Feeding

The first thing to remember about feeding a Malamute, as well as any other breed of dogs, is, that there is no one-and-only perfect food. And, whatever it eats, do not overfeed! Using the recommended norms on the pack of the food is a good start, but running through the ribs of the dog tells much more – you should always be able to feel the ribs without a layer of fat on them.

The usual ‘do nots’ include:

  • Feeding a Malamute...Do not free feed a Malamute. They will never stop eating, have enormous diarrhoea, will become very sick and obese.
  • Avoid table leftovers and sharing your food with your dog in general. Human food is processed, thus it is not beneficial to dogs. Also, succumbing to the dog’s hungry eyes will become an Alpha issue at some point.
  • Never let your dog eat: avocado, alcohol, onions, garlic, caffeine (in coffee, tea and any other form), grapes, raisins, milk and dairy products in general, macadamia nuts, candy and gum, sugary foods and drinks, chocolate, persimmons, peaches, plums, salt, yeast dough, human medicaments (apart from active charcoal and fish oils), fat trimmings and bones (human food leftovers). Also, be very careful with raw eggs, fish and meat. The ‘why’ is very well explained widely on the web, but we can recommend reading the DogDesires website for a very thorough explanation.

What to feed?

It is important to understand, that while developing for thousand years in Alaskan wilderness, their diet was scarce and never included grain, corn, gluten and other ingredients unusual for the location. Have you ever seen a wolf eating corn? When choosing a kibble for a Malamute, the list of ingredients on a pack is the first place to look at. Apart from the aforementioned unwanted ingredients, everyone should avoid unidentified meat sources, sub-products, etc., especially when these are on top of the ingredient list. Then, when you start wondering about where those products actually come from, helpful resources become invaluable.

The best dog food research to date was made by Review.com and we’ve already posted it on our blog. Also, there are plenty of useful websites reviewing dog foods and explaining their ingredients, such as Dog Food Advisor, or Pet Food Ratings, or resources to help you master a RAW diet – Top 50 RAW FAQ for beginners, RawFed. These resources are never a one-fits-all solution, but they can be a very good place to start educating on dog nutrition.

In our own experience, we are too lazy to be feeding our Mal a RAW diet and believe it would be too much hassle during the travels, thus we choose a good kibble with an occasional addition of raw beef.

Kibble, that proved good for us and our malamute-owner friends:

Annamaet Petfoods, both Grain-free and Originals formulas. This is what our Mals eat, the Aqualuk cold water formula (wild caught salmon and herring) being the favourite. With Robert Downey in front of it, it’s kind of a special and symbolic company for sled dogs. Read more about their history.

Orijen – a Canadian company, focusing on local ingredients that are sustainably raised, passed ‘fit for human consumption’, and then delivered to their kitchens fresh each day. Rich in meat (80%-90%), low in carbohydrates and whole fruits, vegetables and other natural ingredients. Their Freeze-dried foods are incredible. But it can be a bit of a protein bomb for less active dogs, ending up in loose stools.

Acana – the same company as Orijen, same exceptional quality, the only difference is in meat balance (60%-70%). Their Regionals line of kibble is most recommended and is more moderate in terms of protein and price if compared to Orijen.

Supplements

Raw unfrozen high quality beef once a week will make the dog happy, coat shiny and teeth clean. Yes, interestingly, large chunk of meat is much more efficient than a toothbrush! During the hot summer days, medium sized frozen beef pieces are not only a joy for the dog’s stomach, but also a substitute of ice cream to help cool down a bit. Regular ice cubes also are a fun snack.

High quality Omega-3 supplements will be a good addition to the Malamute’s diet for it’s health, digestive system and coat. We prefer Kronch Salmon Oil, as well as Lakse Kronch – The Original treats, both made by a Danish family run business Henne Pet Food.

B group vitamins can be occasionally given in order to boost the dog’s immune system as well as to help solving such issues as consumption of animal or human faeces (yes, it is gross, but vitamin B is a miraculous solution!) and all sorts of other unwanted objects.

Joint protection supplement formulas tailored specifically for sled dogs are recommended once in a while for working Malamutes.

Also, post exercise supplements could be considered for a Malamute with heavy everyday working activity schedule. We can recommend the Annamaet Glycocharge Supplement – muscles restore much faster, as well as the desire to work the next day.

Comments 35

  1. can someone help me with this question….what does a malamute eats and what is the primary source for a malamute?

