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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