Having just returned from Austria last week where I had
been ski-ing in temperatures as low as -20 C it had become
very apparent of the importance of good nutrition. If you
consider that over half the calories we burn are used to
maintain our body temperature you will appreciate why I
felt totally justified in gorging each day.........simply
to keep warm!
The importance of good nutrition was no more apparent than
when I had the privilege of watching the husky sledge races
in Sports Gastein. Keeping warm is one thing but having
the additional energy to pull a sledge around a snow track
For this reason these performance athletes are fed on very
high energy dense diets. These are in the form of dried
food which are compacted with oils and fats. Despite the
huge calorie intake every single husky I examined remained
lean and muscular illustrating the high energy output required
by these very beautiful creatures.
Their enthusiasm, energy and effervescence prior to the
race switched to a finely honed canter once the race began.
The number of torn ears also illustrated the way that most
disputes are settled in this "pack atmosphere".
The wide availability of high energy diets has meant that
working animals, puppies and lactating bitches can now perform
and develop at a very high level. What is sometimes difficult
to gauge is what is required for the pet dog who has given
up puling sledges as a bad job!
Since maintaining body temperature is not too difficult
in the relative balmy climate of Hinckley and there are
few sledges around, the calorie intake requirement is considerably
reduced. This means that if you are using a dried energy
dense diet it is astonishing how little you need to feed
to maintain your pets energy levels.
As has recently been pointed out to me on my return from
near Arctic conditions, it is clear that my input has been
exceeding my output!
Husky racing is very active in the UK - though the lack
of snow means that the "sleds" have wheels. See
the web site for the Siberian
Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS
to "Interesting Cases"
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