Carb Loading Is Wrong

Murray, UT (4/03/11) – Fasting has long been associated with religious rituals, diets, and political protests. Now new evidence from cardiac researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute demonstrates that routine periodic fasting is also good for your health, and your heart.

Today, research cardiologists at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute are reporting that fasting not only lowers one’s risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes, but also causes significant changes in a person’s blood cholesterol levels. Both diabetes and elevated cholesterol are known risk factors for coronary heart disease.

This recent study also confirmed earlier findings about the effects of fasting on human growth hormone (HGH), a metabolic protein. HGH works to protect lean muscle and metabolic balance, a response triggered and accelerated by fasting. During the 24-hour fasting periods, HGH increased an average of 1,300 percent in women, and nearly 2,000 percent in men.
Another study related to Growth Hormone:
If you train in an oxygen-deprived gym you grow faster. Researchers at the Japan Institute of Sports Sciences believe this is because your body makes more growth hormone under these conditions.
See later posts about the collateral and fundamental issues related to fasting, caloric restriction and hypoglycemia.

Fear, Loathing, And Regulations On The Alpirod Trail


On a cold winter morning with sparkling snow on the ground and crisp anticipation in the air along with the sound and smell of diesel exhaust, I often think of the Alpirod experience. Strange that diesel exhaust still gives me a happy feeling in those conditions. These are mostly pleasant memories of good company and new friends, challenging trails, superb food and entertainment at the official dinners and the frequent open air lunches, excellent organization and publicity, and satisfaction with the dogs’ ability to adapt well to all the conditions so different in Europe from their training in North America. The Alpirod race held each winter from 1988 through 1995 in the Alps of Italy, France, Switzerland and Austria was a magnificent experiment in promoting sled dog sports. Many people in Europe were first exposed to mushing through the publicity that Alpirod generated. Many mushers in Europe entered the sport as a result and others saw the race as a healthy challenge to their progress and ambition in sled dog racing. When it all ended abruptly the failure was not as much the fault of the mushers or the organizers, but of global and regional financial circumstances much bigger than the race and the sport could withstand. (Paribas, the owner of Royal Canin which in turn owned the race at that time, was implicated in mismanagement and misconduct that threatened the French economy.) Still there are many lessons to be learned from this experience.

When Alpirod veterans meet as we do frequently throughout the world, we remember the excitement and satisfaction of being on stage and performing in a worthy event, as well as all the small pleasures during the race that are part of bringing all the elements together correctly as they should and are intended to be. Training, nutrition, friendship, cooperation, and competition must combine and be integrated in the participation and organization of any successful race.

We also remember the dark side. Sleepless nights. Hunger. Total exhaustion. Driving across Italy for 10 hours to arrive at the next race site too late for any dinner. Going off the trail in the dark, or even out of control in daylight to end up with a team tangled in a church parking lot, or running across the railroad tracks and down the main highway into automobile traffic, or crashing into a post or tree and losing a team. Going off cliffs and through fences, and down hills resembling ski jump in-runs. Hooking up too many dogs for our own safety because the race rules required that all dogs be used at the beginning stages and once dropped for any reason they could not compete in subsequent stages. These rules were changed ultimately after much debate and disagreement to allow dogs to be dropped temporarily and reentered when their health and the trail conditions allowed, but the disappointment many mushers experienced when they abandoned the race because of injuries or illness among their dogs is not forgotten, especially when the solution was obvious in retrospect (and to many of us, from the beginning.) Stress is inevitable and it is relative, but that does not mean the rules and circumstances that contribute to it are negligible or acceptable in an event that intends to promote itself to the public. The distance and difficulty of a race is not something that can or should be proven to the public by showing them the consequences in the form of tired, injured and sick dogs. The public and spectators are much more favorably impressed by strong and happy dogs, they don’t judge or see the difference between 2 and 3 hour runs except in the negative effects.

