Objective—To determine effects of long-distance racing exercise on iron status in endurance racing sled dogs, with or without anemia.
Design—Prospective cohort study.
Animals—114 dogs that participated in the 2007 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race (59 and 55 dogs that did or did not complete the race, respectively).
Procedures—Stored serum samples obtained from 85 endurance-racing sled dogs that were expected to participate in the race were used to establish study reference intervals and prerace group values for iron-related variables. Blood samples collected from 114 study dogs before (ie, baseline) and after participation in the race were used to determine PCV and serum total protein concentrations before and after racing and assess iron-related variables after racing.
Results—Mean values for PCV and serum total protein concentration were decreased after racing, compared with baseline values in the same dogs. Mean serum iron concentration was low, and mean serum ceruloplasmin and C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations were high in dogs after racing, compared with prerace group values. Mean serum ferritin concentration was high in dogs that did not complete the race, compared with the prerace group value and that of dogs that finished the race; 4 of 113 (3.5%) study dogs had low ferritin concentrations (< 73 ng/mL) after racing, suggestive of possible iron deficiency.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Decreased PCV and serum total protein concentrations were consistently detected, whereas iron deficiency appeared to be uncommon, in study dogs after race participation. High serum concentrations of ceruloplasmin and CRP after racing suggested that changes indicative of iron deficiency may be masked by inflammation. Alternatively, changes in serum iron and CRP concentrations may reflect a physiologic response.