Raw Salmon Poisoning Dogs
Those of you living near places with salmon and other fish species mentioned here may want to heed this article from the Chico Enterprise Record.
Don't feed your dogs raw fish
By Mary Weston/Staff Writer
Salmon can poison dogs.
Not the salmon itself, but an organism called Neorickettsia helminthoeeca, which travels in a cycle inside another microorganism from snails to fish to dogs and back to snails to continue the cycle.
Recent comments about dead salmon killing dogs in Openline, a column in the Mercury-Register, and an e-mail from a reader prompted some online research, and we found that Salmon Poisoning Disease can in fact kill dogs that eat raw fish, but not buzzards, humans or other animals.
When dogs eat the raw flesh of an infected fish, the bacteria is released and it attacks the intestinal lining causing fever, vomiting, diarrhea, depression and swollen lymph nodes. Salmon Poisoning can kill dogs if not diagnosed and treated within a few days of the onset of symptoms.
Locally, dogs can contact the disease if they eat raw fish at the river or are fed raw fish, although fish that transmit the organism aren't harmful to humans, buzzards or other animals.
"We do occasionally treat animals in this area with salmon being around," said Serasina Cupido, of McKenzie Animal Clinic in Oroville. "We do recommend not feeding dogs any raw salmon."
She said their clinic treats more family dogs that don't run loose, but hunting dogs are at risk of contacting the disease. Dogs that run loose or wander and raid garbage cans are also at risk.
Cupido said the North Valley Emergency Vet Center in Chico probably gets more cases of Salmon Poisoning, but the emergency clinic was closed Friday.
This microorganism can be found in salmon, steelhead, trout, Pacific giant salamanders and fresh water fish found in and around the Pacific Ocean from Northern California to Seattle, according to an article on the Washington State University Web site. The geographical limitations are likely caused by the habitats of infected snails.
One local person who wanted to remain anonymous said his dog was infected after eating some dead salmon at the river. He took the dog to a veterinarian in Oroville.
"She was on antibiotics for 12 days, but she's still not feeling well," he said.
"Owners should try to keep their dogs away from fish carcasses, and if their dogs develop diarrhea and infection, they should seek veterinary care within 48 hours," wrote Dr. Stephan Tesluk, of Ashland Veterinary Hospital. "And maybe someday, we will come up with a name for the disease and give those poor salmon a break."
The Ashland Daily News published Tesluk's column.
Dogs can show symptoms within five to seven days, but symptoms can be delayed for up to a month. Symptoms that last seven to 10 days can be fatal in a majority of untreated dogs, up to 90 percent, according to netpet.com.
The symptoms are similar to those of parvo or distempter, so the key is to tell the veterinarian if your dog ate raw fish. Diagnosis is made by finding fluke eggs in the dog's stools.
The dog's temperature can peak suddenly and then return to normal or even below normal. There can be severe and bloody diarrhea, dehydration, severe weight loss and complete loss of appetite.
The key to protecting your dog is to not let the pooch eat raw fish, which can be difficult if you let your four-legged pal run loose at the river.