The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is reminding dog owners in the Feather River drainage area to take precautions to protect their pets from salmon poisoning disease, which can be fatal if not diagnosed in time.

The disease can be contracted by dogs that come into contact with fish from infested waters throughout the Pacific Northwest, including the southern Cascades and northern Sierras to the Feather River drainage. Salmon poisoning disease is caused by a bacteria-like organism transmitted by a parasitic flatworm, which affects both trout and salmon in an area roughly north of a diagonal line from Sausalito to Chico, and on the western slope of the Sierra/Cascade mountain range.

Dogs are infected after eating raw or cold-smoked fish infected with the parasitic flatworm. All fish caught or originating from streams in Northern California, Oregon, or Southern Washington could potentially be infected with the disease-carrying parasite.

Pet owners who suspect their dog has eaten raw fish are advised to watch for signs of the disease to appear — symptoms may include distemper, a rise in body temperature, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, listlessness or rapid weight loss.

If a canine begins to show symptoms, pet owners are advised to promptly take their dog to a veterinarian. The disease is relatively easy to cure if diagnosed in time but will almost certainly kill a dog if left untreated, the CDFW stated in a press release.

The parasite cannot survive in cooked fish, is not harmful to humans and does not affect pets other than dogs.

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