Sled Dog Medicine
The orthopedic exam
• Need to know normal so you can tell abnormal.
• Lots of practice as you have an opportunity every
time you take a harness off.
• Same way each time or you will miss something.
Start at the toes and work up.
• Guy in the sky gave them 2 of everything so we
can compare to a neighbor to see if it is a real
• Watch the dog run and you know what the
normal appearance should be.
• Range of motion.
• Reaction from the dog; wince, stops
breathing, turns head, makes a noise, bites
Ortho exam cont’d
• Observe a moving dog from the front, the side
or behind and they will show the same signs
• When a dog is painful it moves away from the
– Head up on a front leg lameness.
– Head down on a rear leg lameness
• Dogs come into a checkpoint lame and leave a
• If in doubt, leave ‘em out.
• Remember the feet.
• Remember they have them and require
attention. Need to know normal or you don’t
understand the progression of splits, swelling
and other issues.
• Use a headlamp-the best way to see a foot.
• Can definitely make a dog limp.
• Splits-medicating them depends on the
severity of the split.
• Booties help and can hinder.
• Progression of splits
– White lines- can intercept still with algyval.
– Small splits-still can make a difference with
stopping with correct attention.
5 mm length or better need more work. Ointments
and booties plus antibiotics. These can be treated
and fixed during a race.
• Medications for feet;
– Ointments(salves such as Corona ointment, zinc
oxide, thuja, betadine/povidone, etc.)
– Antibiotics-clindamycin, cephalexin
– Combos of ointments best if non water soluble or
– Clean the brown crud off the edges of splits or
they just don’t get better.
– No feet, no dog.
• How to detect them; decreased range in
motion, swelling and heat.
• Painful on removing a bootie, putting one on.
– Massage, extension w/manipulation, liniment and
• Wrist wraps, algyval, oils.
• Anti inflammatory medicine if not racing
• Many can continue in the race if caught early
and treatment implemented along with
adequate checkpoint rest.
• Time off or training usually 10-14 days.
• Detect them the same as other orthopedic
injuries-decreased range of motion, heat, pain
• Head bob up.
• Place dog on line with injury to the inside.
– Heat, massage and liniment during competition.
– Shoulder jackets with pockets for heat packs.
– Anti inflammatory medicines if removed from race
– Rest-3 weeks for most.
• Range of motion with the neck. Nose should
be pretty close to touching the shoulder with
a very limber husky.
• Painful, heat, decreased range of motion,
Rear limb injuries
• Start at the foot and work up. Always be
consistent or you will miss something
– Toes. Nails, foot pads, tendons behind foot and tarsus,
sesamoids, tibia, knee, muscles of thigh (front and
– Isolate the injury. Find the “chestnut” swelling in the
muscle with easy pinpoint finger pressure. Don’t use
too much pressure. A light touch often tells more
than lots of force on exam. Finger, pencil eraser.
– Remember to look for rubs. Boy stuff in the groin,
harness rubs in the armpit for both genders.
Rear limb injuries
• Muscle injuries respond well to massage but
you must do massage on a regular basis. Once
or twice daily.
• Rest-2-3 weeks.
Sled dog myopathy
• Muscle injury that leads to muscle cells releasing
large amounts of myoglobin.
• Happens in the first 200 miles of a race most
• Dogs may urinate dark brown to red.
• Dogs will look hunched up or walk/run like a rat.
Can be mistaken as an orthopedic injury.
• Can result in sudden death.
• Dog needs to be dropped ASAP, possible fluids
Sled dog myopathy
• Could be related to dog housed in cramped
setting for long period of time, high fat meal
and then a lot of exercise.
• Monday morning disease in horses.
• Breakdown of muscle tissue that leads to
myoglobinura. Red or brown urine.
• Dog is dropped and needs attention.
• Can be very painful in every muscle group to
one group or no muscles showing pain. These
are the ones to worry about
• Can be painful in the back
• Acute form can be fatal, sub acute affects
performance-a short stride.
• Dogs will be panting so furiously you think you
can see their tail through their mouth.
• Body temperature over 104, usually over 106
• Cooling with water, snow, alcohol on the foot
pads until temperature is 103 or less.
• Dogs go off food, eat little.
• May stand over their dish and not do much.
• Vomiting but not always. Not always blood in
• Dark, black stools.
• Prilosec 20 mg daily as preventative and
• Respiratory sounds.
• High temperature, often sudden onset from
one checkpoint to the next.
• Male parts.
• Recently nursing mothers.
• Treatment is covering the exposed part with
fur. Antibiotics, cream.
• Prevention is the cure.
• Soft stool versus explosive stuff.
• Appetite or no appetite.
• Blood present.
• Weight loss.
• Treatment depends on severity;
– Has an appetite and no fever- may do fiber in
food, look hard at nutrition and duration of
• Chronic issue- rule out parasites, nutrition needs
• Acute issue-spoiled food, stress.
• Diarrhea with no appetite;
– Evaluate for duration, fever and if vommiting
• May start medicines at this point such as
metronidazole, anti diarrheals like loperamide.
– Remember that medicines can affect appetite.
• Many cases of diarrhea are treated too
aggressively. Look at diet, training level,
stresses and see if adjustments there can be
• Pressure and cold stops bleeding.
– Have what you need in your sled and anticipate
bad stuff happening.
– Bleeding can lead to death. Diarrhea usually