How do dogs get salmon poisoning? Essential Tips

What are the clinical signs of salmon poisoning?

Signs of salmon poisoning are typically seen within a week of the dog eating infected raw or under cooked fish or salamanders. Common signs include lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea (which may include blood), fever, weakness, enlarged lymph nodes, weight loss, discharge from the eyes or nose, increased respiratory rate, increased heart rate, muscle tremors and seizures. If the infection is not treated, most dogs will die within 2 weeks. Fortunately, treatment significantly improves the chances for survival.

What is salmon poisoning?

While salmon poisoning sounds like it is caused by a toxin, it actually involves a bacterial infection in dogs. This infection can occur when dogs eat raw or undercooked salmon, trout, steelhead, or Pacific Giant Salamanders infected with a fluke (parasitic flatworm) called Nanophyetus salmincola.This flatworm is generally harmless to dogs, unless it is infected with a bacteria called Neorickettsia helminthoeca. After eating raw fish/salamander, infected flukes embed in the dog’s intestines, allowing the bacteria to enter the blood stream. The bacteria spreads to various organs resulting in the signs of salmon poisoning.

Salmon poisoning is most commonly seen in Washington, Oregon, northern California, and southern Vancouver Island (Canada). The disease is mainly seen in domestic dogs, wolves, coyotes, and foxes, although it has also been reported in black bears. Cats do not appear to develop salmon poisoning. Humans may develop mild gastrointestinal signs but do not develop salmon poisoning.

Treatment Options for Dogs with Salmon Poisoning

Antibiotic treatment with doxycycline, tetracycline, or oxytetracycline are all potential options to kill the rickettsial organism. Treatment is often continued for 5 to 14 days.

Deworming with praziquantel for 3 to 5 days in a row is needed to treat the trematode infection.

Supportive care, such as IV fluids, anti-nausea medications, and antidiarrheal medication may also be needed to help your pup feel better. Most dogs need to be hospitalized on IV medications and fluids for a few days before they feel well enough to go home on oral medications.

Dogs typically start feeling better within 1-3 days of starting treatment.

If treatment is not begun within 7-10 days of developing symptoms, it can be fatal.

To avoid salmon poisoning, do not allow your dog to eat raw or undercooked fish.

Salmon Poisoning in a Dog

Salmon Poisoning is often a fatal disease in dogs. It is caused by a rickettsial infection, Neorickettsia helminthoeca. Salmon poisoning has not been reported in cats but can affect dogs, bears, and coyotes. It is most commonly seen in the Northwest US from Northern California to Washington. Continue reading to learn about this complex infection, symptoms, testing, and treatment.