Can Sled Dogs Benefit From Treadmill Access?

Let’s be honest : when the average person thinks of a sled dog, they are imagining a god among dogs. They’re imagining a dog that defies all odds, a dog that is a well-oiled machine, and one that runs through the dreams of young Alaskan kids. With the Iditarod in the back of every sled dog owner’s mind, competitive sled dogs are treated differently and trained throughout their lives. Even in Alaska, where it seemingly is always cold, only the highest northern parts get snow year round, making actual sledding hard to come by for dogs and their owners. Therefore, it would only be natural to assume that a dog treadmill might come in handy for sled dog owners in the months when snow is sparse.

The Diet of a Sled Dog

The diet of a sled dog is crucial to the dog’s achievement in the race. However, this diet is also quite high in calories (for good reason). Iditarod officials estimate that the highest number of calories that the average race dog burns at the most strenuous part of the race is 10,000 calories — beating out the average human by about 8,000 calories. This means that in order for a sled dog to remain healthy during this extreme physical feat, they must be eating more than the calories they are expending. This means Iditarod dogs are eating more than 10,000 calories a day to stay healthy.

However, no dog can safely eat 10,000 in one go, despite how cold it is and how hard they are working.The diet of a competitive sled dog requires lots of exercise and lots of meal times. One might consider cutting back on the sled dog’s diet during non-race time, but even safely cutting back would still put the sled dog well above the average caloric intake for a dog. Therefore, strenuous off-season training is a must in order to keep the dog in shape for the race and to allow the dog to burn off its caloric intake. 

The Benefits of a Dog Treadmill

Although it may seem like a costly investment, a treadmill is crucial to maintaining a sled dog’s health and well being during off-season. While a dog certainly can get exercise by being outside, the sled dog will need to have its weight and activities closely monitored. Like human indoor exercise machines, these will allow for sled dog owners to set aside a controlled workout for their dog — guaranteeing a happy and healthy dog when sled race season comes around.