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Sled dog essentials: From harnessing to feeding, what it takes to run them

Feeding dogs throughout a race is an art, said Freking. Sometimes they get fussy as the race progresses and gravitate toward food preferences. For the Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, each dog might burn 10,000-12,000 calories per day. Their diet consists of beef, chicken, kibble and different fats. Depending on circumstances, the ingredients are frozen, thawed or served as a meaty soup for hydration. Figuring that out for every dog can be tricky.

Outside temperatures and lengths of rest also factor into what and how much the dogs are fed. Anderson tries to feed his dogs about one pound of beef and beef fat, plus a cup of kibble, per checkpoint. However, during rest breaks of five hours or more, he’ll divide a meal and a half into separate servings. He likes to keep them topped off, but not too close to the team’s checkpoint departure. Warming food helps the dogs digest easier.

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