Can dogs get salmonella and how can it be treated?

Emma-Louise Pritchard
·5-min read
Photo credit: THEPALMER - Getty Images
Photo credit: THEPALMER - Getty Images

Can dogs get salmonella? We asked Katie Kangas, DVM, owner of Integrative Veterinary Care and Veterinary Advisor to Sovereign Laboratories, all the questions you need answering on this topic. We look at symptoms of salmonella in dogs, causes and treatment.

Can dogs get salmonella?

"It’s not uncommon for dogs to have salmonella bacteria present in their GI tracts. The most common species of salmonella that exists in dogs and cats is salmonella typhimurium," says Katie Kangas.

"When we see dogs become ill from salmonella, is when the bacteria grows out of control generally due to underlying immune conditions and weaker GI tracts, which are becoming more prevalent due to the highly-processed, low-nutrient foods most dogs are fed.

"If a dog does become ill from salmonella the clinical disease is called salmonellosis. Many dog's remain asymptomatic even with salmonella in their GI tracts but they can spread the bacteria to other pets or humans in the house through their feces."

What are the symptoms of salmonella in dogs?

"When dogs develop salmonellosis, it will generally present with diarrhea that may contain blood or mucus. Your dog may seem more tired than usual, lethargic and may have a fever or vomit. Other symptoms to look out for include dehydration, loss of appetite and a decrease in activity."

  • diarrhea that may contain blood or mucus

  • fatigue

  • fever

  • vomiting

  • dehydration

  • loss of appetite

Photo credit: Grace Chon - Getty Images
Photo credit: Grace Chon - Getty Images

What are the causes of salmonella in dogs?

"Many dogs naturally have salmonella present in their GI tract, however, salmonella can be transmitted through contaminated food or through the feces or saliva of an infected animal.

"Just like their human counterparts, dogs can get salmonellosis from contaminated food, like dry or wet dog food and a raw diet that is not stored at the correct temperature.

"Factors that increase the likelihood of salmonellosis include the age of the animal, poor nutrition, the presence of cancer or neoplasia, and other concurrent diseases and stress, as well as the administration of antibiotics, chemotherapy or steroids."

How are dogs diagnosed with salmonella?

"Your vet will usually examine your dog and speak to you about their symptoms and current activities that could have triggered the symptoms they’re showing. They may also run a lab test on their stool, however, dogs can naturally carry salmonella in their stool so a lab test alone won’t confirm if salmonella is the root cause of your dogs illness."

Can salmonella kill a dog?

Left untreated salmonellosis can kill a dog with a compromised immune system, extremely poor gut health or a senior dog. While your dog is sick, it’s important to monitor them, ensure they stay hydrated and also speak to your vet.

Photo credit: hoozone - Getty Images
Photo credit: hoozone - Getty Images

How can salmonella be treated in dogs?

"Antibiotic use in dogs with a mild case of salmonellosis or salmonella bacteria present in their stool is a controversial treatment among veterinarians and can often cause more damage to your dog's GI tract by damaging their good gut flora known as their microbiome. If a dog is severely ill with salmonellosis they may need emergency intervention.

"An integrative approach to treating salmonellosis is two-fold, first you want to treat the active infection and second you want to strengthen and heal a dog's GI tract so bad bacteria do not flourish in the future.

"Treating an active infection in your dog may include fluids and electrolytes to avoid dehydration. Additionally, giving your pet colostrum and probiotics or fermented foods will help heal your dog’s GI tract and allow the good bacteria to flourish and restore balance.

"Bovine colostrum provides a natural and powerful healing food for your dog’s gut and entire body. Colostrum provides immune factors necessary to protect and rebuild the gut lining and the immune system. It also provides growth factors for the body to repair and heal. It is ideal to use a liposomal form of colostrum, which allows for optimal delivery and absorption of these specialized nutrients in the gut.

"Fermented foods are generally more effective than probiotics, as they naturally provide a wide diversity of beneficial bacteria/microbes, digestive enzymes, minerals, etc., but both will promote healthy digestion and a healthy intestinal environment. Appropriate options for fermented foods for pets include small amounts of fermented veggies, kefir, yogurt, etc. or you want to select a high-quality probiotic product.

"If your dog’s case has progressed and become severe they may need antidiarrheal drugs, GI protectants or antibiotics.

"Preventing the presence of any pathogen from taking hold of your dog’s gut is the ideal way to approach GI illness and unfortunately the popularity of dry kibble and overly processed foods for our pets is a leading reason why they’re more susceptible to disease. To optimize your dog's gut and decrease the likelihood they will fall ill from salmonella or another GI pathogen I recommend the following in addition to utilizing supplements like colostrum and probiotics:

• Feed a balanced, fresh food diet that contains species appropriate ingredients. Heavily-processed foods that contain high carbohydrate percentages (i.e. most commercial pet foods) alter the gut microbiome and cause inflammation in the gut, which can lead to leaky gut syndrome, digestion problems, immune system compromise, etc.

• ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar). It’s a well-known fact that gut health is incredibly important to your dog’s overall health. That’s because about 80% of your dog’s immune system is in his gut. Probiotics are good bacteria that support your dog’s gut health. And prebiotics feed those good bacteria to help them work better. The fermentation process used for raw ACV makes it a useful prebiotic. ACV’s prebiotic properties support the good bacteria in the gut, helping with digestion and keeping the gut nice and healthy.

Apple cider vinegar acidifies the gastrointestinal tract which helps to combat pathogenic bacteria. And supports better digestion. Stomach acid is essential to the breakdown and assimilation of proteins, which is one of the main nutrients in a dog’s diet. Do not give your dog undiluted ACV. Always mix it into his water, broth, yogurt, food, etc. Give ½-1 tsp per 20lbs of body weight.

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