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      Author

      Hi, faauma,
      A healthy and not picky malamute will eat everything what he/she ise given, which means that they can actually eat anything and everything and that you have to make sure their diet is healthy. For this we chose best quality kibble (dry food), such as Annamaet. RAW is also a great option. The main source of energy for a malamute should come from a mix of protein and fats, depending on their activities: in warm weather it’s more protein, in cold – more fat.

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      Author

      Hi, Anna, our malamutes haven’t tried it (yet) as it is not readily available in our location, but we’ve heard a lot of praise about this brand both from dog nutrition specialists and very happy owners, so if you can – give it a try 😉

  2. Hello! My malamute is quite picky and underweight… I tried changing food and even mixing kibble (everyone says the brands I choose are good quality kibble) with ground beef. But still not much luck. She does eat her treats and drinks water so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her besides her weight…help please!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi and thanks for your comment (and sorry for the late reply).
      This sometimes happens, we have a few malamute friends who are also picky, but most of this gets away after more vigorous activities. What brands of kibble have you tried? We could recommend what we know and are 100% sure that it’s safe and nutritious: Annamaet and Acana. Try shifting from red meat (beef, lamp, venison, etc.) and chicken formulas and maybe try the fish ones, this might help. And increase activity levels to motivate the appetite 🙂

    2. Hi, I have a six year old unspeyed bitch who is extremely fussy and will not eat raw meat at all, dog food or kibble. I use a wonderful machine called a pro king which I cook a batch fresh now every morning. This is also great as I know exactly what’s in my dogs food. I usually use inexpensive cuts of chicken and beef but just remember the bones! I then add a dried rice, pasta or pearl barley. The vegetables I use are normally frozen peas, fresh carrots and other veg that I have but just check before you add some other vegetables. I do use a stock that is extremely low in salt but in truth I use the stock to get her interested at first. You can always use a slow cooker if you don’t have a pro king but you can have not just a dog meal but a family meal done in less than 30 mins. My mal has been much happier and extremely healthy. She won’t eat everything in sight like a lot of mal’s and I have also found there is no food aggression at all with her. I hope this helps.

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      Author

      Dear Gemma,
      First of all, condolences for having a fussy malamute and congratulations for making the effort to make something edible for her!
      While we are not fans of cooked food for dogs, using any grains (including rice and pearl barley) and especially pasta (it’s wheat – a big no-no) in general, fussy eater can change your dietary views and values by 180 degrees 🙂

    4. Hi! Try dry food which main is fish, ( especially salmon and cod) depending on his age, but if it is underweight, I’ll say to start with puppy ones. Remember that in their native environment the are used to eat fish, especially seal fat during arctic winter.

  3. my Malamute gets 1 cup of lightly cooked lean meat chunks (beef, moose, elk, deer), plus about 1 1/2 cups of grain & gluten free low calorie senior dry dog food (Performatrin Ultra) mix of turkey, duck & lentil).

    Yes, we were bad, and my Malamute (who is now 11 yrs old) would get his regular “treats” (loves blueberry muffins, oatmeal cookies, yogurt, jellybeans (the red ones !) and of course, anything else.

    We have eliminated all treats over the last 4 months (he had a “fat bump” by his left shoulder (which is now gone), he is down 6 lbs now (was 101, now is 95), at least 5 more lbs to go.

    It is a shame that sometimes we, the “parents”, forget that our dogs do not have the same digestive system as we do, and therefore, we make mistakes. I am hopeful that we have corrected the error in our ways. We have noticed quite a difference in his activity level (even at 11 yrs of age) since he’s dropped the 6 lbs. As far as I know, he is very healthy, has minimal arthritis symptoms, and is being treated with vet prescription of Meloxicam for that.

    Our Koko is very docile, but does get very excited when people come and pay attention to him – he still sounds like a horse when he runs across our porch to greet people.

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      Author

      Hi Judy,
      Thanks for your comment and congratulations on cutting on all of the “treats” – those are definitely not suitable for a dog to consume. Also, we would recommend to try giving raw meet instead of cooked one, as cooking removes the majority of vitamins and minerals. Anyway, strict diet is always good for your mal, even at a senior age so keep going!

  4. Is it pretty easy to switch flavors within brands at will for a little change up? or is there a transition period for that as well? i’m referring to the annamaet flavors. i will be getting a malamute puppy within the week and am trying to be ahead of the game.

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      Author

      Hi, Austin,
      Any change for a puppy should be gradual. For adult dogs, changing flavours within the same brand should pose no problems, at least we are not doing any transitional periods when changing from Annamaet Aqualuk to Manitok and vice versa.