This is the most important lesson: that all the participants and interests must be considered and reconciled to have a successful event. Mushers are only as good as their teams and the critical factor is to know and understanding each member’s capabilities. The same is true for races. What are the definitions and purposes intended for any particular sled dog race? Some races are obviously held only for the competitors’ interests. Others apparently attempt principally or exclusively to satisfy the owners, organizers, or sponsors of the race. Any race that aspires to public success and recognition must consider all the interests involved and try to find the best compromise to the conflicts that exist. Those of us who survived Alpirod to remember the good experience are tough mushers, men and women. We have been there and done that. We will not deny or forget or apologize for what this important race meant to all of us. We do not despair for its loss but we also hope not to repeat the same mistakes again when we can avoid them.

This was written a few years back, but sorry to say there are many races that make the same mistakes and even the self-styled dog friendly events don’t get it either.

It reminds me of a conversation at Pirena race ten years ago. Monique Bene became the race marshal after Dick Mackey had a health crisis. I was one of the competitors, Monique the RM. We were standing out among the dogs at the race finish arguing amiably about one  of the Pirena rules which seemed to be counterproductive to the dogs interests and to the sport’s image. I don’t recall the rule but typically the offensive regulation would penalize a musher for doing something he or she would reasonably do for the dog team’s welfare or best interest. A musher should not be put in the position to chose between following the rules and caring for his dogs. Like… what help is allowed to recover a dog that for whatever reason gets loose from your team during a race.

Pep Pares came by. “Are you two still talking about that after half an hour?”

“What do you think? We have been talking about this subject for at least fifteen years!”

It is ironic that the Alpirod rules established an appeals committee that could overrule the RM and judges. This would have helped avoid many unfortunate results and given a better reality check on arbitrary or ultimately harmful rules. But I was not aware of the rule until carefully reading the regulations 5 years later, too late to help Joe Runyan when he was disqualified for assistance from race personnel to recover a loose dog. That particular accident happened in a dangerous spot where there was a metal stake in the middle of the trail, and Joe was one of many mushers who damaged their sleds or injured dogs. It was the RM himself gave Joe a ride on the snowmobile and then after the race disqualified him.

She Won Three Years In A Row, So They Cancelled It (George Attla Meets King Kong)

Looking for the exact wording “every dog team must jump the same” reminded me of these other scenes from the movie Spirit of the Wind:


Characters: Mother, Father, George, Sister, Brother.


M George, come sit. I cook beaver for you.

F Yes, your favorite.

G Got a new radio, eh?

F Your Mom won that in the rifle shooting contest.

G Mom won a shooting contest?

F Yeah, she won it all three years they had it. So this year they’re not going to have one.

F Boy, that looks good. Give me your plate, George. Isn’t that good?

G Gee thanks, but ain’t that an awful lot? There won’t be enough for the rest of you.

F What are you talking about? I remember the time you used to eat a whole beavertail by yourself.

G It’s been a long time. I think that plane ride must have been too rough. Must have got to my stomach. I don’t feel too hungry.

F Well, you’ve got to have a lot of good food to get strong. Pass your plate, Robert.

S George, what was it like where you lived?

B Did you have many friends?

G Yeah, I had a lot of friends. It was OK. I had my own bed and place. And for a while I shared a room with my friend Isaac. He’s an Eskimo from down Qigiguk, downriver. We rode in cars, I even drove one once. We had movies, too. We had one every week. And the last one we saw was about this giant gorilla that got this girl and climbed the tallest building in the world. And the planes came and they shot at it. It was really good. Yeah, and I even went bowling once. They have this ball and they roll it, and they got to knock ‘em all down, you know. I never went bowling before, and the lady gave me the ball and said knock them pins down over there. So, I said OK, you know, and then I took that old ball and hoisted it on my shoulder. She started yelling at me and I threw it. She said whoa, whoa, whoa! That’s not the way you bowl! Never did go bowling again.

M What’s a gorilla?


F I thought you were getting ready to go caribou hunting?

G Yeah I was but this is the World Series.

F Series of what?

G Baseball

F What is baseball?

G Well, there’s a pitcher, he has a ball, and he throws as hard as he can at a batter so the batter can’t hit it. And the batter has a wooden bat about that long and he tries to hit the ball as hard as he can so the fielders can’t get it. And the fielders, they get the ball and throw it to the player which is on a base where the batter is running. And they try to get it there before he gets there to get him out.

