What is Salmon Poisoning Disease?

photoA rickettsial organism is a parasite that infects worms or snails which are consumed by salmonoid fish. The fish then becomes the secondary host and only seems to affect dogs and not humans. While transmission by respiratory channels is uncommon, it’s possible that just licking the blood of a dead fish on the shore can lead to salmon poisoning disease (SPD).

SPD is not specific to any breed, age, or gender, and dogs that survive the disease become immune to it. How can you identify salmon poisoning disease? According to The Merck Veterinary Manual, here are the symptoms:

* Sudden onset of symptoms five to seven days after eating fish.
* Early symptoms include lack of appetite and sluggishness.
* Temperature peaks between 104-107.6 degrees Fahrenheit during the first two days then slowly returns to normal.
* Onset of constant vomiting by the fourth day.
* Onset of bloody diarrhea a few days after vomiting begins. The diarrhea is usually a bright yellow color.

If left untreated, death usually occurs within fourteen days of consuming the infected fish. Ninety percent of dogs with symptoms die if they’re not treated. Fortunately, salmon poisoning disease is treatable if it’s detected in time. The illness can be diagnosed with a fecal sample or a needle sample of a swollen lymph node.

How is SPD treated?

Treatment of salmon poisoning disease is relatively simple. Your vet will prescribe an antibiotic and a wormer. The antibiotic eliminates the rickettsial organisms that cause the illness while the wormer kills the parasite. Intravenous fluid is also provided if the animal is dehydrated. Most dogs improve dramatically within two days of treatment.

How can SPD be prevented?

Don’t let your dog catch or eat raw or cold processed salmonoid fish of any kind, as even cold processing will not get rid of the pathogen. If you choose to feed your dog salmonoids, see to it that the fish is cooked or pressure canned. This will save him from suffering SPD and save you from a veterinary bill. Observe your pet closely after any trip to make sure he is healthy.

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