Monday Mischief #60 – Smelt, Smelt Everywhere


When the dogs rushed ahead of us to the river, we were greeted with an unfamiliar sight. There were dozens and dozens of dead fish all along the shore and in the water.  Apparently, there was a good run of smelt and they had died after spawning.

I’m always wary of dead things that the dogs find because they might try to roll on it or worse, eat it. Mr. N has found dead rats, a raccoon, birds, fish and an animal of unknown origin (it was so horribly bloated in the water, we couldn’t tell what it was).

I’m especially wary of fish because we have salmon poisoning disease here (it is most prevalent from Northern California to the Puget Sound). Salmon, trout and other fish can be infected with Neorickettsia helmonthoeca. If dogs eat the raw fish, it is usually fatal within two weeks unless they are treated.  

I haven’t heard anything about smelt being infected or dangerous to dogs but why take the risk (edit: apparently smelt can be infected with the parasite). Mr. N gave a cursory sniff then ignored the fish. He’s picky about seafood and a bit of a gourmand. 

Sage, on the other hand, really wanted those fish. She waded out into the water and was trying to put them in her mouth so Ann went and got her and put her on a leash. She still tried to get the smelt after that.

 So we turned away from the river and continued our walk elsewhere. No more walks by the river for us until the smelt are gone.

Do your dogs try to eat wild animals they find? 




24 Responses

  1. Lauren Miller

    March 9, 2015 8:20 am

    Oh wow! I didn't know about this! Thanks for posting! I will keep the girls away from the fish from now on! The fish they caught were still alive and immediately put back. I will watch the closely for illness.

  2. Emma

    March 9, 2015 10:33 am

    I thought I smelt some mischief going on. My mom would avoid the area for now too. Not sure if we would want to eat them, but I bet they would be great to roll all over. My sister Katie used to roll in dead sea creatures on the North Sea beach all the time in her younger wilder years!

  3. cupcakepetrillo

    March 9, 2015 10:42 am

    Yikes! I have never found anything dad in my neighborhood, but once at the park there was a dead bat. I took one sniff and steered clear. It did NOT smell delicious. I'd rather have the potato chips I dug up from under the snow. Yum.

    Love and licks,

  4. Sage

    March 9, 2015 1:02 pm

    Fortunately they didn't start their die-off until closer to the Columbia. Mom took me to a lower part of the Willamette the other day and there were no dead things!

  5. 24 Paws of Love

    March 9, 2015 8:17 pm

    I don't know about dead fish, but our dog, Brut, has caught small game (squirrel, possom and rabbit) and tried to eat it. We were always very successful in getting it from him. So far no problems, but I worry too.

  6. Beth

    March 9, 2015 10:11 pm

    It only took me screaming bloody murder once when Barley tried to pick up a dead bird for her to realize that putting dead things in her mouth is not a good idea. We see lots and lots and lots of dead fish, some bigger than her kitty brother, on the beach at the lake in the fall. They are so stinky and disgusting, but Barley never does more than glance at them. I'm glad Mr. N's refined tastes kept him from sampling the fish 🙂

  7. Janet Keefe

    March 9, 2015 10:40 pm

    We have occasionally had a dead bird in our yard that one of the dogs has grabbed…I always worry about diseases with them too. Our beagle Kobi found dead mice on more than one occasion, and he wasn't very good about "leave it". Who wants to pry a dead mouse out of their dogs' mouth? But I worry that mice could be poisoned because they're such a problem getting in houses around here. I honestly don't remember what I did at the time…it was years ago, but I think he ultimately gave it up.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

  8. K9s OverCoffee

    March 10, 2015 2:30 am

    Yikes! I would be walking somewhere else, too! Our boy Buzz once picked up a dead baby bird when he was only several months old himself. Thankfully, I was able to remove it from his mouth ~ followed by a thorough hand washing!!!

  9. 2browndawgs

    March 10, 2015 12:42 pm

    I have terrible memories of smelt from when I was a kid and my parents had a place on Lake Erie. One Spring as the smelt were running there was a flood and all the smelt ended up dead on the beach….stinky is a mild way to describe it. We had to clean it all up…yuck.


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