• Exercise;
  • Gastritis;
  • Gastroscopy;
  • Stress;
  • Ulcers.

Human and equine athletes are reported to have a high prevalence of gastric disease, and anecdotal evidence suggests a similar phenomenon applies to racing sled dogs. To investigate the prevalence of gastric disease in racing sled dogs, we conducted 2 gastroscopy studies on dogs competing in the annual Iditarod Sled Dog Race. 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. These findings suggest that, similar to athletes of other species, elite canine athletes have an increased prevalence of gastric disease compared to the canine population at large.