General Health Care

Do sled dogs’ feet get cold from running in the snow?

A penguin, a sled dog, and a manatee walk into a diner… Well, maybe not. But even if they don’t frequent the same restaurants, they do share similar adaptations that help them overcome the challenges of life in cold environments. As veterinarians, we’re often asked how dogs can tolerate walking barefoot on snow and ice. …

Can a sled dog be an inside dog?

By Lori E. Gordon, DVM Veterinary Surgical Care, Inc. MA Task Force 1 US&R Veterinary Officer, NVRT Veterinary Officer   The answer is maybe. It depends on the dog, both their physical as well as individual emotional state of mind.  It is the combination of their natural personality and their environmental upbringing that can answer …

How do sled dogs stay fit in the summer when it is too hot to run?

After racing season is over and the snow melts in Alaska, the canine athletes of the Iditarod begin a quick transition into the summer months. Although the terms “training” and “conditioning” are often used interchangeably, their distinctions should be noted for this discussion. In the purest sense, training is the mental process of learning how …

Do sled dogs get frostbite?

  By Lori E. Gordon, DVM Veterinary Surgical Care, Inc. MA Task Force 1 US&R Veterinary Officer, NVRT Veterinary Officer   The short answer is yes, sled dogs do get frostbite. The details, however, give a better picture of why, where, when, and how often this occurs, as well as steps mushers take to prevent …

You and Your Dog!

As Iditarod mushers and vets, we understand that all responsible dog owners know the basics behind good dog care. Providing your dog with the right food and a healthy balanced diet is an important aspect of keeping him healthy. So is regular vet care, clean and dry living quarters, plenty of fresh water, lots of …

Checkpoint protocol and dog care

by Stuart Nelson Jr., DVM Of a total staff of approximately 50 veterinarians, most will serve as “trail” veterinarians. These individuals will have a number of responsibilities at checkpoints along the race route. Of course, their primary focus will be on the examination, evaluation, and treatment of the canine athletes. A “senior” veterinarian is selected …

Volunteerism: how does one become a member of the Iditarod veterinary staff?

by Stuart Nelson, Jr., DVM “Volunteers” and “Volunteerism.” These words have received much media attention in the last few months. Our political leaders have been enthusiastically promoting the importance and significance of their roles in society, and the reason is obvious. Funding is not available for every good work that needs to be accomplished, and …

Iditarod Returned Dog Care

by Stuart Nelson, Jr., DVM I have often been asked about dogs that are returned from the race. Long-distance sled dog races, such as the Iditarod, require mushers to finish with only those dogs who started the race. Although none may be added to the team after the start, they can be returned at any …

Basic outline of Iditarod dog care measures

by Stuart Nelson, Jr., DVM Musher Entry Requirements Completion of qualifying races approved by the Iditarod Trail Committee. Review of performance by Iditarod Race Officials. Veterinarian Selection 5 years minimum clinical practice experience. Previous experience working with racing sled dogs. Ability to work with others as a team. Fluency in English – some foreign veterinarians …

Rabies, a topic of concern for dogs and humans

by Stuart Nelson, Jr., DVM I have chosen to address a topic of concern for dogs and humans in this article. Rabies is a disease we are all familiar with, at least on a superficial level, but I think its important to emphasize some key points about this infection that may not be common knowledge. …