At KMC we've had many customers ask us about Raw Diet.
Personally we do not endorse this as there are just too many risks
involved with it. Although commercial dog food can be/does get
contaminated with salmonella it is more common in raw food.
Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, writes on
veterinarypartner.com that adult dogs fed a
raw food diet are more at risk of becoming infected.
It has, unfortunately, become popular to feed
raw foods to pets with the idea that a raw food diet more closely
approximates the natural diet that the feline or canine body evolved
to consume, and thus such a diet should be healthier than commercially
prepared foods,” she writes. “In fact, the cooking of food is central
to removing parasites, bacteria, and bacterial toxins from food. A
recent study evaluating raw food diets found that 80 percent of food
samples contained Salmonella bacteria and that 30 percent of the dogs
in the study were shedding Salmonella bacteria in their stool.”
Dogs in stressful environments, such as
crowded shelters with poor sanitation, are also more at risk to become
infected, according to
Can I Get Salmonella from My Dog?
Unfortunately, the answer is
yes. Salmonella infections are “zoonotic,” meaning they can spread
between animals and people. According to the
Centers for Disease Control (CDC),
Salmonella is transmitted through your dog’s stools or saliva.
Salmonella can be shed in your dog’s stool
for 4 to 6 weeks after he is infected. If your dog is diagnosed with
Salmonella, the CDC recommends taking the following precautions to
prevent the spread of infection:
Use a plastic bag to pick up your dog’s stools, tightly seal it and
dispose of it in a sealed trash can.
Always wash your hands right after handling pet
feces or cleaning up after pets.
Use a mild bleach solution to clean areas that
may be contaminated.
study released earlier this month found that
people, especially toddlers under the age of 3, can become infected by
handling contaminated dog food. For that reason it is important to
keep young children away from dog food and treats, as well as your
pet’s feeding areas. You should also routinely clean and disinfect
your pet food and water bowls, preferably not in the kitchen sink.
Further information about how Salmonella
infections affect people can be found at
is an infection caused by bacteria from the genus Salmonella.
The infection is usually confined to the intestinal tract resulting in
diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramping.
Salmonella in dogs can
spread from the intestines to the blood and then to other organs,
leading to severe illness. Although, disease from Salmonella spp is
not common in dogs or cats, the disease can be transmitted to humans
through contact with contaminated food and fecal material.
Common name: Food poisoning Scientific name:
What are the Symptoms of Salmonella
Salmonellosis is an infection caused by
bacteria from Salmonella, according to petside.com. The infection
usually stays in your dog’s intestinal tract and can cause diarrhea,
fever and abdominal cramping. It can spread from the damaged
intestines to the lymph nodes and then onto other organs, leading to
The majority of adult dogs that have been
infected with Salmonella have what is referred to as a “subclinical
carrier state,” according to the
University of Wisconsin – School of Veterinary Medicine.
This means that although they are infected, they
show no clinical symptoms.
In fact, studies of sled dogs,
Greyhounds and other working dogs found
Salmonella in up to 63 percent of their stool samples – and most dogs
showed no signs of illness, according to petside.com. Since
Salmonellosis rarely occurs in dogs, it is believed they may have a
natural immunity to it.
If a dog does show signs of being infected,
the CDC reports that the most common symptom is diarrhea, which may
contain blood or mucous.
These are other symptoms to look for,
according to petMD.com:
Abnormally fast heart rate
Swollen lymph nodes
Abnormal vaginal discharge
Salmonella in Dogs Signalment
All dogs are susceptible to Salmonella infection, but
the young and elderly are more likely to develop systemic infection.
Dogs under stressful conditions (crowding, poor nutrition, and poor
sanitation) may be more likely to become infected.
Salmonella in Dogs
Incidence/prevalence In a single study conducted in
north-central Colorado, 71 dogs with acute diarrhea were tested to see
if the cause could be identified. In those with confirmed cause(s) for
diarrhea, 2.3% were infected with a Salmonella
species. Studies in working dogs such as sled dogs and racing
greyhounds found incidence of Salmonella shed in 11-63% of fecal
samples, with most dogs showing no signs of illness.
Salmonella in Dogs Geographic
distribution Salmonella infections occur world wide.
Salmonella in Dogs Clinical signs
(primarymost to least frequent, scientific term, synonyms)
Diarrhea (+/- blood), abdominal cramping, fever.
Salmonella in Dogs Clinical signs
(secondary most to least frequent, scientific term, synonyms)
Anorexia or inappetence (poor appetite), dehydration (more fluids lost
than taken in by drinking water).
Salmonella in Dogs Cause (scientific,
common term) Many species of Salmonella, including S. enteriditis,
can cause infections.
Organ system affected (most
to least affected) Intestinal tract, blood, other organs (e.g.