F Is this game widely played by the whites?

G Yeah, it’s played all over the country. Right now there’s probably fifty million people listening to this game. They get a lot of money for playing this game.

F For hitting a small ball with a wooden club?

G Unh.

F And it seems more important listening to this jabber box telling about white people than to go caribou hunting?

G This is the Yankees and the Dodgers!

Mushers And Mashers On The Frontier, 1858

Henry Youle Hind, Narrative of the Assiniboine and Saskatchewan Exploring Expedition of 1858


From the hour it was known in Selkirk Settlement that the two parties would probably start nearly at the same time, and great feeling existing among the half-breeds respecting their endurance and the ease and speed with which their dogs could accomplish a long journey, a warm spirit of emulation arose between the men attached to each party, which rapidly communicated itself to their wives and friends. Cline told me he had heard confidentially that Monkman’s plan was to give us the start for two days, and then, taking advantage of the road we should make through the untrodden wilderness, pass us triumphantly a day or two before we arrived at Crow Wing. It gradually became evident that the idea of a race from Fort Garry to Crow Wing communicated itself to the gentlemen of both parties, and indeed stimulated more or less all who were to make the jonrney.


The narrative continues with many details of the trip, dog driving, equipment, feeding and the settlements they passed through until…

Starting several hours in advance of Monkman, we arrived early in the afternoon at the Indian agency and village on the south shore of Leech Lake, and were very cordially received by the agent. The other travelers came up with us before nightfall, and the half-breeds of the united parties decided upon having a dance. Fiddles were soon procured, a capacious store was cleared of goods and packages, and the female population of the agency and village, which included some very passable half-breed girls and ” wives,” having promptly assembled, a series of lively dances commenced, which were kept up until midnight. In the absence of whisky, that curse of savage and half-civilized life, strict propriety of demeanour was maintained throughout, although there was no lack of merriment, joke, and song. The scene was rendered more striking and characteristic of the wild life of these remote woods, by the presence of some Indians who were attracted from a neighbouring camp by the unusual sounds of music and dancing.

(*The exception above proving what was otherwise the rule for the Metis mushers.)

My cariole led the way, the others of my party following close in the rear. Some forty minutes after we had started, the dogs being thoroughly warm at their work, we heard a yelp far behind us. Cline whispered to me, ” Monkman’s passing’ them ;” and during each succeeding five minutes yelp after yelp announced that the other trains were being passed, until in little more than an hour from our start I heard Monkman’s wellknown voice close behind me. Without speaking a word he and the cariole he was driving passed mine. A thrill of excitement ran through me when I felt the warm breath of his powerful dogs beat upon my face, as the noble creatures swiftly trotted past. Neither dogs nor men, nor the muffled-up inmates of the carioles made any sign. One after the other Mr. Seymour, Lord Cavendish, and Mr. Ashley, flitted noiselessly by. Cline whispered again, “They’ll make a good road, my dogs will not be far behind.” It is impossible to describe the feelings which this rapid, silent, gliding through those vast pine forests inspired. Morning dawned slowly, but the gloom of the forest seemed to grow more intense as I occasionally caught glimpses of the brightening sky above. The sun rose without a cloud, gilding the tops of tall trees with an indescribable lustre, beautifully reflected by the snow wherever the golden light penetrated. After a run of twenty-six miles Cline came up with Monkman a few minutes after he had stopped for dinner. Mr. Dickinson followed close behind me, and in another hour both parties were together again. The next run was to bring us to Crow Wing, between nineteen and twenty miles distant. Starting in the order in which we arrived at the camping ground, we hurried at a rapid gallop down the Mississippi slope; and here the race began in earnest. The road was in excellent condition, the day bright and cold, the dogs eager and hungry, and the men and travelers in good condition and in excellent spirits. After a splendid gallop of twenty miles we entered Crow Wing in the following order and close together :—Lord Cavendish first, Mr. Seymour second, Mr. Hind third, Hon. Mr. Ashley fourth, Mr. Dickinson fifth, Mr. Fleming sixth, the rest nowhere.

