Effects of racing and nontraining on plasma thyroid hormone concentrations in sled dogs

J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2004 Jan 15;224(2):226-31. doi: 10.2460/javma.2004.224.226.


Objective: To determine the effects of racing and nontraining on plasma thyroxine (T4), free thyroxine (fT4), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), and thyroglobulin autoantibody (TgAA) concentrations in sled dogs and compare results with reference ranges established for dogs of other breeds.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Animals: 122 sled dogs.

Procedure: Plasma thyroid hormone concentrations were measured before dogs began and after they finished or were removed from the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska and approximately 3 months after the race.

Results: Concentrations of T4 and fT4 before the race were less than the reference range for nonsled dogs in 26% and 18% of sled dogs, respectively. Immediately after racing, 92% of sled dogs had plasma T4 concentrations less than the reference range. Three months after the race, 25% of sled dogs had plasma T4 concentrations less than the reference range. For T4, fT4, TSH, and TgAA, significant differences were not detected in samples collected before the race versus 3 months later.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: Plasma T4, fT4, and TSH concentrations decreased in dogs that complete a long distance sled dog race. Many clinically normal sled dogs have plasma T4 and fT4 values that are lower than the reference range for nonsled dogs. We suggest that the reference ranges for sled dogs are 5.3 to 40.3 nmol/L and 3.0 to 24.0 pmol/L for plasmaT4 and fT4 concentrations, respectively, and 8.0 to 370 mU/L for TSH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alaska
  • Animals
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dogs / blood*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology*
  • Physical Endurance
  • Reference Values
  • Running / physiology*
  • Sports
  • Thyroid Hormones / blood*
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Thyroxine / blood
  • Triiodothyronine / blood


  • Autoantibodies
  • Thyroid Hormones
  • anti-thyroglobulin
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Thyrotropin
  • Thyroxine