Dog injuries, sicknesses and extreme stress

Sick, injured and tired dropped dogs are crammed into a small airplane. The dogs are not properly secured and can be injured by turbulence, to which a small plane is especially vulnerable.

Sick, injured and tired dropped dogs are crammed into a small airplane. The dogs are not properly secured and can be injured by turbulence, to which a small plane is especially vulnerable.

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Sick, injured, tired Iditarod dogs don't want to run

Craig Medred, outdoors columnist for the Anchorage Daily News, told Weekly Reader Current Events (3/3/06), “It’s pretty hard to imagine the enthusiasm these dogs have for racing….”

But dogs feel pain just like humans do. They are not machines.

How can dogs be enthusiastic about running when they’re sick, injured or exhausted?

Do you think these dog are enthusiastic about running in the Iditarod?

“Brutal winds and temperatures to 20 degrees below zero were terrorizing those who hadn’t yet made it through Rainy Pass.”

“Wind chill temperatures were pushing down to 55 to 60 degrees below zero.”

“Conditions were so grim dog teams hoping to continue down the Iditarod Trail were having a hard time just getting out of this checkpoint Monday night and early this morning. They struggled in the dark, wind and cold.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 6, 2007

[Read the information on this page about frostbite.]

“‘(The winds) literally picked your whole team up and threw them off the trail.’”

- Musher Donald Smidt talking about the 2007 Iditarod
- Carlos Muñoz, Fond du Lac Reporter, December 30, 2007

Iditarod dogs have lung damage

81 percent of the dogs who finish the Iditarod have lung damage:

“To investigate, the team of researchers examined the airways of 59 sled dogs 24 to 48 hours after they completed the long and arduous race. Their findings are published in the September issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The researchers found that 81% of the canines had “abnormal accumulations” of mucus or cellular debris in their lower airways. This accumulation was classified as moderate to severe in nearly half of the animals, according to the report. There was no evidence that the lung damage could be due to bacterial infection, the authors note. Instead, they say, it was likely caused by cooling and drying out of peripheral airway passages, resulting in injury and inflammation.”

- Reuters Health,Tue Oct 8, 2002, 2:17 PM ET

Airway dysfunction persists despite 4 months of rest:

“CONCLUSIONS: Racing Alaskan sled dogs have airway dysfunction similar to ‘ski asthma’ that persists despite having 4 months of rest. These findings suggest that repeated exercise in cold conditions can lead to airway disease that does not readily resolve with cessation of exercise.”

- Davis M, Williamson K, McKenzie E, Royer C, Payton M, Nelson S., “Effect of training and rest on respiratory mechanical properties in racing sled dogs.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 2005 Feb;37(2):337-41 on PubMed website.

Statistics tell sad stories

Dogs who couldn’t make it across Iditarod finish line:

Year Number of dogs starting race Number of dogs finishing race Number of dogs not finishing race Percentage of dogs not finishing race
2002 1,024 524 500 49%
2003 1,024 381 643 63%
2004 1,391 734 657 47%
2005 1,264 585 679 54%
2006 1,328 737 591 45%
2007 1,308 564 744 57%
2008 1,517 807 710 47%
2009 1,072 575 497 46%
2010 1,136 550 586 52%
2011 992 451 541 45%
2012 1056 555 501 47%
2013 944 543 401 42%

[We are rarely told what happened to these dogs.]

Race officials encouraged injured musher to continue racing tired and sick dogs:

“Coming into the Ruby checkpoint, 615 miles from Anchorage and just under 500 from Nome, Madsen had just come through a hard run along the Yukon. He and his team had endured miles of fighting 50 mph sustained winds with gust up to 75 mph. There were places the trail was blown out.

Madsen was burned out, and the dogs were not rested. He knew they were going slowly.

Some of the dogs had been sick with diarrhea and treated at a prior checkpoint. They showed little spark after that.

Battling the winds, Madsen could practically see their body fat melting off. Not only that, the sled hit a stump on the trail forcing Madsen’s upper body into the handles. An X-ray at a later checkpoint revealed a rib broken in several places.”

“After two or three hours of sleep, some food and a pep talk from race officials, he felt he could go on.” [Emphasis added]

- Kay Richardson, The Columbian, April 16, 2006

Dogs who finished Iditarod with lung damage:

According to a study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in 2002, 81 percent of the dogs who finish the Iditarod have lung damage.

Year Number of dogs finishing race Number of finishing dogs with lung damage
2002 524 424
2003 381 309
2004 734 595
2005 585 474
2006 737 597
2007 564 457
2008 807 654
2009 575 466
2010 550 446
2011 451 365
2012 555 450
2013 543 440

- Statistics come from data on Iditarod website

Dogs who finished Iditarod with ulcers or ulcerations:

According to a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 2005, 61 percent of the dogs who finish the race have ulcers or ulcerations compared to zero percent before the race.

Year Number of dogs finishing race Number of finishing dogs with ulcers or ulcerations
2002 524 320
2003 381 232
2004 734 448
2005 585 357
2006 737 450
2007 564 344
2008 807 492
2009 575 351
2010 550 336
2011 451 275
2012 555 339
2013 543 331

- Statistics come from data on Iditarod website

Dogs who finished Iditarod with lung damage AND ulcers or ulcerations:

Using the above mentioned studies, each year from 42 percent to 61 percent of the dogs finish the Iditarod with lung damage AND ulcers or ulcerations.

Year Number of dogs finishing race Number range of finishing dogs with lung damage AND ulcers or ulcerations (42% to 61%)
2002 524 220 to 320
2003 381 160 to 232
2004 734 308 to 448
2005 585 246 to 357
2006 737 310 to 450
2007 564 237 to 344
2008 807 339 to 492
2009 575 242 to 351
2010 550 231 to 336
2011 451 189 to 275
2012 555 233 to 339
2013 543 228 to 331

X-rays of dog's broken leg. Sled dogs break their legs in the Iditarod. Expensive surgeries are needed to repair some breaks. Rather than spend the money, mushers are likely to kill dogs who aren't valuable to them.

X-rays of dog’s broken leg. Sled dogs break their legs in the Iditarod. Expensive surgeries are needed to repair some broken legs. Rather than spend the money, mushers are likely to kill dogs who aren’t valuable to them.

Iditarod dogs have kennel cough

Kennel cough is highly contagious:

“Kennel cough can be caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria. It is very contagious and your dog can become infected if it comes into contact with an infected dog.”

- American Veterinary Medical Association, website article, March 18, 2011

Veterinarians don’t pull dogs with kennel cough from Iditarod:

“For now, his [Lance Mackey] dogs have what he believes are the early symptoms of kennel cough. A wheel dog named Pat “hasn’t eaten probably a pound of food since the starting line,” he said.

At about 8:30 p.m., hours before Mackey was scheduled to leave, he stood in the dark as a vet checked one of his leaders, Rev. The dog made a hacking sound.”

- Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, March 9, 2011, Takotna checkpoint

Kyle Hopkins: “So you have a little bit of illness also on your team?”

Sebastian Schnuelle: “Oh yah, for sure I had that stupid kennel cough like big time. It started like two days before the race.”

Kyle Hopkins: “Do you think they got it on the Quest?”

Sebastian Schnuelle: “Oh yeah for sure, Ken [Anderson] had it, Hans [Gatt] had it. So I guess we three kind of stuck together there. So I guess we all got it.”

- iditablog, Anchorage Daily News, March 9, 2011, Takotna checkpoint
- Kyle Hopkins is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News.
- The 2011 Iditarod started on March 5.

“As the race got underway, [Hans] Gatt said about half of his team was battling kennel cough.”

- Jill Burke, Alaska Dispatch, March 9, 2011

“Disappointment in the Iditarod. After contacting Kennel Cough before the race I had hopes the team would recover in time. Unfortunately only some of them did.  By McGrath I was down to 9 dogs from the 16 that started, due to a combination of illness & injury. The remaining dogs were still showing strong symptoms of the cough, and with only one leader remaining I decided it was in the best interest of the dogs to end the race at this point.”

- Iditarod musher Gerry Willomitzer, www.gerrywillomitzer.com, March, 2011

“The run from TAKOTNA to OPHIR is short, but hilly. I gauge my team by the time interval we take to cover this distance. A good time is 2 and a half hours. I always think back to my first Iditarod. My entire dog team had kennel cough and were moving slowly right here.”

- Aliy Zirkle, SP Kennel Dog Log, Iditarod Trail Notes, 2010
- According to the Iditarod’s website, Aliy Zirkle’s first Iditarod was in 2001.

“Jamie [Nelson] said her team had come down with what the vets thought was kennel cough.”

- Iditarod musher Karen Ramstead, North Wapiti Iditarod 2000 Journal – Finger Lake to Rainy Pass, northwapiti.com, 2000

“Some of his [Lance Mackey] dogs were coughing and one was in heat.”

- Associated Press, March 12, 2008

“Kate was also coming down with kennel cough which was going around the other teams too. My team had managed to not get it before the race but once we got around the other dog teams it was hard not to get.”

- Jessie Royer, Jessie’s Sled Dog Page, Iditarod 2004
- Royer and her team were near the Finger Lake checkpoint which is 194 miles from Anchorage.

- Veterinarians put sick dogs on cephalosporin (an antibiotic) and let them keep racing:

Lance Mackey: “I’m going to take them to Ophir and see what happens.”

Veterinarian: “I would say at this point since you haven’t had them on cephalo[sporins], give them at least 24 hours…”

- iditablog, Anchorage Daily News March 9, 2011, Takotna checkpoint

“‘(Pebbles) started coughing in McGrath. We put her on drugs right away, but it’s getting down into her lungs,’ [Judy] Currier said.”

- iditablog, Anchorage Daily News, March 12, 2011, Anvik checkpoint
- According to the Iditarod’s website, there are 223 miles between the McGrath and Anvik checkpoints.

- Dogs taking antibiotics can give other dogs kennel cough:

“However, these (antibiotic tablets) will not stop the coughing more quickly nor will they make it safe for your dog to mix with other dogs.”

- Riverside Animal Hospital, Green Bay, Wisconsin, website article, March 19, 2011

- Cephalosporin has its own set of problems:

“Allergic reactions such as itching, rash and difficulty breathing may occur. Side effects in dogs may also include drooling, rapid breathing and excitability.”

- AnimalShelter.org website article, March 19, 2011

- Dogs with kennel cough shouldn’t be stressed with exercise:

“Dogs who are recovering from kennel cough should not be stressed with exercise or excitement for at least a week.”

- Dr. Melinda Striyle and Dr. Tiffany Schmidt, 43rd Ave. Animal Hospital, Glendale, AZ, website article, March 19, 2011.

“Affected individuals should be allowed to rest.”

- Dr. Eric Barchas, DVM, drbarchas.com, March 19, 2011

“Restriction of exercise will help decrease the irritaton of the airways.”

- Dr. Tom Liebl and Dr. Robin Michael, Clinton Parkway Animal Hospital, Lawrence Kansas, website article, March 19, 2011

“If your dog has kennel cough you should keep it in a warm environment (where possible) and try not to exercise it too much.”

- Riverside Animal Hospital, Green Bay, Wisconsin, website article, March 19, 2011

Dogs with kennel cough should be kept warm:

“To help prevent the development of pneumonia, dogs with kennel cough should be rested and kept in a relatively warm environment.”

- City of Springdale Animal Services, website article, March 2011

“Dogs should be kept in a dry, warm, draft-free environment. Exercise should be avoided until the condition subsides.”

- Glendale Animal Hospital, Glendale, AZ, website article, March 2011

“The BEST thing to do for a dog with kennel cough is provide them with a warm, stress-free home. In this environment most dogs will recover within a few weeks.”

- UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, website article, March, 2011

For more information about Iditarod dogs having kennel cough, click: kennel cough.

Stomach ulcers

Gastric ulceration. Many sled dogs have died in the Iditarod from gastric ulcerations.

Gastric ulceration. Many sled dogs have died in the Iditarod from gastric ulcerations.

Stomach ulcers are common:

“Most common injuries you see are the ones Dr. Stuart Nelson has described in his notes/emails/handbook [orthopedic injuries, pneumonia (exposure vs. aspiration), gastric ulceration.]

- Dr. Stuart Nelson is the Iditarod’s chief veterinarian.
- Dropped Dog Manual, Iditarod Trail Committee, Inc., 2014

“These animals are prone to gastric ulceration….”

- Dropped Dog Manual, Iditarod Trail Committee, Inc., 2014

“This year, the most common thing I [veterinarian Emi Berger] saw was pneumonia and stomach ulcers.”

- Randi Weiner, The Journal News, March 31, 2011

Serious stomach ulcers from racing as little as 100 miles:

“I reviewed a recent study about gastrointestinal damage resulting from training and racing sled dogs which appeared in a well-respected veterinary journal. Two of the more interesting conclusions presented were:

Training alone, without the additional stress of racing, results in significant, measurable gastrointestinal damage.

and

Serious stomach ulcers and other significant, measurable gastrointestinal damage results from racing as little as 100 miles.”

- Dr. Paula Kislak, DVM, President, Association of Veterinarians for Animals Rights
- Email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition on December 17, 2006

Stories of dogs with stomach ulcers:

“But the dog [Mark] was in bad shape. He was dehydrated and hypothermic. His gums were white, indicating anemia and possible shock, [Lannie] Hamilton said.”

“A few minutes after the vets administered the IV, Mark vomited three liters of blood. Hamilton said that was an indication the dog likely had a bleeding stomach ulcer.”

- Lannie Hamilton is a veterinarian in Wasilla, AK
- Mark is one of DeeDee Jonrowe’s dogs
- Paula Dobbyn, Anchorage Daily News, March 13, 2002

“I had a dog that was just doing this horrible, projectile vomiting. It turned out it was an ulcer.”

- Diana Dronenburg Moroney, Iditarod musher
- Freedman, Lew. More Iditarod Classics, Kenmore: Epicenter Press, 2004

Jonrowe’s dog Mark dies from surgery to repair his ulcer:

“The Iditarod Trail Committee was notified today by Musher Dee Dee Jonrowe that her lead dog Mark died during surgery to repair a stomach ulcer.”

- Iditarod Race Advisory, Iditarod website, March 15, 2002

- Dan, a 3 year old dog dies; ulcers are found in his stomach:

“Race officials said preliminary findings of a necropsy performed on the 3-year-old male named Dan showed fluid in the lungs.”

- Associated Press, March 12, 2001

“Preliminary aspects of the necropsy have been completed on Dan…”

“The dog’s death was determined to have been caused by pulmonary edema, or fluid in the lungs. The only other significant abnormalities observed included a decrease in esophageal and gastric (stomach) muscle tone combined with gastric ulcerations.”

- Iditarod website, March 10, 2001

Backen’s dog dies from blood loss associated with ulcers:

Preliminary findings of a necropsy indicate the 7-year-old male [Takk] died of blood loss associated with gastric ulcers, according to race officials.

- Mary Pemberton, Associated Press, March 16, 2004

Dr Jim Lanier’s dog Cupid dies from ulcers:

“The gross necropsy performed on Cupid, a 4 year old female from the team of Jim Lanier’s that died on March 12 has been completed. The cause of death appears likely to be the result of regurgitation and aspiration, secondary to the presence of gastric ulcers.”

- Iditarod Advisory Update, Iditarod website, March 13, 2006

Ken Anderson’s dog has a bleeding ulcer:

“It was pretty scary. He had a bleeding ulcer. I’ve never seen that before. I stopped and he vomited a big pool of blood.”

- Ken Anderson talking about his sick dog
- Interview with Gabriel Spitzer, Alaska Public Radio Network, website, March 9, 2006

Karen Ramstead’s dog Snickers died from acute hemorrhage due to a gastric ulcer:

“A gross necropsy was performed on Snickers, a six and a half year old female in the team of Karen Ramstead. Preliminary indications showed that Snickers expired as a result of and acute hemorrhage due to a gastric ulcer.”

- Iditarod Advisory, Iditarod website, March 14, 2006

Other dogs who died from having ulcers

Bruce Linton’s dog has black and tarry stools – a sign of an ulcer

“I rested there about five hours and was about to leave when I noticed a stool that was black and tarry next to one of my lead dogs Possum.”

- Bruce Linton, Iditarod Journals, 2007

High incidence of ulcers in Iditarod dogs:

“A pilot study of dogs that were either dropped from the 2000 Iditarod Sled Dog Race because of illness or that finished the race indicated that, approximately 5 days after competing, 10 of 28 dogs (35%) had endoscopic evidence of gastric ulceration, erosion, or hemorrhage. The next year, an endoscopic study of 73 dogs participating in the 2001 Iditarod race was performed in order to evaluate a larger population of dogs. Data from 70 of these dogs could be used; 34 (48.5%) had ulceration, erosion, gastric hemorrhage, or some combination of these findings. When this group of 70 dogs was compared retrospectively to a control group of 87 dogs presented to the Texas A&M University (TAMU) Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, the Iditarod sled dogs had a significantly higher prevalence (P = .049) of gastric lesions.”

- Davis MS, Willard MD, Nelson SL, Mandsager RE, McKiernan BS, Mansell JK, Lehenbauer TW, “Prevalence of gastric lesions in racing Alaskan sled dogs.” Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 2003 May-Jun;17(3):311-4, article abstract on National Library of Medicine website
- Erosion is “an eating away, destruction of the surface of a tissue, material or structure.”
- On-line Medical dictionary
- “P” means P-value, which is “the probability (ranging from zero to one) that the results observed in a study (or results more extreme) could have occurred by chance. Convention is that we accept a p value of 0.05 or below as being statistically significant.”
- Bandolier, a journal about evidence-based healthcare, written by Oxford scientists, website article

- High incidence of ulcers in Iditarod dogs caused by NSAIDs:

Many Iditarod dogs have gastric ulcers and some have died from this condition. Ulcers predispose the dogs to vomiting. Normally, the trachea closes the airway so that foreign material does not enter the lungs. But because these dogs run at such high speeds for such a long period of time, they cannot stop gasping for air despite the vomiting. Consequently, dogs inhale the vomit into their lungs which causes suffocation and death.

According to Michael Matz, a highly regarded expert in gastrointestinal disorders in small animals, the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is the most common cause of gastrointestinal ulceration in small animals (Kirk’s Current Veterinary Therapy XII- Small Animal Practice). Aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen are just some of the NSAIDs that cause ulcers. These drugs reduce swelling, inflammation, relieve pain and fever, which allows the dogs to run farther and faster. Unfortunately, some dogs pay with their lives for the use of these drugs.

- High incidence of ulcers in Iditarod dogs caused by stress:

Andrea Floyd-Wilson: “What are they thinking is the cause that these dogs are getting, and it really seems like a very high number of them do get ulcers?”

Dr. Paula Kislak: “That’s correct. And it’s almost universally known to be as a result of the amount of stress that they endure and the medication they’re given. Just like people under extreme stress develop ulcers. This is the exact same etiology or cause in these dogs as well.”

- On February 23, 2003, Andrea Floyd-Wilson, the host of All About Animals Radio Show, interviewed Margery Glickman, Director of the Sled Dog Action Coalition, and Paula Kislak, DVM, President of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights.

- Sustained strenuous exercise associated with 61 percent ulcer rate postrace compared to zero percent prerace:

“Sustained strenuous exercise was associated with an increased frequency of gastric erosions or ulcerations seen endoscopically (0% prerace versus 61% postrace). A significant postrace increase occurred in the median lactulose to rhamnose ratio in both serum and urine (0.11 versus 0.165, P = .0363; 0.11 versus 0.165, P = .0090, respectively). No significant differences were found in median serum or urinary sucrose concentrations when pre- and postrace values were compared. No correlation was found between visible gastric lesions and the concentration of sucrose in serum or urine samples obtained 4-5 hours after administration of the sugar solutions. We conclude that sustained strenuous exercise is associated with increased intestinal permeability, but the sucrose permeability test as we performed it did not correlate with visible gastric lesions.”

- Davis MS, Willard MD, Williamson KK, Steiner JM, Williams DA. “Sustained strenuous exercise increases intestinal permeability in racing Alaskan sled dogs.” Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 2005 Jan-Feb;19(1):34-9, article abstract on National Library of Medicine website

[The sucrose permeability test is used to detect ulcerations in dogs.]