Page 117 Indian Wealth-The Dog

Next to the horse, the dog is the Prairie Indian’s most valuable friend. The dog is the great stand-by of the squaws, who have to attend to all the duties of the camp, the men employing themselves solely in hunting and fighting. The dogs drag on poles the camp furniture, the provisions, the little children, and all the valuables of the family. It is a very amusing sight to witness several hundred dogs solemnly engaged in moving a large camp. They look wistfully at passers-by, and take advantage of the least want of attention on the part of their mistresses to lie down, or snarl and snap at their companions in the work. They nevertheless obey the word of command with alacrity and willingness if not fatigued.The midnight howl of three or four hundred dogs is an awful and appalling sound. It rises suddenly from a low prolonged whine to a deep melancholy howl, caught up again and again to the distraction of tired travelers anxious to take rest in sleep. When any great event takes place, a dog feast is proclaimed, and it is sufficiently disgusting to see the men handle and feel the unfortunate animals as if they were sheep, with a view to select the fattest, so powerful are early habits and associations in directing our feelings and tastes. Although some of the Indian dogs we saw among the Crees of the Sandy Hills are large and ferocious looking animals, we never found them vicious or inclined to attack us ; they were always deterred from approaching by the sight of a stick or a feint at picking up a stone.

Rolette pastel

Joe Rolette, Jr

The Gonzo King Of Sled Dog Nutrition

Hunter S. (Dr. Duke) Thompson created the field and the label, Gonzo Journalism, with his over-the-top, in-your-face writing and performances initially covering sports events then carrying the same style to politics and everything else that grabbed his attention or that Rolling Stone would pay him to cover. A key feature of Gonzo Journalism was Thompson himself who became part of each story. In many later writings his own or a somewhat alter ego Dr. Duke personae were the entire story.

News to me: Gonzo comes from the Boston Irish term for the last man standing after a session of drinking and brawling. A good reason to apply the term to mushers, since Quesnel, B.C. musher historian Jeff Dinsdale claims the word musher derives from masher, not from the French marche, due to dog mushers’ similar behavior, dancing, drinking and brawling. (See the next post, Mushers And Mashers On The Frontier, 1858.)

Back on track, my first and only nomination for the title is David Kronfeld the Australian born veterinary nutritionist who  allegedly counseled his graduate students never to approach a lecture stage or podium for an important presentation without adequate alcoholic preparation.

When Dunlap and Bright approached him with or without alcoholic preparation in the mid 1970s for advice how to restore their dogs which had crashed on carbohydrate loading, Kronfeld saw the opportunity for research funding and subsequently solved the problem, at least in theory. Kronfeld also went on to become a proponent of zero carbohydrate diet for performance working dogs long before the trend caught on for humans with the Atkins, Paleo, and similar low carb diets.

The only defect in Kronfeld’s ideal diet plan applied to sled dogs was that in a commercial dog food without carbs, the usual cereal ingredients are omitted along with the collateral fiber that is needed for GI and immune function. Other than that, from the species-typical Evolutionary diet perspective it rates a no-brainer, DUH!

The sorry fact is that in the 1970s not many mushers were thinking in species-typical diet terms for improved sled dog performance other than the “backward” mushers in villages in Alaska and Canada who knew dog food, fed more or less what had been fed to sled dogs for hundreds of years, but did not use scientific terminology. The new breed of Iditarod mushers who knew what worked and what did not had also caught on. Kronfeld deserves credit for going against the conformist complacency of nutritionists who presumed that then-current commercial products had to be better than primitive prehistoric habits.

Kronfeld’s other contribution to sled dog nutrition was the practical “home cooking” approach. He advocated a system of balancing a homemade diet composed of available staples such as meat and cereals with a short list of what he called in an article in the November 1981  American Kennel Club Gazette “A Supple Supplement For All Staples.”

“Meat is the staple on which dogs evolved.

Grain became a staple for horses, cattle and dogs about 100 years ago.

In practice we have two staples, grain for economy and meat for performance. I have recommended repeatedly that we should  use mixtures that vary in proportions of grain and meat according to desired levels of economy and performance.

