6 Siberian Husky Common Health Issues [+Signs and Prevention]

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Siberian Huskys dressed like a doctor

The playful, loving nature of Siberian Huskies makes them versatile pets for a range of owners, but purebreds have a list of potential health issues.

Because certain health problems are genetically linked in Huskes, you need to understand the risks and signs of these conditions. That way, you’ll be better prepared if for potential medical costs and long-term care needs if your Siberian Husky encounters any issues. 

Although Siberian Huskies have genetic links to certain conditions, your dog may not suffer from any of these maladies. 

Eventually, most dogs will deal with one or more health challenges in their lifetimes. Siberians are just at a higher risk for certain conditions.

The most common issues that Siberian Huskies face include eye conditions, zinc-responsive dermatosis, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, pemphigus foliaceous, and follicular dysplasia.

In this article, I’ll describe 6 common health issues of Siberian Huskies, how they vary across the life cycle, and how the Husky’s health compares with other breeds. Then, I’ll conclude with a description of health signs to be aware of and offer some tips for healthcare and prevention.

Common health problems

Huskies are generally healthy dogs, but they have a tendency to develop certain diseases. Fortunately, they can be managed if you know how to recognize the signs. In this section, we’ll examine 6 of the common issues a Siberian can face in his lifetime.

Eye conditions

Siberian Huskies are prone to cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), corneal dystrophy, pannus, and uveodermatologic syndrome (UVD),

Eye conditions can affect various breeds, including Siberian Huskies, Poodles (cataracts), Cocker Spaniels (PRA), Chihuahuas (corneal dystrophy), German Shepherds pannus), and Akitas (UVD).

Siberian Huskies are born with or develop cataracts and corneal dystrophy early in life. However, pannus, PRA, and UVD tend to develop later in life.

Juvenile cataracts in Huskies are caused by a protein buildup in the lens that causes it to cloud up and harden. With PRA, the retina deteriorates over time, eventually leading to blindness. Dogs with corneal dystrophy will have white dots or cloudiness in the cornea that may cause blurred vision. Pannus is an inflammation of the third eyelid and cornea due to an improper immune-mediated response. UVD is an autoimmune disease that attacks pigment cells in the eye and skin that can cause pain, light sensitivity, and eventual blindness.

Symptoms of eye problems in Siberian Huskies include:

  • Cloudiness in the eye lens (cataracts)
  • Night blindness (PRA)
  • Stumbling, bumping into objects (PRA)
  • Blindness (cataracts, PRA, pannus, UVD)
  • White spots or cloudiness in cornea (corneal dystrophy)
  • Corneal ulcers (corneal dystrophy)
  • Non-painful pink mass on the corneaI (pannus)
  • Redness and inflammation of the third eyelid (pannus)
  • Change of eye color (pannus)
  • Scarring and opaqueness of cornea (pannus)
  • Consistently red eyes (UVD)
  • Light sensitivity (UVD)
  • Night blindness (UVD)
  • Loss of skin pigmentation (UVD)

If left untreated, cataracts, pannus, and UVD can eventually lead to blindness, and corneal dystrophy can cause ulcers. However, there is no known treatment for PRA.

Because these conditions are genetic, prevention of eye disease in Huskies includes getting puppies from a reputable breeder. If your pooch suffers from pannus or UVD, keep your dog inside during peak UV hours or invest in dog sunglasses. Additionally, schedule routine checkups to detect problems early. 

Treatment varies depending on the condition but may include surgical correction of cataracts, antibiotics, topical corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, or immune-modulating drugs.

Zinc-responsive dermatosis

Siberian Huskies are prone to zinc deficiencies due to intestinal malabsorption that can result in lesions, including bald spots and crusty, oozing skin.

Breeds that develop zinc-responsive dermatosis include Alaskan breeds like Siberian Huskies and Malamutes, along with Doberman Pinschers and Great Danes.

Usually, symptoms of zinc-responsive dermatosis in Siberian Huskies appear in early adulthood, around 1-3 years of age.

Certain dog breeds can suffer from intestinal malabsorption issues that lead to a zinc deficiency despite having adequate minerals in their diet. When stressors like gastrointestinal diseases or estrus affect Huskies, they can develop skin lesions in response to the deficiency.

