Sustained strenuous exercise increases intestinal permeability in racing Alaskan sled dogs

Michael S. Davis, Michael D. Willard, Katherine K. Williamson, Jörg M. Steiner, David A. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We assessed gastric and intestinal permeability and performed gastroscopy to evaluate the effects of sustained strenuous exercise on the gastrointestinal tract in racing sled dogs. Three teams of racing Alaskan sled dogs were examined approximately 1 week before and 24 hours after the 2003 Iditarod sled dog race (1,100 miles in 10 days). Each examination consisted of the administration of a solution of sucrose, lactulose, and rhamnose to evaluate gastric and intestinal permeability, as well as gastroscopy to visually inspect the gastric mucosa. Of the 54 dogs examined before the race, 16 completed the course and contributed data to the analysis. Sustained strenuous exercise was associated with an increased frequency of gastric erosions or ulcerations seen endoscopically (0% prerace versus 61% postrace). A significant postrace increase occurred in the median lactulose to rhamnose ratio in both serum and urine (0.11 versus 0.165, P = .0363; 0.11 versus 0.165, P = .0090, respectively). No significant differences were found in median serum or urinary sucrose concentrations when pre- and postrace values were compared. No correlation was found between visible gastric lesions and the concentration of sucrose in serum or urine samples obtained 4-5 hours after administration of the sugar solutions. We conclude that sustained strenuous exercise is associated with increased intestinal permeability, but the sucrose permeability test as we performed it did not correlate with visible gastric lesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-39
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of veterinary internal medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Diagnostic tests
  • Exercise-induced diarrhea
  • Gastric ulcers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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