What is Salmon Poisoning?

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – I just moved to Oregon (from Boston) and my dog just got extremely ill. She is a 3-year-old yellow Lab. She started vomiting and having bloody diarrhea. I talked to my vet back home (Boston) and they said it sounded like parvovirus but she is a little old for that and she has been vaccinated. I called the local emergency clinic here and they thought she could have Salmon Poisoning. Can Salmon be toxic? She is acting really sick. What should I do?


Andrew M – Otis, Oregon


Hi – thanks for your email Andrew. I had to look on the map to see where Otis is and it looks like it is definitely the Pacific Northwest. You look like you are very close to the coast. Your vet in Boston and emergency clinic are both right. Common signs of parvovirus are vomiting and bloody diarrhea but she is a little old for that – especially if she has been well vaccinated. You are in an area where Salmon poisoning is common and it can look just like parvovirus.

You asked what you should do? Take her to your vet immediately. If they are not open, find an emergency clinic. Dogs die without treatment. I wouldn't mess with this!

Salmon poisoning is an infection caused by ingestion of raw fish. It is not a poisoning (as the name may suggest). It is caused by the Rickettsial organism Neorickettsai helminthoeca.

Exposure to a fresh brackish stream or beach and eating raw fish in an endemic area are risk factors. Salmon poisoning is seen in dogs of all ages and primarily occurs in the northern Pacific portion of the U.S. and the Pacific costal are of Canada.

An article that might be helpful to you is Salmon Poisoning in Dogs.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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