by: Lynne Witte
What is on the menu for sled dogs? What a sled dog eats is very important to their performance year round. The dogs’ diet affects their overall health, muscle development, and ability to run their best.
The menu and amount of food for sled dogs changes with the seasons. During the training and race season a high calorie diet is served. It would be like eating three kids’ meals from McDonald’s for dinner because they need all the calories for all the miles they run. During the off season for sled dogs, their menu is like eating a nice salad and a cheeseburger for dinner. During fall training and racing season, sled dogs have a high quality diet primarily composed of protein and fat. They will often eat their meals as a soup mix of various meats like beef or fish mixed with kibble and water. The dogs will get their hydration through the meat and water mix. Each dog gets ladle servings based on their size. When running, trail snacks such as chunks of frozen meat, chicken skins, or fish, are used. Some sled dogs are served entire raw meal diets but served in a watery soup for nutrition and hydration.
During the off season the dogs will need less calories. They may need only about a 1,000 calories a day. Dogs will eat quality kibble or a diet of special raw meats.
Hydration is on the menu every day for dogs. Clean fresh water will be available at all times to the dogs. In colder temperatures, water may be baited with meat or kibble to encourage drinking. A balance of good nutrition and water is important every day for a sled dog to be healthy.