[Increased intestinal permeablity also known as Leaky Gut or Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) results from an overly-permeable intestinal lining with spaces between the cells of the gut wall. These spaces allow “foreign” material (bacteria, toxins and food) to leak into the body where they should not be, placing an additional burden on the immune and detoxification systems.]

Racing in the Iditarod exhausts sled dogs.

Sled dogs are exhausted from racing in the Iditarod. Photo attributed to mdheightshiker on flickr

Iditarod exhausts dogs

“The following list demonstrates the top five reasons for dropping dogs during a long distance race:

Fatigue
Shoulder injuries
Carpal injuries
Foot lesions
Diarrhea

- Dropped Dog Manual, Iditarod Trail Committee, Inc., 2014

‘I fell asleep for a while. They feel asleep for a little while. You’re not supposed to do that while you’re mushing,’ the musher said.”

- The musher is Aliy Zirkle.
- Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, March 11, 2012

“They [Pat Moon and Josh Cadzow] had been forced to drop dogs due to fatigue or illness were down to small teams.”

- Jill Burke, Alaska Dispatch, March 11, 2012

“Tok is tired and I can tell that he is no longer enthused.”

- Jan Steves, Blog Living My Dream – Part Three, March 19, 2012- According to Jan Steves’ “Meet the Team” web page, Tok is 10-years-old.

“On the stand [in Nome] after her welcome she [Susan Butcher] said, ‘It’s good to be here. My dogs are pretty tired.’”

- Jones, Tim. The Last Great Race: The Iditarod, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

“As late as the Elim checkpoint on the coast, only about 130 miles from the finish, he still held out hope for that small trophy [a belt buckle]. El Toro was still pulling six teammates along the trail. El Toro, John [Stewart] confessed, was doing almost all of the work.

It was on Thursday, on the march up and over a 1,000-foot mountain mushers call “Little McKinley” to White Mountain on soft trail in the heat of the day Thursday, when El Toro finally wore out.”

- Every musher who finishes the Iditarod gets a belt buckle.
- Craig Medred, Alaska Dispatch, March 20, 2010

“Former Iditarod musher Emmitt Peters, the last rookie to win The Last Great Race, says mushers and dogs feel tremendous fatigue at this stage of the race.”

- KTUU-TV, website, photo caption, Ruby checkpoint, March 12, 2010

“He’s feeling good, he [Jeff King] said moments before stepping on the runners of his sled, but his dogs are tired.”

- Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News – The Sled Blog, March 13, 2010

“From Anchorage in 1985, Lavon Barve and Tim Osmar led the race. Their dogs gave out just after their arrival at Finger Lake, exhausted from breaking trail over such a long distance. Sinking into the snow up to their necks to open the way for others offers the dogs nothing but disadvantages…”

- Cellura, Dominique. Travelers of the Cold: Sled Dogs of the Far North, Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Books, 1990

“Libby Riddles mushed her weary dog team into Nome today and became the first woman to win the arduous 1,135-mile Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race.”

- UPI, The New York Times, March 21, 1985

Exhausted sled dog closes his eyes during the Iditarod. Photo attributed to dweekly on flickr.

Exhausted sled dog closes his eyes during the Iditarod. Photo attributed to dweekly on flickr.

“There they lay, whimpering, licking their paws. Too tired to eat; too tired, even, to sleep.”

- The author is talking about Rick Mackey’s dogs when they reached Nome.
- Colin Nickerson, Boston Globe, February 5, 1984

“Too tired even to bark, his huskies settled on their haunches, tongues lolling, and waited expectantly as the musher hacked apart a mammoth chunk of beef, tossed the red meat into the steaming pot, then added fish meal, tallow, dried dog food, and powdered vitamin compound.”

- The author is talking about Eep Anderson’s tired dogs.
- Colin Nickerson, Boston Globe, February 5, 1984

“The dogs start getting — at this point they’re getting to the point where they’re going to be falling asleep,” [Emmitt] Peters said. “Just like the mushers — they get tired, overtired.”

- Emmitt Peters won the Iditarod in 1975
- Jason Lamb, KTUU-TV, KTUU.com, March 12, 2010

“Granite, her [Susan Butcher] lead dog, was exhausted from geeing and hawing, looking for a trial or for the best terrain to travel on.”

- Nielsen, Nicki J. The Iditarod: Women on the Trail, Anchorage: Wolfdog Publications, 1986

Dogs suffer from anemia:

– Enzymatic and electrolyte imbalances create anemia:

“There are all kinds of enzymatic and electrolyte imbalances that create a decreased ability to form connective which is very important in repairing the damage done during the races. It also creates anemia.”

- Dr. Paula Kislak, DVM, president of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights
- Her remarks were made on the Animal Voices radio show, Toronto, Canada on February 28, 2006

“A race lasting 12-15 d[days] depressed activities for both plasma ceruloplasmin and erythrocyte superoxide dismutase in dogs consuming commercial dog foods and meats. A shorter, 3-d[day] training run for dogs fed a commercial balanced diet also depressed ceruloplasmin activities but not superoxide dismutase activities. Dogs fed the same diet but that did not run showed no changes in either parameter. Activities of a third copper enzyme, plasma diamine oxidase, also decreased after a 3-d[day] training run. In summary, blood activities of three copper enzymes were depressed by sustained strenuous exercise in sled dogs.

- DiSilvestro RA, Hinchcliff KW, Blostein-Fujiia. “Sustained strenuous exercise in sled dogs depresses three blood copper enzyme activities.” Biological Trace Element Research. 2005 Summer;105(1-3):87-96

– Anemia is a sign of copper deficiency:

According to the National Academy of Sciences Board on Agriculture & Natural Resources, copper is a helper in enzymatic reactions. “The function of copper includes: Connective tissue formation; iron metabolism; blood cell formation; melanin pigment formation; myelin formation; defense against oxidative damage. Anemia is a sign of a copper deficiency.”

- Board on Agriculture & Natural Resources, National Academy of Sciences, website, 2005

– Training and racing (exercising) cause anemia:

“Research based on racing sled dogs published in the March 15, 2008 Journal of the AVMA states: ‘anemia of moderate severity was present after exercise’ and ‘training and racing caused progressive decreases in RBC counts.’ It goes on to clarify that ‘Both training and exercise caused significant decreases in PCV and hemoglobin concentration’ and that ‘acute blood loss secondary to gastrointestinal tract bleeding was likely responsible for the decrease in PCV.’

PCV and hemoglobin are measurements of red blood cell levels and their reductions have very real and detrimental consequences for dogs because, just when the greatest athletic burden is laid on them, their oxygen carrying capacity and other critical systemic functions are failing.

Reference is made to the fact that there was reported a dramatically significant ’10% decrease in hemoglobin concentration during the Iditarod sled dog race and a 14% decrease in PCV during a 170 mile exercise.’ The researchers go on to say ‘we believe the exercise-induced decrease in RBC count was related to blood loss. Exercising sled dogs are known to have a predisposition to gastrointestinal ulceration.’

They further claim ‘It is noteworthy that serum protein, albumin and globulin concentrations follow a similar pattern during exercise, providing further support for blood loss as the cause of exercise- induced RBC loss.’

And while red blood cells were diminishing, this research also proved that white blood cells were increasing as a result of training and exercising. Although this may sound good, it is not. The mechanism but which various populations of white blood cells increased in this study indicates an extreme stress reaction. This is not surprising since it has been elucidated in many other studies as well, including one that showed ‘serum cortisol concentration was increased in sled dogs.’

[How many studies does it take (30 were referenced in this article alone), before we say enough is enough? Repeatedly there are demonstrations of the harmful and fatal consequences of sled dog training and racing. We need to proclaim that tradition and financial gain are not good enough reasons to subject dogs to such unacceptably high risks.]”

- Dr. Paula Kislak, DVM, president, Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, email to Sled Dog Action Coalition, May 18, 2008

Exhausted dogs may rather sleep than eat:

“Iditarod dogs have to consume enormous amounts of food during the course of the race. Recent studies have shown that a 50-pound sled dog can burn more than 10,000 calories a day while distance racing.

Yet, after running for six-hour stretches, if a dog’s dinner isn’t extremely enticing, they may decide to curl up and sleep rather than eat, and once that happens it’s the beginning of the end for that mushers chances of making it all the way.”

- Joseph Robertia, Kenai Peninsula, March 5, 2006

Dogs suffer from extreme stress

Impact of Exercise Induced Stress on Sled Dogs:

  1. Central release of corticotropin in Releasing Factor
  2. Slows down gastric emptying
  3. Inhibits antral motricity
  4. Diminishes small intestine transit
  5. Increases colonic muscular activity
  6. Reduces absorption of electrolytes
  7. Modifies intestinal permeability – intestinal inflammation
  8. Decrease splanchnic blood flow
  9. Modifies physical properties of intestinal mucous
  10. Induces production of hydroperoxides and free radicals

- Presentation by Dr. Dominique Grandjean, veterinarian, PhD, professor l’Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire d’Alfort at Sled Dogs Congress, Asarna (Sweden), March 2008.
- Dr. Dominique Gandjean’s website, 2012

Cortisol levels elevated by as much as 900 percent:

“A recently published study out of the Ohio State University clearly demonstrated the stressful conditions under which sled dogs labor. The researchers measured cortisol which is widely recognized as the major hormone that is released from the adrenal glands in response to extreme stress. They found that in dogs who raced as few as 260 miles, the cortisol levels were elevated by as much as 900 percent! At levels of just a fraction of these, serious complications that degrade a dog’s immune system and deteriorate his overall health are know to regularly occur.”

- Dr. Paula Kislak, DVM, President of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, email to the Sled Dog Action Coaliton on March 1, 2007

Study in 2004: dogs stressed after 500 miles:

“‘Dogs get sick, especially because of stress,’” [Manjo] Pastey said. ‘Without globulins, they can’t fight diseases and they could pass them onto other dogs in the race. The lower the globulins, the worse it is.’

The new project stems from a previous 2004 research endeavor which featured running dogs in a simulated 500-mile race. One notable finding of the study was a significant decrease in the dog’s blood globulin levels during the event.”

“‘Sled dogs have comparatively low globulin levels during training, and those levels fall considerably during racing,’ [Erica] McKenzie said in a press release.”

- Professor Manjo Pastey and Professor Erica McKenzie are working on a study based upon the 2004 research findings. Both are associated with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State University.
- Katie Thorn, The Daily Barometer, March 9, 2007

Sleep deprivation causes extreme stress:

Margery Glickman: “Dogs like to sleep a lot. And, maybe Dr. Kislak would like to speak about it. My understanding is that the average dog likes to sleep anywhere from 14 to 18 hours a day.”

Dr. Paula Kislak: “Yes, that’s correct. If we are going all the way back into the instinctual behavior of dogs, they sleep all day and hunt for maybe two to four, maximum six hours in the evening. The rest of the time is spent in the cave cleaning and sleeping. I certainly have found in my practice and with my own animals that that’s probably an overestimation of the amount of time they’d really like to be sleeping. They’d really like to be sleeping much more, obviously, since they don’t have to hunt. They’ll typically sleep anywhere from 14 to 20 hours in a day. Which brings up the point that when the musher is sleeping [while the dogs race], of course, the dogs are not able to sleep. Not only does that create extreme stress and exertion on the dogs, but, also leads to accidents where the dogs do get strangled by the towlines and gouged by the sleds. It’s completely irresponsible behavior.”

- On February 23, 2003, Andrea Floyd-Wilson, the host of All About Animals Radio Show, interviewed Margery Glickman, Director of the Sled Dog Action Coalition, and Paula Kislak, DVM, President of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights.

“Runyan’s thinking was that if the teams did their 24-hour rests there [at the Ruby checkpoint], they would be able resume the race with so much energy restored that they could catch any teams that might pass during the layover. The strategy didn’t work. Runyan took so much out of his dogs that they ended up getting sick.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 12, 2004

Stress causes dog to lose fur:

“The McGrath vet blamed Rock’s hair loss on stress.” “Rock was shivering under her thinning coat, putting the dog at risk if the weather turned bad.”

- O’Donoghue, Brain Patrick. My Lead Dog was a Lesbian, New York: Vintage Books, 1996
- O’Donoghue was a reporter with the Fairbanks News-Miner

Stress causes vomiting and diarrhea:

“The inherently stressful conditions of endurance races like the Iditarod predispose dogs to vomit and and have diarrhea while racing.”

- Dr. Paula Kislak, President of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, September 7, 2004 email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition

Training and racing (exercising) causes stress:

“Research based on racing sled dogs published in the March 15, 2008 Journal of the AVMA states: ‘anemia of moderate severity was present after exercise’ and ‘training and racing caused progressive decreases in RBC counts.’ It goes on to clarify that ‘Both training and exercise caused significant decreases in PCV and hemoglobin concentration’ and that ‘acute blood loss secondary to gastrointestinal tract bleeding was likely responsible for the decrease in PCV.’

PCV and hemoglobin are measurements of red blood cell levels and their reductions have very real and detrimental consequences for dogs because, just when the greatest athletic burden is laid on them, their oxygen carrying capacity and other critical systemic functions are failing.

Reference is made to the fact that there was reported a dramatically significant ’10% decrease in hemoglobin concentration during the Iditarod sled dog race and a 14% decrease in PCV during a 170 mile exercise.’ The researchers go on to say ‘we believe the exercise-induced decrease in RBC count was related to blood loss. Exercising sled dogs are known to have a predisposition to gastrointestinal ulceration.’

They further claim ‘It is noteworthy that serum protein, albumin and globulin concentrations follow a similar pattern during exercise, providing further support for blood loss as the cause of exercise- induced RBC loss.’

And while red blood cells were diminishing, this research also proved that white blood cells were increasing as a result of training and exercising. Although this may sound good, it is not. The mechanism but which various populations of white blood cells increased in this study indicates an extreme stress reaction. This is not surprising since it has been elucidated in many other studies as well, including one that showed ‘serum cortisol concentration was increased in sled dogs.’

[How many studies does it take (30 were referenced in this article alone), before we say enough is enough? Repeatedly there are demonstrations of the harmful and fatal consequences of sled dog training and racing. We need to proclaim that tradition and financial gain are not good enough reasons to subject dogs to such unacceptably high risks.]”

- Dr. Paula Kislak, DVM, president Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, email to Sled Dog Action Coalition, May 18, 2008

Virus stresses dogs beyond their limits:

“In Rohn, the vet confirmed what [Ray] Dronenburg had feared all along. His lead dog was sick and dehydrated, and all the animals had picked up some kind of virus. Like any animals stressed beyond the limits, they had collapsed.”

- Elizabeth Pulliam, Anchorage Daily News, March 11, 1988

Kidney toxicity and kidney failure

Dogs at greater risk for kidney toxicity and kidney failure:

“Exercise is associated with an increase in the production of oxidants that may be instrumental in the development of exertional rhabdomyolysis.”

- Hinchcliff KW, Constable PD, DiSilvestro, RA, “Muscle injury and antioxidant status in sled dogs competing in a long-distance sled dog race.” Equine and Comparative Exercise Physiology, Vol 1, Number 1, February 2004, pp 81-85

“Exertional rhabdomyolysis occurs when exercise, often of the eccentric type, damages myofibrils and sarcolemma, with release of the enzyme creatine kinase and pigmented myoglobin into the serum. Severe muscle soreness and dark urine are the hallmark symptoms, and renal failure may develop.”

- Hammer R, South Med Journal, May 1990 (5): 548-51

“Exertional rhabdomyolysis is known to cause a form of kidney toxicity and subsequent failure.”

- Dr. Paula Kislak, DVM, President, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, May 24, 2007

Reduction of antioxidant levels

Racing reduces a dog’s level of antioxidants:

“We conclude that completion of a long-distance sled dog race involving prolonged and repeated submaximal exercise results in a reduction in enzymatic antioxidant activity in the blood of sled dogs.”

- Hinchcliff KW, Constable PD, DiSilvestro, RA, “Muscle injury and antioxidant status in sled dogs competing in a long-distance sled dog race.” Equine and Comparative Exercise Physiology, Vol 1, Number 1, February 2004, pp 81-85

What are antioxidants?

“Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Many experts believe this damage is a factor in the development of blood vessel disease (atherosclerosis), cancer, and other conditions.”

- Webmd website article, May 24, 2007

Airborne fecal material makes dogs sick

“The inherently stressful conditions of endurance races like the Iditarod predispose dogs to vomit and have diarrhea while racing. Loose fecal material flying into the faces of dogs behind induces serious occular, respiratory and gastrointestinal infections with such virulent organisms as E. coli and Salmonella.”

- Dr. Paula Kislak, President of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, September 7, 2004 email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition

Dog poo constantly in the air:

“Because the dogs never stop running, they poo on the go and the poo bounces up into your face when they run through it, so you’re constantly dodging these little poo pellets….”

- Mike Rowe, “Dirty Jobs” program, April 12, 2009

Poopy projectiles:

“Meanwhile, for the first few miles each dog engages in a routine, the daily dump. This involves every member of the team, but most telling are those at the rear, in front of the sled. When moving fast with feet flying, the musher gets pelted by poopy projectiles aplenty.”

- Jim Lanier. Beyond Ophir: Confessions of an Iditarod Musher, An Alaskan Odyssey, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2013

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: Dogs get pelted by poop and/or diarrhea from the dogs in front of them. While running and breathing heavily, they inhale the fecal material. As described above, loose poop flying into the faces of dogs can cause infections. Noteworthy: Mushers train their dogs to poop while running. It's abnormal for dogs to run while they defecate.]

Dogs foam from profuse sweat in freezing weather

“[Ramy] Brooks came in at 5:10 p.m., his dogs looking tired and lathered.”

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: According to Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, lathered means "foam or froth from profuse sweat."]

- Mark Downey, Great Falls Tribune, March 12, 2002

Dogs have trouble sleeping in bitter cold

“When they got to Cripple to take their 24-hour break, the thermometer plunged to 50 degrees below zero. That made it more difficult for Swingley and his dogs to get a long, comfortable rest….”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 16, 2006

Tangled lines injure and kill dogs

“With the constant forces generated by the rest of the pulling team, a line wrapped around a dog’s leg or neck can quickly tighten into a life-threatening condition. Teammates have suffocated and died in tangled lines or have severely injured themselves in the panic of not being able to move.”

- Frederic, Lisa. Running with Champions, Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Books, 2006

“One of her [Dinah Knight] dogs was badly injured when twisted by one of the lines.”

- Nielsen, Nicki J. The Iditarod: Women on the Trail, Anchorage: Wolfdog Publications, 1986

Dogs commonly get sick

“Some [mushers] were also fretting over dogs beginning to catch the inevitable stomach bugs.”

- Jon Little, Cabelas website, March 8, 2004
- Little was a reporter with the Anchorage Daily News and was and Iditarod musher

“Many mushers are reporting that their dogs are ill from tainted food or other causes, not an uncommon occurrence.”

- Mark Downey, Great Falls Tribune, March 7, 2002

“[Arne Oddvar] Nilsen said, …Bedding down where other teams have been before is increasing the risk of being infected.”

- Nilsen discussing musher Sorlie’s main concern of avoiding his dogs getting any gastric infection from other teams – Nilsen is a member of the board of the 1,000-kilometer Finnmarkslopet – Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 7, 2003

“‘My dogs always get sick. It just seems I can’t get it right on the Iditarod,’ [Hans] Gatt said.”

- Maureen Clark, Associated Press, March 6, 2002

“‘Linwood’s just had sick dogs, ” Kathy Fiedler said.”

- Kathy Fiedler talking about her husband’s sick dogs
- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 9, 2002

“The former Wisconsin resident [Todd Capistrant] who moved to Alaska this year scratched in 2003 when his dogs got sick with vomiting and diarrhea.”

- Mary Pemberton, Associated Press, March 7, 2004

“One of the factors in a long distance race is doggy diarrhea. Every year, there is some new stomach bug that circulates through the dog teams. It can’t be helped with 79 dog teams converging on one narrow trail from all over the world. This year is no exception.”

- Jon Little, Cabela’s website, March 9, 2005
Little formerly wrote for the Anchorage Daily News

Dogs get sick from racing as little as 500 miles:

“‘Dogs get sick, especially because of stress,’” [Manjo] Pastey said. ‘Without globulins, they can’t fight diseases and they could pass them onto other dogs in the race. The lower the globulins, the worse it is.’

The new project stems from a previous 2004 research endeavor which featured running dogs in a simulated 500-mile race. One notable finding of the study was a significant decrease in the dog’s blood globulin levels during the event.”

