Salmon poisoning is a rare but serious condition in dogs. If not treated, around 90 percent of the dogs with this malady will not survive it. The cause of the disease is a bacteria that lives within a fluke that is a parasite of fish. Dogs ingest the fluke parasite and the bacteria inside it when they eat raw fish. The life cycle of the parasite involves both fish and snail hosts.
Salmon poisoning is not well known, perhaps because it only affects a few species, including dogs, and only salmon seem to be carriers of the parasite that contains the dangerous bacteria. In addition, the whole system of hosts, parasites, and bacteria occurs in a relatively isolated geographic area—west of the Cascade Mountain Range in Oregon, Washington, California and British Columbia.
Symptoms of the disease include severe intestinal upset, fever and swollen lymph nodes. If your dog has eaten raw fish in this region of the world, especially if any of these symptoms are present, veterinary treatment is essential. Be sure to tell your veterinarian if your dog may have been exposed to this disease.
Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral problems, including aggression. She is the author of five books on canine training and behavior.