Dog owners warned: disease in raw fish

News Release

Dog owners in Northern California are reminded to take precautions to protect their pets from salmon poisoning disease. The illness is a potentially fatal condition seen only in dogs after they eat certain types of raw or cold-smoked fish like trout and salmon that are infected with a bacteria-like organism, Neorickettsia helminthoeca, which is transmitted by the parasitic flatworm (or “fluke”) Nanophyetes salmincola.

Nanophyetes salmincola occurs naturally in waters of Northern California and most of the north state can be considered the native range for the fluke. Dog owners are advised to be cautious and to keep their dogs away from salmon, steelhead, trout and other freshwater fish carcasses. The parasite cannot survive in cooked fish, is not harmful to humans and does not affect pets other than dogs.

If your dog has eaten or is suspected of eating raw fish, watch for signs of the disease. Symptoms are similar to distemper and may include some or all of the following: a rise in body temperature, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, listlessness and/or rapid weight loss. If signs of the disease appear, promptly take your dog to a veterinarian. Salmon poisoning disease is treatable if caught in time. If untreated, death usually occurs within two weeks of eating the infected fish. Without treatment 90% of dogs showing symptoms die.

While all fish caught or originating from streams in Northern California could potentially be infected, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife cautions that trout stocked in some waters in CDFW’s North Central Region, which includes El Dorado County, are more likely to be infected with the flukes that cause salmon poisoning disease.

Folsom Lake was stocked in March and early April and Lumbsden Pond will be stocked this weekend, according to weekly fish stocking information available through CDFW’s Fish Planting Schedule web page at

Source: California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Dogs should be kept away from raw fish caught in Northern California waterways as wildlife officials are seeing parasitic flatworms transmit a potentially deadly bacteria-like organism.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.