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Salmon Poisoning in Dogs



This time of year I always smell the lovely scent of a rotting fish.  There’s a dead salmon in the streams surrounding our property.  Our dogs have three reactions to a rotting fish.

When Our Dogs Find a Dead Salmon

Sydney gets super excited and tries to find the perfect angle that will allow the most amount of rotting fish smell to cover her neck and ribs.  If there’s room, and she can make it work, she’ll roll on it, feet in the air, trying to cover as much of her body as possible.  Then she runs to me in glee so I can get a whiff of the lovely smell that she’s found.

Rodrigo will examine the fish while considering a roll of his own.  Then he looks to see if I can see him.  If I’m too far away or not within his eye line, he’ll have a roll; a big, long roll.

Blue is excited about the smell, will check out the fish, and then he’ll rub against Sydney and Rodrigo to get some transfer, but he won’t roll on the fish directly.

Fortunately, none of the dogs have taken a bite out of the dead salmon, but that doesn’t leave me in the clear.  I’d rather deal with the smell (it’s horrendous) of dead fish as I march the dogs into the shower rather than a sick dog.

Dogs Are the Only Species Susceptible to Salmon Poisoning

Other animals (we see raccoons and bears do it all the time on TV) can eat raw fish, but dogs cannot.  In fact, I’ve read that dogs are the only species susceptible to salmon poisoning, which occurs when a dog eats raw salmon that is infected with the Neorickettsia helminthoeca (wow, I have no idea how to pronounce this) parasite.  Trout and other fish that is infected is cause for alarm as well.

You can learn more from the following sources:

The salmon poisoning is typically linked to a visit to a beach or river where a dog has an opportunity to dine on an infected fish, but raw fish from the grocery store or something caught locally can also be infected, so dog owners need to beware.

Common Symptoms of Salmon Poisoning in Dogs

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes
  • Dehydration

Salmon Poisoning in Dogs Can Be Deadly

If salmon poisoning is left untreated, a dog can die within 14 days of eating the infected fish.  Sorry to be a bummer, but I read that 90% of dogs die if their illness is left untreated.  If you know your dog has consumed raw fish, call your veterinarian a-SAP.  Salmon poisoning is treatable if caught early.  If you have a dog that tends to wander, needs to taste things he finds, or raids the trash – you could be at risk.

We know that we are because our property is surrounded by creeks and we have the blue and white signs that let us know that salmon travel through our creeks.  The Pacific Northwest is known for the salmon (among other wonderful things – yayyy, it's raining again), so hopefully, this article will help keep your dog safe.

If you want to feed your dog salmon, cook it thoroughly first.  And FYI, smoking the fish won't necessarily kill the bacteria that lead to salmon poisoning.

I'm stunned by this.  I've lived in the Pacific Northwest all my life.  We've had dogs for 2-1/2 years, and I'm just learning about salmon poisoning.

Feeding Salmon to Dogs in a Raw Diet

When I transitioned my dogs to a raw diet, I learned that feeding raw salmon as part of a balanced raw diet is fine, but the salmon needs to be frozen.  How long and at what temperature depends on the temperature of your freezer and the fat content of your salmon.  Because I don't want to do that math, I've decided to leave Atlantic salmon in the freezer for 3-4 weeks, and I will cook Pacific salmon and remove the bones before feeding it to my dogs.

I have met many raw feeders over the past couple years (on the west coast) who feed raw salmon to their dogs with no negative side effects.



Cooking Salmon for Raw Fed Dogs

Since I still want my dogs to enjoy the benefits of the Omega-3 fatty acids in salmon and I know plenty of people who fish, I plan to cook for them.  Since the salmon is for my dogs, I don't have to get fancy in the kitchen.  Here is the recipe I follow:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Place salmon filet on a non-stick baking sheet with the skin side down.
  • Bake salmon for 20-25 minutes or until cooked thoroughly.
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