Dr. Mike Paul, DVM, of Pet Health Network, a website dedicated to pet owners, explained that salmonella is a widespread zoonotic bacteria that affects many species of animals, including humans. Enterobacteriaceae Salmonella is a member of the bacterial family, spreading either directly or indirectly by fecal-oral contamination among humans and between species by ingestion of food or water or by contact with contaminated objects or fomites.
Turtles, lizards, and snakes are likely to be carriers of salmonella, harboring the bacteria in their gastrointestinal tract. However, warm-blooded pets and livestock are also potential carriers of salmonella and may even appear healthy, according to the public health institute CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), as cited by Dr. Paul.
Key Statistics On Salmonella
The CDC estimated that approximately 1.35 million illnesses and 420 deaths occur because of non-typhoidal Salmonella each year in the US. 895 people from 48 states in the US were recorded being infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella from January 4, 2016 to September 10, 2016. The age of ill people ranged from less than one year to 106, with a median age of 27. Of those, 52% were female. Of 761 ill people with available information, 209 or 27% were reported hospitalized and three deaths were also reported.
In interviews, ill people answered queries about contact with animals and foods consumed during the week before becoming sick. Contact with live poultry the week prior to becoming ill was reported by 552 of 745 (74%) ill people interviewed. Some of the places they reported contact with live poultry were their own home or someone else’s, work, and school.
Salmonellosis is the second most commonly reported gastrointestinal infection and a cause of foodborne outbreaks in the EU/EEA, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the EU’s independent agency. Salmonellosis accounted for 22% of all foodborne outbreaks (953 outbreaks) in 2015, with 114 salmonellosis cases reported by 30 EU/EEA countries. There were 95,595 confirmed cases and an EU/EEA notification rate of 22.9 cases per 100,000 population compared with 2014’s 21.7 cases per 100,000, showing a 6% increase in the notification rate.
10,231 of 60,485 (17%) cases with known travel cases were reported to be travel-associated. The highest proportion of travel-related cases were reported in Finland (82%), Norway (78%), and Sweden (70%). Turkey (15%), Thailand (13%), and Spain (8%) were the most frequently stated probable country of infection that were linked with 9,300 travel-associated cases with known probable country of infection.
The highest rate of salmonella was observed among young children age 0-4 years old, with 113.0 cases per 100,000 population. The rate in young children was almost three times higher than in older children and at least six times as high in other age groups. In some states, the rate among young children was 30 to nearly 100 times higher than the rate among adults age 25-44-years-old.
Salmonella Prevalence In Diarrheic and Non-diarrheic Dogs and Cats
A total of 2,964 animals (2,422 dogs and 542 cats) were tested between January 2012 and April 2014, said Renate Reimschuessel and colleagues in their 2017 study published in journal portal Research Gate. Salmonella was isolated from 60 dogs (2.5%). Nearly half (27.45%) of the positive dogs were non-diarrheic, with 31 dogs (52%) having diarrhea at the time of sample collection. 31 of the 824 (3.8%) diarrheic dogs were Salmonella positive, while 27 non-diarrheic dogs (1.8%) were Salmonella positive. Hence, diarrheic dogs were more than twice as likely to be Salmonella positive than their counterparts.
The primary dietary factor correlated with being Salmonella positive was raw food. 16.7% or 10 of 60 Salmonella positive dogs were more likely to have consumed raw food compared to 7.2% or 169 of 2,362 Salmonella negative dogs. Moreover, 22.8% of Salmonella positive dogs were more likely to have consumed a probiotic compared to 9.3% of Salmonella negative dogs. Therefore, 22.9% of dogs fed any raw food consumed a probiotic while 8.5% of canines fed no-raw food consumed a probiotic.
Salmonella Risk Factors Among Dogs
Pet foods and treats can be contaminated with Salmonella and other bacteria, according to the CDC. Hence, dogs can be infected with Salmonella through ingestion. You can also get sick from handling contaminated pet food. Salmonellosis is seen infrequently in dogs and cats as it is generally limited to symptoms of acute diarrhea.
Since there are over 2,000 different types of Salmonella, a host animal carrying this disease will have two or more microorganisms or types of Salmonellae bacteria, according to pet health and wellness website PetMD. One risk factor you have to note is your dog’s age, with younger and older canines most susceptible due to their underdeveloped or compromised immune systems. Likewise, canines with weak immune systems or immature gastrointestinal tracts are at risk.
If your furry friend is receiving antibiotic therapy, it is more likely to be infected with Salmonella as the healthy bacteria that line the digestive tract may become imbalanced.
Symptoms of Salmonella in Dogs
The severity of Salmonella helps determine the signs and symptoms that are overtly present in your dog. These include fever, shock, lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, mucus in stool, and more. On the other hand, chronic forms of salmonellosis may exhibit the same symptoms, albeit much more severe.
Some symptoms include loss of blood, non-intestinal infections, weight loss, and fever. Your dog may also suffer from diarrhea that comes and goes with no logical explanation. This may last for up to three or four weeks, or even longer. It is important to familiarize yourself with your pet’s baseline health because you can be cognizant of the most subtle changes before such changes become too serious, advised Dr. Paul.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Salmonella In Dogs
A number of tests may be performed by your veterinarian. Fecal culture, cultures of other fluids, and RealPCR may be of confirmatory value. Moreover, your veterinarian may consider ruling out other conditions that have similar symptoms such as parasites, dietary-induced stress like allergy and food intolerances, drug or toxin-induced stresses, and diseases such as viral gastroenteritis or bacterial gastroenteritis.
Antibiotics may be prescribed for severe cases. Hospitalization in a veterinary facility where fluids and medications can be administered may also be necessary. If you want to prevent Salmonella, be sure to exercise control over what your dog consumes. Don’t let it eat stool, hunt, or drink water that may be contaminated with droppings. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling commercial pet diets, raw foods, other pets, or feces.
Salmonella infects humans and animals alike. Dogs with weakened or compromised immune systems are more vulnerable to infection. Younger and older ones are also at risk. Know your dog’s baseline health so you can discern any subtle changes in your pet’s behavior. This way, you can visit your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.