Raw salmon: terrible for your dog.
Raw salmon can kill your dog. NAT GEO VIA GETTY IMAGES

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W.C. Fields once said: “I don’t drink water. Fish fuck in it.” (Though he also never drank “anything stronger than gin before breakfast”). This fall, the Seattle Animal Shelter is warning Pacific Northwesterners who have dogs to keep them away from rivers and creeks where salmon swim to spawn—because of an extremely toxic parasite found in the fish that could prove potentially fatal to dogs.

The sickness caused by Nanophyetus Salmincola is no joke—if left untreated, the salmon poisoning is fatal to 90% of dogs. And the symptoms, which can appear within six days after a dog ingests raw salmon, are nasty, as one Olympia doggo who survived the ordeal found out.

Meet Leo.

Leos gonna be okay, everyone!
Leo's gonna be okay, everyone! SP

Leo was born on the side of a highway in the deep south, the runt of the litter, and was picked up by a couple of radical queer farmers and brought to Olympia to live out the rest of his days in a Pacific Northwest paradise. His hobbies include rolling around in the mud, not giving back sticks that are thrown to him, and chewing on things. He is a very good boy! And loves his life!

But all that almost came to an end when he caught the dreaded Pacific Northwest salmon poisoning.

Luckily, his owners noticed the symptoms (which include a lack of appetite, fever, and diarrhea), and brought him to the vet right away.

The treatment is actually pretty simple: if caught on time, the illness can be treated with antibiotics and “wormer” medication, and will lead to improvement within two days.

Salmon poisoning occurs west of the Cascades, and dogs are the only species susceptible to it (cats, bears, and raccoons can all eat raw fish without a problem).

The Seattle Animal Shelter and Seattle Parks and Recreation is asking dog owners to keep their dogs leashed in parks and on hiking trails and to avoid areas where salmon spawn, like at Piper’s Creek in Carkeek Park.

If you own a dog, you probably love them more than any other (non-human) creature in the world. So please protect your doggos—keep them leashed near rivers and creeks and if you see them eat raw fish, let your veterinarian know so they can get tested!