PetSmart Brent Carroll, DVM/Banfield
Eating raw fish may lead to salmon poisoning, a life-threatening syndrome that can cause diarrhea, dehydration and depression in your dog. Don't be fooled by the disease's name, such fresh water fish as steelhead and other trout can also carry the disease.
The problem is caused by a deadly bacteria carried by some free-swimming parasites called flukes. If your dog eats raw fish that carry infected flukes, the parasites may attach to your pet's intestine, releasing the dangerous bacteria. The bacteria replicate in intestinal lymph tissue and enter the bloodstream, spreading to many organs.
What You Can Do
Protect your dog by taking these precautions:
- When preparing fish, wrap any remains well and discard in trash cans with tight-fitting lids. Remember that ingesting fish bones can also irritate or obstruct your Pet's intestinal tract.
- Don't take your pet on fishing trips. If your pets must accompany you, keep a close eye on them.
- Keep your pet on a leash at the beach or river.
- Don't allow your pet to ingest raw fish. Teach your dog the command "leave it".
- If your pet eats raw fish, visit your veterinarian immediately. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic or dewormer to help reduce the severity of infection. Be sure to bring a stool sample so your veterinarian can look for microscopic fluke eggs.
- Have your pet dewormed regularly. Not only is the active ingredient in some prescription dewormers effective against flukes, but regular deworming helps prevent other parasitic infections.
What To Look For
If you see your pet eating any amount of raw fish, watch for these symptoms:
- Depression, fever and appetite loss. Typically, you'll notice these signs when the bacteria begin to replicate, five to seven days after ingestion of the fish.
- Diarrhea. About one week after eating the fish, your pet will have yellow or bloody diarrhea and possibly vomiting. Severe diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration.
- Dehydration. The fluid loss associated with diarrhea and vomiting may cause your pet to drink large amounts of water. If left untreated, severe dehydration can result in death.
- Swollen lymph nodes. Your pet's lymph nodes may swell, but you'll probably need a veterinarian to help you detect this problem.
- Discharge. Dogs can develop a clear nasal discharge, which may cause sneezing. A thick discharge may also accumulate around your dog's eyes.
If you notice depression, vomiting, or diarrhea at anytime, bring in your pet for an examination as soon as possible. These symptoms can indicate many other diseases as well, such as Parvovirus infection.
Am I At Risk?
Typically, only dogs show signs of this infection. People don't get salmon poisoning, although you can become ill from other diseases associated with eating raw fish. Raw fish and meat of any kind can carry bacteria and parasites that can affect you and your pet's health.
Authored and edited by Brent Carroll, DVM
Did You Know...
Geographically, only fish from the Pacific Northwest -- Alaska; California; Oregon; Idaho; Washington; and Vancouver Island, Canada -- are potential sources of salmon poisoning. Well-cooked or processed fish is not a problem. Cats are not at risk for developing this disease, but can have other problems from eating raw fish.
© Banfield 2002.9 HOEP #81115