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Salmon Poisoning and Dogs in the Pacific Northwest

Posted by Tonda Lark at

Attention dog-loving anglers: After shop dog Moose found himself a decomposing fish carcass this past weekend on a fishing trip, we decided to do a little studying up on salmon poisoning in dogs.

Salmon in the Northwest are often harboring fluke infestations, the larvae of which are frequently infected with rickettsia, a primitive form of bacteria. When the dog eats raw salmon the fluke larvae attach to the intestinal wall and the rickettsia invade the intestinal lining cells and subsequently cause systemic infection. The signs are severe gastroenteritis (vomiting, diarrhea), lethargy, fever, weakness and enlarged lymph nodes. The weakness is due to the severe infection, not a toxin as was the assumption in years past. Clinical signs usually develop within a week or so of eating the fish. Mortality, if untreated, is quite high, around 90%. Treatment with medication can be curative if instituted early in the course of the disease. Early diagnosis is usually base on clinical signs, as well as other diagnostic tests. The disease is not restricted to Salmon, but can also be seen following the consumption of raw trout or salamanders in the Northwest. Cooking the fish (or salamander if you're into exotic cuisine) kills the rickettsia and is safe to feed.

Bottom line: don't let your dog eat raw salmon or trout in our region. Be safe and keep a watchful eye on your loved furry friends while chasing fish. Please share this with your friends.

Moose with found salmon carcass along the Clearwater River. Luckily we were able to stop him before he ate any of the meat.


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