This was genius at work, or the closest I’ll ever come to it.

Eureka! To hell with grams, ounces and calories. Bring on the standard 8 fluid ounce breakfast cup.

So I formulated a single supple-pack consisting of the following:


bone meal

corn oil

iodized salt

Meanwhile, don’t ask me to recommend a good book on canine nutrition.”

-Quoted from David Kronfeld’s article.

Kronfeld was off on essential fatty acids especially omega-3 and on dietary fiber but his method is a good template or heuristic.

The National Academy of Sciences 1968 Nutrient Requirements of Mink and Foxes shows a similar practical home cooking approach. Tables 6 and 7 can be used to help design a diet based on staples and supplements as Kronfeld proposed. The general principles outlined page 3 in the 1968 edition refer to “unidentified required nutrients” that can be provided by including feed ingredients such as liver, alfalfa meal, yeast, wheat germ… Such a vague and modest concept was useful but beneath the dignity and self-importance of modern nutrition. With epigenetics and microbiome effects on animals and people known to confound simplifications they should be even more cautious and less sure of themselves

In the following link click preview then scroll down to the those two tables:

The original Iams Eukanuba was based on dry mink food. Dogs were fed dry processed foods long before any successful commercially viable diet was developed and formulated for mink. The nutritional requirements and performance standards in fur quality for mink diets were elusive for a long time.

Cats are another animal with more stringent nutritional requirements.




Every Dog Team Must Jump The Same, George

Early in the movie, Spirit of the Wind, George Attla Sr. points out two dogs in the trapline team and comments in those same words to young George.
What does it mean?  Multiple choice test, check it out!
A. All sled dogs in all dog teams must have the same frequency or rpms when running
B. All the dogs in a given team must be trotting or loping or pacing but not mixed in the same team
C. All the dogs in a particular team must be jumping the same distance which means they must be jumping at the same frequency
D. All the dogs in a team are jumping or kicking simultaneously like the chorus line in a Broadway musical
In a book about human running and training for racing, Jack Daniels describes his eye-opening experiment during an Olympic Games. He and his wife timed the runners’ footfall frequency for various running events. They found that the best performers had the higher rpms, about 90 or more. (In bicycle racing high RPM is also associated with best performance.) In the book, Jack Daniel’s Running Formula he develops other useful models for predicting race results based on heart rate, times over trial distances and other indices or proxies for success in running. For world class human runners this corresponds partially to answer A above.
Dogs’ leg frequency when running free and when pulling are not necessarily the same for an individual dog and certainly not identical for all dogs.  Each dog is bouncing against or on the tugline. If you drag something or pull against a load on wheels, you lean into the line and start walking but you have to time or coordinate your steps and the angle you are leaning with the bounce of the pulling line. So you can appreciate the importance of these same factors to a sled dog.
It is evident that the harness and gangline affect a sled dog’s gait when you let a dog run free on a packed snow surface or bare ground after that dog has been pulling a sled. This is especially noticeable for dogs that are loping and not so important for trotting. The dog does not extend as far forward as would normally running free or in the team, as if running on slippery ice. The free running dog takes time to adjust to the change, the absent tugline and sled to pull against. In the team the dog relies on the harness and gangline to pull against, stopping the forward momentum at the moment the front feet are hitting the ground. And that is the moment when the most energy is transferred to pull the sled, to some degree this is energy that would be lost to ground reaction forces otherwise.
How can the system transmitting the pulling forces generated by the dog to the load be most efficiently and effectively coupled with the dog’s body resonant frequency?
The appropriate/corresponding body oscillation/resonant frequency for a dog trotting vs. loping may be approximately doubled for trotting. (Although this may not be significant in harness and gangline design)
The simplest practical way to address the problem of coupling is to use a cable gangline to isolate the dogs from each other. The elasticity in a poly plastic hollow braid centerline is probably too great to be efficient at the dogs’ resonant frequency and actual mechanics of pulling, but the resonance of the lines bouncing up and down are also in play…
Static deflection d is the distance an isolator or coupling spring will deflect under the static or dead weight of the equipment
d=g/(2*pi*f)^2     using spreadsheet operator symbols
This formula gives the resonant frequency  f as a function of static deflection under the mass/load. (Inertial and gravitational mass are the same so they drop out of the equation.)