“‘Sled dogs have comparatively low globulin levels during training, and those levels fall considerably during racing,’ [Erica] McKenzie said in a press release.”

- Professor Manjo Pastey and Professor Erica McKenzie are working on a study based upon the 2004 research findings. Both are associated with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State University.
- Katie Thorn, The Daily Barometer, March 9, 2007

Dogs are more susceptible to illness in the winter

“In the wintertime, dogs are more susceptible to illness.”

- Article by Petplace.com veterinarians, Petplace.com website, October, 2003

“Like people, animals seem to be more susceptible to illness in the winter.”

- Oak Ridge Humane Society, ASPCA article, Oak Ridge Humane Society website, 2003

“Like people, dogs and cats are more susceptible to illnesses in the winter.”

- Charles E. Brown, The Seattle Times, January 10, 2007

Contagious viruses spread at checkpoints

“[Rodney] Whaley’s team, which had dropped from 16 to 13 dogs, became ill near the halfway point of the race. He suspects the dogs picked up a virus after reaching Ophir, the 11th of 23 checkpoints.”

- Mike Organ, Gannett Tennessee, The Daily News Journal, March 13, 2008

“Another checkpoint complication is canine virus. Like children bringing home sickness from school, dogs from one part of the state (or from other states) may become ill when exposed to new viruses as they congregate.”

- Hood, Mary. A Fan’s Guide to the Iditarod, Loveland: Alpine Publications, 1996

“Many mushers in the back of the Iditarod pack have reported sick dogs. Veterinarians say it is easy for an infection to get passed because so many of the teams camp and feed in the same areas at checkpoints.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 11, 2003

Mushers start race with sick, injured and tired dogs

“His [Ken Chase] dogs were lagging, still showing the strain of the long fight before the race, and he felt he had to rest them.”

“‘The dogs fought so long they were physically drained. What I should have done right there was take them to the vet and get some injections, but I didn’t. I took them out and ran them, trying to test them to see if they were crippled.’”

- Jones, Tim. The Last Great Race: The Iditarod, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

“Aberdeen’s presence on the team is even more of a surprise. He was a standout yearling last year, but in the spring we found a large lump on his hind leg. We had the cancer removed, but the vet said it was sure to come back and would likely result in him losing his leg. He also said that the tumor had been growing around the tendons and hock joint, and there had been some damage in removing it, so he would likely have joint problems. The lump did start to reappear….”

- Karin Hendrickson, Iditarod 2009, article on her website

“He [veterinarian Terry Adkins] saw very little diarrhea along the trial from the ceremonial start Saturday, he said, adding though that John Barron of Helmville told him his dogs had it. Loose stools are a sign of ill health. Sled dogs relieve their bowels on the run.”

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: Because the dogs "relieve their bowels on the run," it is likely that the dogs running in back of those who were stricken with diarrhea inhaled this fecal material. The bacterial material it contains could cause infection and death. Sick dogs should be pulled out of the race.]

- Mark Downey, Great Falls Tribune, March 4, 2002

“Alto, one of my experienced leaders and especially important to the team started to slow with his head low. He was in obvious distress. Only 5 miles from the start I had to stop and put him in the sled bag with severe stomach cramps. He was very sick.”

“I had Alto checked by the vets in Yenta…. But when the vet checked him, she noticed he couldn’t stand without hunching his back. We surmised that he may have been accidentally poisoned, perhaps automotive coolant leaked where he could reach it.”

- James Warren, Iditarod ’06 Journal, published on the Internet

“One of his dogs caught a virus three days before the start and it went dog-to-dog through his team through the first two-thirds of the race, he [John Barron] said.”

- Mark Downey, Great Falls Tribune, March 14, 2002

“Zirkle, of Two Rivers, limped along the trail Tuesday morning with an ailing dog team. A few of her dogs got sick just before the race, and the bug has spread through her entire team she said.”

- Aliy Zirkle, musher in 2001 Iditarod
- Elizabeth Manning, Anchorage Daily News, March 8, 2001

“Two of his [Bartlett's] veteran dogs were unable to keep running.” “Bartlett suspects the dogs were suffering from a virus. They had not wanted to eat since the ceremonial start Saturday in Anchorage…”

- Rachel D’Oro, Associated Press, Wednesday, March 5, 2003

[In 2003, the Iditarod restart was in Fairbanks on Monday, March 3, two days after the Anchorage ceremonial start. According to the AP report, Barlett's dogs raced for at least three days even though they were too sick to eat.]

“One dog had a cough the day the race started and that illness spread through the team, he said.”

- Terry Adkins, DVM, discussing musher Karen Land’s dogs
- Mark Downey, Great Falls Tribune, March 8, 2003

“Even on Fourth Avenue [in Anchorage] I had two dogs coughing.” We spent the night in Wasilla, and there were five dogs coughing and hacking.”

- Aliy Zirkle, Iditarod musher
- Freedman, Lew. More Iditarod Classics, Kenmore: Epicenter Press, 2004

“Jim, March 3: The dogs are feeling pretty poorly. Some are not eating with what looks to be some kind of intestinal bug.”

- Jim Warren talking about his dogs before the March 6 start of the 2004 Iditarod.
- Warren, James and Warren, Christopher. Following My Father’s Dream, James and Christopher Warren, 2005

“I arrived at Skwentna Road House at 12:24 a.m. and stopped for a real rest. Beaver was sore. He was also dramatic, which he can be at times. He just layed on his side, looking miserable. Once I parked, I looked him over and found that he had pulled a pectoral muscle (the muscle between his shoulder and his breast bond basically). He had probably pulled this the week before the start and it hadn’t healed up (my friends Sarah and Clint ran the dogs before the start, while I was in meetings and noticed that he was a little off).”

- Dr. Tamara Rose, DVM, her blog entry on Sept. 9, 2010
- The Skwentna checkpoint is 86 miles from Willow where the Iditarod officially started.

“During a training run Wednesday, [Kelly] Maixner noted a few dogs having some trouble.’I got a few little banged-up dogs,’ said Maixner. ‘They are doing pretty good, but a little bit gimpy. There (are) two of them, so we will see how they do.’”

- Robert DeBerry, Frontiersman, March 6, 2011

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: Kelly Maixner started the 2011 Iditarod with these "banged-up," "gimpy" dogs as part of his team of 16 dogs. His team consists of one and two-year old dogs.]

Sick dogs not responding to medicines

Susan Butcher’s dogs not helped by medications:

“Not so lucky was the trail virus picked up by her dogs, who were not responding to the veterinarians’ medicines.”

- Author Ellen Dolan talking about musher Susan Butcher’s dogs
- Dolan, Ellen. Susan Butcher and the Iditarod Trail, New York: Walker Publishing Co., 1993

Paul Ellering’s team not helped by medication and ran 226 miles with diarrhea:

“Looking over the team, I saw the dogs had picked up an intestinal bug. They had the runs, and it was not the kind of running that gets you anywhere.”

(Paul Ellering was at the Galena checkpoint.)

“The diarrhea had taken the spark out of the team.” “I hoped the medicine the vets gave me would work…”

(Paul Ellering was at the Nulato checkpoint.)

“I wanted to give the dogs six hours of rest because of the diarrhea problem that still had a grip on the team.”

(Paul Ellering was at the Shaktoolik checkpoint.)

- Paul Ellering. Wrestling the Iditarod, Bend: Maverick Publications, 2005

(There is 226 miles between the Galena and Shaktoolik checkpoints. Ellering doesn’t say if or when the diarrhea stopped.)

Rachael Scdoris’s sick dogs don’t respond to medicine:

“It was obvious from the thinness of the dogs, but the veterinarian was trying to make conversation and asked if the diarrhea medicine had helped. I was honest”

“‘I haven’t been able to keep weight on them, not since Takotna. That’s when the diarrhea started getting bad and they began losing weight. Until now they’ve eaten pretty well, but it doesn’t matter how much they eat, or how much fat I pump into them, it all goes straight through their systems.’”

- Rachael Scdoris talking about her sick dogs – Scdoris, Rachael and Steber, Rick. No End in Sight: My Life as a Blind Iditarod Racer, New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007

Harnesses encourage sick and injured dogs to pull because a dog’s natural reflex is to pull against something that constrains it. Dogs have an opposition reflex,. They pull against pressure. Photo attributed to Orloskaya on flickr

Harnesses encourage sick and injured dogs to pull because a dog’s natural reflex is to pull against something that constrains it. Dogs have an opposition reflex. They pull against pressure. Photo attributed to Orloskaya on flickr

List of many dog injuries and sicknesses

“The following list demonstrates the top five reasons for dropping dogs during a long distance race:

Fatigue
Shoulder injuries
Carpal injuries
Foot lesions
Diarrhea”

- Dropped Dog Manual, Iditarod Trail Committee, Inc., 2014

“Among injuries that may befall a sled dog are generalized crippling, localized crippling, muscle or tendon tears, disc syndrome, cramping, dislocations, fractures, ice balling broken toenails, worn toenails, worn or torn footpads and dehydration. Viruses may also strike a team.”

- Mattson, Sue. Iditarod Fact Book, Seattle: Epicenter Press, 2001

Dogs suddenly collapse:

–Dallas Seavey’s dog suddenly collapsed:

“At the checkpoint, the dogs were all booted, tied to a harness joined to musher Dallas Seavey’s sled, and were all ready to continue what is known as the ‘Last Great Race on Earth,’ the Iditarod, when one of the dogs fell to the ground on the harness, according to Lucy Smith, a Village of Liberty Park resident volunteering for her third consecutive year at the Kaltag and Rohn checkpoints at the race.”

- Livi Stanford, The Village Daily Sun, March 25, 2012

–In 2013, Scott Janssen’s dogs collapse 3 miles out of checkpoint:

“Scott Janssen, the “mushing mortician,” became the first musher to scratch, Monday, about a day and a half from the Willow restart. Janssen, who dramatically performed mouth-to-snout resuscitation last year when a dog on his team collapsed on the run through Dalzell Gorge, said dogs on his team began to fall to the ground about 3 miles out of Rainy Pass. The first dog to fall, Bear, was hoisted into his sled bag while two others managed to get up and keep going.”

- Suzanna Caldwell, Alaska Dispatch, March 5, 2013

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: Did veterinarians at Rainy Pass ever exam these dogs?]

–In 2012, Marshall, a dog Scott Janssen ran, suddenly collapsed (the dog belonged to Dean Osmar):

“Marshall collapsed late Monday night as the musher navigated a famously tricky section of trail that follows Rainy Pass as mushers exit the Alaska Range. [Scott] Janssen, who turns 51 on Monday, is running his second Iditarod after placing 42 of 47 finishers last year.

Janssen trains with Iditarod rookie Anna Berington, running dogs from 1984 Iditarod champion Dean Osmar’s kennel in Kasilof, Alaska.”

- Associated Press, March 7, 2012

Dogs have diarrhea:

–Fresh blood not uncommon in dog’s diarrhea:

“Anecdotally, diarrhea is a commonly reported condition in racing sled dogs, and hematochezia (fresh blood) in such stools is not uncommon. Hematochezia suggests the presence of colonic disease.”

Michael Davis, et al., Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Volume 20 (2006)

“The dogs lay right down, although a few are still standing, stuggling with hemorraghic diarrhea.”

- Runyan, Joe. Winning Strategies for Distance Mushers, Sacramento: Griffin Printing Co.,1997
- Joe Runyan reported on the Iditarod for Iditarod sponsor Cabela’s Incorporated
- Runyan is talking about Doug Swingley’s dogs.

“Now his [Sepp Herrman] dogs were sick. Only 11 dogs left, and 9, NINE, had bloody diarrhea.”

- O’Donoghue, Brian Patrick. My Lead Dog was a Lesbian, New York: Vintage Books, 1996

–Many dogs get diarrhea:

Martin Buser: “I had 14 squirting leaving Iditarod….”

Lance Mackey: “I did hear that.”

Martin Buser: “Mine were just leaving Iditarod. But I could see, so I put them on bread and water.”

- Anchorage Daily News, video, partial transcript, March 8, 2013

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: According to the Iditarod’s website, Martin Buser left the Iditarod checkpoint with 14 dogs.]

“One of the factors in a long distance race is doggy diarrhea. Every year, there is some new stomach bug that circulates through the dog teams. It can’t be helped with 79 dog teams converging on one narrow trail from all over the world. This year is no exception.

Diarrhea has forced several teams to pull over for their 24-hour layovers earlier than anticipated. One of them is Mike Williams, who stopped at McGrath for a layover for the first time in 12 years of racing. Despite having sick dogs and hitting a tree headfirst earlier in the race, Williams was in remarkably high spirits.”

- Jon Little, Cabela’s website, March 9, 2005
Little formerly wrote for the Anchorage Daily News

“It was obvious from the thinness of the dogs, but the veterinarian was trying to make conversation and asked if the diarrhea medicine had helped. I was honest”

“‘I haven’t been able to keep weight on them, not since Takotna. That’s when the diarrhea started getting bad and they began losing weight. Until now they’ve eaten pretty well, but it doesn’t matter how much they eat, or how much fat I pump into them, it all goes straight through their systems.’”

- Rachael Scdoris talking about her dogs being sick
- Scdoris, Rachael and Steber, Rick. No End in Sight: My Life as a Blind Iditarod Racer, New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007

“Many of his dogs [Greg Parvin] were stricken with diarrhea early on….”

- Rachael D’Oro, Associated Press, March 12, 2005

“Defending Iditarod champ Lance Mackey says he’d hoped to take his 24-hour layover in Ruby instead of here, but dog troubles such as diarrhea and sore muscles forced an earlier rest.”

- Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News – The Sled Blog, March 10, 2010

“‘I’ve got four sick dogs,’ he said. ‘Make that five,’ as another one squatted and [Chad] Schouweiler observed its output. Diarrhea.”

- Jon Little, Cabela’s Iditarod Coverage, Cabela’s website, 2006
- Jon Little formerly wrote for the Anchorage Daily News.

“…She [Aliy Zirkle] was disheartened to see that some of her dogs started getting diarrhea.”

- Jon Little, Cabela’s Iditarod Coverage, Cabela’s website, March 17, 2006
- Jon Little formerly wrote for the Anchorage Daily News.

“Socks and Stew got up with the rest, but they weren’t smiling. Nasty little pools of diarrhea were frozen in the snow beside them.”

- Libby Riddles is talking about her dogs.
- Riddles, Libby and Tim Jones. Race Across Alaska, Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

‘”Some of the dogs had been sick with diarrhea and treated at a prior checkpoint. They showed little spark after that.”

- Kay Richardson, The Columbian, April 16, 2006
- She is talking about the dogs that belong to Steve Madsen

McGrath checkpoint person near Steer’s dogs: “Do you have any meds on you?”

Musher Zack Steer: “Yeah, they’re all medicated.”

- KTUU website video taken March 6, 2007

[The video showed pools of fresh diarrhea under Steer's dogs.]

“And two-time champion Robert Sorlie of Norway, lagging much of the race with dogs suffering from diarrhea….”

- Anchorage Daily News, March 10, 2007

“I’ve a really nice team. I was threatening to charge to the front. And yesterday they all got diarrhea and got sick on me.”

- Mitch Seavey is talking about his dogs.
- KTUU-TV, KTUU.com, March, 2009

“Aberdeen has terrible diarrhea but has been strong and steady in harness. I decide to keep them on and just watch carefully.”

- Karin Hendrickson, Iditarod 2009, her website article

Paul Ellering’s team not helped by medicine and ran 226 miles with diarrhea:

“Looking over the team, I saw the dogs had picked up an intestinal bug. They had the runs, and it was not the kind of running that gets you anywhere.”

(Paul Ellering was at the Galena checkpoint.)

“The diarrhea had taken the spark out of the team.” “I hoped the medicine the vets gave me would work….”

(Paul Ellering was at the Nulato checkpoint.)

“I wanted to give the dogs six hours of rest because of the diarrhea problem that still had a grip on the team.”

(Paul Ellering was at the Shaktoolik checkpoint.)

- Paul Ellering. Wrestling the Iditarod, Bend: Maverick Publications, 2005
(There is 226 miles between the Galena and Shaktoolik checkpoints. Ellering doesn’t say if or when the diarrhea stopped.)

Dog coughs up blood:

“‘He just stopped pulling,” said the 56-year-old physician who specializes in infectious diseases. ‘He’s one of my best pullers too. (Then) he was coughing up blood. Some dogs, when they feel ill, cough food, water and blood. This was just blood.’”

- Craig Medred and Kevin Klott, Anchorage Daily News, March 13, 2006

Pneumonia:

“Veterinarians thought Zorro had pneumonia; blood tests confirmed it.”

- Kevin Klott, Anchorage Daily News, March 15, 2007

“There were some cases of pneumonia during the race.”

- Iditarod website, March 24, 2011

“This year, the most common thing I [veterinarian Emi Berger] saw was pneumonia and stomach ulcers.”

- Randi Weiner, The Journal News, March 31, 2011

“On Saturday, an animal in [Ramey] Smyth’s team ended up getting dropped in Nikolai suffering from pneumonia symptoms.”

- Alaska Dispatch, March 13, 2012

Virus:

“[Rodney] Whaley’s team, which had dropped from 16 to 13 dogs, became ill near the halfway point of the race. He suspects the dogs picked up a virus after reaching Ophir, the 11th of 23 checkpoints.”

- Mike Organ, Gannett Tennessee, The Daily News Journal, March 13, 2008

Thermometer for dogs. Iditarod veterinarians have allowed sick dogs with fevers to race.

Thermometer for dogs. Iditarod veterinarians have allowed sick dogs with fevers to race.

Fever:

“When [Tom] Thurston stopped to rest the team, most of the dogs didn’t want to eat. The temperature was 46 degrees below zero. A veterinarian with whom the musher consulted said several of the dogs were running temperatures and appeared to have come down with something.”

- Craig Medred. Graveyard of Dreams: Dashed Hopes and Shattered Aspirations Along Alaska’s Iditarod Trail, Anchorage: Plaid Cabin Publishing, 2010

Dog fights injure dogs:

Lance Mackey’s dogs fight –

“In the hours before the race began, however, Mackey had to break up a scuffle between two of his stalwarts, Larry and Hobo.

‘Larry looks like he’s aged in the last week because of it,’ Mackey said.

‘He’s got battle scars all over his nose. Hobo’s got a few little puncture wounds up and down his forearm, which was unfortunate and something of concern.’”

- Mike Campbell, Anchorage Daily News, March 4, 2008

“Mackey’s dogs also quarreled on the trail. He had to drop Hobo, a leader that was badly injured in an ongoing rivalry with Larry, another leader.”

- Associated Press, March 12, 2008

Ray Reddington Junior’s dogs fight –

“[Ray] Reddington Junior’s dogs spent the night fighting with each other.”

- Emily Schwing, KUAC.org, March 11, 2013

“[Ray] Redington [Jr.] came into the [Koyuk] checkpoint with blood on his boots and pants, the result of trying to break up a vicious dog fight in his team.”

- Suzanna Caldwell, Alaska Dispatch, March 11, 2013

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: Although Ray Redington, Jr.dog's were injured in a fight, according to the Iditarod's website, he didn't drop any dogs at the Koyuk checkpoint.]

Tom Roig’s dogs fight –

“‘Tom Roig! Tom Roig! Is Tom Roig here?’ a man yelled, bursting through the door of the cabin. ‘You have a dog fight going on down there. They’ve been fighting for half an hour. There’s blood all over the place.’

At minus 25 degrees, Roig couldn’t simply put on a pair of slippers and run outdoors to check on the dogs. Hurriedly, he bundled up and ran to his pups. They were calm and lying down. But Jughead, one of his lead huskies, had a puncture wound on his leg and two other dogs had nasty gashes on their foreheads. And, just as the stranger said, the snow was splattered with blood.”

- Kim Hone-McMahan, The Akron Beacon Journal, April 15, 2007

Puncture wound. Puncture wounds can be caused when dogs fight with each other.  "These wounds almost always get infected, leading to severe problems under the skin even when everything looks fine from the outside." - petmd.com

Puncture wound. Puncture wounds can be caused when dogs fight with each other. “These wounds almost always get infected, leading to severe problems under the skin even when everything looks fine from the outside.” – petmd.com

Martin Buser’s dogs fight –

“Buser had to drop a key leader named Marlin after the dogs was injured in a fight. “

“‘He wasn’t using his (right rear) leg,’ said veterinarian Harvey Goho from North Carolina.”