  5. Our malamute puppy (six months old) has been with us for about six weeks. We’re having difficulty finding a kibble she tolerates without very lose stools. I switched her to white rice and boiled chicken; she did well, I introduced small amounts (15%) Acana kibble (ok), upped it to 25%, reducing the rice; back to soupy poop. The vet suggested we try IAMS at one point—-that was disasterous—8 liquid poops a day. She is otherwise healthy, happy and energetic, and is growing and gaining weight (she was quite thin when we got her). Do I just need to go more slowly with the Acana or would you suggest I try something else? I’ve been feeding her 3 times a day, should I switch to twice a day? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi, Anne,
      Are you changing only the brands, or also the main ingredients? Our Taiga had similar issues with chicken-based kibble, which ended as soon as we switched to fish or red meat formulas. You could try that, but, of course, introduce it very gradually. It doesn’t sound ok, that she’s eating so much rice though, so I would encourage you to move to a suitable kibble asap. Also, the issue of loose stools might be because of too many calories/not enough activity to burn them. Other than that – there might be an intestine infection or mild poisoning that’s provoking the loose stools, but this should be diagnosed and treated by a vet.
      Please let us know how you are solving this issue, as it’s quite common and community knowledge is always very welcome.
      Get better soon!

  6. We adopted a 5 yr old female Malamute, just before Christmas. She had runny stool when we got her; we put her on a salmon/brown rice kibble, she wouldn’t touch. The previous owner said she was on Science Diet kibble, dry. We started adding canned tuna to her kibble we chose. The stools returned to normal, until we started with the scraps! Is the tuna safe to be adding to our Mal’s kibble?

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      Author

      Hi, Sherry,
      First of all – be careful with canned tuna, especially on a daily basis (more info on this, for example, here: https://oceana.org/blog/whats-can-4-things-consider-when-buying-canned-tuna). Running stools are usually caused by allergies, too large portions or too much protein which the dog does not burn afterwards during activities. Also, we would not recommend Science Diet kibble even for an enemy due to its low quality and unclear ingredients. But finding a food suitable for your dog takes time, especially if she’s a fussy eater. So take your time, try different foods (some info on that here: https://malamuteblog.com/2016/03/15/dog-food-research-by-reviews-com/) and make sure that each time you switch the food, you do it gradually, as sudden change can also cause runny stools. We tend to change food gradually in a week by increasing the proportion of new formula and reducing the old one every day like this: 20%/80%, 30/70, 40/60, 50/50, 60/40, 70/30, 80/20 and then 100% new food on the 8th day.

  7. Hey there! Great article. I’ve been doing a lot of research on my Malamutes diet becuse he’s been having some issues. I noticed many sites don’t take into account zinc content of foods, but Malamutes and Huskies are prone to Syndrome 1 zinc deficiency. My Malamute has had a lot of issues because I thought I was feeding a great food, but now I’ve found out that food contains zinc sulfate, which isn’t easily digestible by Malamutes and can cause deficiency. Might be worth mentioning since research shows it is a predominate issue with the breed.

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      Author

      Hey, Kat,
      Thanks for the suggestion and great input! We are aware of this, just didn’t give it too much attention as the food our mals eat is safe in this regard. Also, many of the other better formulas do not contain zinc sulphate. But we shall definitely give this issue more attention in the future. Thanks once again!

  8. This is a reply for Anna. We had a Malamute pup who went through the same issues you are describing. We were feeding chicken and rice formulas of premium foods, lamb and rice, or ones with beef – same issues for all of them. We discovered Orijen 6 Fish when she was about 18 months and changed her over to that. A lot of the reading I had done suggested that Malamutes, being northern breeds and closer in genetics to wolves, do not tolerate gluten or corn are don’t handle chicken well. Their genetics are more suited to high fat protein sources – think seal and fish. The change was night to day. We’ve fed all our malamutes on 6 Fish with the occasional chunk of raw beef thrown in and they really thrive. 85% of ingredients come from animal source (it’s a prey-model food) so I’m less worried about the lentils and peas (only 7-8%) than I would be for other grain-free foods that are predominantly lentils, legumes, and potatoes.

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      Author

      Dear Jan,
      Can’t agree with you more on everything you’ve wrote! Btw, we also tend to stick to fish diets, as we believe that it was and remains the most suitable food for them genetically.
      Thanks for your input!

  9. I have heard it is best to feed a large amount of food every other day. This keeps their stomachs from getting to over active and cause things like runny poos. Is this true?

