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  • Author or Editor: Dawn A. Simmerman x
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To determine effects of protein intake on blood variables, plasma volume, and maximal oxygen uptake (Vo2max) in sled dogs undergoing rigorous training.


32 Alaskan sled dogs, between 2 and 6 years old.


Dogs were assigned to 1 of 4 groups on the basis of age, sex, and ability. Isocaloric diets containing 18% (diet A), 23% (diet B), 29% (diet C), or 35% (diet D) of energy as protein were assigned randomly to each group and fed 1 month before and during a 12-week training period. Maximal oxygen uptake was measured at 0 (before training) and 12 weeks. Body weight, protein and energy intake, plasma volume, PCV, hemoglobin concentration, and serum biochemical variables were measured at 0, 8, and 12 weeks.


Serum biochemical variables, PCV, and hemoglobin concentration remained within reference ranges for all dogs. Dogs fed diet A had a decrease in Vo2max and a greater rate of soft tissue injury throughout training, compared with dogs fed the other diets. At 12 weeks, dogs fed diets C and D had greater serum sodium concentration and hemoglobin concentration than did dogs fed diet A. Dogs fed diet D also had more plasma volume at 12 weeks than did dogs of any other group.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance

Consumption of a diet with 18% dietary protein on an energy basis (3.0 g of protein/kg of body weight) is insufficient to meet the metabolic requirements of sled dogs in training. For intense interval work, a diet with 35% dietary protein as energy (6.0 g of protein/kg) may provide a performance advantage by promoting an increase in plasma volume. (Am J Vet Res 1999;60: 789–795)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research