Do Siberian huskies make good pets?

Ryan Tronovitch plays in the snow with his Ryan Tronovitch plays in the snow with his Siberian Husky Tiki on the west front of the Capitol in Washington. (Dec. 19, 2009) Photo Credit: AP

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Q: My son loves wolves and wants to get a Siberian husky because they look like wolves. I heard that since they look like wolves, they act like them, too, and that they can turn on you and be unpredictable. --Craig Meddan, Hicksville

A: Actually, if you placed a wolf next to a Siberian husky, you would see they do not resemble each other that much. Huskies are smaller, have shorter legs and snout and a tail that can curl up over the back.

The biggest difference between huskies and wolves -- and this applies to all breeds of dogs -- is in the way they think of us: Dogs always view us as providers and think of us as essential to their survival.

So, do not worry about the temperament of a husky, because they make delightful pets. The only issue I must warn you about is that they need lots and lots and lots of exercise, and, if you do not exercise them enough, they will do it themselves. This usually means they will end up running about your house like lunatics and viewing all objects in it as chew toys. Plus, they need lots of brushing and combing to help with the shedding their thick fur produces.

So, if your son is willing to exercise the dog and do the brushing, I see no reason why he should not be allowed to have a Siberian husky.

Q: Last week, you printed an article about how some cats do better on canned food than dry food, and I wondered what your thoughts were on dog food? --Rita Chambers, Oyster Bay

A: Years ago, when life was simpler, I used to go to the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in Madison Square Garden and talk to the breeders of all the prize winners. I went every year for 22 years, and I always asked what they fed their dogs. Each year, the answers varied; some ate frozen food, some ate canned food and some ate dry food. Yet all the dogs there were prize winners and the best of their breed, no matter what food they were fed.

What I have noticed from feeding dogs over the past half century is that a dog on a diet of dry food will definitely have larger stools then dogs on canned or raw food. Dogs on a raw diet have very small stools, and dogs on a canned-food diet fall somewhere in between.

It has been my own experience that a dog on a raw- or canned-food diet sheds less and has cleaner teeth then dogs on dry food. Many people are shocked to hear this, as they think that chewing on dry food keeps a dog's teeth clean, but that is like thinking eating dry Cheerios is going to keep your teeth clean.

The only way to keep a dog's teeth clean is by regular brushing and dental procedures by your vet.

Q: We got a betta fish for my boss' desk and put it in a little five-gallon tank with a filter and a heater. It has two cherry shrimps as companions. We do not know the best food for it; when we bought the fish, the pet store gave us little pellets, and when we looked online, it said to feed bettas frozen or live bloodworms. It definitely likes the worms better than the pellets, but we wondered why the pellets are sold if the fish do not like them? --Fran Fogle, West Babylon

A: Bettas in nature will eat small insects floating near the surface of the water, and that is why your fish likes the bloodworms so much. However, in nature they would be eating many different types of insects, so the diet would be varied, and each species of insect the fish eats has a different nutritional value.

The pellets have all the proper vitamins and minerals the fish needs, so the answer here is to give him the pellets as a staple, and, as a treat, you can give him the bloodworms for variety.

You also may be interested in: