Toxoplasmosis in Dogs

Overview of Toxoplasmosis in Dogs

Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by a single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasmosis can occur in both cats and dogs. This disease is zoonotic, which means it is transmissible to humans, and pregnant women especially must be careful.

Animals that are fed raw or incompletely cooked meat are at higher risk of developing toxoplasmosis, as well as animals that are immunosuppressed.

Dogs usually contract the disease by the following means:

What to Watch For

The signs of toxoplasmosis in pets are nonspecific, and most dogs show no signs of infection. These signs may include fever, loss of appetite and depression. Further signs may occur, but that depends on where the infection occurs; toxoplasmosis can affect any organ system but primarily affects the lungs, the central nervous system (brain) and the eyes.

Diagnosis of Toxoplasmosis in Dogs

The best method to diagnose toxoplasmosis is measurement of antibodies to the organism. Your veterinarian may also do other diagnostic tests, such as:

Treatment of Toxoplasmosis in Dogs

Home Care and Prevention

At home care consists of administering any medications prescribed by your veterinarian.

Feed only dry, canned or cooked food. Do not feed uncooked meat, entrails or bones as these tissues may contain toxoplasma cysts. Secure trash containers to prevent garbage scavenging and remove carcasses of rodents or birds before they are consumed.

In-depth Information on Toxoplasmosis in Dogs

In-depth Information on Diagnosis

The diagnosis of toxoplasmosis can be very difficult. In addition to obtaining a complete medical history (including your pet’s travel history) and performing a complete physical examination, your veterinarian will likely perform many of the following diagnostic tests.

Other tests that may aid in the diagnosis of toxoplasmosis include:

In-depth Information on Treatment

Because the results of some diagnostic tests (i.e. antibody tests) take several days to return, your veterinarian may need to initiate supportive therapy before a definitive diagnosis is made.

Follow-up Care for Dogs with Toxoplasmosis

Administer any medications prescribed by your veterinarian. Some antibiotics may cause intestinal upset resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. If vomiting and diarrhea occur during the administration of an antibiotic, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Encourage your pet to eat and drink. Pets that are unwilling to eat or drink should be re-examined immediately. Your veterinarian will schedule a recheck examination and will submit blood to recheck antibody titers after the course of antibiotic administration is completed.