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Canine salmon poisoning

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Quigley_Sharps, Aug 1, 2006.

  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    Salmon Poisoning: A Threat to the Outdoor Dog

    Donna S. Dimski, DVM, MS
    Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
    Mid-Willamette Fly Fishers, Corvallis, Oregon

    “Salmon poisoning” is a disease occurring in dogs exposed to salmon, trout, or other salmonid fish in the Pacific Northwest. Not really a poison at all, the disease is caused by an organism called a rickettsia, transmitted to dogs by an internal parasite carried in salmonid fish. The eggs of the parasite are passed to dogs when the dog eats raw fish, fish entrails, or fish blood. Therefore, dogs are at risk where fish are being cleaned or prepared for cooking, and when roaming streamside (particularly during salmon spawning season). Cooking and freezing destroy the organism, eliminating the risk of disease transmission. This disease should not be confused with Salmonella, a bacteria that can infect animals and people that is not related to fish. Salmon poisoning is a disease specific to dogs. People and other non-canine animals are not affected.

    Salmon poisoning occurs primarily in the western portions of Washington, Oregon, and Northern California, in coastal streams and lakes west of the Cascade Mountains. This distribution occurs because the parasite responsible for transmitting the disease-causing organism must spend part of its life cycle in a particular species of snail that occurs only in this region; thus, no snail, no disease. It is important for anglers and hunters traveling to this area to keep salmon poisoning in mind if they bring their dogs along on the trip.

    The first signs of salmon poisoning occur in dogs five to 14 days after exposure to infected fish. Early signs include decreased appetite, lethargy, and fever, progressing on to vomiting, bloody diarrhea, swollen lymph nodes, and dehydration. If the disease is not properly diagnosed and treated, it can be fatal within two weeks. Any dog owner who observes these signs following a possible exposure should seek veterinary care immediately, and should inform the veterinarian about the potential for exposure. The specific diagnosis is made by noting the history of possible exposure, observing clinical signs, and identifying the parasite eggs in a stool sample.

    In the early stages of the disease, oral tetracycline antibiotics (effective against salmon poisoning) may be all that is needed to cure an infection. The wrong antibiotic choice may delay recovery. As the disease progresses, a sick dog may require hospitalization for intravenous fluids and injections of appropriate antibiotics. Even with the best of care, extremely ill dogs with advanced disease may die, so rapid intervention is needed.

    There is no vaccination for salmon poisoning, and prevention requires minimizing exposure to infected fish. Dogs should not be allowed access to meat, entrails, or fluids associated with fish cleaning. The fish cleaning area should be thoroughly washed and disinfected after every use. During salmon spawning times, the risk of exposure is so great that taking along a canine companion to the stream is not advised.

    Once a dog recovers from the disease, it usually (not always) develops lifelong immunity to repeated episodes. Hunters and anglers that may be away from “civilization” for extended periods with their dog may wish to discuss with their veterinarian the option of bringing along appropriate antibiotics in the event exposure occurs.
  2. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I wonder if this affects bears, or is it a canine specific organism?
  3. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    Only in canines
  4. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    You would think it would require a greater host need than just canines. The salmon population and the canine isn't a big contacting group. Wasn't Rickettsia a big issue in humans some time back?
  5. RaetherEnt

    RaetherEnt Monkey+++

    Hey there folks. Been lurking for sometime and had to join tonight to reply to this first post.

    Salmon poisoning is very nasty stuff. When I was living in Northern California, (Trinity River) BOTH my labs were infected from being down on the river and messing with Salmon that had died on the shore after the runs. LOTS AND LOTS of antibiotics are needed. The second one to get it got so bad that we had to bring her in and leave her at the vet. We weren't sure if she was ever going to come back home. After two days at the vet being fed antibiotics and fluids via IV, she pulled through. VERY SCARY.

    My best advice is that if you have your dogs anywhere near a river with spawning salmon, keep a VERY close eye on them...

    PS...Thanks for the great site and all the info!
  6. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    Welcome aboard RaetherEnt
    Im glad you quit lurking and will be looking forward to your posts!
  7. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    RaetherEnt, welcome to the board.
  8. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Glad you've un-lurked. Welcome aboard.
  9. TailorMadeHell

    TailorMadeHell Lurking Shadow Creature

    Yes, welcome and also glad you unlurked. I'm the only one supposed to lurk. :D

    Okay, so what's this thing then? A dog-fish connection? Is it going to spread to cat-fish? Haha.

    Strange things that dogs are capable of picking it up and bears aren't. As far as dogs not coming in contact with it too much, what about the feed they have for your dogs? Does it contain any trace of fish? From the contact with the processing machines to the actual bits of fish in the food.

    Do they even have a sucessful detection system in place in the plants that would detect this problem if they were 'only feeding it to cats'? Another thing, what are they pumping into the water out there? A fish is a fish and usually doesn't get diseases from anything besides maybe some stray fungi growth until they come into contact with polluted water.

    How's the water quality for humans? Are they sure this isn't going to mutate into some human-fish disease? Some serious things to think about. And you know that they wouldn't alert humans to the problem until years after they have had time to study it for fear of 'panicking' the citizens. That would cut down on the fishing industry profits. 'Besides, we are smarter than the civilians. We are the food industry after all and the only one higher up in the know then us is God.'

    Be careful up there guys and gals. Don't be sheep. Do everything you can to keep an eye on this situation and protect yourselves even if it's a 'dog only' disease. Look at Louisiana and oysters. It hurts them to hold off harvest due to pollutants and they have even allowed people to eat bad oysters. They all came up with the excuse of 'We didn't catch it in time. or We weren't prepared.' Get prepared people. Remember take care of number one and when you are safe, help those around you. If you see something wrong, call them on it. This may be a fluke, though it could become deadly serious.

    Just my take on it. Now back to your regularly scheduled rant. :D
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