Salmon Poisoning in Dogs
Metpet.com Staff Writer
The fluke Nanophyetus salmincola is host to a rickettsia
(a microorganism) called Neorickettsia helminthoeca that can cause a disease commonly
known as salmon poisoning disease (SPD). The organism develops in snails (Oxytrema
plicifer), infect and develop into cysts in fish, are ingested by dogs where they infect
the intestinal tract. The dogs excrete eggs in their stool, the organism reenters
the water, infects snails and the cycle begins again.
SNAIL ==> FISH ===>
DOG ===> SNAIL
This microorganism is found in salmon, steelhead, trout,
Pacific giant salamanders and fresh water fish found in and around the Pacific Ocean from
Northern California to Seattle. The geographical limitations are likely caused by
the limited habitats of infected snails.
The onset of symptoms is usually sudden, usually 5-7 days
after ingestion but can be delayed up to a month. Symptoms last for 7-10 days and
can be fatal in a majority (up to 90%)of untreated dogs. 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. Symptoms can look like parvo or distemper. Diagnosis is made by
finding fluke eggs in the stool.
Death is generally caused by the toll the symptoms take on
the dog's body. These include electrolyte imbalance, anemia and dehydration.
Treatments include hydration and nutrition, blood transfusions as well as antibiotics and
related medications prescribed by a veterinarian. Dogs that have been infected and
recovered can develop an immunity.
This potentially fatal disease can be prevented
by not feeding raw or partially cooked (possibly even cold-smoked) fish to your dog.
Since fish can also have tiny bones that can become lodged in your dog's throat or
intestinal tract, it may be best to avoid fresh fish altogether.