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Salmonella in Dogs

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Salmonella BacteriaMany of us are familiar with Salmonella, but few people realise that dogs too can carry the bacteria.

In humans, Salmonella causes severe diarrhoea, fever and cramps. When it strikes the young or the elderly, Salmonella can be life threatening.

Daniel E. Salmon discovered salmonella in 1885. It inhabits the intestinal tract of a large number of animals. With the right conditions, these bacteria produce toxins which can migrate and enter the bloodstream causing septicaemia or blood poisoning.

There are roughly twenty species of salmonella and 2,300 stereotypes. All of these can cause disease. Salmonella infections usually resolve themselves in 5 – 7 days and do not require medical attention unless the person is severely dehydrated or the infection has spread. In such cases the person is rehydrated (often with intravenous fluids) and given antibiotics.

There is a growing trend towards feeding dogs a raw diet (BARF, bones and raw food). The increasing public awareness as to the contents of commercial dog foods has made dog owners turn to feeding their dogs as naturally as possible, and we fully support this movement.

Although the dog has evolved from the wolf and has been domesticated for thousands of years, its digestive system has remained unchanged. Its short intestinal tract is geared to the consumption of raw meat. The dog’s digestive system is able to absorb Salmonella but their droppings may pose a risk to humans. Opponents to raw feeding claim that by feeding a dog raw meat, it is increasing the risk of salmonella, and that via the dog's faeces heightens the risk of the bacteria being transmitted to humans.

There have been many scientific studies carried out and the results sway the viewpoint in either direction. There is no concrete evidence to show that the Salmonella in a raw diet is any greater than the threat in any other type of dog food produced commercially.

It may be argued that even if a dog fed on a raw diet shows more Salmonella in their faeces than a dog fed on kibble type dog food, the commercial food contains preservatives that are poisonous chemicals designed to kill microorganisms and so there are, as always, two sides to the argument. The conclusion is for dog owners to wash their hands after cleaning up their dog’s mess, and after handling raw meat.

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