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Local veterinarians urge caution for dogs with salmon poisoning

Local veterinarians are urging dog owners to be extra cautious with their pets regarding salmon poisoning.

“With the salmon run starting, it is important for dog owners to be aware of the threat of this disease,” said Dr. Lynn Harbinson with VCA Animal Medical Center in Richland. “This is a deadly disease that is specific to the Northwest where dogs have access to raw or undercooked salmon or related fish.”

Salmon poisoning is caused by neorickettsia helminthoeca, which is an infectious agent carried by a parasite that infects salmon, though not carried in all salmon, she said.

When dogs eat uncooked or undercooked salmon, or related fish parts from trout, for instance, they can become infected with the parasite. Common symptoms include loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss.

Without treatment, Harbinson said, the disease is fatal.

“Dog owners who are concerned their pet may have this disease should contact their veterinarian immediately,” Harbinson said.