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Toxoplasmosis in Dogs

 
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 22, 2018
Toxoplasmosis in Dogs

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When you welcome a dog into your home it doesn't take long for a special and strong bond between pet and owner to form. Soon enough, the dog has gone from being a pet to becoming a member of the family.

So, caring for your pet becomes a very important part in your daily lives and you must become aware of any symptoms or behaviors that indicate that a disease is present, so that you can get them treated as quickly as possible.

This article tells you all about toxoplasmosis in dogs, what the symptoms of the disease are, and how to prevent infection.

You may also be interested in: Toxoplasmosis in Cats

What is toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by a protozoan parasite called Toxoplasma gondii.

The disease does not only occur in dogs, it also affects a large variety of warm-blooded animals, and also humans.

When a pet acquires an infection through the extra intestinal cycle (which affects all animals), toxoplasma passes from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream, where it reaches organs and tissues which are affected and consequently suffer an inflammatory and immunological reaction.

Toxoplasmosis in Dogs - What is toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis infection in dogs

Toxoplasmosis in dogs is a disease which is acquired through the extraintestinal cycle, and in order to understand how this happens, we must first differentiate the two reproductive cycles of the parasite:

  • The intestinal cycle: This only occurs in cats. The parasite spreads in the cat's intestinal tract, expelling immature eggs through its faeces and, when passed, these eggs mature in the outside environment for between 1 and 5 days.
  • The extra intestinal cycle: Infection through this cycle occurs by the ingestion of mature eggs, which travel from the intestine into the blood and are capable of infecting organs and tissues.

A dog can spread toxoplasmosis through contact with an infected surface, the ingestion of cat feces or by eating raw meat contaminated with parasite eggs.

Young or immunosuppressed dogs are at risk of the transmission of toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasmosis in Dogs - Toxoplasmosis infection in dogs

Symptoms of toxoplasmosis in dogs

Acute toxoplasmosis manifests itself through a wide variety of symptoms, although your pet will not necessarily show all of them.

If you see your dog suffering any of the following symptoms, you must go to the vet immediately:

  • Muscular weakness
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Complete or partial paralysis
  • Respiratory problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the mucous membranes)
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Inflammation of the eyeball
Toxoplasmosis in Dogs - Symptoms of toxoplasmosis in dogs

Treatment of canine toxoplasmosis

First, the vet must establish the diagnosis of canine toxoplasmosis, so a blood test is usually carried out to ascertain different factors such as serology and antibodies, defence cell count and various liver markers.

If the diagnosis is confirmed, treatment will vary depending on each specific case and basic health status of the animal.

Intravenous fluids will be used to treat severe dehydration and antibiotics can also be prescribed for infection control in the affected areas. Treatment should also aim to restore the dog's immune system, especially as it was already weak before the toxoplasma infection.

In some severe cases, your pet may require a period of hospitalization.

Toxoplasmosis in Dogs - Treatment of canine toxoplasmosis

Preventing the spread of toxoplasmosis

In order to prevent the spread of the toxoplasmosis in dogs the following hygiene guidelines must be followed:

  • Prevent your dog from eating raw meat and food past its use-by date
  • Control all areas where your dog can come into contact with cat feces
  • If you have a cat in your home, you must take precautions. Clean the litter box regularly and prevent your dog from coming into contact with it.

With regard to infection in humans, it must be clarified that it is not possible to spread toxoplasmosis from a dog to a human.

40-60% of humans have had toxoplasmosis, but if the immune system is functioning properly, symptoms do not arise. The dangerous disease only occurs during early pregnancy in women who do not have antibodies.

Human infection occurs through the ingestion of contaminated food and, in the case of children, through the possible contact with infected feces of a cat.

Toxoplasmosis in Dogs - Preventing the spread of toxoplasmosis

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Toxoplasmosis in Dogs, we recommend you visit our Parasitic diseases category.

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