Bearing in mind the high stakes in some dog sports, doping is a concern which needs to be addressed. Dog racing and sled races are highly regulated sports and drug tests have been a regular part of them in Europe, North America and elsewhere for many years.

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The threat of doping


Doping is the use of any substance or means that artificially improves a dog’s competitive performance. It is an assault on the principle of fair play and the dog’s physical integrity.

While extremely rare, doping has been uncovered in dog sports. There are two main goals:

- Doping to improve performance, when the prize money and rewards are high.

- Doping to inhibit performance, when betting is involved, as in dog racing

When rival dogs are drugged to inhibit their performance it is more than a simple case of fraud.

Sports ruling bodies have a list of banned substances. The International Federation for Sled Dog Sport’s list reads as follows:

- Analgesic substances

- Steroidal or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

- Antiprostaglandins

- Antitussives

- Sedatives and anaesthetics

- Diuretics

- Anabolic steroids

- Muscle relaxants

- Anticholinergic substances

- Antihistamine

- Blood injections

Samples are taken from the dog’s saliva, blood or urine, none of which involve any danger or harm to the dog, in accordance with very strict rules (samples, coded for anonymity, are placed under lock and key and sent to the laboratory for analysis under strict security).

Besides all these regulations and tests, it is important for every owner to realise that doping is potentially harmful to the dog. Anabolic steroids, stimulants, tranquillisers, anti-inflammatory drugs, diuretics and beta-blockers all have harmful side effects when used for the wrong reason.

So, while it does only concern a tiny minority of thoughtless individuals, there needs to be a major campaign against doping to educate owners and keep sports dogs out of harm’s way.

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