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SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is warning dog owners to be cautious of Salmon Poisoning Disease, which is caused by a parasitic flatworm found in raw fish, known as a fluke, which can be dangerous to dogs. 

Pet owners in San Joaquin County told FOX40 Wednesday they’re always careful of what their dogs eat but they will be on alert from now on.

Carolynne Toliver rescued her pit bull mix nearly a decade ago. 

Georgy Porgey, he’s very calm. He’s a good dog,” Toliver said. “He’s my other child. They become family. You know, after you’ve had a dog for a while, they become part of your family.”

The pair are frequent visitors to Barkleyville dog park in Stockton where they interact with other dogs and their owners like Diego Martinez and his puppy, Milo. 

“He’s a golden doodle,” Martinez said. “He’s playing with the other dogs right now.”

Visitors at the dog park were surprised to learn fish and wildlife issued a warning to dog owners about the Salmon Poisoning Disease. 

The bacteria-like organism can potentially be deadly to dogs and is transmitted by parasitic flatworms found in salmon, trout, steelhead and other dead, freshwater fish or cold-smoked fish. 

“It’s really alarming because if the dog does get it then the vet bills start coming in, and if you don’t have insurance, it’s just like a huge cost,” Martinez said.

Dog owners said the information is good to know about the potential dangers to keep their pets healthy. 

“I don’t let him eat from the Delta. He used to swim in the Delta,” Toliver said.

CDFW said if a dog recently consumed raw fish, owners are asked to be on the lookout for symptoms like:

  • Rise in body temperature
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid weight loss 

“I don’t want my dog exposed to any of this,” Toliver said.

CDFW said the disease is treatable if caught in time, but if not, 90% of dogs with the disease die within two weeks.

“I’ll definitely look out for more like warnings on like if I go to the lake or something like that, or even if the ocean maybe. But yeah, it’s definitely something to keep an eye out,” Martinez said.  

CDFW said the parasite is not harmful to people and pets other than dogs.