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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Zinc-Responsive Dermatosis




Condition Overview

Zinc is a trace mineral required for hair growth and maintenance of the skin. Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Huskies, Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, and Alaskan Malamutes are predisposed to zinc-responsive dermatosis.


A deficiency of zinc causes thinning of the hair and a scaly, crusty dermatitis over the face, most noticeable on the nose and around the eyes, ears, and mouth. Crusts also appear over pressure points such as elbows and hocks. The feet become callused and crack easily.


A genetic defect involving zinc absorption from the intestines has been identified in Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Huskies, and Malamutes. In these breeds, the disease may occur even when the dog is eating a well balanced diet.

Diets high in fiber and calcium may help produce zinc deficiency by binding zinc in the gastrointestional tract.

A zinc deficiency syndrome occurs in large breed puppies fed diets that are over-supplemented with vitamins and minerals (particularly calcium). A closely related condition has been observed in dogs fed dry, generic dog foods that are deficient in zinc.


The diagnosis is confirmed by the response to therapy.


Regardless of the course, the dermatosis responds rapidly to zinc sulfate (10mg per kilo of body weight, daily) or zinc methionine (1.7mg per kilo of body weight, daily). Improvement begins almost at once. Affected Alaskan Malamutes, Alaskan Huskies, and Siberian Huskies usually require zinc supplements for life.

Puppies with an acquired zinc deficiency respond to zinc supplements and a nutritionally balanced diet.


Be sure to feed your dog nutritionally balanced dog food. Avoid cooking for your pet, as it is difficult to prepare meals with the specific amount of vitamins and minerals your pet needs for optimal health. Try premium pet foods.


Please contact your veterinarian if you suspect your pet may have this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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