Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Dog sledding, fish, and other rabbit holes

Working on my latest WIP(work in progress) I've been discovering things about sled dogs in the late 1800's that is interesting. What intrigues me most is the fact they fed the sled dogs either pemmican (a fat/lard and powered fish mixture) seal meat, frozen salmon, or whale blubber.

I've been told that fish is bad for dogs, so how did the sled dogs survive on it?

It turns out that fish is actually good for dogs, especially sled dogs who are exerting so much energy all day long pulling the sleds. Fish is full of omega3 and the fat helps to fuel their bodies and keep them warm. The calcium in the fish bones and the high protein of the fish are like putting logs of wood into a stove. It heats them and builds their energy.

The reasons some people are against feeding fish to dogs has to do with the bones and parasites.

According to my research as long as whole fresh fish or fresh frozen fish are being fed there isn't a problem with bones. When the fish is fresh the bones haven't been in contact with oxygen and haven't become brittle, which allows the dog to chew the bones and swallow them without difficulty and they digest easier.

Parasites do live in fish and without cooking the fish there is a chance your dog can become wormy. But if the dog is in good health and on a deworming regime, there shouldn't be a problem with worms.

So, how did the mushers or Eskimos deworm their dogs? I tried finding the information online but didn't have much luck. I do know that old-timers would give horses a plug of tobacco to eat and that was said to kill worms in horses.

It never ceases to amaze me how I can start researching one thing and get dragged down the rabbit hole of something different and that's why research is my bane. I can go on researching a subject and off-shoots of a subject all day!

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