Recognising and Treating Zinc Deficiency in Dogs

It is not fully understood why northern breeds like Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes are more prone to suffer from zinc deficiency. It may be down to a genetic inability to adequately absorb the essential mineral.

One theory is that, in the wild, these dogs enjoyed a rich diet of fresh fish, meat and offal. Although they are now domesticated, their dietary requirements are the same but they are often fed processed food which reduces the zinc content. And cheaper dog foods often have zinc bound in a virtually unusable form. In this case, you don’t always get what it says on the tin.

Why is zinc so important?

Zinc helps strengthen a dog’s immune system. It’s vital for cell replication, healing of wounds and maintenance of healthy hair, skin and toenails. And it maintains a normal sex drive.

What are the symptoms?

First of all, the symptoms are easily missed. Common signs of zinc deficiency in dogs are hair loss, poor growth, lethargy, thickened footpads, redness and weeping between the toes, and open and crusted skin lesions around the mouth and eyes. Male dogs lose the desire to breed and females won’t come into heat.

Zinc deficiency during pregnancy can lead to stillborn puppies or physical and mental abnormalities.

It is often the root cause of the many mystery illnesses that befall snow dogs and is not always obvious to vets.

Can a dog have too much zinc?

Absolutely. It’s important to stress at this point that these symptoms may have other causes. A vet must be consulted. Just stuffing your animal with copious amounts of zinc could be extremely harmful.

High doses of zinc reduce the absorption of copper. This can lead to weak bones and anaemia. Signs of too much zinc in the body include vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and rapid breathing.

What is the problem with plant food?

Plants and fibre contain a compound called phytate, which bind minerals such as zinc and reduces the absorption rate. Calcium acts in the same way. A diet high in plant material or calcium could therefore lead to zinc deficiency. Meat and bone contain a higher concentration of zinc.

So what can you do?

You should feed these northern breeds a diet with a higher zinc content. A zinc supplement, such as Nutrazinc, can be fed all year round.

The daily dose for a dog weighing 50lb is 1/13 of a teaspoon. It is recommended that dogs in active training or with chronic foot, skin or coat problems or competitive show dogs receive twice that amount. This can be tripled or quadrupled for animals with severe skin or coat problems, or with acute zinc deficiency, without fear of toxicity. Never exceed four times the required dose. Please email us with your dog’s weight if you have any queries about correct dosage.

You can administer Nutrazinc by mixing it thoroughly into the dog’s food or dissolving it in his water.

As with most ailments in animals or humans, the key is treating it early.

We always recommend speaking with your vet in the first instance if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.


Comments (4)

Mandy - Aug 14, 2018


Can you let me know what the correct dosage for a 34kg dog would be for Nutrazinc.

Many thanks


Snowpaw Store - Aug 14, 2018

Hi Mandy,

For a 34kg dog the maintenance dosage would be 75.73mg which equates to 3.75 scoops. I have sent you an email with more information.


Sara - Aug 14, 2018

my 6 month old American Akita has been given the diagnosis of Pemphigus Foliaceus, although can be common in middle aged akitas, none of his vets have seen it in a young dog. He has sores under each eye, along his jaw line and on his chin, but mostly on his nose with a large amount of hair loss. The scabs started to appear on his nose at 3 months, do u think he may have zinc deficiency dermatitis instead.
Thanks in advance

bernadette ross - Aug 14, 2018

My 22kg 11 yr old female samoyed has developed an open lesion in the inner corner of one eye. Vet told me it was non-responsive so nothing I could do. I have used nutrazinc on the same dog for lesions around vulva and lips with success – but I did it with a very high zinc dose and would not recommend or repeat this experience. Now, with the eye, I have given her 10 scoops per day of nutrazinc for the past 3 weeks and the eye condition goes up and down. My question is: in your experience could it take more than six weeks for the zrd to heal… or even longer? I think I am around the max safe dose at the moment.
Thank you, Bernadette

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