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Background on the Veterinary Team at a Dog Sled Race

There are many parts of a sled dog race. The vet crew is just one of those parts. Our team is made up of veterinarians, technicians and vet students. Many of the team have worked this race since the beginning and have encouraged more to become involved. We appreciate the hard work of the board and all the other volunteers that make this event so successful and popular.

The Vet Team’s main goal is to help keep all the dogs in the teams on the trail from start to finish. These animals are first class athletes! We start our event with the Pre-Race Vet Check. This allows us to be sure we are starting the race with healthy animals. This gives us a baseline to compare the information we get along the trail at the checkpoints. The CD150 has 2 steps along the way. At the first checkpoint, we make ourselves available for checking the dogs if there are any concerns before they restart for the second leg of the race. But it Is not mandatory. The second checkpoint is a mandatory vet check where all the dogs are checked before leaving for the finish. The CD80 has just one checkpoint between their 2 legs. This is a mandatory vet check before they start their trip to the finish.

Sometimes dogs are “dropped” from the race because of injury, fatigue or planning such as a newer dog only running part of the race as a training choice. We have medical supplies to help animals with soreness of joints, abdominal problems, or other issues. We can help with minor surgeries such as suturing a laceration. Some dogs will become dehydrated and need fluid treatment to prevent problems becoming more serious. When treated early, we return the dog to normal far more quickly and they can be ready to run again in another race. Once a dog has been treated with fluids or medications, they cannot continue in the race.

Another job is to keep the rules of the race and the ISDVMA ( International Sled Dog Veterinary Association) in good standing. We are advocates for the dogs and need to be sure that they are being taken care of according to the recommendations of the professionals. Again, we feel our role in this event is to keep the dogs happy, healthy and on the trail!

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