News and Information

Do sled dogs carb up days before a race, like human marathon runners?

By Dr Veronica C Devall DVM,DACVSMR Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation  Devall Veterinary Consulting LTD Integrative Veterinary Rehabilitation and Pain Management   No, sled dogs do not use high carbohydrate diets nor do they “carb up” prior to a long distance race.  The reason for this is that dogs …

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 …

Writing to Mushers: Steps for Success

We are happy to provide you with contact information of mushers agreeing to receive letters from students.  If you are writing to mushers, please follow the instructions below. Send the required information to us by filling out the form found by clicking this link to  receive by email the postal contact information for mushers who …

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 …