Considering that a sled dog can burn up to 10,000 calories a day their diet must be strictly controlled to keep them healthy and energized. Replacing 10,000 calories is difficult but fortunately most sled dogs do not burn that much unless they have been performing at max capacity for the entire day. On races or trips where you can only eat what you can carry the available dietary options for a sled dog team are significantly limited. If you are going to be out for 3-5 days with your team of 10 sled dogs you can’t really afford to carry the 250 pounds of food that they would normally have to eat to replenish the calories that they burn. On trips like this the musher will normally bring along food that is incredibly high in calories, sometimes as high as 2,500 calories per pound, so that he can make the most of his limited space.
Because sled dogs require so many calories per day, especially in the winter, they normally eat a few small meals throughout the day instead of eating all of their food in one or two sittings. Not only will this give the sled team a break every few hours but it will also aid in digestion and nutrient absorption. While each musher will feed his sled team different amounts of different types of foods depending on what he or she thinks they need most mushers do supplement their chose dog food with other calorie packed and protein packed foods such as hamburger, poultry products, and fat trimmings from a variety of animals. Most mushers will also add vitamins to their sled dogs daily intake so that they get a balanced diet, even while on the trail. On long trips when food is limited the musher could feed his sled team what is available, such as salmon, moose or reindeer.