Caring For the Dogs – It’s the Rule

 Hello friends,

Volunteer veterinarian Jennifer Pearson examines a Nick Petit dog at the Kaltag checkpoint on Saturday March 9th during the 2019 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Photo by Jeff Schultz/ (C) 2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Last week I used my paws to write about how the race has evolved since the first Iditarod in 1973. These changes include the rules that are updated on a yearly basis. The race rules are used to keep the race fair, keep the mushers safe, and especially to keep my canine friends safe and cared for. I like Rules 37-46 because they all have to do with the care of the Iditarod athletes.  

Iditarod dogs are put through all types of medical tests before, during, and after the race. I don’t know about you, but I hate shots. Rule #40 is not a new one, but I noticed something added to it that made me paws (pause in human terms). A shot for Parainfluenza was added to the list of vaccines the dogs already get. This will help reduce a kind of respiratory illness that can pass quickly between dogs. Read the 2021 Race Rules for more information. And for those of you who want to read more about how Iditarod dogs are cared for, there is a section on the Iditarod homepage dedicated to Dog Care. Awooooo! Thank you Iditarod!

If you have any questions for Zuma, please e-mail me at I’ll answer as many questions as I can in future posts.


Tail wags,


Reading the rules.