News and Information

Eye on the Trail: Recognizing and Thanking Diane Johnson

When Diane Johnson became director of Iditarod Education in the fall of 2005, the program was in its infancy.  Today as Diane passes the roll onto a new director, the program is well-developed and serving educators and students around the world.  It reminds me of a photo I captured a year ago in Katmai.  A …

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 …

What is a Sled Dog?

by Stuart Nelson, Jr., DVM What is a sled dog? This question was addressed by the ISDVMA (International Sled Dog Veterinary Medical Association) board of directors at their recent meeting in Germany. The answer seems to be rather obvious, but as with most things in life, it is more complex than a superficial assessment would …

Thermal Concerns: temperature extremes and good dog care on the trail

by Stuart Nelson, Jr., DVM Veterinarians and mushers must be prepared to respond appropriately to temperature extremes as part of good dog care on the trail. Calm and sunny days on a snow-covered (reflective) landscape with moderating temperatures, can create an environment conducive to hyperthermia (overheating). In contrast, very low ambient temperatures combined with wind-chill …

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 …

Early detection of a twisted stomach is essential to a successful outcome

by Stuart Nelson, Jr., DVM My medical topic for this month is the syndrome known as Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus or GDV. Uncomplicated gastric dilatation (distension) can occur as the result of swallowing air and/or overeating, but there is a great potential for rapid progression into a life-threatening emergency if the stomach twists on its long axis …

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. …

Aaron Burmeister on Dog Nutrition

Aaron Burmeister, video from 2015 Iditarod, comments on how nutrition is a big factor in a healthy running sled dog team. With temperatures dipping well into the negative digits in Manley, it’s very important to keep those dogs fueled for their long trip.

ACL type injuries found to be rare in sled dogs

by Stuart Nelson, Jr., DVM Many of you may have experienced knee injuries, including ACL tears. You know what I’m referring to! Ouch! For those of you who may not be aware, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is critical to normal function of the knee joint. This structure, most commonly referred to as the cranial …