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How to recognise symptoms of salmonella poisoning in pets

Pug dog advice

Salmonella infection can lead to severe dehydration in cats and dogs.

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If you suspect your pet has had contaminated food or water or has severe diarrhoea, they may well have salmonella.

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS

Updated on the 11/08/2020, 14:19

Salmonella is a zoonotic bacteria that affects the intestines and can, as such, be passed to humans. Pets will usually become infected by consuming contaminated food or water. It is uncommon in dogs and cats, but can be associated with raw feeding, particularly chicken.

Dogs and cats can be asymptomatic, but may show signs including severe diarrhoea (often containing blood), vomiting, inappetence and lethargy.

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How do you know if your dog has salmonella poisoning?

Salmonella infection in dogs tends to be associated with gastrointestinal symptoms. Yet, these are non-specific and can indicate other infections or illnesses. Your dog will need a veterinary appointment to rule in or out other causes of the symptoms.

The test for salmonella involves sending a faecal sample to a laboratory for investigations. It can be helpful to take a fresh sample along to the appointment, in a clean and sealed container. Always take care to wash your hands thoroughly after handling your pet’s faeces, particularly if you suspect salmonella as a possible cause because this is contagious to humans.

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Can dogs and cats die from salmonella poisoning?

Salmonella infection can lead to severe dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhoea, which can be life-threatening. Your pet may need to be admitted to veterinary hospital for isolation, IV fluids and other initial treatments.

Can humans pass salmonella on to dogs?

Yes, salmonella can pass from humans to dogs – and vice versa. Always wash your hands before and after preparing your pet’s food and take extra care if a member of your household has been diagnosed with the bacterial infection.

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How do I know if my turtle has salmonella?

There is evidence that the majority of reptiles are asymptomatic carriers of salmonella, and it is unusual for these species to become ill as a result. It is therefore best to assume that your pet reptile is carrying the bacteria and shedding salmonella in their faeces. So be sure to follow guidance on appropriate hand hygiene, do not house pets in the kitchen, and dispose of any waste from the vivarium directly into the outside bin.

What home remedies are there for salmonella?

Salmonella is a bacterial infection and there are no home remedies. As such, always seek appropriate veterinary care as soon as possible.

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Can salmonella go away on its own?

Some individuals will continue to be asymptomatic carriers of salmonella in the long-term. This is more common in certain species, such as reptiles, and is unlikely to progress to disease.

In other species, mild cases of salmonella may be dealt with by the immune system without medical intervention. But, if your pet was ill enough to require veterinary diagnostics for potential salmonella, they are likely to require veterinary treatment. This can involve IV fluids, anti-sickness medication and suitable antibiotics.

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How is salmonella diagnosed in dogs?

Salmonella is diagnosed by sending a faecal sample to a laboratory for testing. If the sample tests positive for salmonella and your pet is showing symptoms, then an assumption will be made that salmonellosis is the cause. Yet, the diagnostic process usually involves ruling in or out other possible differentials as well.

When should I see a vet?

If your pet is showing gastrointestinal symptoms that include watery or bloody diarrhoea, contact a vet. The vet will make a decision based on your phone call and advise whether a veterinary appointment is necessary.

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