Alaska sled dog died from pneumonia by 'inhaling vomited stomach contents,' vet says

Published: Mar. 25, 2019 at 11:41 AM AKDT
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Last month, a sled dog running the Yukon Quest race died on the trail. Now, officials say they know more about how the dog died.

According to head veterinarian Cristina Hansen, Joker was in "good body condition" and had no health defects, instead dying from aspiration pneumonia "caused by inhaling vomited stomach contents."

Joker was a dog on Misha Wiljes’ team, who

The race’s head veterinarian said in a preliminary report that Joker’s cause of death was aspiration from a fluid or foreign body being inhaled into the lungs. The more thorough evaluation came over one month later.

Wiljes is a Yukon Quest veteran who has finished the race in 2012, and scratched from the race in 2013. She finished both the 2017 and 2018 Iditarod races.

Joker wasn't the only sled dog to die during a high-profile mushing event in 2019.

In the largest competition, the Iditarod,

A board-certified veterinary pathologist determined that Oshi died as a result of pneumonia, according to a release from a public relations firm representing the Iditarod.

The cause of that pneumonia case is still being investigated, as pneumonia can be caused in different ways. A final necropsy study is expected to be released by Iditarod officials in the coming weeks.

Following Oshi's death, PETA issued a statement, saying: "Oshi was just like any family's dog, but the Iditarod forced her to run until she choked to death on her own vomit, just like so many dogs before her."