- Craig Medred and Kevin Klott, Anchorage Daily News, March 11, 2007

DeeDee Jonrowe’s dogs fight –

“[DeeDee] Jonrowe, meanwhile said she had her hands full with a feisty lead dog named Bristol.”

“‘She’s so happy to be on the coast that she’s getting sassy and biting the dog next to her, said Jonrowe.’”

- Tim Murray, Anchorage Daily News, March 15, 1993

Burt Bomhoff’s dogs fight –

“Four times during the night, dogfights developed in my team.”

- Bomhoff, Burt. Iditarod Alaska: The life of a Sled Dog Musher, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2013
- Burt Bomhoff served on the Iditarod’s board of directors, as Iditarod president for many years, and ran dogs in the race seven times.

Dan Dent’s dogs fight –

“The dog named Storm stumbled. Puker – Storm’s teammate on the the gangline – snarled and grabbed (Storm) with his teeth.”

“Half the team was snarling and snapping to get a piece of Storm. Blood started to fly.”

- Musher Dan Dent discussing his team’s dog fight in the 1999 Iditarod
- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 10, 1999

Rick Mackey’s dogs fight–

“Two dogs did get killed in a fight over some food that was left out, and I remembered how Rick Mackey lost his chance to win the race three years earlier when during a long rest in Shaktoolik his dogs had jumped into a fight.”

- Riddles, Libby and Tim Jones. Race Across Alaska, Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

Don Bower’s dogs fight –

“Worse, the big males are fighting and before I can get them separated, Silvertip has cut Yankee’s eye and normally docile Socks has gotten Rocky’s muzzle so badly the indestructible Rock is snorting blood.”

- Bowers, Don. Back of the Pack, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2000

Brian Patrick O’Donoghue’s dogs fight –

“I heard a quick growl, then the other dogs turned on Denali as a group, fangs bared, and began tearing into him from every side.”

- O’Donoghue, Brain Patrick. My Lead Dog was a Lesbian, New York: Vintage Books, 1996
- O’Donoghue was a reporter for the Fairbanks News-Miner and raced in the Iditarod

Gary Paulsen’s dogs fight –

“It was a nightmare. The whole crazy night turning teams, stopping [dog] fights….”

- Paulsen, Gary, Woodsong. New York: Macmillian Publishing Company, 1990

Lisa Frederic’s dogs fight –

“Coco had only been added to my team the night before we left Anchorage. Reno had been bitten in the parking lot. It wasn’t serious, but I had made him lame and regrettably I decided to replace him with Coco.”

“Shuman, my muscled wheel dog, had picked another fight that had left him with a puncture in his front leg.”

- Lisa Frederic. Running with Champions, Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Books, 2006

James Warren’s dogs fight –

“My leaders were tired and crabby and were fighting with each other.”

- Warren, James and Warren, Christopher. Following My Father’s Dream, James and Christopher Warren, 2005

Jessie Royer’s dogs fight –

“My two wheel dogs, Egan & Larry, were so greedy for more food that they got into a fight over a food dish between them. Egan hurt his back leg during the scuffle and started limping.”

- Jessie Royer, Jessie’s Sled Dog Page, website, 2001

Libby Riddles’ dogs fight–

“Sure enough, the first time my dogs found a chance to bunch up a little, one dog jumped on another, and I had a five-dog fight going.”

- Riddles, Libby and Tim Jones. Race Across Alaska, Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

Bruce Linton’s dogs fight –

“I woke to two dogs growling which is unusual and before I was able to get out of my sleeping bag and to the dogs they snapped at each other and one had a puncture wound on its leg.”

and another set of Linton’s dogs fight –

“Her [Click's] story started back before Shageluk when I was going up a steep embankment right before the checkpoint. For whatever reason, the back leg of hers got very close to another female in the team named Cobb who took a quick snap at her.”

- Bruce Linton, Iditarod Journals, website article, 2007

Blake Freking’s dogs fight–

“He [Blake Freking] and those two dogs, Roland and Wat, then had to chase the other 14 dogs for about 3-4 miles before finding the team a bit tangled and stopped.” “Einstein had been bitten by his teammate and had a slightly sore shoulder.”

- Blake and Jennifer Freking’s Manitou Crossing Kennel blog, March 13, 2010

Scott White’s dogs fight–

“‘Dogs were frustrated,’ he [Scott White] said.’They were fighting and chewing (their lines). Four got loose”’

- Craig Medred, Alaska Dispatch, March 19, 2010

Gayle Nienhueser’s dogs fight–

“He [Gayle Nienhueser] was still nursing dogs too, after their fight in Rainy Pass. A couple had cuts and gashes and one had a big gouge out of his paw….”

- Jones, Tim. The Last Great Race: The Iditarod, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

Varona Thompson’s dogs fight–

“During the race there were constant dog fights. She [Varona Thompson] was not able to obtain needed rest.”

- Nielsen, Nicki J. The Iditarod: Women on the Trail, Anchorage: Wolfdog Publications, 1986

Miki Collins’ dogs fight–

“‘I [Miki Collins] had a dog in season and several of the males were fighting.’”

- Nielsen, Nicki J. The Iditarod: Women on the Trail, Anchorage: Wolfdog Publications, 1986

Hugh Neff’s dog got bitten–

Veterinarian: “He has a puncture wound.”

Hugh Neff: “He got bit.”

- KTTU-TV, video, March 7, 2014

Unnamed musher’s dogs fight–

“As I pulled in, I notice another driver having trouble convincing her team to leave. I did my dogs, went inside and ate, and when I came back out, she was just rounding the bend. It took me a while to get ready to go, and as I rounded the first bend, I drove by that same poor musher a dozen yards or so off the trail with a balled up, fighting team.”

- Chapoton, Charles Mark. A Tale of Two Iditarods, Big Lake: CMC, 2008

Dog fight at ceremonial start of Iditarod –

“‘I was passing a team at the start, and one of the dogs in the team grabbed one of my team in the flank,’ [Jim] Lanier said. His dog, Vaca, finished the ceremonial run with a patch of exposed muscle the size of two grapefruits, he said.”

- Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News – The Sled Blog, March 10, 2010

Many dog fights–

“Just about every male sported tattered ears and a scarred muzzle, mementos of past tangles over some furry damsel. Even under the stern gaze of their owners, a fight would erupt every few minutes – a sudden snarl, snap, and lunge that ended almost as quickly as it began. Leaving the loser sulking and the snow freckled with blood.”

- Colin Nickerson, Boston Globe, February 5, 1984

Puncture wounds from dog fights can cause abscesses–

“Bites and puncture wounds can both lead to abscesses in dogs and cats. Puncture wounds can be caused by fights with another animal, stepping on a nail or other sharp object, or even running into a broken branch or stick.”

“Unlike simple lacerations or abrasions, bites and punctures tend to carry material into the wound, which can seal over and trap bacteria inside. When this happens, the wound often becomes infected and can develop into a large, pus-filled abscess.”

- WebVet.com, 2014

Seizure:

“Between Rohn and Nikolai, a dog had a seizure and was running a temperature of 105.3 degrees.”

- Aliy Zirkle, Iditarod musher
- Freedman, Lew. More Iditarod Classics, Kenmore: Epicenter Press, 2004

Dogs bitten by rabid fox:

“A couple of years earlier some dogs in one of the teams had been bitten during the race by a rabid fox and the musher had had to drop the dogs.”

- Jones, Tim. The Last Great Race: The Iditarod, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

Eyelids frozen shut:

“Leaving Unalakleet for Shaktoolik her [Susan Butcher] slow progress was hampered by high winds, dropping the visibility to zero. Her eyelashes and the dogs’ lashes froze shut.”

- Nielsen, Nicki J. The Iditarod: Women on the Trail, Anchorage: Wolfdog Publications, 1986
- Neck, back, shoulder, leg, hip, wrist, ankle and foot injuries:

“Another musher was disqualified early in the race for shooting an injured dog. The animal had broken its leg in a fight with another team, was in great pain, and the driver thought it impossible to carry the wounded beast on to the next checkpoint where a veterinarian might be available.”

- Colin Nickerson, Boston Globe, March 15, 1983

Glare ice. Glare ice has a smooth and slippery surface. Sled dogs have been injured slipping on glare ice during the Iditarod. Photo attributed to Chris Pike on flickr

Glare ice. Glare ice has a smooth and slippery surface. Sled dogs have been injured slipping on glare ice during the Iditarod. Photo attributed to Chris Pike on flickr

Feet problems in racing sled dogs:

“Lesions:
– induced by velco (booties)
– due to the wrong size booties
– due to inadequate use of booties

Nail problems:
– abrasion of extremities
– broken nail
– totally scratched nail – intense pain

Finger luxations:
– dropped toe
– big toe

Stress fractures

Carpus Teno-Synovitis”

- Presentation by Dr. Dominique Grandjean, veterinarian, PhD, professor l’Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire d’Alfort at Sled Dogs Congress, Asarna (Sweden), March 2008.
- Dr. Dominique Gandjean’s website, 2012

Infected feet:

Kyle Hopkins: “What mistakes did you make?”

Martin Buser: “What you’ve got to do is play into their strength. My dogs’ strength is good trail, fast trail, warm temperatures. I run often. I run without booties. I made a strong move from Nikolai to Takotna without booties. Made another strong move halfway from, let’s call it Don’s cabin, to Iditarod without booties in the heat. And that took a toll. And I can quantify that but what I can’t quantify is how come so many feet got infected. Once they started short stepping they had infected feet, and instead of reaching forward they’re going up and down.”

- iditablog, Anchorage Daily News, March 16, 2011, Nome
- Kyle Hopkins is a reporter with the Anchorage Daily News.

Right front paw of dog showing A) claw, B) digital pads, C) metacarpal pad, D) dew claw, E) carpal pad. A dog's pads act as a cushion for the load-bearing limbs of the animal. In the Iditarod, paws become bloodied, cracked, cut, torn, blistered and swollen. Damaged paws are often extremely painful. Photo attributed to Amos T. Fairchild on Wikimedia.

Right front paw of dog showing A) claw, B) digital pads, C) metacarpal pad, D) dew claw, E) carpal pad.
A dog’s pads act as a cushion for the load-bearing limbs of the animal. In the Iditarod, paws become bloodied, cracked, cut, torn, blistered and swollen. Damaged paws are often extremely painful. Photo attributed to Amos T. Fairchild on Wikimedia.

Cut, cracked, torn , worn and sometimes bloodied paws:

“A few miles north of Eagle Island, [Dave] Monson toiled along such a stretch, howling encouragement to his team. The dogs slipped and scrambled, legs a blur of motion, advancing inch by painful inch up the immense river – torn paws leaving spoors of blood that froze instantly on the black ice.”

- Colin Nickerson, Boston Globe, February 5, 1984

“I covered the Iditarod dog-sled race ten times. Walking out onto the ice of the Bering Sea in February, the Northern Lights dancing a spectacular show above, is a distinct memory. But watching those huskies’ paws bleed and crack during their 1100-mile, 22-hour-a-day run across the Alaskan tundra, was heartache for a dog lover.”

- Diana Nyad, The Score, KCRW Radio, November 2, 2006, website transcript

“In another room, Rick Mackey of Wasilla, Alaska, a veteran musher at the age of 29, was rattling on about the sorry condition of his lead dog’s paw pads.”

- Colin Nickerson, Boston Globe, February 5, 1984

“Slushy rain freezes into jagged ice, which can cut the pads of dogs’ feet.”

- Emily Langer, Washington Post, March 2, 2008

“Glenn Findlay’s dogs were in a bad way. The Australian saw that they were the victims of ‘snowballs,’ little balls of ice that form between the pads of the dogs’ feet, causing lesions that cannot be cared for.”

- Cellura, Dominique. Travelers of the Cold: Sled Dogs of the Far North, Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Books, 1990

“As the mixture warmed, he [Eep Anderson] carefully inspected each of the 14 dogs, massaging the ears of one, whispering encouragement to another, frowning at the bloodied paw of a third.”

- Colin Nickerson, Boston Globe, March 15, 1983

“On the other hand, the weather was very cold (-40 degrees), and she [Betsy McGuire] and the other racers had problems with the sharp ice crystals cutting up the dogs’ feet. At night temperatures dropped even more.”

- Nielsen, Nicki J. The Iditarod: Women on the Trail, Anchorage: Wolfdog Publications, 1986

Sore feet:

“They’ve gone hundreds and hundreds of miles, their feet are sore, they can hardly move.”

- Bob Bright is talking about the dogs who reach Nome.
- Alex Ward, The New York Times, February 24, 1985

Swelling:

“Snickers’ paw was actually swollen.”

- The SP Kennel Dog Log, Aliy Zirkle Trail Notes 2011 website

“They have some swollen feet,” he [Lance Mackey] said.”

- Kevin Klott and Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 16, 2009

“I checked Lisa and her leg was swollen.”

- Scdoris, Rachael and Steber, Rick. No End in Sight: My Life as a Blind Iditarod Racer, New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007

“…dog named Elton, had a swollen Achilles tendon…”

- The writer is talking about Tom Thurston’s dog.
- Joel Reichenberger, Steamboat Pilot & Today, April 5, 2009

Sled dogs are injured in the Iditarod when they run over snowmachine or snowmobile ruts. Photo attributed to dweekly on flickr

Sled dogs are injured in the Iditarod when they run over ruts made by snowmachines or snowmobiles. Photo attributed to dweekly on flickr

Brown urine sore:

Laureli Kinneen: “I notice that you dropped some dogs. Can you explain what happened?”

DeeDee Jonrowe: “Yeah, I did. I dropped five. Yeah, I dropped five. Four of them were last year’s finishers. That was definitely unplanned. They were sore. I mean, they were really sore. They were brown, what we call brown urine sore. They had unusual sore muscles and I think it was from the roughess of the trail both early on when we got into that soft trail into Finger. And then the next place that was extraordinarily rough compared to stuff they’ve been doing was near the Bear Creek Cabin about 35 miles. It’s probably about eight miles of really rough tussocks without snow in between them and you couldn’t go slow over them because it was so deep you hung up on your brakes.”

- The interview took place on March 11, 2010.

Sores:

“While working with my dogs, Jamie came in and went to work on her Malamute crew. Her show dogs had terrible sores on their feet.”

- Chapoton, C. Mark. A Tale of Two Iditarods, Big Lake: CMC, 2008

“Homey, Pud and Dingle, had small sores on the back of their front legs. These particular temperatures and snow conditions augmented the problem because the dogs would flick up loose snow with their toes and it would accumulate on the sores – forming mini ice balls. The ice balls really bothered the dogs.”

- Aliy Zirkle, Iditarod Trail Notes 2010, SP Kennel Dog Log, July 16, 2010

“‘Sore shoulder, sore hip is what I thought,’ [Lance] Mackey said about Maple, who he dropped in Rohn.”

- Kortnie Horazdovsky, KTUU-TV, March 8, 2011

“We do see problems in the webbing of the feet and (their genitals) are subject to frostbite,” she [veterinarian Emi Berger] said.”

- Randi Weiner, The Journal News, March 31, 2011

“When I get up to feed and check the dogs again, I see that Scooby has little bit of swelling in his wrist. He has also been getting terrible sores where his dew claws rub against his legs (the reason why sled dogs have their dew claws removed as newborns).”

- Karin Hendrickson, Iditarod 2009, her website article

Chicken legs:

Dogs get “chicken legs”: “The injury occurs when the dogs run through snow that sticks to the back of their legs. It balls up and pulls the hair out, leaving raw spots that are prone to infection.”

“As breeding has changed for racing dogs, the type of hair has changed. Instead of being coarse, oily, short and wolf-like, the hair is softer and longer, making it easier for snow to stick.”

- Suzanna Caldwell, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, February 10, 2012

In the Iditarod, sled dogs are injured when they step into moose holes. Photo attributed to s_evenseth on flickr

In the Iditarod, sled dogs are injured when they step into moose holes. Photo attributed to s_evenseth on flickr

Broken legs:

“I finished in the middle, twenty-third out of forty-six. I finished with eight out of twelve dogs. A drunk in kaltag kicked one of them and broke the dog’s leg.”

- Jerry Austin, Iditarod musher
- Freedman, Lew. Iditarod Classics: Tales of the Trail Told by the Men & Women Who Race Across Alaska, Seattle: Epicenter Press, 1992

“Occasionally a 1, 500-pound moose is going to break through the crust of even the hardest-packed trails, leaving a deep and dangerous hole for the slender legs of dogs. One of [Bob] Chlupach’s registered Siberians stepped into a moose hole in the trail and broke a leg.”

- Jones, Tim. The Last Great Race: The Iditarod, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

“Norwegian Sven Engholm is reported to have run into a moose on the trail. One of his dogs has a broken leg.”

- Alaska Public Radio Network, 1996 Iditarod audio files

Outdoor Life Network Announcer: “One of Buser’s dogs has a broken leg.”

- Outdoor Life Network (OLN), Nikolai checkpoint, Iditarod, 2005

“Rae Rae, an all-white dog, had slipped on the ice enroute to Rohn River and broke her leg.”

- Nicki Nielsen is talking about Rose Albert’s dog Rae Rae.
- Nielsen, Nicki J. The Iditarod: Women on the Trail, Anchorage: Wolfdog Publications, 1986

Injured shoulders:

“I finally got into Finger Lake only to find that my hardest driving male wheel dog had hurt his shoulder in the corn snow and I was really saddened to have to drop him from the race.”

- Bruce Linton, Iditarod Journals, website article, 2007

“I found that Kate had a sore tricept in her left shoulder…”

- Jessie Royer, Jessie’s Sled Dog Page, website, 2004

“The worst news is Lucky: the vets look at him and pronounce his shoulder to be injured.”

- Bowers, Don. Back of the Pack, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2000.

“I had seen the moose tracks in the trail, and it is not something mushers like to see. A moose had walked down the groomed trail leaving deep post holes of footprints. Dogs can, and in Pledge’s case did, step into them and strain an ankle or shoulder in the process.”

- Jodi Bailey, dewclawkennel.com, 2012

“The only low point, besides the cold was when I had to leave Lafite, the excellent team dog in Nulato. Her shoulders had given out and she could not continue.”

- Chapoton, C. Mark. A Tale of Two Iditarods, Big Lake: CMC, 2008

“[Colleen] Robertia was worried she’d have to leave the dog here in Ruby because Crumb has been ailing with a shoulder injury.”

- Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News – The Sled Blog, March 13, 2010

[According to the Iditarod's website, Robertia did not leave her dog Crumb at the Ruby checkpoint.]

“Cim Smyth, who dropped a dog with shoulder injuries off at Finger Lake, said the broken tussocks left by Iron Dog snowmachines bounced along the bottom of his sled like frozen basketballs.”

- Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News – The Sled Blog, March 9, 2010

“Taking her 24-hour mandatory layover at Rohn, Miki [Collins] inventoried the toll on her team. Comet could go no further. Another dog had a wrenched shoulder.”

- Nielsen, Nicki J. The Iditarod: Women on the Trail, Anchorage: Wolfdog Publications, 1986

“Dogs suffered a variety of shoulder and ankle injuries that forced [John] Stewart to drop them.”

- Craig Medred, Alaska Dispatch, March 18, 2010

“Temperatures in the Interior a week ago plunged to a face-scarring 45 to 50 below. Everyone struggled to stay warm. Some of White’s dogs got sick. More suffered shoulder or ankle injuries on hard, rolling trail.”

- Craig Medred, Alaska Dispatch, March 19, 2010

“‘I finally got to into Finger Lake only to find that my hardest driving male wheel dog had hurt his shoulder in the corn snow…”

- Iditarod musher Bruce Linton, “Bruce’s Journal – Part I, ” Burlington Free Press website, March 26, 2007

“…Her [Barrie's] last decent front-end dog pulled a shoulder on the trail between Ophir and Iditarod.”

“Tim Triumph’s best leader, Victory, pulls a shoulder in Farewell Burn.”

- Bowers, Don. Back of the Pack, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2000

“Land’s leader, Pig, was one of several dogs in her team to suffer strains or sprains to a shoulder or wrist, he said.”

