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Key takeaways

Salmonella poisoning in dogs is caused by infection of Salmonella bacteria, which is usually ingested through contaminated food or water.

  • Dogs tend to show no symptoms of salmonella infection, despite shedding the bacteria in their feces and contaminating the environment
  • Dogs with symptomatic cases of salmonellosis have symptoms such as acute diarrhea, blood in feces, straining to defecate, and lethargy
  • Diagnosis is based on symptoms and fecal analysis
  • Antibiotics are generally not recommended in treating mild cases of salmonellosis due to the risk of antibiotic resistance
  • General treatment is focused on symptomatic and supportive care
  • Dogs affected with mild salmonellosis carry a very good prognosis with supportive care
  • If infection progresses to severe sepsis, prognosis is guarded and intensive treatment may be required
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A closer look: Salmonella Poisoning in Dogs

Most dogs infected with Salmonella bacteria show no symptoms, and as such the majority of cases are not medical emergencies.

Symptomatic animals, especially puppies, immunosuppressed, and geriatric dogs need prompt medical attention, as they may develop life-threatening septicemia.

While not usually life-threatening, diagnosis and treatment are essential as Salmonella is zoonotic, and close contact with infected animals increases the chances of human infection.

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Risk factors

The majority of affected dogs do not develop symptoms of salmonellosis. Risk factors for developing symptoms include:

  • Immunosuppression
  • Elevated stress levels
  • Age, with young and geriatric dogs being more at risk
  • Excessive or long term use of antibiotics
  • Recent hospitalization
  • Raw food diet

Hunting and outdoor dogs are more likely to contact sources of Salmonella bacteria.

In severe cases, the bacteria can leave the gastrointestinal tract and spread throughout the body via the bloodstream, causing septicemia. Symptoms of septicemia are an emergency.

Possible causes

Salmonellosis is caused by the ingestion of Salmonella bacteria. Salmonella spp. can be found in:

  • Animal feces
  • Contaminated water
  • Contaminated food (e.g., undercooked or raw meat or eggs, dried pig ears, vegetables fertilized with contaminated water or manure)

Main symptoms

Most infected dogs do not exhibit symptoms of salmonellosis. When present, symptoms generally occur 3 to 5 days after ingestion.

Testing and diagnosis

Diagnosis of salmonellosis is not straightforward as the symptoms are nonspecific and common to a number of other conditions. Dogs presenting symptoms of salmonellosis typically undergo the following diagnostic tools:

  • Physical examination
  • Bloodwork
  • Fecal culture
  • Analysis of fecal smears
  • Specific testing to identify Salmonella DNA
  • Abdominal ultrasound

Steps to Recovery

Most patients require only supportive care treatments, such as:

  • IV fluids
  • Dietary changes
  • Reduced exercise or crate rest

The use of antibiotics is controversial due to the risk of resistant strains of salmonella developing. Common practice is to use antibiotic therapy only in the case of septicemia.

Prognosis is generally good as the majority of cases of salmonellosis in dogs show no symptoms at all. Most symptomatic cases recover with supportive care, with an excellent prognosis.

Dogs that develop septicemia carry a guarded to poor prognosis and require hospitalization and intensive treatment.


Salmonellosis is contagious and is spread via fecal-oral route. Most mammalian species are at risk, including humans.

In addition to adherence to general hygiene and cleanliness standards in the home, prevention strategies include:

  • Avoiding contact between infected and non-infected animals
  • Training animals not to lick faces, especially children's faces
  • Frequent washing of the animal's bedding
  • Feeding only high-quality, processed food
  • Fully cooking homemade pet food
  • Picking up and disposing of animal feces promptly
  • Hand washing after handling animals, raw meats, and animal waste

Most household disinfectants can easily destroy salmonella on furniture or surfaces.

Is Salmonella Poisoning in Dogs common?

Symptomatic salmonellosis is rare in dogs. Since most cases in dogs are asymptomatic, overall rates of recurrence are difficult to assess since it is likely many cases go undetected.

Typical Treatment

  • IV fluids
  • Dietary changes
  • Reduced exercise/rest
  • Antibiotics: only septic animals


Walter Grünberg, DVM, PhD, DECAR, DECBHM - Writing for Merck Veterinary Manual
No Author - Writing for National Veterinary Institute
Stanley L. Marks, BVSc, PhD, DACVIM (Internal Medicine, Oncology), DACVN - Writing for Veterinary Partner
No Author - Writing for Worms and Germs
Walter Grünberg, DVM, PhD, DECAR, DECBHM - Writing for Merck Veterinary Manual
No Author - Writing for National Veterinary Institute
Stanley L. Marks, BVSc, PhD, DACVIM (Internal Medicine, Oncology), DACVN - Writing for Veterinary Partner
Richard Walker DVM PhD MPVM DipACVIM - Writing for Vetlexicon
Helen Milner BVSc PhD CertVR MRCVS; James Simpson SDA BVM&S MPhil FHEA MRCVS - Writing for Vetlexicon
Ken Harkin DVM DipACVIM(SAIM); Bryn Tennant DVSc PhD CertVR MRCVS - Writing for Vetlexicon
Kyle Braund BVSc MVSc PhD FRCVS DipACVIM; Elisa Mazzaferro MS DVM PhD DipACVECC; Neus Elias Santo Domingo LV CertAVP(ECC) DipECVECC MRCVS - Writing for Vetlexicon
No Author - Writing for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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