How do dogs get salmon poisoning?

Salmon Poisoning Disease is a potentially fatal condition seen only in dogs after they eat certain types of raw or cold smoked fish like trout and salmon that are infected with a bacteria-like organism, Neorickettsia helminthoeca, which is transmitted by the parasitic flatworm (or “fluke”) Nanophyetes salmincola.

Salmon Poisoning is often a fatal disease in dogs. It is caused by a rickettsial infection, Neorickettsia helminthoeca. Cats have not been reported to be affected by salmon poisoning, but dogs, bears, and coyotes have. In the Northwest of the US, from Northern California to Washington, it is most frequently observed. Learn more about this complicated infection, its symptoms, testing, and treatment by reading on.

How is salmon poisoning diagnosed?

When dogs in the Pacific Northwest exhibit the expected symptoms after consuming raw fish or salamanders, the vet may be suspicious of salmon poisoning. The diagnosis is strengthened by the discovery of fluke eggs in the dog’s fecal (stool) sample. Although salmon poisoning is not directly caused by the fluke, the presence of the fluke in a dog exhibiting typical symptoms is strongly suggestive of salmon poisoning.

Blood tests are frequently carried out to assess organ function, blood cell counts, and hydration. Using a needle, a sample of the enlarged lymph nodes may be taken to confirm the diagnosis. Microscopically, bacteria can be seen in the lymph node’s cells. The DNA of the bacteria in the lymph node may be directly detected using a specialized test called PCR.

What are the signs of salmon poisoning disease?

Usually, six days after a dog eats an infected fish, clinical symptoms start to manifest. Common symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Dehydration
  • Salmon poisoning is treatable if it’s caught in time. After consuming the infected fish, death usually occurs if untreated within two weeks. Ninety percent of dogs showing symptoms die without treatment.

    How is salmon poisoning treated?

    The mainstays of treatment are drugs to kill the flukes and antibiotics to control the bacterial infection. Dogs exhibiting severe symptoms might need hospital care, such as intravenous fluids, nausea/vomiting/diarrhea medications, or even blood transfusions.


    How do you prevent salmon poisoning in dogs?

    How to Protect Your Dog from Salmon Poisoning Disease
    1. To get rid of the parasite, thoroughly cook the salmon or place it in the freezer for at least two weeks.
    2. Keep raw salmon out of reach of dogs that might be counter-surfing.
    3. If you clean the salmon yourself, be sure to dispose of the raw organs in cans with tight lids.

    Do all dogs get salmon poisoning?

    Dogs who consume raw or undercooked salmon, trout, steelhead, or Pacific Giant Salamanders infected with the fluke (parasitic flatworm) Nanophyetus salmincola may contract this infection. Dogs are typically unaffected by this flatworm unless it is infected with the bacteria Neorickettsia helminthoeca.

    How likely is salmon poisoning in dogs?

    Transmission by dog to dog contact is rare. Signs of salmon poisoning typically appear 5 to 7 days after consuming infected fish. However, in some circumstances, the onset of symptoms could take up to 33 days.

    Can dogs get salmon poisoning from store bought salmon?

    Do not ever give your dog raw or undercooked salmon. The parasite Neorickettsia helminthoeca, which causes salmon poisoning disease, may be present. This disease can be fatal.