By Karen A. Soukiasian
Pet foods recalls have become common and tainted dog foods expose your pet to dangers like salmonella poisoning.
Most dog owners expect pet foods made in the U.S.A. to be safe. Unfortunately, this is not true.
What is salmonella poisoning?
Salmonella poisoning is the infection caused by contact with the salmonella bacteria. It can cause gastroenteritis and septicemia (intestinal and blood infections.) Salmonella poisoning occurs when your dog is exposed to contaminated foods, treats, soil, water, raw and/or undercooked meats. The bacteria is also commonly found in pig ears.
It is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be passed back and forth between the animals and humans. Your dog can continue to shed the infected bacteria long after they have become infected. Shedding occurs through feces and saliva. The incubation period for salmonella poisoning is typically between 12-36 hours.
Salmonella poisoning can be life threatening, especially for puppies, senior dogs, dogs with compromised immune systems or dogs using prolonged antibiotic treatments.
Dehydration is the most common cause of death. That is why immediate treatment, especially re-hydration is vitally important.
Signs and symptoms
Be familiar with your dog’s baseline health. By knowing that, you can sometimes be aware of even the most subtle changes, before they become too serious.
Warning signs: vomiting, fever, lack of appetite, dehydration, lethargy, electrolyte reduction, hypoglycemia, difficulty urinating, unusual vaginal discharge, abdominal pain, rapid heart rate, stiffness, joint pains, skin problems, swollen lymph nodes, gurgling stomach, weight loss, swollen eyes, and shock. This infection can also cause spontaneous abortion and miscarriages.
Fecal, urine and blood tests taken by your veterinarian are used to make the diagnosis.
Be sure to keep your receipts, so you can contact the dog food manufacturer for financial compensation, if your pet has eaten a recalled product.
Salmonella poisoning treatments
It is important to seek a diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible. The longer the symptoms are ignored, the more serious the situation will become. Salmonella poisoning can be deadly.
Unless the infection has become extremely serious or life threatening, most treatments may be done out-patient. Treatment includes: restrict feeding for 2-3 days, plenty of fluids, antimicrobial treatments, glucocorticoid treatment to prevent shock, reduced activities and plenty of rest. Some veterinarians may prescribe antibiotic treatment to prevent secondary infections.
Serious cases may require your animal to spend a few days at the vet, to receive I.V. fluid treatments and/or blood transfusions.
Who is at risk?
All dogs are at risk. Age and a dog’s general health can increase risk and determine how seriously they are affected if they are infected with salmonella poisoning.
Puppies, seniors, dogs in ill health, those with compromised immune systems or who have been on prolonged antibiotic treatments have a higher risk factor.
You are also at risk. Keep in mind, this is a zoonotic disease. It can be passed back and forth between pet and people.
If your dog contacts salmonella poisoning, be sure to wash your hands with hot water and soap after touching your dog or his food.
To reduce the risk your dog will contact salmonella poisoning, watch for food and treat recalls, avoid contact with infected dogs and do not give pig ears as treats and sterilize water.
Keep your dog’s food and water bowls clean with daily bleaching. Periodically disinfect furniture, floors, kennels and crates with bleach.
Do not allow your dog to drink or play in standing water or ponds. Wash your hands often.
Bottom Line: Salmonella poisoning is serious and can be fatal. Take the necessary precautions. Watch for dog food and treat recalls. Be aware of the risk of raw diets and undercooked meats. Seek veterinary help immediately, if you suspect your dog may be infected. Treatments are available and successful, if salmonella poisoning is caught early.
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