues relating to behavior as well.
2. Too Much Food
When was the last time you checked how much the label on your dog food recommends feeding your husky?
If you’re anything like me then it was probably a long time ago. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but it can become one if you increase the amount of food without realising it.
3. Too Many Treats
We’re all guilty of treating our dogs, but sometimes we can overdo it without realising it.
You should only treat your husky during training or exercise, and avoid giving them any human food as it is very hard to judge how many calories there are.
4. Old Age
As your husky approaches old age, they won’t be able to exercise or be as active as they would when they were younger.
This is completely normal, but sometimes it can be difficult for us owners to reduce the amount of food and treats that we provide as we often use this as a replacement tactic for keeping them happy if they can’t exercise as much.
As health problems become more likely to occur during old age, it’s important to keep their weight in a healthy range as we don’t want to increase the risk of any health-related problems.
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a problem that huskies are prone to, and can result in weight gain amongst several other symptoms.
It causes a decrease in the production of thyroid hormones and as a result, slows down the rate at which a husky burns calories by affecting its metabolism.
Treatment for this is usually quite straightforward and involves hormone replacement tablets.
Most huskies love to exercise and burn up their energy, but there are huskies that can be stubborn and lazy.
While there can be underlying issues responsible, sometimes it can simply be due to the personality of your husky.
7. Weight Gain Due To Neutering
Neutering has been proven to increase weight gain if there is no change to diet at the time of surgery.
Neutering alters the hormonal balance of huskies and reduces calorie consumption.
Changes in hormonal balance slow down the metabolism and reduce energy requirements. It has also been studied that neutering increases the dog’s appetite.
Your veterinarian should be able to assist with a feeding plan during this time to prepare for any rapid weight gain that may occur, so if you are unsure about this then just ask them.
Other illnesses such as heart or liver disease can also trigger weight gain.
This typically happens rapidly, and if you suspect anything is wrong with your husky then speak to a veterinarian.
How To Help Your Husky Lose Weight
The first step to helping your husky lose weight is to accept responsibility.
If there aren’t any medical issues to blame, it is likely your fault either due to too much feeding or not enough exercise. Luckily, these are easy to fix but just require some effort.
The easiest thing to control is how much you are feeding your husky every day.
We recommend using a ‘complete’ dog food for your husky (one that meets all nutritional requirements), and you should first look at how much you feed your husky versus what is recommended on the label. It can be very easy to ignore this and feed your husky too much, so the first step is to ensure you are feeding roughly the right amount.
These values are just estimates, however, so if you are feeding roughly the recommended amount then you should reduce it by around 10% and monitor the changes to your husky’s weight over the next few weeks – this will allow for a gradual change in weight.
If you are feeding a raw diet, reduce the amount by a similar 10% with each meal and monitor the weight again.
As I mentioned before, huskies need around 2 hours per day of intense exercise and can easily handle more.
When you’re first starting out with an overweight husky, they might not be interested in exercise right away so it’s important to increase it gradually. It can also put too much stress on their joints and muscles if you suddenly increase exercise from one day to the next.
Here are some ideas for exercising overweight huskies that are gentle on their bodies:
- Walking/Hiking -Walking or going for hikes is a great way to introduce gentle exercise to your overweight husky. Start off small and gradually increase this every week.
- Swimming – Swimming is super low impact and a great way to exercise huskies, especially if they are obese.
Aim to increase overall exercise time by around 10% per week until you’ve made it to that 2-hour mark, and remember that gentle exercise should be increased first until your husky has lost enough weight to start doing more intense exercise such as running or playing fetch.
Dog Treats (In Moderation)
We all love to feed our dogs leftover food from our lunch or dinner, but this can quickly add up in calories.
Instead, you should purchase some healthy dog snacks instead and feed them as rewards during training or exercise. For example, you could play fetch with your husky and use the treats as a positive reinforcement when they retrieve the ball.
Huskies love to work for rewards, so this is a great way to increase mental stimulation while still treating them to a snack without worrying about weight.
Dog toys are a great way to increase the overall activity of your husky.
Chew toys, such as the Kong stuffable, are great because you can hide a treat inside and leave your husky to it. If your husky is able to play fetch then toys that allow you to throw the ball further are another great option.
How Long Does It Take For A Husky To Lose Weight
Huskies should lose 2-4% of their body weight each week at a healthy rate; anything bigger than this is too fast.
Once they reach their target weight (see tables above) you can increase the portion sizes to maintain weight.
Balancing Exercise And Food
When it comes to helping your husky lose weight the idea is to make small changes over a long period of time to see results.
By gradually increasing exercise and slowly reducing food intake it allows you to monitor the weight of your husky to ensure that they aren’t losing weight too fast. You can always adjust things as you go; for example, if you decide to take your husky on a particularly long walk you should increase food to account for the energy burnt.
When To See A Veterinarian
You should consult your veterinarian if your husky starts to either put on or lose weight rapidly without a change in diet or exercise schedule.
These types of weight loss are usually signs that there is a health-related issue affecting your husky, so you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian right away.