Signs of zinc-responsive dermatosis include:

  • Dry, dull haircoat
  • Dry patches of skin
  • Crusting and scaling skin
  • Oozing skin
  • May be red or itchy
  • Commonly around ears, eyes, feet, and mouth

Without treatment, dogs will continue to have skin conditions which can be uncomfortable for your furbaby. Over time, oozing dry skin may become infected, causing further problems for your Husky.

Prevention and treatment of zinc-responsive dermatosis involves checking your Siberian Husky’s food to ensure the formula and giving him supplements if necessary. If you need to supplement your pal’s diet, consult with your veterinarian to avoid an overdose.


Siberian huskies often suffer from hypothyroidism or inadequate secretion of hormones from the thyroid gland.

Dog breeds commonly affected by hypothyroidism include Siberian Huskies and other medium to large-breed dogs like Dobermans, Golden Retrievers, and Cocker Spaniels.

Hypothyroidism usually manifests in middle-aged dogs.

Normally, thyroid glands in your Siberian neck secrete the hormone thyroxine, which helps to regulate metabolism, digestion, and other body functions. When the gland doesn’t secrete enough hormone, your dog’s metabolism slows down, causing lethargy, weight gain, and other symptoms.

Signs of hypothyroidism in your Husky may include:

  • Weight gain
  • Lethargy/inactivity
  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin

If left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to obesity, high cholesterol, decreased immunity, slow heart rate, and potential seizures. These effects usually result in a shorter life expectancy.

Because some types of hypothyroidism are genetically linked, you should get your puppy from a reputable breeder to ensure there’s no family history of the problem.

Treatment for hypothyroidism involves giving your Husky oral thyroid replacement hormones for the rest of his life. There is no cure for this condition.   

Hip dysplasia

As an athletic, larger breed dog, the Siberian Husky is prone to developing hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia is fairly common among large and giant-breed dogs like the Siberian Husky, German Shepherd, Great Dane, and Labrador Retriever. 

Because hip dysplasia is congenital, dogs are born with structural abnormalities. However, symptoms of pain and arthritis from joint degeneration usually won’t manifest until later in life.

Huskies with hip dysplasia are born with deformities in the hip joint. The structural defect results in excess joint movement, which irritates the cartilage and causes degenerative joint disease/arthritis.

Signs of hip dysplasia include:

  • Sensitivity to touch around the hip joint
  • Difficulty walking
  • Difficulty rising
  • Reluctance climbing stairs/getting in the car/getting on furniture
  • Chronic pain
  • Swaying gait

Without treatment, joint degeneration from hip dysplasia will become progressively worse and lead to pain and loss of mobility for your Husky.

To prevent hip dysplasia, to deal with reputable breeders who only breed OFA-certified dogs Once you have a Siberian Husky, use proper nutrition and supplements to help support joint health. 

Treatment for hip dysplasia usually involves medical management with physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs,  joint fluid modifiers,  supplements, weight reduction, and restricted activity.

Pemphigus foliaceus

The autoimmune disease, pemphigus foliaceous that affects connections between cells occurs in Siberian Huskies.

Several breeds have a genetic predisposition to developing pemphigus foliaceus. Among them are Siberian Huskies, Chow Chows, Akitas, Cocker Spaniels, and Labrador Retrievers.

The autoimmune response usually takes time to develop, so signs appear later in life. If your dog has pemphigus, you will probably see signs when he’s middle-aged or older.

Signs of pemphigus foliaceus include:

  • Hair loss
  • Scabs
  • Open sores/skin ulcers
  • Lesions are commonly seen around the head, face, and ears

Without treatment, your Husky will continue to develop scabs, sores, and ulcers. Over time, the lesions weaken the skin barrier and leave your furbaby open to painful skin infections.

Prevention of pemphigus in your Husky starts with the selection of a puppy from a family line with no history of the disease. If your pooch has the condition, use dog-safe, zinc-free sunscreen on affected skin to prevent further damage.

Because pemphigus foliaceus is an autoimmune disease, treatment involves corticosteroids or other immunosuppressing drugs.

Follicular dysplasia

Follicular dysplasia is another skin condition that can affect Siberian Huskies.

Although rare in dogs, follicular dysplasia is genetically linked in certain breeds, including Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Dobermans, Gordon Setters, Keeshonds, and Norwegian Elkhounds.

This condition commonly affects young Siberian Huskies around 3-4 months old.