- Terry Adkins, DVM, discussing musher Karen Land’s injured dogs
- Mark Downey, Great Falls Tribune, March 8, 2003

“Buser lost his best lead dog, Hot Foot, because of this stump. The impact was so powerful, it “bummed out” her shoulder, he said.”

- Kevin Klott, Anchorage Daily News, March 12, 2006

Limping:

“Musher Newton Marshall arrives in Galena over the weekend.” “Marshall reported that Larry is limping a bit, but wasn’t sure he would need to be dropped.”

- Alaska Public Radio, March 15, 2010

[According to the Iditarod's website, Marshall did not drop any dogs in Galena.]

“On one fifty-foot downhill slide Emmitt Peters’ lead dog Digger stopped and dipped for a drink of snow while the rest of the team was moving. The action came too fast for the musher to react and brake the sled. Before Peters could bring the sled and team under control, several dogs had run over his leaders and dragged Digger a short distance tangled in the line. By the time Peters could extract the dogs from the lines and straighten the whole group out again, Digger was limping.”

Jones, Tim. The Last Great Race: The Iditarod, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

“Bend sled-dog racer Rachael Scdoris has dropped out of the grueling, 1,125-mile Iditarod race only about 125 miles from the finish line after her two lead dogs developed a limp, friends said Friday.”

- KTVZ- TV, March 14, 2008, website article

“He finished with seven limping dogs.”

- The author is talking about Rick Mackey’s dogs when they reached Nome.
- Colin Nickerson, Boston Globe, February 5, 1984

“[Darin] Nelson arrived in Galena, a checkpoint 445 miles away from Nome, with two dogs in his sled, two limping and only five pulling.”

- Tamar Ben-Yosef, The Cordova Times, March 20, 2008

“As soon as I left [the Grayling checkpoint], I noticed my super-wheeler, Curly, limping badly.”

- Chapoton, C. Mark. A Tale of Two Iditarods, Big Lake: CMC, 2008

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: Why didn't Chapoton or the veterinarians notice Curly limping before the dog left the checkpoint?]

Joint problems:

Laureli: “What were some of the injuries that you saw? Or some of the problems that you saw?”

Veterinarian Ruth: “At the moment, most of them are coming with joint problems, because it depends on the surfaces they going on how serious the problems with the joints are and some cannot cope so good as others.”

-  Alaska Public Radio, March 12, 2010.

“Running up to his leaders, [Emmitt] Peters looked at Digger, petting the dog and running his hand over his leg. ‘Don’t know if he’ll make it. Been on three legs since Skwentna.’”

- Emmitt Peters was at the Koyuk checkpoint when he said this to Tim Jones.
- Jones, Tim. The Last Great Race: The Iditarod, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

“I had stopped at the Rainy Pass checkpoint for a couple of hours to give the dogs a ‘trail feed,’ pick up food, drop Jake (he had a bicep injury), and have Lolo examined for some small kink in his gait. The examination of Lolo came up blank. Soon, we were off.”

“We were moving along on the slight downhill between the upper part of the [Dalzell] gorge and the lower part, the part where all the bare ice is.  I was getting ready to give the dogs their food and water when it happened.  Lolo collapsed.”

- Rob Loveman, Rob’s Writings, April, 2009
- According to the Iditarod’s website, Rob Loveman was at the Rainy Pass checkpoint for two hours and 31 minutes.

(From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: Lobo collapsed before reaching the Rohn checkpoint. The Rohn checkpoint is 48 miles away from the one at Rainy Pass.)

“I stopped to check him [Tyne] and found his shoulder had a pulled muscle. Knowing sometimes dogs can work through this I left him on the line. I didn’t need an additional 50 pounds in the sled at this point. Soon, it was evident he needed to ride. He was hopping on 3 legs and crying out when his 4th leg hit the snow.”

“Most of the dogs had shoulder or other muscle injuries caused by miles of snow holes.”

- James Warren, Iditarod ’06 Journal, published on the Internet

“They’ve gone hundreds and hundreds of miles, their feet are sore, they can hardly move.”

Broken toe:

“She [Molly Yazwinski] was not moving and explained that her best lead dog broke her toe and had to be dropped and that her second main lead dog became sick and had to be dropped as well.”

- Bruce Linton, Diary of my Iditarod Journey 2008, website article, 2008

Neck injury:

“The dog (Swenson’s dog) suffered a severe neck injury…”

- Mary Pemberton, Associated Press, March 10, 2000

Back injuries:

“‘Our speed required all my strength to manhandle the sled. I hit a tree, breaking the sled’s main runner. This made it impossible for me to steer properly, resulting in two dogs spraining their backs.’”

- DeeDee Jonrowe talking about an incident in the 2000 Iditarod
- Grace Fox, The Salvation Army War Cry, February 16, 2002

“One [dog] pulled too hard and injured its back, another was injured jumping over a bale of hay in a checkpoint and the third wore out.”

- Mary Pemberton, Associated Press, March 13, 2001, writing about Rick Swenson’s best dogs.

“Coltrane was still at Swentna being well-cared for by the volunteers remaining there until flights resumed. Sounded like he just has a sore wrist.”

- Husky Homestead Crew, Husky Homestead blog, Finger Lake checkpoint, March 5, 2012 – The Swentna checkpoint is 72 miles from Willow where the Iditarod officially starts.

“His [Ken Chase's] dogs were bummed after cutting their feet on the icy trail out of Knik.”

“His [Roy Monk's] dogs’ feet were too sore to continue.”

“After 275 miles on the trail, three of my [Brian O'Donoghue's] dogs had troublesome cuts or splits in their pads.”

“Doc [Cooley] diagnosed Skidders’s [O'Donoghue's dog] limp as resulting from a sprained toe.”

- O’Donoghue, Brian Patrick. My Lead Dog was a Lesbian, New York: Vintage Books, 1996
- O’Donoghue was a reporter for the Fairbanks News-Miner

“The only injury was to one of her [Rachael Scdoris] dogs, which had wrapped a line around its leg a day earlier. The leg started to swell on the next day’s run.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 10, 2005

“Clint Warnke of Fairbanks massages ointment on the sore front leg of Cobalt.”

- Kevin Klott, Anchorage Daily News, March 8, 2007

[Sound of a dog crying]

Rick Swenson: “Oh yes, your foot is so sensitive.”

Annie Feidt: “Swenson rubs a clear gel on the lower leg of one of his lead dogs and wraps it in it a red neoprene-like material. He holds up the tiny bottle and calls it the magic ointment.”

Rick Swenson: “That’s like 25 bucks. We buy it by the case– about like drinkin scotch, good scotch.”

- Rick Swenson was a musher in the 2006 Iditarod
- Annie Feidt interviewed him for the Alaska Public Radio Network, March 16, 2006, website.

Soreness: 

“Dottie was one of my young 2 yr olds and an extremely hard pulling dog. She worked so hard through the soft snow that her back leg was sore.”

“Chase had a sore back leg.”

- Jessie Royer, Jessie’s Sled Dog Page, website, 2001

“There had been shoulder injuries and sore wrists. One of the dogs wasn’t eating.”

- Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, March 8, 2011
- Mr. Hopkins is talking about Paul Gebhardt’s dogs.

Dysentery:

“Every time [Ray] Dronenburg stopped to rest the animals, hoping they would get stronger, he would see where they left ugly brown splotches in the snow, the tell-tale signs of dysentery.”

- Elizabeth Pulliam, Anchorage Daily News, March 11, 1988

Hematoma:

“[Aliy] Zirkle arrived with 14 dogs but dropped two, including a 2-year-old named Scooter who suffered a hematoma on a front leg, before she left.”

- Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, March 11, 2012

Crab walking:

“But once on the trail they began ‘crab walking,’ a style of movement Mackey described as a dog running with its butt low to the ground. He held out a hand and swiftly shook it left to right to demonstrate the movement.”

- Jill Burke, Alaska Dispatch, March 8, 2011

Pregnant dogs got cramps:

“[Paul] Gebhardt’s scratch from the Iditarod last season shocked many, particularly since it came following a victory in the Kuskokwim 300 just a month earlier. He said his bad luck with his dogs had to do with the birds and the bees.

‘It was a combination of things stemming from having 17 females in the kennel in heat right before the race. I bred some of them up, which I normally wouldn’t do until after the race, and I think that really messed with them.They didn’t eat or drink like usual and several cramped up and had to be carried or dropped,’ he said.”

- Joseph Robertia, The Redoubt Reporter, February 29, 2012

Rope burn:

“We pulled into TAKOTNA . “Rose was particularly sore on her front left. I couldn’t find the spot that hurt, but it seemed swollen.” “Dr. Caroline Griffiths was on duty that afternoon, so she looked over Rose. She knew right away what happened and said it was a ligature injury. Huh? “She must have gotten her leg over the mainline and the rope rubbed her until it hurt!” Ohhhh. Rope burn.”

- The SP Kennel Dog Log, Aliy Zirkle Trail Notes 2011 website

Blisters on a dog's paw. Iditarod dogs get painful blisters on their paws. Photo attributed to rtadlock on flickr.

Blisters on a dog’s pads. Iditarod sled dogs get painful blisters on their pads. Photo attributed to rtadlock on flickr.

Dogs get blisters on their pads:

“They [the dogs] had gone through a river overflow and gotten their paws wet, which lead to blisters on their pads.”

- Nancy Russell, whose dogs raced in the Iditarod
- Laurie Arendt, Greater Milwaukee Today, November 24, 2003

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: The blisters can easily become infected.]

Dogs in great pain from cracked webbing on paws:

“Jessie Royer, who trains in Montana where it’s often warm, said she was worried about the condition of her dogs’ feet. Wet all the time, the webbing was cracking. She described it ‘like having you hands in dish soap all the time. My dogs are used to the (warm) weather, but this is even too much for them,’ she said.”

- Suzanna Caldwell, Alaska Dispatch, March 8, 2013

“Cracked webbing of the feet, especially in warm weather, would make the dogs vulnerable to bacterial or fungal infection of the damaged areas. The other issue is pain, which would be substantial with this type of damage regardless whether there is infection. Although booties might reduce the incidence of damage, once the foot is damaged, they would not help much with the pain even if they reduced the potential for infection.”

- Dr. Nedim C. Buyukmihci, V.M.D., Professor Emeritus of Veterinary Medicine at U.C. Davis, email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition on July 20, 2013

X-ray of dog with two broken toes. Sled dogs have broken their toes racing in the Iditarod. Photo attributed to TedRheingold on flickr

X-ray of dog with two broken toes. Sled dogs have broken their toes racing in the Iditarod. Photo attributed to TedRheingold on flickr

Broken tooth:

“Weasel has a broken tooth and has very sore feet.”

- Bowers, Don. Back of the Pack, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2000

Dogs injured by moose:

“A cow moose that wouldn’t get out of the trail near Nikolai ended up running over his [Dallas Seavey] dogs.

‘It just ran right through the middle of the team,” he said. ‘We didn’t even hardly slow down.’

The moose, however, did knock over two dogs. Seavey eventually had to drop both — one because of the moose injury; the other from a sore shoulder.”

- Kevin Klott, Anchorage Daily News, March 15, 2009

Dogs injured by stepping in moose holes:

“…But 10 miles out of Ophir a dog stepped in a moose hole and was injured.”

- Discussing Musher Juan Alcina’s dog
- Staff report, Anchorage Daily News, March 17, 2000, website article

“The most insidious moose-generated problems don’t even require the perpetrator to be present. A moose walking on a trail tends to punch through the hard crust with its hooves. These holes become traps for fast-moving dogs, who can dislocate shoulders and even break legs by stepping into a foot-deep moose print.”

- Bowers, Don. Back of the Pack, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2000

Soreness and tendinitis:

“The 27-year-old [Ryan Redington] returned to Alaska about two weeks before the Iditarod and his team wasn’t prepared for this year’s deepening snow and soft trenches.

‘My dogs haven’t seen a trail like this,’ he said.

There have been no major crashes or mishaps along the way, he said. Just sore shoulders and sore muscles, forcing him to a drop leader, ‘Grr,’ and others dogs.”

- Iditarod blog, Anchorage Daily News, March 8, 2012

“Defending Iditarod champ Lance Mackey says he’d hoped to take his 24-hour layover in Ruby instead of here, but dog troubles such as diarrhea and sore muscles forced an earlier rest.”

- Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News – The Sled Blog, March 10, 2010

“As far as dog injuries and soreness go, this is the worst of any Iditarod he’s run, he said.”

- Boulding, musher in 2000 Iditarod
- Mary Pemberton, Associated Press, March 11, 2000

“The punchy trail, he [Martin Buser] said, caused several dogs to develop tendinitis in their wrists.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 12, 2004

“[Sonny] Lindner said the trail this year was soft and punchy in spots and some of this dogs were suffering from soreness early in the race.”

- Mary Pemberton, Associated Press, March 6, 2007

Vomiting:

“This guy in the wheel if you can check him over. He threw up a little while ago and it was like he had straw and it looked like there might be a little blood in it.”

- Musher Ramy Brooks
- Outdoor Life Network (OLN), Iditarod, 2005

“When we pulled in Lycos had caught a bug, vomited on the trail, and was running a fever.”

- Eric Rogers, “A Rookies Journey – Race Synopis,” 2006, R Northbound Dogs website

“I guess my hiccup is how it seems like it’s always early in the race coming for a remote kennel here about three days into the race we get massively sick and then so I felt I was, you know I, I actually stopped at Ophir and then I stopped at Rainy and then I stopped again at Rohn, which was unplanned and then I stopped at Salmon River and I stopped at McGrath and I stopped at Ophir and then I camped again on the way to Iditarod just trying to keep my team together because they were just really throwing up, really sick.”

“It was hard to get them to eat, because they couldn’t keep anything down.”

- Musher Ed Iten talking about his dogs
- Interview with Steve Heimel, Alaska Public Radion Network, February 28, 2006

Laureli Kinneen: “So, what types of problems, what types of injuries have you been dealing with?”

Jason Barron: “It all kind of started back in the John Beargrease in Minnesota in the end of January I raced and I had a lot of nicks and cuts coming out of that race. And I kind of patched them up but they’re all breaking loose on this race. And then about the time I was just establishing a decent healthy core group around Cripple my remaining dogs were just ravaged by this sickness that came through– and don’t want to eat, and when they do eat they can’t really hold it down very well, so I mean I essentially had to pull all the plugs on my race plan.”

- Laureli Kinneen of KNOM radio interviewed Jason Barron on March 16, 2010 in Unalakleet.

Harness irritation:

“Brooks also said he had to drop one dog, which had lost weight earlier in the race and had developed chafing problems because its harness no longer fit correctly.”

- Joel Gay, Anchorage Daily News, March 11, 2003

“He’s down to only nine of the 16 dogs with which he left Willow on Sunday, and he’s worried he might have to drop Rev. The dog is having problems with harness chafing in the area of his groin. [Lance] Mackey said veterinarians told him it’s because Rev has a ‘bigger package.’ I don’t at all know how it feels, but I can imagine. I’m sure it’s not comfortable. I’m deathly scared he is not going to make it too much past Grayling.”

- Jill Burke, Craig Medred, Alaska Dispatch, March 11, 2011 – Lance Mackey was at the Anvik checkpoint.

Weight loss, illness and injuries:

“As temperatures plummeted to 45 or 50 degrees below zero, things only got worse. Both John and the dogs suffered in the cold. The dogs started losing weight. John [Stewart] dropped some due to illness, others to injury.”

- Craig Medred, Alaska Dispatch, March 20, 2010

Coughing:

“They had a virus with a fever, and they were coughing mucus.”

- Aliy Zirkle, Iditarod musher
- Freedman, Lew. More Iditarod Classics, Kenmore: Epicenter Press, 2004

“I heard Jamie’s dogs, and they sounded like a convention of pleurisy victims. Hack-hack.” “Jamie went on to finish with all sixteen of her starting team.”

- Musher Paul Ellering talking about Jamie Nelson’s dogs
- Paul Ellering. Wrestling the Iditarod, Bend: Maverick Publications, 2005

Kennel cough:

“Kate was also coming down with kennel cough which was going around the other teams too.” “Souix was a young two year old dog that had also come down with kennel cough on the way to Rohn and was not eating good.”

- Jessie Royer, Jessie’s Sled Dog Page, website, 2004

“On top of the spoiled food, the dogs developed some kennel cough during the race.”

- Bomhoff, Burt. Iditarod Alaska: The life of a Sled Dog Musher, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2013

Cuts:

“My oldest dog, Skitters, got cut when the sled caught him, a pretty nasty looking cut.”

- Brian O’Donaghue, Iditarod musher and former reporter for the Fairbanks News-Miner
- Freedman, Lew. More Iditarod Classics, Kenmore: Epicenter Press, 2004

Constipation:

“His dogs had eaten some straw in White Mountain and were bound up in their bowels.”

- Paul Ellering is talking about Dan Govoni’s dogs
- Paul Ellering. Wrestling the Iditarod, Bend: Maverick Publications, 2005

Stiffness:

“The dogs were stiff in the hindquarters, he [Tollef Monson] said.”

- Kevin Klott, Anchorage Daily News, March 11, 2007

Serious stomach problems:

“Jeff King, one of the greatest mushers in the history of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, dropped out of the competition late Sunday after some of his dogs developed what appeared to be serious stomach problems about 12 miles outside of Unalakleet.”

- Jill Burke, Alaska Dispatch, March 11, 2012

Many different illnesses and injuries:

“[Susan] Butcher started with the maximum of 20 dogs, but most of them got sick and had to be dropped. She finished with eight, the minimum allowed.

Four of those eight were Iditarod rookies, and two of the eight weren’t pulling their weight.”

- Natalie Phillips and Tim Murray, Anchorage Daily News, March 15, 1994

“Siirtola started the race with 16 dogs, but finished with only eight, as soreness and an intestinal virus sidelined half the team.”

“There were a couple of times that Siirtola thought about pulling out of the race, especially when the intestinal virus forced her to use only eight dogs, who carried on for the entire second half of the race.”

- Gordon Weixel, Bismarck Tribune, March 17, 2008

“Two dogs have been dropped because of minor shoulder strains, one was coughing from a low-grade infection; dogs, like people, catch bugs from other dogs…”

- John Schandelmeier, Valdez Star, March 5, 2008
- Shandelmeier is talking about Rich Corcoran’s dogs

“But her shoulders were sore. She had diarrhea. She ran with her head down, aware only of her own misery.”

- Rachael Scdoris talking about her dog Pia.
- Scdoris, Rachael and Steber, Rick. No End in Sight: My Life as a Blind Iditarod Racer, New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007

Horse meat may have made dogs sick:

Horse running in snow. Some mushers feed their dogs horse meat. Dogs may have gotten sick from eating horse.

Horse running in snow. Some Iditarod mushers feed their dogs horse meat. Dogs may have gotten sick from eating horse.

“‘All of a sudden, there was some strange stepping going on, weird slipping on surfaces that don’t slip… It looked like they were on ice, when they weren’t.’”

“While the cause for the incident is unknown at this time, [Nicholas] Petit shared with Laureli [Kinneen] that he’d recently fed the dogs horse meat – something he’d never done before but that he’d heard would be good for the dogs’ hydration.”

- David Dodman, KNOM radio, March 9, 2014

- Mushers who give dogs horse meat to eat:

– Ken Anderson:

“‘I’ve just been taking it real easy and resting the dogs when they need it,’ [Ken] Anderson said, as he prepared a meal of kibble and horse meat for his dogs.

- Mary Pemberton, Associated Press, March 9, 2004

– Anna and Kristy Berington:

“The [Anna and Kristy] Beringtons feed their dogs a high-performance kibble mixed with a raw, natural meat product like beef, chicken, tripe, beaver, lamb, horse, turkey, fish, or other animal fat.”

- Richard Walker, Indian Country Media Network, February 22, 2014

– Dallas Seavey:

“I primarily feed, well, red meat – beef is probably the main one – and we have some horse meat as well, I suppose.”

- Dallas Seavey, NPR, May 23, 2012

– Sebastian Schnuelle:

“‘It’s a mixture of commercial dog food, canola oil, fish oil and some horsemeat,’ said musher Sebastian Schnuelle.”

- Jason Lamb, KTUU-TV, March 12, 2010

Undisclosed injuries and illnesses:

“Another dog, an important leader named Tony, got sick.”

- The writer is talking about Tom Thurston’s dog.
- Joel Reichenberger, Steamboat Pilot & Today, April 5, 2009

“The 36-year-old musher [Jason Barron] told race officials his dogs were ill.”

