As the heat drags on in the southwestern United States, I cannot stop dreaming about sledding through the snow. So I checked out the trusty American Physiological Society press releases to see what the animals might be doing in cold environments that I can only dream about these days.
In my search I watched a really neat video of Dr. Michael Davis (Center for Veterinary Health Sciences at Oklahoma State University) who works on perhaps one of the “coolest” animals (pun completely intended): sled dogs! Oh, how I envy these animals. Racing sled dogs are incredible athletes as they traverse the world’s longest Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race every March. The trek is daunting as they run from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska in only 9 days. In case you are wondering, that is 1,100 miles! Considering the blizzards, low temperatures (lows of -40°F), and high winds up to 60 mph, this feat is nothing short of amazing. I, of course, have no ambitions of being that amazing, I just long to make snow angels and watch them race.
Here is what Dr. Davis has discovered about these athletes:
-These sled racing dogs have an incredible ability to quickly adapt to sustained endurance exercised in as little as 24-48 hours. These conditioned dogs develop depleted energy reserves, cellular injury and oxidative stress expected with strenuous exercise. However, unlike humans, if they keep training for four days, their metabolic profile returns to what is was before training. I suddenly feel really lazy.
-These dogs roughly double their aerobic capacities when fully conditioned to support the exercise.
-During races, these sled dogs burn A LOT of calories (up to 12,000 kilocalories per day (kcal/day)). The press release equates that to “a 55-pound sled dog will consume the equivalent of 24 McDonald’s Big Macs to fuel their run on any given day.” To sustain this, they ingest high fat diets which are converted to energy by their livers.
The video of Dr. Davis can be viewed here.
Visit The American Physiological Society to read the full Press Release.