A dog loping leg frequency was eyeballed in the range of 2.5/sec

Solving for d:

Damn if  I can remember what the units are…

When I did this before I calculated that d was about 1.5 inches/4 cm. That means that to tune the gangline and harness to the dog’s frequency you should be able to hang the weight of the dog on the optimum coupling spring with the same elasticity/spring as the dog experiences going back to/coupling to the cart or sled and the weight will deflect 1.5 inches.

g is the gravitational acceleration, 9.81 m/sec^2, so  f = 2.5/sec returns d = approximately .04 meters, 4 cm

In my interpretation that means the optimum spring/elasticity is quite stiff in relation to the the actual pulling forces of dogs running in harness. If the dog’s actual pulling force is 1/10th it’s M x g, we could say weight, (but probably exerted only over a fraction of the cycle) the system will only deflect .15 inches under the force. You wont see the stretching of an optimum coupling spring or system in normal use. And you do not need to introduce additional elasticity in the harnesses, tuglines and ganglines.

But elasticity in the tugline and harness is not going to protect the dog in case of a collision; that is why I specified that shock rings attaching cable lines to the sled or cart are preloaded. They do not deflect under normal pulling conditons and therefore don’t interfere with coupling.

For more technical details related to this subject see another post:

Heat Stress And Complications

About heat and how it might affect dogs’ metabolism and digestion.

Here are some interesting and partly related bits of information:

A healthy human may harbor typically 3 to 4 lbs of microorganisms.

In normal humans it is estimated that there may be as many microorganisms as there are human cells in the body. The average human cell is much bigger than a microbe.

Over 90% of these are in the gastrointestinal tract.

Approximately 50% or more of human fecal material consists of  remains of these microorganisms.

These microorganisms, fungi and bacteria, produce metabolites which are often beneficial to the host. In fact the larger animal host is often so
dependant on the action and products of the microbes that we could ask technically which is the host? This question would apply quite obviously to ruminants but also is valid for humans, dogs and possibly most or all other animals.

The major products of GI and many other common fermentations are short chain fatty acids or volatile fatty acids such as acetate, propionate, butyrate and lactate. In the gut these SCFAs are the principle source of energy for the cells lining lower tract. It has been determined in a typical human (on a typical diet at the time the study was done) that 5 to 10% of the total energy needs of humans are supplied by the SCFAs produced by microbial fermentation.

So the importance of probiotics and prebiotics etc.

Microbes are sensitive to heat and other changes in their environment. The may produce different metabolites as other enzymes are activated or when different substrates and nutrients are available or absent. In certain conditions the microorganisms will produce endotoxins and when certain microorganisms decompose they may also release endotoxins which can have major effects on the host.

In a study with dogs intended as models for human pathology it was found that endotoxic shock was a major contributor to heat stroke fatalities. When the dogs were pretreated to remove the GI inhabitants using enemas and antibiotics before exposure to extreme heat the survival rate went from 20% without to 80% with antimicrobial pretreatment.

Sterilizing the gut is not a good idea in practice, but this study is instructive to show where part of the problem lies. And it may be possible
knowing this to develop better treatment and prevention for heat injury or other stress related enteritis.

What Do Beer, Spiders, Gastric Ulcers, ASA and ARA Have In Common?

ARA is Arachidonic Acid, the often maligned Omega-6 fatty acid associated with inflammation. It is a necessary component of cell membranes and serves many other functions in the body. So-named because it is the tetraenoic (4 unsaturated C-C bonds) version of the saturated arachidic acid found in peanut oil. I wondered until now what the relationship was to the French word arachide, peanut.  But arachide and arachnoid (spider) are both derived from the Greek word for cobweb. I suppose because the root networks of peanuts resemble spider webs.

Acetyl Salicylic Acid, ASA for short, is the chemical name for Aspirin which blocks or reduces the activity of COX enzyme and consequently helps control pain and inflammation.

