If your dog is actively suffering from salmonella infection, or salmonellosis, he's not only quite sick, but it's possible the worst is yet to come. The disease, the result of the bacteria salmonella, is zoonotic. That means other animals -- and people -- can catch it from affected dogs. In a worst-case scenario, the bacteria enters the dog's bloodstream, causing potentially fatal septicemia, or blood poisoning.
The Spread of Salmonella
Dogs pick up salmonella from contact with infected feces. Many infected dogs remain asymptomatic, but can continue to spread salmonella. Puppies, pregnant dogs and those in poor condition or with compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable to the disease.
Canine Salmonellosis Symptoms
Suspect salmonellosis if your dog exhibits:
- Diarrhea and vomiting.
- Appetite and weight loss.
- Abdominal pain.
Mildly affected dogs may only experience a bout of vomiting and diarrhea. An infected dog's loose stools may or may not contain blood or mucus. The disease often affects pregnant canines, causing them to abort their fetuses. Some dogs are chronically affected, with diarrhea that waxes and wanes for no obvious reason, such as dietary changes.
To avoid becoming contaminated with salmonella, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing your hands with soap and running water after picking up fecal matter, as well as after your feed or handle your dog. Don't allow your pets to share your food.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Bring your dog's stool sample for testing when you take him to the vet. Your vet must rule out other causes of your dog's symptoms, including food allergies or diseases caused by other bacteria, including E. coli. She'll likely perform blood tests on your pet, looking for signs of salmonellosis such as low platelet or white blood cell levels.
After diagnosis, treatment depends on the severity of the disease. Dogs often require intravenous fluids to replace those lost from the diarrhea and/or vomiting. Your dog may receive medication to soothe and coat his gastrointestinal tract. Seriously ill dogs may need blood transfusions, and many dogs require hospitalization. Your vet might limit the animal's food for a time until gastrointestinal symptoms improve, gradually reintroducing it.
Dogs suffering from septicemia require aggressive treatment. This may include special antibiotics targeted against salmonella.
While most cases of canine salmonellosis occur in puppies, that's not true of adult dogs consuming a raw food diet. Food that isn't cooked is a breeding ground for various toxins. While a dog eating a raw food diet may never become symptomatic, he can shed the bacteria in his feces and saliva, so licking spreads the disease. Since salmonella survives for a long time in soil, a dog can spread the disease to other canines or humans.