Diagnostic tests Fecal (or
stool) culture, to isolate the bacteria. Specialized testing on
positive cultures, to get the type. Examination for intestinal
parasites that can cause similar signs.
Parasites (intestinal worms), other bacterial infections (e.g.
Clostridium), viral infections (e.g. parvovirus), Giardia or coccidian
(one-celled parasites), food allergies.
Salmonellosis is a common bacterial infection
of both mammals and reptiles. Though the most common site of infection
is the intestinal tract, the bacteria often colonizes the lymph nodes
that drain the intestines, so bacteria can be shed in the stools for
months after the initial signs have resolved. Since dogs will eat
carrion (dead animals) and fecal material of other dogs, they are
frequently infected, whether they show signs or not.
Most common signs of Salmonella in
Dogs are diarrhea that may contain mucous and blood, fever,
lack of appetite and abdominal cramping. Infections can spread from
the intestinal tract to the lymph nodes and then to other organs,
resulting a more severe illness or even death.
Sources of Salmonella include stools from
other dogs that are currently shedding the bacteria, contaminated
natural pet treats (pig ears, rawhide chews) and raw pet food. In some
cases meat not fit for human use is collected, ground, and frozen for
later use. Mixing meat from a number of sources increases the risk for
contamination to spread, and thawing at room temperature allows for
additional growth of bacteria before feeding.
Dogs can transmit Salmonella to humans,
especially to children or to anyone with a compromised immune system.
Lack of hand washing after cleaning up stools, after pet care, before
handling food, or before eating are the primary means of transmitting
the bacteria to people.
Salmonella in Dogs Home Care
At home care of diarrhea includes encouraging drinking of water, and
feeding bland and easily digested food. If other signs develop, such
as lethargy or weakness, if a dog starts to vomit, if the skin seems
to be getting less flexible, or if the diarrhea lasts over 24 hours,
smells very bad, or contains mucous and/or blood, it is time to seek
veterinary care. Extra care should be taken in cleaning up stools and
disinfecting areas exposed to infected feces to prevent transmission
to other pets or to humans.
Salmonella in Dogs Professional Care
Veterinarians can test for specific causes of diarrhea as well as for
secondary problems such as dehydration. If a bacterial infection like
salmonellosis is found, appropriate antibiotics are beneficial.
Intravenous (IV) fluids replenish body fluids and other supportive
care ton make the pet more comfortable. Special diets that are easily
absorbed can help as well.
Salmonella in Dogs Action
Salmonellosis generally responds to appropriate antibiotics and other
supportive care. Veterinarians can assist in identifying the source of
the infection. Common sources include chewing on dead animals, feeding
raw or improperly processed meats, and contaminated dog treats/food
made from animal tissue.
Salmonella in Dogs Outcome
With prompt and appropriate treatment, dogs are likely to have a full
resolution of their clinical signs. Regardless of treatment, a large
percentage of dogs retain bacteria in the lymph nodes near the
intestines and can shed bacteria for many weeks to months. With proper
hygiene practices and environmental care the spread of the infection
to other animals, and especially humans, can be prevented.
Cleanliness is next to healthiness when it
comes to preventing Salmonella infections. Take extra care to clean up
your dog’s stools, and to clean and disinfect his feeding area.
You can regularly check the FDA
website for recent pet food recalls, market
withdrawals and safety alerts. You can also sign up to receive updates
To boost your dog’s immune system and prevent
him from getting Salmonellosis and other infections, you can
supplement his diet with
reishi, which offers immunity support for
aging dogs as well as dogs with weak immune systems.
References/Additional Readings Cantor GH.,
et.al. Salmonella shedding in racing sled dogs. Journal of Veterinary
Diagnostic Investigation 1997; 9:447, 448.
Chenagappa, MM, et al. Prevalence of
Salmonella in raw meat used in diets of racing greyhounds Journal of
Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 1993; 5:372-377.
Finley, R et al. Human Health Implications of
Salmonella-Contaminated Natural Pet Treats and Raw Pet Food. Food
Safety CID 2006; 42: 686-691.
Hackett, T et al. Prevalence of Enteric
Pathogens in Dogs of North-Central Colorado. Journal of the American
Animal Hospital Association 2003; 39:52-56.
Hoskins, JD. Bacterial Infections. In:
Morgan, RV, ed. Handbook of Small Animal Practice, 3rd Ed.
Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1997; 1148-1149.
Morse, EV et al. Canine Salmonellosis: A
Review and Report of Dog to Child Transmission of Salmonella
enteritidis. American Journal of Public Health 1976; 66:82-84.
Author Mary M Schell DVM, DABT, DABT
Editor Sharon Gwaltney-Brant DVM, PhD, DABVT,