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      Author

      Dear Sheila,
      Honestly, this is the first time we hear of such “recommendation” and find it nonsense. Feeding an overly large amount can cause a stomach twisting, which is often deadly. I know some dog owners who feed their dogs once per day, but our mals would probably go crazy with such diet 🙂 Two times per day is optimal, you can experiment with lighter portion in the morning and heavier in the evening. Another option is to feed good quality dry kibble in the morning and raw meat or/and its’ sub-products in the evening.
      Runny poos are usually caused by a) too much unburned protein in the food (more protein than the dog burns via activities); b) allergies to specific ingredients; c) the portions are simply too big.

  10. Hello guys, just quick one, do you recommend Royal Canin for Alaskan Malamute? Is it healthy for them?

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      Author
  11. Hi there! I’m a novice at owning an Alaskan Malamute, but am about to own 2 puppies since my husband and I are both animal lovers and love large dogs (we had previously owned a fairly large American Bulldog and Lab/Golden Retriever.) I like to do thorough research on any animal I am about to bring in to our family and care for. I see that you recommended Annamaet’s Aqualuk dog food and wanted to ask you is it safe for 2 month old pups? Or should I be more focused on purchasing a dog food that is specifically intended for puppies? Thank you 🙂

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      Author

      I understand that the answer is way too late, but maybe it will be useful to others.
      Honestly, it really doesn’t matter. Most kibble is appropriate for all-life-stages, most puppy foods are only in smaller pieces, some have additives for larger breed dogs (i.e. glucosamine, etc.). We fed Aqualuk from 2 months old, but, again, it’s not that such a big deal 🙂

  12. We had a mal pup that had very loose stool. We got him straightened out w boiled chicken n rice, then got him going on Nutro lamb n rice and his stool has remained firm. Our vet mentioned that we(people in general) sometimes overthink the feeding process. He even suggested raw meat lightly cooked w a quality food free of grain. He was right on. Keep it natural as best you can. We cook for our dog now…lol. he’s a beautiful n happy mal!!

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      Author

      Ah, that’s a difficult one. Vets tend not to study pet nutrition very comprehensively and it’s becoming quite an issue, especially when they are sponsored by big brand foods and consequently try to sell them to their clients for a larger commission. Putting this aside, raw diet is great, as long as you know what you’re doing – it’s very easy to mess up the nutrients. One thing we’d not do is cook the meat, as you’re losing a large part of nutrients this way. If the meat comes from a reputable source, raw is best.

  13. Hi so where I live the kibble we feed our alaskan malamute puppy is very expensive and sometimes only comes in small bags so usually we buy to but our pup does eat quite a lot and we often run into the problem that we have run out of kibble and it will be a while before we can buy more. Do you know of any foods that we can feed him or make him so he can still eat and we can feed him until we can get hands on some more food for him??

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      Author

      Great question!
      Red meat is always good, but beware, that an adult malamute will easily swallow a 500 gram piece without blinking 🙂
      You can adjust the intake by giving, say, 400g of meat, with a side of carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato (all together, or separately). Pumpkin mash together with meat or even kibble works very well as a good “filler” if you have a dog which always feels hungry after the usual portion (as in our case) – it’s rich in nutrients, yet doesn’t distort the nutritional balance.

  14. I want to start cooking meals for my 9-year-old Alaskan Malamute – slightly overweight. 104 lbs. I am struggling to find the daily nutritional needs for my dog, so I can make sure the meals I make for her are meeting those needs. She is 9, so adding nutrients that help with her arthritis (knees) will be great. Any idea the daily nutritional needs for my 9-year-old Alaskan Malamute? Seen tons of meal recipes, but I want to make sure I am meeting her health needs. Thank you!

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      Author

      We could share the recipes which you’ve probably already seen, but, honestly, especially with her condition, consulting a nutritional specialist would be much more reasonable. Another idea: try searching for malamute/husky mushers in your area (are is important in terms of temperatures, humidity, etc., as all of that have influence on dog’s nutritional needs and on arthritis too) and speak with them about a probable diet for dogs with arthritis – they will definitely share their knowledge with you.

  15. My Mal has been eating plants (indoors/outdoors), which makes him throw up. I have moved the plants so he can’t eat them, but does this mean he needs greens/fiber? What can I safely give him to settle his tummy, if that is why he is eating the plants.
    Thank you,
    Maryellen

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      Author

      Welcome to the club. Our idiots eat (and I mean, literally, swallow) all the grass after each cutting. Don’t know the reason for such behavior – might be a small inflammation of the digestive tract, but I tend to blame the “always hungry” state they are constantly in (we feed them only exactly how much they need, with small deviations). If your Mal tends to eat uncut plants, meaning that he is motivated not by the ‘tasty’ odors of the rotting greens – it might actually be a mild inflammation or lack of good bacteria. Try giving bacteria supplements (available in any vet clinic or pet care shop).

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