Pet 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.