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To measure and compare blood values in sled dogs before and after long-distance racing.


Prospective study.


17 adult sled dogs in the 1991 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and 21 in a simulated sled dog race.


Blood samples were obtained from 17 dogs 7 days before they began and after they finished (finisher group) or were eliminated from (nonfinisher group) the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Blood samples were also obtained from 21 dogs before and after a simulated sled dog race.


In finisher-group dogs, BUN and uric acid (UA) concentrations were increased after racing; nonfinisher-group dogs had significantly lower postrace BUN and UA concentrations. Significant increases in creatine kinase (CK) and aspartate transferase (AST) activities were detected in all dogs after racing, and postrace values were higher in nonfinisher-group dogs, compared with finisher-group dogs. Mean alkaline phosphate activities were significantly increased after racing in nonfinisher-group dogs only. In dogs that ran the simulated race, postrace values for serum albumin, total protein, calcium, and potassium concentrations, as well as Hct, hemoglobin concentration, and RBC count, were significantly lower than prerace values. Postrace values for alkaline phosphate, alanine transaminase, AST, lactate dehydrogenase, CK, BUN, and UA were significantly higher than prerace values.

Clinical Implications—

High CK activities are indicative of severe muscle degeneration and, in sled dogs, may represent a degree of muscle breakdown beyond which a dog cannot continue to work. Markedly high CK, and possibly AST, serum activities may be indicators of performance failure in sled dogs competing in long-distance races. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1997; 211:175–179)

Free access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association