- Associated Press and Great Falls Tribune Staff, March 6, 2008

“The tussocks were really bad. The grass clumps, some of them were eighteen inches high and there’s big holes between them. And it just beats the dogs up and they fall in holes and fall down.”

- Iditarod musher Cim Smyth, KTUU-TV website video, March 8, 2007

“That’s where [the Finger Lake checkpoint] Roig noticed two of his dogs, Sunny and Only, were showing signs of illness and injury.”

- Kim Hone-McMahan, The Akron Beacon Journal, April 15, 2007

“The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is over for Rachael Scdoris. The legally blind woman from Oregon scratched Wednesday in Eagle Island.”

“She apparently decided to call it quits for the well-being of her team — her dogs are sick.”

- Lars Peterson, KTUU-TV, Anchorage, KTUU.com, March 16, 2005

“Some of his [Shane Goosen] dogs were sick.”

- Jon Little, Cabela’s website, March 9, 2005
Little formerly reported for the Anchorage Daily News.

“I’ve got three leaders hurt and pups in lead.”

- Sue Allen, talking about her dogs two days into the race
- Jon Little, Cabelas website, March 8, 2004
- Little was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News and was an Iditarod musher

“Matray indicated that his dogs were sick and unable to continue.”

“Barron indicated that his dogs were sick and unable to continue.”

- Iditarod press releases, March 6, 2003, Iditarod website

“Veteran musher Charlie Boulding scratched Sunday in Anvik because his dogs were ill.”

- Rachel D’Oro, Associated Press, March 11, 2003

“A dog from the team of five-time champ Rick Swenson was injured on the trail to Rohn after apparently colliding with a tree.” “Sketchy reports suggested that the dog collided with the tree hard enough to break the gangline.”

- Staff report, Anchorage Daily News, March 9, 2000, article on website

“Accounts of the trail, like Dee’s [Jonrowe], report [that] some dogs are injured slipping on glare ice.”

- Runyan, Joe. Winning Strategies for Distance Mushers. Sacramento: Griffin Printing, 1997

“Dr. [Tom] Knolmayer finished the race with nine dogs out of his original 16-dog team. The others were sent home at various checkpoints along the route because of illness or injuries…”

- Capt. Amy Hansen, 3rd Wing Public Affairs, Airforce Link, March 21, 2005

“After finishing 48th in his rookie attempt in 2004 and being forced to scratch from the competition due to a sickness that ran rampant through his dogs in 2005, [Scott] Smith entered the 2007 Iditarod confident he and his team could break into the top 40 and perhaps even the top 30.”

- Ken Waltz, Knox County Times, February 29, 2008

“OLN announcer: ‘The race moves to day two. Dogs begin to have issues’ ‘There’s a retirement.’

Unidentified person at checkpoint who’s walking with a dog: ‘He’s just eleven years old. He just can’t go through this.’”

- Outdoor Life Network (OLN), Iditarod, 2005

“When time came to feed and get ready to go I found they were definitely very sick and not thrilled about running.” “With meds from the vet I medicated the dogs.”

- Warren, James and Warren, Christopher. Following My Father’s Dream, James and Christopher Warren, 2005

Sled dogs have been injured or killed in the Iditarod from tangles in the ganglines.

Sled dogs have been injured or killed in the Iditarod from tangles in the ganglines.

Tangled lines injure the dogs:

“The dogs can injure their feet in the lines, or strangle when they wrap around each other.”

- Wood, Ted. Iditarod Dream, New York: Walker Publishing Company, 1996

“It’s been tangle after tangle, and going down wrong trails…”

- Musher Kris Swanguarin

“One of the tangles led to injury of his [Swanguarin's] best leader….”

- Fairbanks News-Miner, undated 1998 article on website

- Dogs injured by passing sleds:

“On the trail out of Knik there was an icy sport and a lot of teams passed me there. It was a bad spot where their sleds were getting by and hitting my leaders.”

- Brian O’Donaghue, Iditarod musher and former reporter for the Fairbanks News-Miner
- Freedman, Lew. More Iditarod Classics, Kenmore: Epicenter Press, 2004

- Dogs injured by being mashed against a tree:

“‘I had the wrong foot on the right side of the sled. By the time I changed it, it was too late,’ [Spenser] Thew would say later.

Of course, that is not what Thew was saying at the time as his dog sled missed a curve at the top of the hill and went off a snow-covered cliff.

The only thing that kept it from rolling 75 feet to the bottom was the cottonwood tree. Thew ended up with his team partially on the trail, and his sled hanging from its gangline around the tree with his wheel dogs mashed up against it and yelping.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 9, 1993

- Dog injured by snowmachine:

“Jennifer Freking of Finland, Minnesota and her husband Blake had stopped on the Yukon river to feed their dogs, when they heard machines approaching.

‘They heard snowmobiles coming for quite a distance, and he just didn’t slow down, and ran through their team,’ related Freking’s sister Cindy Elkins, who runs Jennifer’s website. ‘She felt like she was watching half her team die as it happened.’

The snowmobile killed Lorne, a 3 year old female Siberian Husky, and injured Aries, a male.”

- Dana Thiede, KARE 11 TV News, March 12, 2008, website article

Warm weather results in dogs becoming sick and getting injured:

“Rookies usually have rookie dog teams, and Parvin’s was not prepared for the warm weather they found at the start of the race. That forced Parvin to drop four younger dogs and dampened the others’ appetites.”

“Parvin was doing his best to keep his Iditarod dream alive, even if meant slowing down and nursing his team back to health.”

- Joel Gay, Anchorage Daily News, March 8, 2005

“‘Across the Alaska Range right now, all the way through the Kuskokwim and all the way up to the banks of the Yukon, we have quite a warming trend. And along with that, we have a low-pressure system. That means a lot of snow falling. And at the same time we have rain,’ said Iditarod Spokesperson Chas St. George.

That combination has turned the Iditarod trail into a thousand miles of slush and ice, which is causing big problems for the health of the dogs.

‘Feet: problems with the snow building up, and wrist injuries. And if the snow is punchy, if the dog is going through the snow, they can hurt their shoulders and their wrists a lot easier,’ said Jason Uitvlugt of the Manitou Crossing Kennel, Minnesota.”

- Andrea Gusty, KTVA-TV, Anchorage, March 5, 2008, web article

“Fresh, deep snow and warm weather – about 30 degrees and sunny – slowed the race between Willow and Rainy Pass, about 150 miles into the world’s longest sled dog race. The dogs, whose bloodlines stem from several arctic breeds, prefer running in colder weather.

‘It was real soft and punchy,” said Paul Gebhardt, of Kasilof, who’s running his 10th Iditarod. “The dogs go slower and you get a few more injuries because they start falling in holes.’”

- Jeannette J. Lee, Associated Press, March 6, 2006

Dogs get nasty stomach bugs:

“Gatt and Burmeister crossed their fingers that dogs that had gotten a nasty stomach bug would recover in a day.”

- Jon Little, Cabela’s website, March 9, 2005
Little formerly reported for the Anchorage Daily News

“Sørlie, a former Iditarod winner, is only in 16th place and has had trouble along the way, with stomach problems plaguing his dogs.”

- Stein-Erik Kirkebøen, Aftenposten, March 9, 2007

Wind-swept and hard-packed trail damages the dogs:

“The 48-year-old [Martin Buser], one of three four-time champions hoping to join Rick Swenson of Two Rivers as the race’s only five-time champion, expects a wind-swept, hard-packed trail. That means sore muscles and bruises for dogs…”

- Staff and wire reports, Anchorage Daily News, March 5, 2007

Musher Roger Roberts kicks Brian Patrick O’Donoghue’s lead dog:

“The Loafer [Roger Roberts] cursed as he followed [Bill] Cotter on by [me]. Couldn’t blame him. I was a lousy rookie. He was a tree-time veteran with hopes of winning real money. Then he turned and kicked Rainy as he passed her. He deliberately kicked my lead dog!”

- O’Donoghue, Brian Patrick. My Lead Dog was a Lesbian, New York: Vintage Books, 1996

Mushers force sick dogs to race

“‘I’m still dealing with some diarrhea issues that I can’t seem to get control of for whatever reason,’ said [Lance] Mackey, speaking about his dog team’s health and performance.”

- Kevin Wells, KTUU-TV, March 7, 2008, web site article

“The intestinal virus that was plaguing the team earlier continues.

But, after talking to friend and fellow dog owner Kathleen Holden, [Heather] Siirtola apparently decided to keep going.”

- Tony Spilde, Bismarck Tribune, March 11, 2008

“One mile out of Nome, Harley began staggering. I stopped the team for about 10 minutes. He stood motionless with his head low but wagged when I called his name. I showed him the lights of Nome across the ice covered sea. We pressed on. I was hoping he could make it. As we neared the snow ramp up onto Front Street he was staggeringly badly.”

- James Warren talking about his dog Hartley in the 2004 Iditarod
- Warren, James and Warren, Christopher. Following My Father’s Dream, James and Christopher Warren, 2005

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: Warren could have carried Hartley on his sled.]

“I heard Jamie’s dogs, and they sounded like a convention of pleurisy victims. Hack-hack.” “Jamie went on to finish with all sixteen of her starting team.”

- Musher Paul Ellering talking about Jamie Nelson’s dogs
- Paul Ellering. Wrestling the Iditarod, Bend: Maverick Publications, 2005

“Two of the MANY (emphasis added) mushers who battled viruses in their dog teams and placed well below their expectations were Vern Halter…and John Baker…”

- Lew Freedman, Anchorage Daily News, March 17, 2000

“… (The dog’s) recovery in the checkpoints was slowed by some sort of virus.”

- Doug Swingley, the 2000 Iditarod race winner
- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 14, 2000

“Around Nikolai, about 350 miles into the race, some of his dogs caught a virus.” “‘They had some bad discomfort’” said Swingley. “‘It was hard for me to manage them.’”

- Doug Swingley, the 2000 Iditarod race winner
- Lew Freedman, Anchorage Daily News, March 15, 2000

“COAXING SICK DOGS: Linwood Fiedler, DeeDee Jonrowe’s Willow neighbor, finished just ahead of her in 19th and had to nurse sick dogs much of the time.”

- Staff report, Anchorage Daily News, March 17, 2000, article on website

“I just couldn’t keep fluids in them,” the musher said. “I’d get in the checkpoints, and they’d look good, and I’d get out and they’d lose their hydration.”

- Jason Halseth, musher in 2001 Iditarod
- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 15, 2001

“Although one or two dogs in his [Ramy Brooks] team attacked their food bowls with gusto, most poked at their chow or ignored it.”

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: According to the Iditarod website, Ramy Brooks was at the Unalakleet checkpoint with nine dogs. The race ends in Nome which is 260 miles from this checkpoint.]

- Joel Gay, Anchorage Daily News, March 11, 2003 report from Unalakleet

“With another, he [Lindwood Fiedler] opened its [the dog's] mouth and fed it antibiotics to fight an infection. ‘Better mushing through pharmacy,’ he quipped.”

Joel Gay, Anchorage Daily News, March 12, 2003

“It was my first Iditarod; I had to finish the ding-dang thing. The dogs all had fevers. The vets gave them a poweful antibiotic.”

- Aliy Zirkle, Iditarod musher
- Freedman, Lew. More Iditarod Classics, Kenmore: Epicenter Press, 2004

“Parvin was doing his best to keep his Iditarod dream alive, even if meant slowing down and nursing his team back to health.”

- Joel Gay, Anchorage Daily News, March 8, 2005

“He [Rick Swenson] bellowed at photographers who tried to take his picture there [Takotna checkpoint], and told race officials he planned to take his team the 23 miles back to McGrath and scratch.”

“Veterinarians in Rainy Pass on Wednesday, a checkpoint 176 miles before McGrath, said that Swenson had talked about his dogs picking up a virus.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 10, 2005

“I guess my hiccup is how it seems like it’s always early in the race coming for a remote kennel here about three days into the race we get massively sick and then so I felt I was, you know I, I actually stopped at Ophir and then I stopped at Rainy and then I stopped again at Rohn, which was unplanned and then I stopped at Salmon River and I stopped at McGrath and I stopped at Ophir and then I camped again on the way to Iditarod just trying to keep my team together because they were just really throwing up, really sick.”

“It was hard to get them to eat, because they couldn’t keep anything down.”

- Musher Ed Iten talking about his dogs
- Interview with Steve Heimel, Alaska Public Radion Network, February 28, 2006

“Some of the dogs had been sick with diarrhea and treated at a prior checkpoint. They showed little spark after that.”

- Kay Richardson, The Columbian, April 16, 2006
- She is talking about the dogs that belong to Steve Madsen

Paul Ellering’s team ran 226 miles with diarrhea–

“Looking over the team, I saw the dogs had picked up an intestinal bug. They had the runs, and it was not the kind of running that gets you anywhere.”

(Paul Ellering was at the Galena checkpoint.)

“The diarrhea had taken the spark out of the team.” “I hoped the medicine the vets gave me would work…”

(Paul Ellering was at the Nulato checkpoint.)

“I wanted to give the dogs six hours of rest because of the diarrhea problem that still had a grip on the team.”

(Paul Ellering was at the Shaktoolik checkpoint.)
- Paul Ellering. Wrestling the Iditarod, Bend: Maverick Publications, 2005
(There is 226 miles between the Galena and Shaktoolik checkpoints. Ellering doesn’t say if or when the diarrhea stopped.)

“Jim: Rohn: Both King and Cookie had been ailing since the ‘snow holes’ and to make matters worse several other dogs were ailing which shifts the burden to the others.”

“Jim: Nikolai: After 6 1/2 hours we left for Nikolai. King was ailing even more and now we were pulling him.”

- James Warren, Iditarod ’06 Journal, published on the Internet

Rachael Scdoris’s dog Karelan was sick at the Rainy Pass Checkpoint. Scdoris raced this sick dog for 322 miles before dropping her at the Iditarod checkpoint. Dutchess was also sick at the Rainy Pass Checkpoint. Scdoris raced this sick dog for 490 miles before scratching at the Eagle Island Checkpoint.

Rainy Pass Checkpoint

“I noticed Dutchess and Karelan had picked up a bug and now had runny diarrhea.”

Rainy Pass to Rohn – 48 miles

“Their diarrhea had not improved, and I could tell they were not as healthy as at the start of the race.”

Rohn to Nikolai – 80 miles

“Dutchess and Karelan nibbled at their food.”” Dutchess and Karelan and Kitty still suffered from diarrhea and a couple of others had sore wrists…”

Nikolai to McGrath – 48 miles

“The veterinarian expressed her concern about the virus sweeping through my team. She said I needed to keep a close watch on Dutchess and Karelan…”

McGrath to Takotna – 18 miles

Takotna to Ophir – 38 miles

Ophir to Iditarod – 90 miles

“When we were ready to leave [Iditarod] I dropped Karelan.”

Iditarod to Shageluk – 65 miles

“I started crying because my dogs were sick and skinny and I had lost the bootie bag.”

Shageluk to Anvik – 25 miles

Anvik to Grayling – 18 miles

“There were long stretches when noting seemed to change. I knew that for a team of sick dogs this might prove to be our undoing.”

Grayling to Eagle Island – 60 miles

“Angel was the only dog in my team that seemed the least bit interested in leading and she was now my thinnest dog.” Bernard, Ned and Dutchess were nearly as skinny.”

“It was obvious from the thinness of the dogs, but the veterinarian was trying to make conversation and asked if the diarrhea medicine had helped. I was honest. There was really no sense in trying to be deceitful. My team was in trouble.

‘I haven’t been able to keep weight on them, not since Tokotna. That’s were the diarrhea started getting bad and they began losing weight.’”

“When I saw my spent team and saw the way they were curled up on the straw, how skinny they had become from the diarrhea-causing virus, my decision was made for me.”

“All that remained of my 2005 Iditarod run was to make it official. Jim got a piece of paper and a Sharpie. He wrote my name and the words ‘Scratched in Eagle Island.’ I signed it.”

- Scdoris, Rachael and Steber, Rick. No End in Sight: My Life as a Blind Iditarod Racer, New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007

“Dalek was still sick to his stomach.” “I decided to keep Dalek in the team for a little longer and just watch him closely.”

- Jessie Royer, Jessie’s Sled Dog Page, website, 2001

Laureli Kinneen: “How are your dogs looking coming into the coast?”

Jason Barron: “Well, we’ve been dealing with sickness and injury for the whole race, so I’d say they look good, but it’s kind of irrelevant to the problems I’ve been having.”

Laureli Kinneen: “So, what types of problems, what types of injuries have you been dealing with?”

Jason Barron: “It all kind of started back in the John Beargrease in Minnesota in the end of January I raced and I had a lot of nicks and cuts coming out of that race. And I kind of patched them up but they’re all breaking loose on this race. And, then, about the time I was just establishing a decent healthy core group around Cripple my remaining dogs were just ravaged by this sickness that came through– and don’t want to eat, and when they do eat they can’t really hold it down very well, so I mean I essentially had to pull all the plugs on my race plan.”

- Laureli Kinneen of KNOM radio interviewed Jason Barron on March 16, 2010 in Unalakleet.

“Back at the team, my other question mark was Tug. She looked like she had a sore wrist. I wasn’t sure how bad it was as I walked her around. She was another one of my rookie dogs and I think that she was overwhelmed by the entire Iditarod experience. I decided to continue with her in the team and if she showed more serious signs of a wrist sprain then I would drop her in OPHIR, 20 miles down the trail.”

- The SP Kennel Dog Log, Aliy Zirkle Trail Notes 2011 website

Dogs face hypothermia and frostbite hazards

Examples of sub-zero temperatures the dogs face:

Sled dogs often face subzero temperatures during the Iditarod. Dogs have have frozen to death in the race. They've gotten painful frostbite of the penis, scrotum, vulva, nipples and tail.

Sled dogs often face subzero temperatures during the Iditarod. Dogs have frozen to death during the race. They’ve gotten painful frostbite of the penis, scrotum, vulva, nipples and tail.

Willow, Alaska – March 4, 2007 – Iditarod start

“Today…Wind chill readings 20 below to 35 below zero in the morning.

Tonight…Clear. Lows zero to 10 below except 15 to 25 below north of Talkeetna. North wind 15 to 30 mph. Gusts to 50 mph through broad pass. Wind chill readings 25 below to 40 below zero after midnight.”

Swentna and Finger Lake – March 5, 2007

“Some mushers will stop to rest in Skwentna. Others will push on another 45 miles to Finger Lake to rest their dogs there. Wherever they stop, mushers can expect a frigid night. The National Weather Service was forecasting wind chills down to minus-40 after midnight, with temperatures on Monday not getting far above zero.”

- Anchorage Daily News on the National Weather Service report, March 5, 2007

130 degree below zero temperature:

“In 1973, during the inaugural Iditarod, the wind chill plummeted to 130 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, making the first race the coldest.”

- Emily Langer, Washington Post, March 2, 2008

Mild to moderate hypothermia leads to prolonged internal and external bleeding:

“We compared hemostatic changes during 72 hours of mild to moderate hypothermia with data in normothermic [normal body temperature] dogs.”

“CONCLUSION: Long-term hypothermia induced platelet dysfunction, leading to decreased platelet aggregation and prolonged coagulation time.”

Ao H, Moon JK, Tashiro M, Terasaki H. Resuscitation. 2001 Oct;51(1):83-90

Cold water causes hypothermia:

“Don’t forget to consider water temperatures; dogs can suffer from hypothermia.”

- Sally Elliott, Lynchburg News Advance, March 16, 2009

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: During the Iditarod, dogs are often in icy water.]

Dogs can get frostbite during the Iditarod and when they are tethered outside:

“All dogs reach their cold-tolerance limit at some temperature, the Cornell husky-trainer said. ‘If it’s so cold that you can’t go out without extreme cold-weather gear, your dog shouldn’t be outside at that temperature either.’ ‘Bring the dogs inside then’ he advised.”

- Arleigh Reynolds, D.V.M., Ph.D. was an assistant professor at Cornell
- Cornell University Science News press release, Dec. 9, 1996, on its website

Frostbite of the penis, scrotum, vulva, tail, paws, nipples and other areas:

“Frostbite occurs when body parts actually freeze, and ice crystals form in the tissue, causing it to die.

