Salmonella infection, or salmonellosis, is fairly common among a wide range of species. Affecting the intestinal tracts of humans, animals, and birds, the bacteria is shed through feces. While people are often infected through contaminated food (like raw eggs or undercooked chicken) or water, we can also get sick from the pets we love.
A significant feature of pocket pet care is habitat sanitation, but salmonella in reptiles, exotics, and other small pets can easily spread by incomplete or non-existent hand washing.
Salmonella in reptiles is responsible for numerous cases of human salmonellosis every year. There are approximately 200 different strains of salmonella, and all of them can make pet owners ill. All reptiles and amphibians should be presumed to have Salmonella in their GI tracts, potentially shedding it in their environments.
Detection of the bacteria shed in feces may not always prevent infection. The bacteria can be shed intermittently, and diagnostic testing cannot necessarily guarantee that a pet is clear of it.
Not All Are Risky
Since we know that the spread of the Salmonella bacteria occurs from inadequate sanitation, we can easily address this issue.
Exposure to Salmonella in reptiles and other small pets can be directly impacted by complete hand washing after handling the animals, cleaning their cage, or coming into contact with environmental contaminants. Salmonella can also be present in their food, equipment and water containers.
Living with reptiles, birds, or other extoic pets doesn’t automatically include frequent exposure to salmonella bacteria. Pet owners should:
- Thoroughly wash hands in hot, soapy water following any contact with their pet.
- Not eat or drink while holding your small pet.
- Not allow their pets to roam freely in the bathroom or kitchen.
- Not wash their pet’s habitat in the kitchen.
- Not snuggle or kiss their pets.
- Not adopt a reptile if they have children under the age of 5 years old.
Salmonella in Reptiles, and More
Lizards, amphibians, hedgehogs, hermit crabs, turtles, rodents and birds aren’t the only ones affected by Salmonella. Cats and dogs are commonly infected through raw food diets, rawhide treats or pig’s ears, or via contact with the feces of an infected animal.
Young pets as well as seniors, and those with compromised immune systems, are at higher risk. The following symptoms may occur:
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Lack of appetite or thirst drive
- Weight loss
- Rapid heart rate
Containing the spread of infection is critical. Antibiotics may be prescribed in more severe cases, but bland food and rehydration are effective in pets that are otherwise healthy.
Never Fear, Animal Kind Is Here
If you have any questions or concerns about Salmonella in reptiles or other wonderful pets, please let us know. Our veterinarians and staff members are always here for you at Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital.