A necropsy performed on the 6-year-old sled dog belonging to Iditarod musher Jeff Holt failed to determine a cause of death, the Anchorage Daily News reports. PETA has criticized the race for being cruel to the animals, but volunteer veterinarians check the dogs before the race and at each check point along the way. The Daily News reports Holt is running a team made up primarily of family pets.

There is no question the 1,150-mile race from Anchorage to Nome is a grueling event for both humans and the dogs. Sleep deprivation, frost bite and even moose are among the hazards they face.

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See a photo gallery of the race here.

Photo: Matt Hayashida of Willow, Alaska drives his team alone the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race trail near the Takotna, Alaska checkpoint (AP)

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