Most frostbite lesions in dogs and cats are in areas that are more exposed and have less hair, such as ear tips, tails, scrotum, nipples, and vulva.”

- Dr. Marvin Ordway, DVM, Friends and Neighbors Magazine, December 15, 2011

“While massaging tired muscles, tending to bloody paws and treating a case of penile frostbite (emphasis added) suffered by one of his lead dogs, Bramante said he was fighting the urge to scratch.”

- John Bramante, M.D. raced in the 2002 Iditarod
- Paula Dobbyn and Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, April 1, 2002

“The other problem is frostbite of the flanks and frostbite of the penis.” (emphasis added)

- Runyan, Joe. Winning Strategies for Distance Mushers. Sacramento: Griffin Printing, 1997

“He had a painful frostbitten scrotum (emphasis added) and just couldn’t run.”

- James Warren talking about his dog Duke
- James Warren, Iditarod ’06 Journal, published on the Internet

“Frostbite can occur on a dog’s paw but do not usually occur in this area. Frostbite is more commonly seen in area where the hair covering is sparse and the circulation is poor, such as the ear tips, tail tips, and scrotum.” (emphasis added)

- Dr. Vern Otte, DVM, DABVP, Critter Connection website, January, 2003

“We do see problems in the webbing of the feet and (their genitals) (emphasis added) are subject to frostbite,” she [veterinarian Emi Berger] said.”

- Randi Weiner, The Journal News, March 31, 2011

“‘There’s a particular thing that happens with these sled dogs in certain snow conditions where the hair is lost off the back of their wrists, exposing the flexor tendons to potential frostbite. It was a lot of work for me to take care of my dogs,’ said his dad, Mitch Seavey.” 

- Kevin Wells, KTUU-TV, KTUU.COM, March 17, 2010

“Dogs left in the cold for long periods of time are also at risk for frostbite on paws (and other extremities – ears, tail, etc.) and hypothermia. It is not advised that dogs spend hours in the cold.”

- Pulaski Veterinary Clinic, website article, 2014

Frostbitten testicles:

“Nothing was seriously wrong with him [Houston] physically, though the cold had irritated a past injury to his testicles. As a young pup he had been frostbitten and the area remained sensitive, so I was constantly on the alert.”

- Frederic, Lisa. Running with Champions, Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Books, 2006

Dogs frozen to the ice:

“Her [Beth Baker's] dogs had curled up, their fur frozen to the ice. They couldn’t move.”

- Natalie Phillips, Anchorage Daily News, March 24, 1994

Dogs brave temperatures pushing 50 degrees below zero:

“He [Peter Bartlett] braved temperatures pushing 50 below on the way to Cripple…”

- Jon Little, Cabela’s Iditarod Coverage, website ariticle, March 11, 2006
- Jon Little formerly wrote for the Anchorage Daily News.

(Therefore, Bartlett’s dogs also braved temperatures pushing 50 below zero, exposing them to frostbite.)

Icicles dangle from dogs snouts:

“Temperatures rose to minus 15 Friday afternoon when Iditarod rookie Bryan Bearss pulled into Cripple. Bearss set his hook. Some dogs shook off icicles dangling from their snouts…”

- Kevin Klott, Anchorage Daily News, March 12, 2006

Dog becomes a block of ice:

“[Matt] Anderson’s team was full of puppies.”

“Maddie received the worst of some of the poor conditions when a river cracked with Anderson and her on top of it, sending water surging onto them. It was at the top of his boots and over Maddies’ head. Anderson said she was just ‘a block of ice’ when he got her out.”

- Maddie was one of Matt Anderson’s puppies.
- Eric Mandel, The Daily Iowan, March 29, 2007

Kim Darst’s dog suffers severe hypothermia:

“The Warren County resident [Kim Darst] was halfway to her goal of becoming the first New Jerseyan to finish the Iditarod when a blizzard Monday left one of her dogs, Cotton, with a temperature nearly 20 degrees below the average 101.3 for dogs.”

- Mike Frassinelli, The Star-Ledger, March 19, 2009

“She was in rough shape,” [Blake] Matray said. “Her eyes were starting to roll back a bit, and she was starting to convulse.”

- Blake Matray was talking about Kim Darst’s dog Cotton.
- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 28, 2009

Dr. Packer’s two dogs froze to death:

“He said, ‘the wind was (so strong it) was picking up pieces of ice and throwing them.’

Packer assessed distances, recalculated and decided he and the dogs had a better chance of making the woods ahead than the woods behind, so he turned the team around again. That’s when he noticed one of his dogs — Grasshopper — really struggling. He unhooked the dog from the gangline and put it in the sled and started forward again.

‘The sled just kept falling over and he looked really bad, and then he died,’ Packer said. ‘I sat there and held him. Horrible.’

There was, however, nothing to do but keep going or everyone was going to die. Packer pressed on. Then Dizzy started to falter.

‘I felt his shoulder for hydration, and ice crystals in the skin is what I felt. I think those two guys probably froze to death in the high winds,’ Packer said. ‘I didn’t think it possible.’

‘Then Dizzy, he died. It was horrible.’

Both of the dogs had been wearing coats to protect them, and one of the dogs was a thick-coated husky of old, not one of the thin-coated animals that have become common as mushers contend with warm winters. Necropsies conducted by veterinary pathologists have found no obvious causes for the deaths, but hypothermia has not been ruled out.”

- Dr. Lou Packer talking about his two dogs dying
- Kevin Klott and Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 17, 2009

What happens when dog's frostbitten extremities thaw?

There will be pain and swelling, tails may rot off, and more:

“When a pet’s frostbitten extremities begin to thaw, the area will first become warm and painful, then swollen and tender when touched. If not properly treated, the tissue gradually hardens to a texture similar to old leather or cardboard, and eventually begins to flake and peel away from the skin like a scab.

‘Underneath may be more dead tissue or an open wound,’ [Dr. Philip] Gaudet warns. ‘Ear tips and tails will rot off and may expose the cartilage or tailbone. Toes and sometimes lower legs are similarly affected. The prepuce (penis sheath) can also freeze.’”

- Dr. Philip Gaudet, DVM, is the owner of Capeway Veterinary Hospital of Fairhaven, Inc.
- Brian Lowney, The Standard Times, January 23, 2011

Severe frostbite causes blisters, tissue death, open wounds and gangrene:

“In more severe cases of frostbite, blisters may form. In even more serious cases however, the deeper tissues become involved, and patches of skin may shrivel and die, sloughing off to leave raw, open wounds. In the most severe cases this may result in gangrene. It is often difficult to distinguish mild and severe cases of frostbite for the first few days…”

- Dr. Linda Aronson, DVM. VetSpeak Section of the Shaggy Sentinel, November, 1997

Warm weather hazards and stresses for the dogs

Overheated dogs became dehydrated:

“The overheated dogs became dehydrated and collapsed in 30- and 40-degree temperatures last week between Anchorage and Ophir, 90 miles from the halfway point in Iditarod.”

- Donna Iacoboni, Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 13, 2005- The dogs were on Lt. Thomas Knolmayer’s team

Dog had seizure in warm weather:

“Many years ago – my first Iditarod race – I had a dog named Martin overheat. He actually got wobbly legs and after I stopped the team he had a seizure. I cooled him in the snow and carried him to the next village.”

- The SP Kennel Dog Log: Aliy Zirkle Iditarod Trail Notes 2011

Dogs had cramps in the heat:

”Paul, how do your big red dogs like this heat?’ Each man just grimaced at me and kept walking. I did not know that Paul’s team was actually cramping up in the heat and he would scratch from the race only hours later.”

- The SP Kennel Dog Log, Aliy Zirkle Trail Notes 2011 website

Soft trail causes strains on dogs’ paws:

“…He [Kjetil Backen] feared tendinitis might be developing from the constant and uneven strains on the dogs’ paws caused by the soft, punchy trail between Nulato and Kaltag.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 14, 2004

Dogs have difficulty cooling off:

“Dogs have difficulty trying to cool themselves at such temperatures [in the 30s]…”

- Medred is discussing the high temperatures during the 2004 Iditarod
- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 14, 2004

Warm weather results in dogs becoming sick:

“Rookies usually have rookie dog teams, and Parvin’s was not prepared for the warm weather they found at the start of the race. That forced Parvin to drop four younger dogs and dampened the others’ appetites.”

“Parvin was doing his best to keep his Iditarod dream alive, even if meant slowing down and nursing his team back to health.”

- Joel Gay, Anchorage Daily News, March 8, 2005

Running in soft snow injures dogs:

“Fresh, deep snow and warm weather – about 30 degrees and sunny – slowed the race between Willow and Rainy Pass, about 150 miles into the world’s longest sled dog race. The dogs, whose bloodlines stem from several arctic breeds, prefer running in colder weather.

‘It was real soft and punchy,” said Paul Gebhardt, of Kasilof, who’s running his 10th Iditarod. “The dogs go slower and you get a few more injuries because they start falling in holes.’”

- Jeannette J. Lee, Associated Press, March 6, 2006

Dogs overheating:

“This year, with the mercury hovering near 40, Swenson charged down the Kuskokwim River and across the huge, snow-covered swamps where the trail portages overland to cut the oxbows.

It was so warm that Marble, one of Swenson’s larger dogs, started to overheat.”

- Kevin Klott, Anchorage Daily News, March 6, 2008

“He [Hank DeBruin] started the race with 16, but some have been dropped including Jay, who was having problems with overheating, the Winterdance page reports.”

- Editorial Staff, Haliburton Echo, March 13, 2012

Many injuries in warm weather:

“‘Across the Alaska Range right now, all the way through the Kuskokwim and all the way up to the banks of the Yukon, we have quite a warming trend. And along with that, we have a low-pressure system. That means a lot of snow falling. And at the same time we have rain,’ said Iditarod Spokesperson Chas St. George.

That combination has turned the Iditarod trail into a thousand miles of slush and ice, which is causing big problems for the health of the dogs.

‘Feet: problems with the snow building up, and wrist injuries. And if the snow is punchy, if the dog is going through the snow, they can hurt their shoulders and their wrists a lot easier,’ said Jason Uitvlugt of the Manitou Crossing Kennel, Minnesota.”

- Andrea Gusty, KTVA-TV, Anchorage, March 5, 2008, web article

Dogs lose their appetite in warm weather:

“Aliy Zirkle, a former Quest winner who was 10th into Nikolai, said her dogs had lost their appetite in the warm weather.”

- Mary Pemberton, Associated Press, March 10, 2009

Dogs get sick from eating spoiled food

Contaminated food gives dogs a virus:

“Sue Allen sat with her sickly dog team on a lonely stretch of trail between Cripple and Ruby during the 2004 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, unsure of what to do next.

Beset with a virus brought on by contaminated food, her dogs refused to move.”

- Ron Wilmot, Anchorage Daily News, July 8, 2007

“The ‘health concern” that forced Norwegian musher Silvia Furtwängler to drop out of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday in Nikolai appears to have been some sort of infection. Her daughter, Raffaele Furtwängler, on Thursday posted to the Team Silvia Furtwängler Facebook page, saying her mother believes she may have picked up the same virus that made some of her dogs sick.

‘A bad viral disease caught first the dogs and later Silvia, too,’ the note said.

Other mushers have mentioned dog illness they thought might be due to contaminated food. Humans and dogs rarely fall victim to the same viruses, but contaminated food can host all sorts of pathogens — both human and animal. Someone handling contaminated food could pick up one infection while the dogs pick up another.

Raffaele said her mother, who is apparently still in Nikolai, ‘also got fever and at least had to fight with balance disorders.’ Her dogs, the post indicates, had to be helped into Nikolai: “Nearly all dogs got fever and was laying down into the snow several times At least two miles in front of Nikolai, it looks like she and her team are not able to manage to get into the near checkpoint.”

- Craig Medred, Alaska Dispatch, March 8, 2012

Dogs get runny stools and bloody diarrhea from eating spoiled food:

[The Iditarod Trail Committee does not insure the safety of the food the dogs eat. Consequently, dogs often get sick from eating spoiled food.]

“My food [for the dogs] was all spoiled….” “There has been a number of teams that has had food that has thawed and been refrozen and the food doesn’t seem to be good and when you push dry food heavy to them they tend to get runny stool too.”

- Musher Keith Aili talking about spoiled dog food
- KTVA.Com, KTVA TV11, Anchorage, AK, March 7, 2002

“A vet admonishes Doug [Swingley]- as if he needs it. ‘Don’t trust the feed because it got warm here.’ Doug’s dogs still have bloody diarrhea, a bad development and probably caused by the meat in Ophir.”

- Runyan, Joe. Winning Strategies for Distance Mushers. Sacramento: Griffin Printing, 1997

Vet says thawed and re-thawed meats cause digestive and intestinal problems:

“He [Stu Nelson, Iditarod head vet] reports that meats that have thawed and re thawed with last weeks warm weather have raised havoc, with many teams reporting intestinal and digestive problems.”

- Runyan, Joe. Winning Strategies for Distance Mushers. Sacramento: Griffin Printing, 1997

Dogs vomit after eating bad food:

“Boulding said his dogs began to vomit after he fed them a bad batch of food.” “Boulding’s dogs became ill after he fed them some freeze-dried food that had gotten wet.”

- Charlie Boulding, musher in 2001 Iditarod
- Associated Press, March 8, 2001

Dogs get food poisoning:

“He [Palmer Sagoonick] believes the dogs got food poisoning at the Finger Lake checkpoint because mushers’ food drops somehow spoiled there, he said, perhaps by thawing.”

- Mark Downey, Great Falls Tribune, March 7, 2002

“On Saturday, an animal in [Ramey] Smyth’s team ended up getting dropped in Nikolai suffering from pneumonia symptoms. The dog had come down with either a stomach virus or food poisoning, trouble that became apparent when the dog aspirated after vomiting during a run.

Smyth said he thought the stomach problems started after he fed his team poultry skins’”

- Alaska Dispatch, March 12, 2012

“He’s [Ramey Smyth] also had a team sick with stomach problems. In Nikolai, he thought they might have food poisoning…”

- Alaska Dispatch, March 13, 2012

“Just before I pull the hook, Rich Bosela, who finished the race a few years ago, comes back into town with apparently ill dogs. They could have eaten spoiled meat; the recent warm weather has partly thawed some of the meat in the food bags and I’ve heard several reports of sick dogs.”

- Bowers, Don. Back of the Pack, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2000.

Food thaws on airplanes:

“Fortunately, the ‘dog food’ is stored outside and is normally frozen solid. Now and again, however, a harried IAF [Iditarod Air force] pilot forgets what he’s hauling and turns up the cabin heat, resulting in a near in-flight emergency as acrid, eye-watering fumes from fish or seal oil waft forward from the thawing bags.”

- Don Bowers, Iditarod website article, 2000

Did food go bad during the 2008 Iditarod?

There were sustained temperatures in the 40s:

“But the biggest factor affecting his dogs were temperatures that have reached into the 40s, ….”

- Associated Press, March 6, 2008

“He also struggled with dogs stricken with diarrhea and slowed by unseasonably warm weather that marked much of the trail.”

- Associated Press, March 12, 2008

The USDA recommends throwing out meat and fish that have thawed and been held above 40 degrees for two hours.

- USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Fact Sheet, September 6, 2006

Damage to dogs may appear after race

Andrea Floyd-Wilson: “Let’s take a look at a dog that is days into the trail and perhaps not in good shape to begin with, and now being asked to pull a heavier load [because dropped dogs cannot be replaced]. What kind of physiological changes will we be looking at in their bodies?”

Dr. Paula Kislak: “There are a number of them. There would be hemorrhaging in the lungs and there would be a breakdown of the muscle tissue. When that muscle tissue breaks down and gets into the blood stream, it creates a very severe toxicity to the liver and the kidneys which can fail either suddenly or slowly. And, because of the stress on the heart, there can be sudden heart failure or there can be irreparable damage to the heart muscle, that doesn’t manifest itself until after the end of the race like many of other the deteriorating conditions that occur from the extreme prolonged exertion.”

- Andrea Floyd-Wilson is the host of the All About Animals Radio Show. On February 23, 2003, she interviewed Paula Kislak, DVM, President of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights.

Dimished repair of damaged connective tissue

“There are all kinds of enzymatic and electrolyte imbalances that create a decreased ability to form connective tissue, which is very important in repairing the damage done during the races.”

- Dr. Paula Kislak, DVM, president of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights
- – Her remarks were made on the Animal Voices radio show, Toronto, Canada on February 28, 2006

Dogs in pain prompt musher/physician to give up Iditarod

Physician knows dogs are hurting and won’t run the Iditarod again:

“The Kasilof physician [John Bramante, M.D.] and father of two won’t run the race again, he said, because of the wear and tear it inflicted on his dogs.

‘It’s hard to watch the dogs go through what they do and feel comfortable,’ the 38-year-old musher said during a rest stop at McGrath, midway through the March race.

While massaging tired muscles, tending to bloody paws and treating a case of penile frostbite suffered by one of his lead dogs, Bramante said he was fighting the urge to scratch.

‘It’s a fallacy to think that the dogs aren’t hurting,’ said Bramante.”

- Paula Dobbyn and Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, April 1, 2002

Dogs who vomit while racing at high risk for illness and death

“The inherently stressful conditions of endurance races like the Iditarod predispose dogs to vomit and have diarrhea while racing.”

“Dogs who vomit while racing are at high risk of aspirating (inhaling) the vomitus. The implications of the acidic and bacterial stomach contents entering the normally sterile respiratory tract are grave. Aspiration pneumonia and severe inflammatory reactions can be anticipated with only a small number of dogs showing symptoms acutely (within 24 hours). Most morbidity (disease) and mortality (death) would be expected to occur days to weeks later which, coincidentally, is when scrutiny has lapsed.”

- Dr. Paula Kislak, President of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, September 7, 2004 email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition

Debarked dogs more prone to aspirate digestive juices leading to pneumonia:

Dr. Paula Kislak: “This surgery is especially bad, because even under the best of circumstances animals, because of the messing around in the throat area, that are debarked are more prone to aspirate their own digestive juices. And when dogs are put under these intense circumstances of racing and they’re gasping all the time, they’re constantly aspirating or inhaling any vomit or digestive juice that comes up in their mouth, and that sets them up for life-threatening aspiration pneumonias. So that’s a double whammy of the debarking.”

Rob Moore: “This debarking, what is the procedure?”

Dr. Paula Kislak: “It’s a surgical procedure requiring general anesthesia. There’s two actual procedures one goes from the outside of the throat and one goes from the inside of the throat, but it’s the cutting of the vocal cords basically.”

- Dr. Paula Kislak, DVM, is president of the Association of Veterinarins for Animal Rights
- Rob Moore hosts Animal Voices, a radio show in Toronto Canada.
- This interview was done on February 28, 2006

Sled dogs are often stricken with intense bloody diarrhea during the Iditarod.

Sled dogs are often stricken with intense bloody diarrhea during the Iditarod.

Dogs behind front-runners have greater risk of getting sick

“‘Conventional wisdom has always been to draw a low number [for a starting position],” Hooley said. ‘The better the trail, less traffic from other dog teams, less congestion and less of an opportunity for teams to pick up bugs and viruses.’”

- Mushers with a low number start the race first
- Associated Press, Juneau Empire, June 27, 2004
- Stan Hooley is the executive director of the Iditarod

“Zack Steer, co-owner of Sheep Mountain Lodge near Eureka, isn’t so sure starting late is a good idea. After numerous teams pass over the trail, it can get rough.”

And dogs can leave behind germs that cause sickness in other dogs, Steer said.

“It’s happened a lot. You get all those teams from different parts of the country and different parts of the world, and it’s like the first day of school,” Steer said. “All those germs that (the dogs) haven’t been exposed to, they haven’t had a chance to build up immunity. They get the canine version of the flu.

- Ron Wilmot, Anchorage Daily News, March 6, 2005

Dogs become dehydrated

“He [Paul Gebhardt] reported dogs dehydrated and cramping on the trail between Rohn and Nikolai.”

- Alaska Dispatch, March 8, 2011

“The illness had worked into his [Victor Katongan] team, leaving the dogs dehydrated and needing rest.”

- Jones, Tim. The Last Great Race: The Iditarod, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

“[Heather] Siirtola said dehydration was a problem and that affected their stamina.”

- Brian Gehring, Bismarck Tribune, March 29, 2011

“Daytime temperatures crept above zero on Thursday, but were expected to plunge toward 40-below again overnight.

