Maybe the only thing surprising about this is that it’s taken this long, but there has now been a dog infection reported in association with the massive peanut butter recall due to Salmonella contamination. This outbreak has made hundreds of people sick, and caused a few deaths so far. Pets that eat contaminated "people food" or pet treats are also at risk. So, it’s not too surprising that an infection in a pet has now been reported (and reported cases are usually just the tip of the iceberg).

The case reported involves a  dog in Oregon that was diagnosed with salmonellosis after being fed Happy Tails dog biscuits. The Salmonella strain recovered from the dog, who had severe diarrhea, was from the same serogroup as the strain involved in the peanut product outbreak. The product (Happy Tails Multi-Flavor dog biscuits, UPC 41163 42403, 4 lb box, “best by” date Oct 31 09) was tested at IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group in Lake Forest Park, WA and Salmonella was identified. Other products from this and several other companies have been recalled, so pet owners should check the products against recall lists.  If in doubt, do not feed your pet(s) any treats until their safety can be verified.

Salmonella can cause disease in dogs ranging from mild diarrhea to severe bloody diarrhea and bloodstream infection that can be fatal in some cases. Dogs with salmonellosis can also transmit the infection to people, because they can shed large numbers of Salmonella in their stool.

If pets have been fed potentially contaminated peanut butter or treats, they should be watched carefully for signs of diarrhea, lack of appetite or decreased activity, and taken to a veterinarian promptly if there are any concerns. There is no indication to test or treat healthy pets that have potentially been exposed. Even if stool samples were tested and Salmonella was found, treatment of healthy animals would not be recommended. As always, careful handling of stool and frequent handwashing are key factors for preventing transmission of disease to people.