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Abstract

Objective—To determine serum antibody titers against canine distemper virus (CDV), canine adenovirus type II (CAV-2), and canine parvovirus (CPV) in trained sled dogs prior to and after completion of a long-distance race.

Design—Prospective cohort study.

Animals—195 Alaskan sled dogs (from 18 kennels) that participated in the 2006 Iditarod Trail Race.

Procedures—All 1,323 dogs participating in the race had been vaccinated against the 3 viruses at 19 to 286 days prior to initial blood sample collection (obtained within the month preceding the race). Within 12 hours of race completion, blood samples were collected from 195 dogs (convenience sample) and matched with each dog's prerace sample. Serum antibody titers (90% confidence intervals [CIs]) were determined via serum neutralization assays.

Results—After racing, geometric mean titers against CDV and CPV were significantly higher (2,495 [90% CI, 321 to 16,384] and 6,323 [90% CI, 512 to 32,768], respectively) than prerace values (82 [90% CI, 11 to 362] and 166 [90% CI, 32 to 1,024], respectively). Sixty-one of 194 (31.4%) dogs had t 4-fold increases in anti-CPV antibody titers after racing. Prerace serum antibody titers against CDV, CPV, and CAV-2 varied significantly by sled team but were not associated with time since vaccination.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Postrace increases in serum anti-CDV and anti-CPV antibody titer might reflect exposure of dogs to these agents immediately before or during racing. Dogs had no clinical signs of CDV-, CAV-2-, or CPV-associated disease; therefore, the clinical importance of these titer changes is uncertain.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To describe the character and frequency of causes of death and associated lesions in long-distance racing sled dogs.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—23 dogs.

Procedures—Medical records of dogs that died during or soon after competition in the Iditarod Trail sled dog races (1994 through 2006) were examined for findings of gross necropsy and histologic evaluation of tissue samples. From the data, descriptive and comparative statistics were obtained.

Results—Recognized causes of death included aspiration of gastric contents (n = 4), aspiration pneumonia (4), acute blood loss secondary to gastric ulceration (3), and sled dog myopathy (2). A cause of death was not established for 7 dogs. Prevalent lesions among the study population included rhabdomyolysis (n = 15), enteritis (10), gastritis (10), aspiration pneumonia (8), and gastric ulceration (8). All dogs with aspiration pneumonia had concurrent gastric mucosal lesions. Subjective biventricular cardiac hypertrophy was evident in most dogs; other lesions detected frequently included centrilobular hepatic fibrosis, gastric dilatation, and mild cardiac myodegeneration and necrosis.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Unexpected death is a rare event among conditioned sled dogs during competition in endurance races. Potentially life-threatening conditions of dogs that are associated with periods of long-distance physical exertion include aspiration pneumonia, gastric mucosal lesions, and severe rhabdomyolysis. Dogs that develop clinical signs suggestive of these conditions should be excluded from strenuous activities. Epidemiologic investigations are required to clarify the risk for death associated with these lesions in dogs competing in endurance races.

Full 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

Summary

Parvovirus infection was confirmed by fluorescent antibody staining or viral culturing in 137 (22%) of 615 necropsy accessions from dogs at the Missouri Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory from Jan 1, 1987 through Sept 30, 1988. Septicemic colibacillosis was diagnosed in 88 (90%) of the 98 canine parvovirus-positive accessions in which liver or lung was cultured bacteriologically. Pulmonary edema or alveolitis similar to that seen in the human adult respiratory distress syndrome was observed in 63 (69%) of the 91 canine parvovirus-positive accessions in which the lungs were examined histologically.

Free access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To determine the impact of successive days of endurance exercise on select serum chemistry values in conditioned Alaskan sled dogs.

Design—Prospective cohort study.

Animals—10 conditioned Alaskan sled dogs.

Procedures—All dogs ran 160 km/d for 5 consecutive days. Serum was obtained prior to exercise and immediately after each exercise run; all samples were obtained before dogs were fed. Serum electrolyte, mineral, protein, total bilirubin, urea nitrogen, creatinine, and cardiac troponin-I concentrations and serum alkaline phosphatase, alanine aminotransfer-ase, creatine kinase, and aspartate aminotransferase activities were measured. Data were analyzed by means of analysis of covariance for a randomized complete block design with dog as a blocking variable, time as a covariate, and distance run as the treatment of interest. Least square mean values were compared with values obtained prior to exercise, and linear and quadratic contrasts were examined.

Results—Serum globulin concentration was low prior to exercise (mean ± SD, 2.2 ± 0.3g/dL) and progressively decreased as exercise continued. Exercise was associated with increases in serum chloride, urea nitrogen, and cardiac troponin-I concentrations and serum alanine aminotransferase, creatine kinase, and aspartate aminotransferase activities and with pro-gressive decreases in serum potassium, total protein, and albumin concentrations.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that multiple successive days of endurance exercise resulted in mild aberrations in serum chemistry variables in conditioned sled dogs. Changes likely reflected the metabolic stresses of prolonged endurance exercise as well as dietary composition. Hypoglobulinemia in resting, conditioned sled dogs may reflect the immunosuppressive or catabolic effects of intense endurance training.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association