The following discussion is expanded from one that took place earlier on facebook with a few postscript details, such as the relationship between butyric acid, butter, and GALT, gut associated lymph tissue. Butyric acid is the name for the C4 short chain fatty acid. so-named for its presence in butter at levels as high as 5%. Beers contain yeast fermentation products called diacetyls which give a buttery taste. Diacetyl and butyrate are similar C4 molecules with similar flavors. In beer the diacetyl is desirable or not according to the level and the expected flavor of the style of beer. At higher levels butyrate is recognizable as the distinctive odor of vomit. Unlike Vegas, what happens in the gut (fementation of dietary fiber producing beneficial SCFAs including acetate, propionate, butyrate) does not stay in the gut.

The Iditarod vets have been trying to solve the problem of GI ulcers for many years but seem obsessed with finding drugs rather than a functional approach leading to prevention.

Psyllium fiber and similar supplements may be sufficient without allopathic drugs. In pigs and racehorses stomach ulcers are associated with food particle size, fiber, and GI transit time.

Doug Bibus and Steve Phinney did a study of Iditarod dogs based on the hypothesis that the arachidonic acid (Omega 6) while inflammatory in excess (and/or in relations to Omega 3) is involved in the production of mucous as a kind of inflammatory response protecting the stomach lining (that’s why NSAIDS can cause stomach ulcers) and that in prolonged oxidative stress like Iditarod arachidonic acid is depleted, causing stomach ulcers and “burned membrane syndrome.”

I hear that the vets in the Wyoming race recommended prilosec and other antacids, then prescribed flagyl when things got ugly with GI upset and diarrhea.

In other posts there are studies cited showing partial explanation or mechanism for what some of us mushers have known for around 20 years, how psyllium husk in the diet can prevent kennel cough and other infectious diseases. You don’t need to know how it works to benefit from using it! Same goes for Panacur. And if you don’t believe that, tell me how you manage to go online with your computer/tablet or smartphone.

Would seem to be counterproductive to use antacids to treat a disease in which the acid sensitive bacteria are possibly a factor.

I thought I heard that vets had done several studies of dogs in the Iditarod and did not find any correlation between stomach ulcers and bacteria or diarrhea. But as the articles mention, the helicobacter are difficult to identify or culture.

I was adding to my slideshow about history of sled dog nutrition (that I gave for Eukanuba VIP event at Grande Odysee last year) and started a list of errors usually associated with false proxies or mistaking coincidence for causality:

Muscle glycogen repletion now thought to suppress growth hormone secretion

High vit E supplementation as alpha tocopherol now seen as pro-oxidant and interfering with gamma tocopherol; also misdirecting attention from tocotrienols

Concern for ARA which misses its importance for healing. Doug Bibus has a lipids laboratory where he does HPLC on tissue and food samples to quantify fat levels. He often finds higher ARA levels in tissue with muscle damage. That does not mean the arachidonic acid was a factor in cause; it was part of the healing. In another study he found high correlation in major surgery patients between length of time before they were re-introduced solid food and septicemia. All else being equal, the sooner fermentation resumes in the bowel the better.

With Iditarod and other extended races requiring a high volume of food intake, it’s possible that the time resident in the bowel does not allow adequate fermentation, leading to similar immune dysfunction. Could it be possible to supplement  butyrate to the GALT tissue ? In the triglyceride form, trybutyrin would be absorbed high in the intestine (and does not require hydroysis for digestion) but might be selected by the liver and circulated to the gut tissues.

Another possibility is that since the food is required in such a volume to meet caloric demand, the amount of fiber and other dietary contents reaching the large intestine should be reduced from what is in the normal feed composition. Fermentation in the gut is more like a batch process that needs a certain amount of time to complete before it is pushed out by newer digesta.

The Best Commercial Dog Food For The Money…

At 65 cents a pound, 34% protein and 14% fat, the winner is Purina Cat Chow.

Cats and mink are not scavengers like dogs, and their physiology (gut length, for instance) and dietary requirements are higher and more restrictive than dogs. In many ways the food intended for them is better for dogs than the typical necessary and sufficient but not optimum dog food designed for general use. But I assumed cat food would be more expensive than dog food because of market and quality factors.

