Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Cats are the primary carrier of this parasite which reproduces in the cat’s intestines and is passed back into the environment in the cat’s faeces. This parasite can also be found in infected meat, contaminated soil, and on unwashed fruit and vegetables.
What are the symptoms of Toxoplasmosis in dogs?
Symptoms are likely to mimic other infections such as canine distemper. Symptoms you may see are:-
Younger dogs and those with a weakened immune system are at risk of developing the more serious symptoms.
What causes Toxoplasmosis in dogs?
Dogs can become infected with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite by rooting in infected soil, ingesting cat faeces or eating contaminated meat, fruit or vegetables.
If your dog is showing any of the above symptoms, it could indicate a number of different illnesses. Your vet will need a detailed history of your dog’s health, the nature of their symptoms, and will undertake a thorough examination, routine blood tests and urinalysis.
Serological teats are most reliable for obtaining a clear diagnosis of toxoplasmosis. This test measures the levels of toxoplasma antigens in the body, enabling your vet to determine the type of infection and whether it is active, dormant, recent (acute) or long term (chronic).
Your vet may also feel a cerebrospinal fluid biopsy will be necessary to see if the infection has reached your pet’s central nervous system
What treatments are there for dogs with Toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is treated with antibiotics to prevent infection and stall the spread of the disease. If your dog is seriously ill, they may need to be hospitalised in order to receive additional treatment such as intravenous fluids for hydration and other supportive care.
How can I prevent my dog from getting Toxoplasmosis?
If you also have a cat which uses a litter tray, faeces should be removed daily and your dog should not be allowed to get access to the box. Unfortunately, dogs are known to eat cat faeces.
If you have a back garden/yard which your dog has access to, take steps to discourage cats from defecating in that area. Cover sandboxes and exposed soil, where possible.
Do not feed your dog raw meat and unwashed fruit or vegetables.