Racing Alaskan sled dogs as a model of "ski asthma"

Michael S. Davis, Brendan McKiernan, Sheila McCullough, Stuart Nelson, Ronald E. Mandsager, Michael Willard, Karen Dorsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Athletes who play sports in cold weather, particularly skaters and cross-country skiers, have an increased prevalence of lower airway disease that is hypothesized to result from repeated penetration of incompletely conditioned air into the lung periphery. In this study, we investigated the hypothesis that canine winter athletes also suffer from increased prevalence of lung disease secondary to hyperpnea with cold air. Bronchoscopy and bronchoalveolar lavage was conducted in elite racing sled dogs 24 to 48 hours after completion of a 1,100-mile endurance race. Bronchoscopic abnormalities were classified as none, mild, moderate, or severe, based on the quantity and distribution of intralumenal debris. Eighty-one percent of the dogs (48 of 59) examined had abnormal accumulations of intralumenal debris, with 46% (27 of 59) classified as moderate or severe, indicating significant accumulation of exudate. Bronchoalveolar lavage obtained from dogs after the race had significantly higher nucleated macrophage and eosinophil counts compared with sedentary control dogs. Our findings support the hypothesis that strenuous exercise in cold environments can lead to lower airway disease and suggest that racing sled dogs may be a useful naturally occurring animal model of the analogous human disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)878-882
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 15 2002


  • Bronchitis
  • Dog
  • Exercise-induced asthma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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