Signs of follicular dysplasia include:

  • Patches of hair loss
  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Pruritis
  •  Poor coat quality
  • Changes in coat color
  • Secondary skin infections

Without management, Huskies affected by follicular dysplasia may develop secondary skin infections or start scratching excessively and traumatize their skin.

As a genetic disease, follicular dysplasia can’t be prevented, but you can select a Husky puppy from a line that doesn’t have a history of the condition.

Follicular dysplasia frequently resolves on its own, but your veterinarian may prescribe topical antimicrobials to prevent secondary infections. He may also recommend an emollient shampoo and moisturizer to soothe the skin.

Siberian Husky health issues across the lifecycle

Health conditions in Siberian Huskies can appear at any age or stage of life. Some congenital conditions like follicular dysplasia appear in puppies, while others like hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism manifest later in life.

Siberian Husky Puppy Health Issues

Certain health conditions that are common in Siberian Huskies are present at birth or develop in puppyhood. Although cataracts usually occur in older dogs, the juvenile form that is common to Huskies appears at about 6-12 months. Corneal dystrophy is also usually diagnosed in young dogs, but it usually won’t be problematic.

Follicular dysplasia is another condition that develops in young Siberians. The symptoms and effects of abnormal hair growth usually appear around 3-4 months of age.

Adult Siberian Husky Health Issues

Many conditions that can affect Huskies develop in adulthood. The eye condition, pannus, often manifests in middle-aged dogs. With UVD, the autoimmune reaction takes time to appear, so symptoms tend to appear in adult dogs.

Other conditions that usually appear in adulthood include hypothyroidism(middle-aged Huskies) and zinc-responsive dermatosis(1-3 year-olds).

Senior Siberian Husky Health Issues

Certain genetically linked diseases in Siberian Huskies take several years to develop and manifest. Pemphigus foliaceus may first appear in some middle-aged Huskies, but it often shows up in seniors. Signs of hip dysplasia and the resulting degenerative arthritis is also more common in middle-aged and senior dogs.

Siberian Husky Health Issues and Average Lifespan

Overall, Siberian Huskies are a healthy breed with an average lifespan of 12-14 years. However, they do have some health conditions that can affect their quality of life. The conditions usually respond well to treatment, but some issues take time and can be expensive to manage or resolve.

Understanding common health issues of Siberian Huskies can prepare you to help your pooch enjoy a long, full life. Choosing a puppy from a line that doesn’t have a history of genetically linked conditions may help reduce the risk of a shortened lifespan. Additionally, schedule annual health checks to help you catch and treat conditions early. Conditions that may cause premature death in your Husky include hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism.

Siberian Husky Health Issues VS Other Dog Breeds

Siberian Huskies are prone to certain genetically linked health issues, but they are an overall healthy breed. Compared to other large breed dogs, these hardy dogs are more likely to die of old age. One condition that may result in a premature end of life is hip dysplasia.

Health Signs Siberian Husky Parents Should Beware Of

Siberians suffer from certain health conditions. Knowing how to recognize each potential issue can help you to seek early treatment. Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Cloudy or spotted eyes
  • Night blindness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Red eyes
  • Hair thinning/loss
  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Scabs
  • Weight gain
  • Lethargy
  • Tenderness around the hips
  • Difficulty rising or walking
  • Swaying gait

Siberian Health Care Tips and Prevention

While many of the conditions we discussed are genetically linked, certain things may help to keep your Husky healthy and to prevent disease. 

  • Buy your Husky from a reputable breeder and a family line that has no history of trouble.
  • Schedule annual examinations and health checks
  • Maintain a healthy weight for your furbaby to reduce stress on the joints
  • Feed your dog a formula that provides a balanced blend of essential nutrients to support healthy eyes, skin, coat, and joints
  • Speak with your veterinarian about appropriate supplements to encourage healthy eyes, skin, coat, and joints, such as vitamin E, omega fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin
  • Invest in a dog bed with orthopedic memory foam to support your aging dog’s joints

The Final Woof

Siberian Huskies are healthy dogs, but they have genetic predispositions to certain diseases affecting the eyes, skin, coat, and joints. However, there’s no guarantee your dog will develop any of these conditions. 

When you understand the issues that Huskies can face and know how to identify them, you’ll be better prepared to act quickly. There are also some steps you can take at home to help prevent or minimize disease.

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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