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Objective

To determine the relationship of serum biochemical values and change in body weight with finishing status (retired from or finished the race), finishing order of a team, and distance traveled for dogs participating in a long-distance sled dog race.

Animals

262 of 848 dogs that participated in the 1995 Iditarod Trail sled dog race.

Design

Prospective study.

Procedure

Body weight was recorded for 261 dogs before the race and again when these dogs retired from or completed the race. Using a nonrandom convenience sample of participating dogs, blood samples were obtained from 151 dogs that retired from the race and 111 dogs that completed the race.

Results

Serum biochemical indices of skeletal muscle damage were significantly higher in dogs retiring during the first 500 miles of the race than in dogs retiring in the last 638 miles or finishing the race. Serum sodium concentration was less than the reference range in a significantly greater proportion of dogs that retired from the race than of dogs that completed the race. There was little relationship between finishing order and serum biochemical values. Dogs completing the race lost a mean of 8.9% of body weight, and amount of weight lost was not related to finishing order.

Clinical Implications

Results indicated that exertional rhabdomyolysis develops more often in dogs that retire during the initial 500 miles of a long-distance race, compared with dogs that complete the race. There is no detectable relationship between the speed with which the race is run (finishing order) and body weight loss or serum biochemical values. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998;213:639-644)

Free access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Objective

To determine whether selected factors were associated with finishing status in a long-distance sled dog race.

Design

Prospective, observational study.

Animals

248 dogs participating in the 1994 Iditarod Trail sled race that were members of 13 teams that finished the race. Dogs were not selected randomly, but were members of teams that were easily accessible for examination before the race. The proportion of teams that were examined that finished the race (14/17) was similar to the proportion of teams that were not examined that finished the race (36/41).

Procedure

Age, sex, body conformation (weight, length, and thoracic width and circumference), cardiac variables (heart rate, natural logarithm of heart period variance, PR interval, QRS duration, QT index, R wave amplitude in leads II and V3, mean electrical axis, presence of cardiac arrhythmias suggestive of myocardial disease), and athletic ranking as assessed by the musher were compared between dogs that finished the race (n = 128) and dogs that did not finish (n = 120).

Results

The only factor found to differ significantly (P < 0.05) between finishers and nonfinishers was athletic ranking as assessed by the musher. Athletic rank and QRS duration or QRS duration normalized for body weight were identified by means of logistic regression as variables associated (P < 0.15) with finishing status. There was a significant (P < 0.0001), but weak (R 2 = 0.18), linear relationship between race time and mean QRS duration for each team.

Clinical Implications

Athletic ranking as assessed by the musher was the most important of the studied variables in determining finishing status, whereas age, sex, body conformation, and body weight were unimportant. Duration of the QRS was of minor importance in determining finishing status. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1996; 206:879–882)

Free access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To determine the effects of racing and nontraining on plasma thyroxine (T4), free thyroxine (fT4), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), and thyroglobulin autoantibody (TgAA) concentrations in sled dogs and compare results with reference ranges established for dogs of other breeds.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Animals—122 sled dogs.

Procedure—Plasma thyroid hormone concentrations were measured before dogs began and after they finished or were removed from the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska and approximately 3 months after the race.

Results—Concentrations of T4 and fT4 before the race were less than the reference range for nonsled dogs in 26% and 18% of sled dogs, respectively. Immediately after racing, 92% of sled dogs had plasma T4 concentrations less than the reference range. Three months after the race, 25% of sled dogs had plasma T4 concentrations less than the reference range. For T4, fT4, TSH, and TgAA, significant differences were not detected in samples collected before the race versus 3 months later.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Plasma T4, fT4, and TSH concentrations decreased in dogs that complete a long distance sled dog race. Many clinically normal sled dogs have plasma T4 and fT4 values that are lower than the reference range for nonsled dogs. We suggest that the reference ranges for sled dogs are 5.3 to 40.3 nmol/L and 3.0 to 24.0 pmol/L for plasma T4 and fT4 concentrations, respectively, and 8.0 to 37.0 mU/L for TSH. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;224:226–231)

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Objective

To determine electrocardiographic characteristics of endurance-trained Alaskan sled dogs.

Design

Case series.

Animals

319 Alaskan sled dogs entered to compete in the 1994 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Procedure

ECG were recorded while dogs were standing and were analyzed digitally.

Results

Amplitudes of P waves (median, 0.40 mV; fifth to 95th percentile range, 0.11 to 0.61 mV) and R waves in lead II (median, 3.02 mV; fifth to 95th percentile range, 1.49 to 4.40 mV) were high; durations of P waves in lead II (median, 61 milliseconds; fifth to 95th percentile range, 36 to 96 milliseconds), QRS complexes (median, 64 milliseconds; fifth to 95th percentile range, 52 to 80 milliseconds), and QT intervals (median, 236 milliseconds; fifth to 95th percentile range, 208 to 277 milliseconds) were prolonged. Median value for mean axis of ventricular depolarization was 57° (fifth to 95th percentile range, 19 to 90°). Atrial and ventricular premature depolarizations were observed in 3 (0.9%) and 4 (1.3%) of 319 dogs, respectively, and paroxysmal ventricular tachycardia was detected in 1 (0.3%).

Clinical Implications

Results suggest that electrocardiographic characteristics of endurance-trained Alaskan sled dogs differ from those reported for nonsled dogs, probably as a result of effects of endurance training on heart size. Some of these characteristics could be mistaken as evidence of pathologic cardiac hypertrophy. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1997;211:1138–1141)

Free access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association