CarlMeet Carl! Carl is a one year old Chocolate Lab who was in recently because he wasn’t eating and was lethargic. Dr. Walker examined him and found that he had a low grade fever, abdominal pain and was dehydrated. After running some tests, Carl was diagnosed with Salmon Poisoning. Salmon Poisoning is a disease caused by the ingestion of raw fish which can result in any or all of the following: vomiting, diarrhea, fever, swollen lymph nodes and/ or appetite loss. Left untreated, it can be fatal. Happily, Carl was treated successfully and is doing great!

Salmon Poisoning is caused by the ingestion of raw fish in the Salmonid family (which includes Salmon, trout, lamprey, sculpin, redside shiner, sturgeon, candlefish and the large-scale sucker fish). This disease is most prevalent from northern California to the Puget Sound, as well as the coastal streams and rivers in the Pacific Northwest (yes, including our own Willamette and Sandy rivers!). Disease is caused by a rickettsial organism, Neorickettsia helmonthoeca, which infects a fluke, Nanophyetus salmincola, which is imbedded in the fish.

Once exposed, symptoms usually appear within 6-10 days after ingesting affected fish. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include fever, depression, anorexia (loss of appetite), vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes) and nasal or ocular discharge. It may be fatal if left untreated. Treatment consists of managing dehydration by the administration of fluids, controlling nausea and administration of a specific antibiotic to kill the bacteria and a dewormer to kill the parasite.

If you know your dog has ingested raw fish or you suspect he or she has been exposed, notify your veterinarian immediately. Notifying your veterinarian of potential exposure is very helpful in the diagnosis.

The best treatment is Prevention! Don’t feed raw fish to your dog, dispose of any fish carcasses securely in the garbage, monitor your dog’s activity at the beach or river and notify your veterinarian immediately in the event of exposure.