Deworming sled dogs months before the Ivakkak race is a standard of care. The presence of internal parasite in dogs is not only a reality in Nordic sled dogs but also in our domestic dogs down south. However, dogs in northern communities are expected to harbor higher levels of parasites based on their lifestyle since they are fed or supplemented with harvested country food such as fish. Animals can also ingest parasites eggs through a contaminated environment or water source, through consumption of small mammals as well as from the mother during pregnancy. Puppies are most vulnerable to parasites and many of them are born infected.
Internal parasites affect the animal because they steel his food thus his energy. They may even cause important consequences such as blood loss, vomiting, cramp and diarrhea. Hence, depending on the age of your dog, the type of food he eats and the environment in which he lives, a deworming protocol is essential to maintain your animal healthy or at the least, to keep him with the lowest parasite burden possible.
Deworming the sled dogs prior to the race is essential because it will allow the dogs to develop and maintain an optimal muscle mass during training and, they will have time to stock sufficient energy reserves to draw from during long-distance races.
It’s also key to remember that some parasites found in dogs are of public health importance since they can be transmitted to humans. That’s why you should (ideally) never let a dog or a cat lick your face, nor let him put his tongue in your mouth (yuk!). You can put gloves if you are cleaning out his poop or the litter box but at the least, wash your hands afterwards.