What’s the trade-off feeding cat food to dogs? The fat level is less than high performance dog food; in fact this is an advantage because fats are the most perishable or vulnerable ingredients in dry dog food. If you need more fat, add better quality from fresh/raw sources.

Be aware:

Comparing dry food to raw ingredients, turkey fat and skins are about 30% fat dry weight with a bonus 8% protein (not usually found in processed products) since the fatty tissue and fatty skins are composed of cells containing also protein and water.

Sometimes composition analysis/specs are given on a percent of calories basis. In this case, factor in that fat is about twice the calories (dry) per unit weight compared to protein and carbs. Percent of calories rather than percent by weight makes sense because diets are often used in feeding trials and compared in practice on iso-caloric basis. You would want to feed the same amount of calories in each case.

Example calculation using the turkey fat and skins above:

30 parts fat X 2 = 60

8 parts protein = 8

There is no carbohydrate or other significant energy source.

Therefore fat is 60/68 X 100 percent of the total calories = 88% in this food ingredient

Wolf Totem

The dingo ate her baby but the wolves stole my cache of canned beans!

Do you know that book, Wolf Totem? At first I thought it was somewhat exaggerated but as I read more I am impressed that the animal behavior or natural history of the story does look to be plausible and consistent with my own experience. Some of the popular misconceptions about wolves are introduced in the narrative as common knowledge that goes uncontested until later when it’s disproven

I wonder about things such as wolves attacking people, however, so far as I have read in the book the only one bitten by a wolf is the Han Chinese who is raising a wolf pup on a chain. But it’s possible that Mongolian wolves act differently in this way. Joszef Toth studied wolves in Mongolia during the Soviet era; should ask him.

Or it could be like the typical wolf stories John Burroughs describes: a man says he was chased by wolves that got closer and closer to him as he made his way home on a  mountain path one dark and windy night. Finally he climbs a tree to escape safely out of reach. Someone asks, did you see the wolves? No, he says, damn good thing I didn’t or I would not be here to tell you about it.

One late summer walking back through the woods from my camp on the Brule river after an enjoyable afternoon barbecue with my sister, the sun was setting. My sister complained about  me walking too fast and  that she might get lost. Not wanting to walk so slowly, I would go ahead then wait for her to catch up. She complained louder and constantly. I finally said, be quiet or you will upset the wolves. (I knew they were around.) On cue the  next time she started to complain the wolves began howling nearby. That shut her up!

Wolves like to bite things to explore and test them. Wolves in a pen would happily rip the leather Levi’s tags off a visitor’s jeans. I suspect it was wolves that tore into some cans of pork and beans left at my tent camp, The Brule River Roadhouse. Black bears would do that too but probably would finish the job by completely ripping the cans open.

Probably theMongolian wolves learned to attack humans from those in Russia that ate BaronMunchausen’s horse!!! I remember that story from childhood and always thought if I would have a  kennel name it should be  Baron Munchausen’s Horse, with an image of a huge slobbering wolf in harness (the wolf ate the rest of the pack and then the horse pulling the sled) ahead of the monocled and bug-eyed plump Baron wearing a German-style helmet with a spike on top.

In North America it appears that wolves are more afraid of people and typically will not defend the pups in the den from being captured by humans. One of the first scientific observers, Murie, describes a huge battle between wolves protecting their den and  a grizzly but then crawls into the den himself. Dogs and polar bears would be another interesting topic.

In the years gone by, in Ft McMurray and in Pine Point I remember that occasionally wolves would come to the outskirts of  town to kill and eat sled dogs that were not fenced in adequately. Although the wolf pelts were not very valuable at the time (especially compared to lynx) Danny McQueen did some trapping of wolves to remind them that they were not welcome around  Pine Point and to reinforce their fear of metal and other human objects.

A dingo male once grabbed my arm at a wild animal park in Australia when he thought his mate was being too friendly with me. I instinctively stepped back and raised the arm with the dingo hanging on until he was completely off the ground.