Such cold forces the dogs to burn more calories to stay warm and serves to dehydrate them with each breath of cold, dry air.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 10, 2006

“I was concerned about Dutchess and Karelan. Their diarrhea had not improved and I could tell they were not as healthy as at the start of the race. Although they drank as much as the other dogs they were becoming dehydrated.”

- Rachael Scdoris talking about her sick dogs
- Scdoris, Rachael and Steber, Rick. No End in Sight: My Life as a Blind Iditarod Racer, New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007

“‘I had some issues with dogs getting cramped up with dehydration,’ [Hugh] Neff said.”

- Kyle Hopkins, Iditarodblog, Anchorage Daily News, March 14, 2012

Dogs refuse to eat

Sick dogs refuse to eat:

“I guess my hiccup is how it seems like it’s always early in the race coming for a remote kennel here about three days into the race we get massively sick and then so I felt I was, you know I, I actually stopped at Ophir and then I stopped at Rainy and then I stopped again at Rohn, which was unplanned and then I stopped at Salmon River and I stopped at McGrath and I stopped at Ophir and then I camped again on the way to Iditarod just trying to keep my team together because they were just really throwing up, really sick.”

“It was hard to get them to eat, because they couldn’t keep anything down.”

- Musher Ed Iten talking about his dogs
- Interview with Steve Heimel, Alaska Public Radion Network, February 28, 2006

Dog who ate bootie won’t eat food:

“[John] Barron told Rose about a dog who’d eaten a bootie. ‘It just disappeared. He puked it up a day or two later, but he didn’t eat for a while.’”

- Jones, Tim. The Last Great Race: The Iditarod, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

Lance Mackey’s dogs refuse to eat:

“Mackey said he’s dropping the dogs because they aren’t eating well and they aren’t pulling well.”

- Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, March 8, 2011

“His [Lance Mackey] go-to sled dog, Maple, is in heat and driving the rest of the team bonkers.”

“His team dogs chewed at harnesses during stops and refused to snack, distracted by Maple.”

- Kyle Hopkins, Iditarodblog, Anchorage Daily News, March 9, 2012

Eric Roger’s dogs refuse to eat:

“I was having trouble getting enough calories down the dogs and some were getting very thin.”

- Eric Rogers, “A Rookies Journey – Race Synopis,” R North Bound Dogs 2006 website

Peter Bartlett’s dogs won’t eat:

“‘The dogs just wouldn’t eat,’ he said Friday. ‘They didn’t eat Sunday, Monday, Tuesday.’

[Peter] Bartlett couldn’t figure out why. Neither could veterinarians along the trail.

“‘My teams are usually great eaters,’ Bartlett said. ‘It’s really strange … because I’ve got a couple dogs that would never refuse to eat anything.’

Bartlett tried lamb. He tried turkey. He tried beef, raw fish, ground fish, liver, and every kind of commercial dog food or dog treat he could get his hands on.

It didn’t matter. Nobody in the team was eating.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 8, 2003

Dogs won’t eat or drink:

“‘They did not eat,’ Matray said. ‘They did not drink. It gradually got worse as time went on.’ Matray, like Bartlett, had never before had a problem getting his dogs to eat.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 8, 2003

“Cortez, a thin, blond trotter was out of gas. He wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t drink, and looked run down and tired.”

- Chapoton, C. Mark. A Tale of Two Iditarods, Big Lake: CMC, 2008

“In Anvik a race veterinarian asked him if he had any dogs who weren’t drinking or eating. ‘Yeah, I got a couple,’ [Joe] May said.”

- Jones, Tim. The Last Great Race: The Iditarod, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

Some of Robert Bundtzen’s dogs don’t want to eat:

“…Trying to get ‘em to eat the best I can. Most of ‘em are eating pretty well. Some of the most important dogs aren’t.”

- Iditarod musher Dr. Robert W. Bundtzen, MD, KTUU-TV website video, March 9, 2007

Darin Nelson’s dogs refused to eat:

“The dogs were not doing well, refused to eat and left [Darin] Nelson with no choice but to scratch.”

- Tamar Ben-Yosef, The Cordova Times, March 20, 2008

Aliy Zirkle’s dogs have no appetite:

“Aliy Zirkle, a former Quest winner who was 10th into Nikolai, said her dogs had lost their appetite in the warm weather.”

- Mary Pemberton, Associated Press, March 10, 2009

Aliy Zirkle’s 33-pound dog refuses to eat:

“Boondocks, Zirkle’s 33-pound veteran, slept in the middle of the line, ignoring her food.

‘She’s not even kind of interested in eating right now,’ Zirkle said.”

- Kyle Hopkins and Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News, March 11, 2013

Jessie Royer’s dogs refuse to eat:

“Some of the dogs were becoming sick and didn’t want to eat their food.”

- Jessie Royer, Jessie’s Sled Dog Page, website, 2001

Bruce Linton’s dog won’t eat:

“A small young 2 year old female she pulled hard all the way and made it so far, but she just wasn’t eating enough and she was getting thin.”

- Bruce Linton, Iditarod Journals, 2007

Jason Barron’s dogs won’t eat:

Laureli Kinneen: “So, what types of problems, what types of injuries have you been dealing with?”

Jason Barron: “It all kind of started back in the John Beargrease in Minnesota in the end of January I raced and I had a lot of nicks and cuts coming out of that race. And I kind of patched them up but they’re all breaking loose on this race. And then about the time I was just establishing a decent healthy core group around Cripple my remaining dogs were just ravaged by this sickness that came through– and don’t want to eat, and when they do eat they can’t really hold it down very well, so I mean I essentially had to pull all the plugs on my race plan.”

- Laureli Kinneen of KNOM radio interviewed Jason Barron on March 16, 2010 in Unalakleet.

Tom Thurston’s dogs stopped eating:

“[Tom] Thurston said his team of 16 dogs contracted a bug and stopped eating.”

- Joel Reichenberger, Steamboat Today, June 12, 2010

Tamara Rose’s dogs refused to eat:

“My second problem in Rohn was that the dogs were not eating. I tried a couple of different meal options (taking more time away from my rest), but nothing seemed to interest them.”

- Dr. Tamara Rose, DVM, her blog entry on June 5, 2011

Paul Gebhardt’s dog won’t eat:

“There had been shoulder injuries and sore wrists. One of the dogs wasn’t eating.”

- Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, March 8, 2011
- Mr. Hopkins is talking about Paul Gebhardt’s dogs.

Matt Failor’s dogs won’t eat:

“Rosey Fletcher, Kikkan Randall, Lindsey Vonn and Michael Phelps, the largest male in the litter born during the Olympics, also weren’t interested in morning snacks.”

“[Matt] Failor is introducing a team of puppies from the kennel of four-time Iditarod champion Martin Buser of Big Lake to the trail.”

- Jill Burke, Alaska Dispatch, March 6, 2012

Patty Friend’s dogs won’t eat:

“Patty Friend complained her whole team had stopped eating and many of the dogs had the diarrhea.”

- Jones, Tim. The Last Great Race: The Iditarod, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

Rick Mackey’s dogs won’t eat or drink:

“By the time Rick [Mackey] reached McGrath, his dogs were horribly ill. They picked up a virus and they wouldn’t eat or drink.”

- Mackey, Dick. One Second to Glory, Alaska: Epicenter Press, 2001.

Iditarod wants dogs weakened from sickness to keep racing

Steve Madsen’s dogs were weak from diarrhea and battling high winds:

“Some of the dogs had been sick with diarrhea and treated at a prior checkpoint. They showed little spark after that.

Battling the winds, Madsen could practically see their body fat melting off. Not only that, the sled hit a stump on the trail, forcing Madsen’s upper body onto the handles. An X-ray at a later checkpoint revealed a rib broken in several places.

Ruby was a convenient place to withdraw from the race because of regular air transport going in and out.

‘But,’ Madsen said, ‘a musher never makes a decision without first getting some sleep.’

So after two or three hours of sleep, some food and a pep talk from race officials, he felt he could go on.”

- Kay Richardson, The Columbian, April 16, 2006

This is a close-up of a foxtail barley seed. It’s most common for a foxtail seed to enter a dog’s body through the skin, nose, ears, paws, and eyes. Once foxtail barley seeds enter a dog's body they are like a barbed fishhook. These seeds are sometimes in the straw used to bed dogs during the Iditarod.

This is a close-up of a foxtail barley seed. It’s most common for a foxtail seed to enter a dog’s body through the skin, nose, ears, paws, and eyes. Once foxtail barley seeds enter a dog’s body they are like a barbed fishhook. These seeds are sometimes in the straw used to bed dogs during the Iditarod.

Harnesses encourage sick or injured dogs to pull

“Traditional harnesses attach to the leash with a clip on the back. These old-fashioned harnesses actually encourage dogs to pull — because a dog’s natural reflex is to pull against something that constrains it. (This is why sled dogs pull naturally in their harnesses.)”

- Deborah Wood, The Oregonian, June 12, 2007
- Deborah Wood is The Oregonian’s Pet Talk columnist and the author of 10 books.

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: Iditarod sled dogs wear traditional harnesses, which utilize their natural instinct pull, so effectively, that they often keep pulling even when sick or injured.]

“Dogs have what we call ‘opposition reflex,’ which means they pull against pressure.”

- Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, website article, 2007

Booties don't protect dogs' paws

Accumulated snow inside booties causes pain:

“I changed dog positions, switched out leaders, and was becoming frustrated when we finally noticed their protective booties were allowing snow to accumulate inside causing them pain.”

- Jim Warren is talking about his dogs’ paws.
- Warren, James and Warren, Christopher. Following My Father’s Dream, James and Christopher Warren, 2005

Ice crystal form on paws with booties:

“I pulled their booties and rubbed their sore muscles. They licked their feet dry nibbling on small ice that had formed around their guard hairs, and licked their paws clean.”

- Scdoris, Rachael and Steber, Rick. No End in Sight: My Life as a Blind Iditarod Racer, New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007

Did animal urine and feces contaminate dog food?

[From the Sled dog Action Coalition: After animals were in the dog food bags, no one tested the food to guarantee that it wasn't contaminated.]

“A former Iditarod musher, Anderson hadn’t been quite so jolly earlier in the day when he had to chase off a flock of ravens that tore into some drop bags. The all-volunteer Iditarod Air Force leaves the bags of food and extra gear at most of the 22 checkpoints along the 1,000-mile trail days before the race.

These were covered with blue tarps to keep wild animals out, but the ravens saw through the ploy.

‘(The tarp) was like a bull’s-eye for them,’ Anderson said. ‘Those ravens are pretty smart.’

The big, black crows on steroids were gathered along the lakeshore singing and dancing in celebration of what they’d found Monday morning, Anderson said. Between them and the foxes, about a dozen bags had been scavenged.

Four-time Iditarod champ Martin Buser of Big Lake pulled in and immediately knew he’d been hit.

‘Hello, hello!’ Buser said. ‘So my food was torn into, huh? Any word on Gatt’s stuff?’

Buser was referring to Hans Gatt, a three-time Yukon Quest champion who had only one drop bag waiting because the plane with his other bags was stuck in Willow due to poor visibility. When Gatt arrived, he discovered 20 percent of the supplies in his one bag had been stolen by either the rogue ravens or feisty foxes.”

- Kevin Klott, Anchorage Daily News, March 9, 2009

Straw used for bedding can be very dangerous for dogs

Foxtail is present at 9 of 14 Iditarod checkpoints from straw used to bed dogs:

“In Alaska, foxtail barley is known to have established at 9 of 14 checkpoints surveyed along the Iditarod Trail from straw used to bed sled dogs during the Iditarod.”

-Jeffery S. Conn, Casie A. Stockdale, Nancy R. Werdin-Pfisterer and Jenny C. Morgan. Characterizing Pathways of Invasive Plant Spread to Alaska: II. Propagules from Imported Hay and Straw. Invasive Plant Science and Management: September-November, 2010

Foxtail seeds can be found in straw for bedding dogs:

“Foxtails are grass seeds that are sometimes in the straw that we use for bedding.”

- Aliy Zirkle SP Kennel Dog Log, July 9, 2010

Foxtail seeds injure and may kill dogs:

“Foxtail barley is a perennial grass, commonly found in yards, fields, along roadsides, trails and in most canyon areas. They grow quickly during the rainy months, in almost any soil condition, and dry out during the warm summer months. Once foxtail grasses dry out, the seed detaches easily and sticks to clothing and fur. Foxtails can enter a dog’s body in a variety of ways and once they enter, they are like a barbed fishhook: The seed only wants to move forward, burrowing into the skin. It’s most common for a foxtail seed to enter a dog’s body through the skin, nose, ears, paws, and eyes. Foxtails are very tenacious, painful and dangerous to your pet.”

Foxtails in the ears, nose, and eyes are very serious and can ultimately be life-threatening if they are not treated promptly.”

“Foxtails burrow. The outsides of the ‘seedlings’ contain a bacterium with enzymes used to break down vegetation.This bacterium also allows the seedling to burrow into a dog along the tunnels of pus created by the enzyme.

A foxtail can literally go anywhere in the dog. For example, they have been found inside the brain, anal glands, eyes, ears, jowls, feet, spinal cord, lungs, and vagina.”

- Governor Animal Clinic website, 2010

“Foxtails can enter the dog’s body through any opening and can even be inhaled. Once inside the body, they can travel long distances along with the bacteria embedded with it. Because the foxtail won’t show up on an x-ray, it is hard to find, so surgical removal is not always successful.

Once embedded, the seed always moves forward. The seed head of a foxtail can burrow through the dog’s skin into his body. Foxtails also cause a problem when they get between the toes and burrow into the feet. Inside the body, they can travel long distances along with the bacteria embedded with it. Because the foxtail won’t show up on an x-ray, it is hard to find, so surgical removal is not always successful.”

- High Valley Veterinary Hospital website, 2010

Aliy Zirkle’s dog Nacho most likely injured by foxtail:

“I examined him closely and found a swelling on his cheek. I went and found a Veterinarian to take a closer look. There was no puncture mark or cut, only a swelling. She thought it looked fresh because it was soft and pliable. Maybe it was a foxtail. Foxtails are grass seeds that are sometimes in the straw that we use for bedding. They have a pointy tip and can get imbedded in skin. This causes an irritation and if you don’t catch it, an infection. She put him on some simple antibiotics and she told me to watch him closely.”

- Aliy Zirkle SP Kennel Dog Log, July 9, 2010

Dogs who eat snow can get terrible stomach aches, hypothermia

Iditarod dogs eat snow while running:

“Iditarod dogs can’t really stop in the middle of the race, so they eat snow on the run in order to hydrate themselves.”

- Go2Moon, Anchorage, AK, website, 2012
- Go2Moon has website photos of dogs eating snow while running in the Iditarod.

Dogs who eat snow may get a terrible stomach ache and hypothermia:

“Outdoor exercise and play can make any pet thirsty, but don’t let them lick or eat snow or ice. Ingesting snow can cause a terrible stomach ache.”

- Yolo Veterinary Clinic and Hosptial, Woodland, CA, website article, 2012

“Eating snow this can cause stomach upset and even hypothermia.”

- Jenna Stregowski, RVT, About.com Guide, 2012

Inhumane transport of dropped dogs

Dropped dogs are sick, injured or exhausted. The dogs on short choke chains could easily be choked by their collars or injured in other ways when there is turbulence. Dogs clipped together on a chain could easily be hurt when the pilot flips the plane on its side or upside down.

Short choke chain on each dog:

“[Danny] Seybert noted that PenAir had transported 120 dogs in the SAAB without boxes. he said he preferred to do it that way. He said he can carry hundreds of dogs safely with a short choke chain on each dog.”

- Iditarod Trail Committee, Inc. board of directors meeting minutes, May 5, 2012

Pilot flips airplane on its side or upside down:

“He opened the door on the passenger side of the airplane [Cessna185] and out tumbled seven dogs clipped together on a chain.”

“The jumble of dogs made me wonder what [Larry] Thompson did if the dogs got nervous in the airplane or started fighting.”

“‘Aw, I just flip it on its side or upside down. Jumbles ‘em up and scares ‘em and they stop real fast.”

- Jones, Tim. The Last Great Race: The Iditarod, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

“Piko limped coming out of White Mountain and ran out of gas on the ice.”

- The dog Piko belongs to Melissa Owens
- Fort Mills Times, March 14, 2008

“Vitus, my big wheel dog started limping….” “I pulled the hook at 10:30 at night and realized after about 10 miles that Vitus was limping again.”

- Bruce Linton, Diary of my Iditarod Journey 2008, website article, 2008

Dog head and brain injuries

Types of head injuries in dogs include skull fractures, concussions, seizures, brain bleeding and swelling and contusions.

Skull fracture: “The larger the skull fracture, the greater the likelihood of brain injury. However, the brain can be injured even if the skull is not broken.”

Concussion: “By definition, a concussion means the dog was knocked unconscious. With a mild concussion there is only a brief loss of consciousness, while with a severe concussion the dog may be unconscious for hours or even days. When she returns to consciousness, the dog exhibits the same signs as for a contusion. A severe concussion causes the death of millions of neurons. Recent information indicates that brain cell death does not cease within a few hours of the injury, but can continue for weeks or months.”

Seizure: “Seizures can occur at the time of injury or at any time thereafter.”

Brain swelling: “Since the brain is encased in a rigid skull, as the brain swells the cerebellum is slowly forced down through the large opening at the base of the skull. This squeezes and compresses the vital centers in the midbrain. Death occurs from cardiac and respiratory arrest.”

Blood clots: “Blood clots can form between the skull and the brain or within the brain itself.”

- pets.webmd.com, 2014

Jeff King wearing protective helmet through notorious Dalzell Gorge:

“[Jeff] King announced Tuesday via Facebook that he’d be donning a protective helmet this year as he makes his way through the notorious Dalzell Gorge area of the Iditarod Trail between the Rainy Pass and Rohn checkpoints of the sled dog race, set to start this weekend.”

- Anchorage Daily News, February 25, 2014

Jim Lanier wearing protective helmet:

“Jim Lanier/Iditarod Sled Dog Race: ‘It’s going to be real rough so I’m going to wear my hockey gear and this helmet and I had four joints injected with cortisone.’”

- WDAY Staff Reports, WDAZ-TV, March 2, 2014

Sled dogs at risk for getting knocked down

Iditarod sled dogs harnessed closest to the sled and the musher are at risk for getting knocked down.

Iditarod sled dogs harnessed closest to the sled and the musher are at risk for getting knocked down.

[Wheel dogs are those harnessed closest to the sled and the musher. These dogs are usually the largest and strongest on the team because they bear the greatest load in changing the direction of the sled.]

“But otherwise it’s just completely naked bald ice and rhythm on the ice except the wheel dogs are more prone to getting knocked down by the towline….”

- Jeff King, interview on KNOM radio, March 10, 2014

“She [Aliy Zirkle] says her sled tipped over multiple times.

‘And your wheel dogs get it worse because your sled goes all the way over and hits a snow berm and flips,’ she said.”

- Emily Schwing, KUAC, March 12, 2014

Deadly tularemia

During the Iditarod, mushers give their dogs beaver meat. Dogs who eat beavers infected with tularemaria can get the disease and may die from it.

Dogs given beavers to eat during the Iditarod:

North American beaver. During the Iditarod, mushers feed their dogs beaver meat. Dogs who eat beavers infected with tularemia can get sick and die.  Photo attributed to stevehdc on flickr.

North American beaver. During the Iditarod, mushers feed their dogs beaver meat. Dogs who eat beavers infected with tularemia can get sick and die. Photo attributed to stevehdc on flickr.

“Most often the snacks are frozen fish (salmon & smelt) or frozen meat (beaver, mink, venison or other ground game). These frozen snacks are a source of both calories and water. Snacking depends on the weather, the colder it is the more snacks the dogs receive.”  

- Iditarod website, 2014

Beavers have tularemia disease:

“The second cycle [of tularemia disease] occurs in water. Beaver and muskrats are the primary hosts.”

- Alaska Department of Fish and Game, website, 2014

Dogs can get tularemia from eating infected beavers:

“Infection is often caused by ingestion of an infected mammals’ tissue.”

- Petmd.com, 2014

Tularemia can kill dogs:

“Dogs and cats can die from tularemia.”

- Alaska Department of Fish and Game, website, 2014