Anthrax is a disease that is caused by exposure to the Bacillus anthracis bacterial spore. This type of spore lives naturally in the soil where it comes into contact with wild and domestic grazing animals. If a dog happens to eat the meat of an animal that has anthrax, it is possible for the dog to become infected with the disease. Anthrax can be fatal, but if it is treated in time a successful recovery is possible.
Anthrax symptoms are generally focused on the mouth, throat, and stomach; this type of anthrax is known as gastrointestinal anthrax. Symptoms normally begin to appear within 3-7 days after the dog has ingested the contaminated meat. The symptoms can appear gradually and then slowly progressively worsen, or the symptoms can appear suddenly with life threatening effects. The most common symptoms of anthrax include: swelling of the throat, tongue, and tonsils, lesions or ulcers on the tonsils, swollen lymph nodes, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. In severe cases the swelling of the throat and tongue can occur so suddenly that the airways are closed off and suffocation occurs. In other cases a condition called acute septicemia develops; this type of condition occurs when the infection causes a response through the whole body, and in many cases it is fatal.
Anthrax is not a commonly occurring disease in dogs. It is believed that dogs have a natural immunity to the disease, and only in rare cases does exposure to the bacterial spore lead to anthrax. When these cases do occur, they are most often seen in states that are in the West and Midwest areas.
If your dog has eaten meat from a wild or domestic animal, and the dog begins showing gastrointestinal upset symptoms, take your dog to a veterinarian immediately. While anthrax cases in dogs are rare, they do occur, and early medication intervention will increase the chances of recovery.