Salmon Poisoning Disease In Pets

DogPet owners may not know that a deadly disease known as Salmon Poisoning Disease (SPD) is lurking outdoors near lakes that can result in death if the symptoms are not diagnosed properly or treated quickly. A recent occurrence of SPD in Orange County, California affected a 10-month-old Yorkie named Gigi and is believed to be the first case diagnosed in the southland. Pet owners need to be aware of the potential risks involved in allowing dogs to be exposed to an environment where raw fish may be present and can infect their pets.

SPD is an acute, infectious disease that affects dogs, wolves, ferrets and foxes, when they ingest uncooked salmon, trout, steelhead, and similar freshwater fish. While the disease is typically more prevalent in the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon and northern California), the disease has surfaced from a dog ingesting raw fish from Lake Irvine (southern Calfornia).

Symptoms of SPD include vomiting, loss of appetite, fever, diarrhea, weakness, swollen lymph nodes, and dehydration.

“Most people in this area are unfamiliar with the symptoms of this disease, which appear within five to seven days after eating infected raw fish. Left undiagnosed, SPD can be fatal within several weeks,” explained Mike Moore, DVM, at VCA All-Care Animal Referral Center. “SPD is treatable if diagnosed quickly. If your dog has been around raw fish or you are unsure of what they have ingested and symptoms appear, consider SPD a possibility and see your veterinarian immediately for evaluation and treatment,” he added.

The standard diagnosis for SPD is the presence of fluke ova, which are found through a fecal examination in the majority of cases. Left untreated, animals usually succumb due to dehydration, electrolyte and acid-base imbalances, and anemia. Therefore, general supportive therapy to maintain hydration and acid-base balance, while meeting nutritional requirements and controlling diarrhea, are essential. Treatment generally involves antibiotics and a “wormer,” as well as intravenous fluids. Upon receiving treatment, most dogs show initial improvement within several days, but the course of antibiotic treatment usually lasts for three weeks.

While SPD symptoms can be confused with other gastrointestinal conditions, due to the serious nature of the disease, it is critical to obtain a timely diagnosis and as necessary, initiate supportive veterinary treatment to minimize the serious risks of this disease.

Photo: pintday

(Thanks Irene)

2 Responses to “Salmon Poisoning Disease In Pets”

  1. Katie says:

    Thankyou for the info. Itchmo. I thought this disease only occurred in the Pacific Northwest where salmon were in the water! Teaches us all to be more careful and watchful.


  2. Act Now says:

    Can people get SPD? Does this mean no more salmon sushi?

    Well, I did a little research and here’s what I found out, per County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health:

    “What is Salmon Poisoning Disease?

    Salmon Poisoning Disease is caused by a bacteria (Neorickettsia) that lives inside a parasite (Nanophyetus) that can infect trout and salmon. Dogs can catch the illness when they eat raw or undercooked trout or salmon that is infected with the disease. Dogs become very ill from the bacteria, but not from the parasite. Symptoms can include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, severe lethargy, and physical collapse and possible death. The disease causes no harm to the fish itself.

    Do people get Salmon Poisoning Disease?

    Humans that eat raw fish or who do not practice good sanitation in preparing fish can become infected by the parasite (but not the bacteria), and experience intestinal illness, usually mild.

    Which fish can cause the disease?

    Salmon Poisoning Disease is native to Northern California, but does not occur naturally in Southern California. However, fish (trout, salmon) from Northern California are commonly “planted” in Southern California lakes for sport fishing. Local fishermen and veterinarians in Southern California need to be aware of that local lakes may be stocked with fish containing this parasite and bacteria. ”

    A friend of ours in Alaska, who is a salmon fisherwoman by trade, absolutely hates salmon and would never eat it - she refers to it as “dog food,” as that is where most of their salmon goes - to dog food companies. I am sure it is cooked - but I know a lot of folks up there feed raw salmon to dogs. Perhaps they are unaware of SPD, or maybe it isn’t an issue there.

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