Research on Iditarod dogs benefits bomb-detecting dogs in Afghanistan

An Oklahoma State University researcher who has studied Iditarod sled dog teams extensively is applying what he has learned to the care and training of dogs used by the Marine Corps in Afghanistan to sniff out roadside bombs. The physical demands on the two types of dogs are totally different, but Mike Davis' research into diet, hydration and training techniques of Iditarod dogs is helping the Marines' dogs perform better, reports Alaska Dispatch.

One of the biggest lessons from the trails and competitions of Alaska? Train to the level at which you need to perform -- something Iditarod mushers have come to embrace in recent years, with several dog teams now entering back-to-back 1,000-mile races. The theory is the more the dogs run, the better they will do. It has worked for Lance Mackey, Aliy Zirkle, Dallas Seavey and others. The military is taking note. ...

IED dogs need to drink about five-and-a-half liters of water a day, water a Marine gets to lug around for his or her animal. Davis is studying just how much water the dogs need to stay alert and capable day-to-day, and whether tweaking electrolyte solutions will reduce dehydration. Some of the work on electrolytes took place this last year at the SP Kennel of Yukon Quest champion Allen Moore and his partner, Iditarod runner-up Aliy Zirkle. Next summer, Davis plans to study how much protein top-performing bomb dogs need.

Read more at Alaska Dispatch: How science of Iditarod dogs saves soldiers' lives