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Salmonella and Your Dog 101

Reviewed by Dr. Celeste Clements, DVM, DACVIM on Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Posted March 11, 2016 in Dog Diseases & Conditions A-Z

Dog in Bed

Salmonella is a wide-spread and very significant bacterial organism that affects many species of animals, including humans. It affects warm blooded as well as cold blooded animals. A member of the bacterial family, Enterobacteriaceae Salmonella is spread either directly or indirectly by fecal-oral contamination among individuals, and between species by means of ingestion of the organism in food or water or by contact with contaminated objects called fomites.1

Salmonella is a zoonotic bacteria that infects animals and people and can be spread from one specie to another. Reptiles, such as turtles, lizards, and snakes, are particularly likely to harbor Salmonella in their gastrointestinal tract, but warm-blooded pets and livestock can also carry the bacteria and appear perfectly healthy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Clinical signs are uncommon in dogs, but canine salmonellosis is often associated with concurrent diseases in older dogs or with large numbers of infectious organisms in puppies.

Do dogs spread Salmonella?  
Some pet products, like pet foods and treats, can be contaminated with Salmonella and other germs, says the CDC. So we know that dogs, just like humans are infected by ingestion. Somewhat surprisingly, Salmonellosis is seen infrequently in dogs and cats and is generally limited to signs of acute diarrhea.1

How common is Salmonella in dogs?
While some early surveys disclosed that over 20% of the dogs in a population may have been infected.2  Food Safety News reports that more recent studies indicate that figure may be closer to 3%.

The role of food in Salmonella infections
Food safety news also reports that, according to the FDA, when contaminated with harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, pet foods and treats can make pets sick. These bacteria can also spread from animals to guardians, and people can be sickened simply from handling contaminated pet food.

What happens once a dog is infected by Salmonella?
Salmonella is a common bacteria, but doesn’t often cause disease in healthy dogs. In order for Salmonella to cause disease, a large number of organisms are thought to be necessary to overcome stomach acidity and to become established among normal intestinal bacteria.3

After Salmonella enters the intestines it attaches to the lining of the intestines and subsequently is transported to deeper intestinal tissues.

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Mike has more than 35 years of experience in companion animal veterinary practice and is a valued member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team since 2013.