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What are Toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a single-celled organism, Toxoplasma gondii, capable of infecting both dog and owner alike. The infection is spread either through the feces of infected cats (as sporozoites) or undercooked meat (as tissue cysts). After consumption, the organisms invade the lining of the stomach and lower intestine, quickly spreading throughout the body. In young animals or those with compromised immune systems, this can be fatal if untreated. Older animals with good immune systems usually do not require treatment as they are able to contain the infection and often eliminate it completely. However, the infection can sometimes persist as asymptomatic “pockets” of organisms inside the animal, called bradyzoites.

Toxoplasmosis is an aggressive protozoal disease affecting humans and warm-blooded animals. Found worldwide, it is highly transmissible and can pose a danger to the health of both pet and owner.

Toxoplasmosis Average Cost

From 14 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$700

Symptoms of Toxoplasmosis in Dogs

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Refusal of food
  • Inflammation of the eyes
  • Lethargy/muscle weakness
Types
  • Acute
  • Chronic
  • Fetal
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Causes of Toxoplasmosis in Dogs

If you notice your dog behaving strangely, running a fever or exhibiting tremors, schedule a veterinarian appointment immediately, especially if you suspect your dog has eaten roadkill or from the litterbox.

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Diagnosis of Toxoplasmosis in Dogs

Acute Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis may be suspected if your pet has consumed raw or undercooked meat, cat feces, or come in contact with areas contaminated by the same. Gastrointestinal or neurologic symptoms should be reported to a veterinarian regardless, but especially in the case of toxoplasmosis infection, as time may be critical to save a young or vulnerable pet’s life.

The veterinarian can diagnose toxoplasmosis by a variety of lab tests, involving samples of the blood, feces or spinal fluid. The symptoms of toxoplasmosis alone are not enough for a firm diagnosis, and so these laboratory tests are essential.

Chronic Toxoplasmosis

Animals infected with toxoplasmosis as adults may sometimes retain pockets of the infection, which can remain viable for months or years. Usually, this does not cause any symptoms nor does it pose a threat to the animal’s health, but can be of concern if the animal is in contact with at-risk animals.

Fetal Toxoplasmosis

Females infected with toxoplasmosis carry a significant risk of transmitting the infection to their young while still in the womb. Young are often stillborn or die shortly after birth. In humans, toxoplasmosis in pregnant women can cause severe birth defects or miscarriage of the fetus.

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Treatment of Toxoplasmosis in Dogs

Acute toxoplasmosis may be treated with sulfadiazine and pyrimethamine, which are helpful in suppressing active multiplication of the parasite. Clindamycin is also highly prescribed for dogs. These drugs will not usually completely clear the infection, so the animal’s own immune system should be supported to eliminate the rest. If brought in quickly after eating infected meat, a young animal can make a full recovery from the disease.

There is no treatment currently available for chronic or fetal toxoplasmosis.

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Recovery of Toxoplasmosis in Dogs

Recovery from acute toxoplasmosis may involves IV fluids or other measures to help keep your pet healthy while fighting off the infection. Generally rest and avoiding contact with other animals is best.

Prevention is the best possible method for avoiding toxoplasmosis. Keeping litterboxes inaccessible to your dog, removing waste every day, and washing homegrown produce reduce the risk of you or your dog acquiring this infection. If you must feed your dog wild game or raw food, freeze any meat for at least two days before feeding. Pregnant women should take special care not to come in contact with cat feces or meat from wild animals.

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Toxoplasmosis Average Cost

From 14 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$700

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Toxoplasmosis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Cockapoo

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Ten Months

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting, Loss Of Appetite,

My dog has been vomiting for a week now. We have been to the vet on two separate occasions. We are sure that the dog ate cat feces from the litter box a week ago. Within a day he was projectile vomiting a clearish liquid. He has not been able to keep any food down for six days. The vet has ran a barium test, CBC blood work, and x-rays. The vet says nothing has come from these tests other than an enlarged stomach. They said everything was okay and there was no blockage. We just got home again from the vet and he just vomited again. We are unsure what to do. Any help would be appreciated.

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Is he on any medications? If all tests have come back normal, he would typically be put on an anti-emetic such as Cerenia or Metoclopramide. Without knowing more about his situation, it is difficult to comment, but those medications may be something that you can ask your veterinarian about, and if they would be appropriate. I hope that your dog is okay.

Aug. 6, 2020

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Fos

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Golden Retriever

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4 Years

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Ataxic

My 4 year old dog is diagnosed with toxoplasmosis, only 2 months after her litter. She is on clindamycin for 2 weeks, and went from not able to walk at all to three 10-minute-walks a day. 10 weeks to go according to my neurologist. In my country there is almost no experience with this disease and I am worried sick... I really need some positive input to keep hope. Is there any chance that she will survive? Can I do more than just the clindamycin?

Aug. 8, 2018

Fos' Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

It seems that she is responding quite well to the Clindamycin, and it seems to be working. If there is no long term damage from the Toxoplasma, Fos may recover quite normally. Time will tell how she will do, but you are on the right track.

Aug. 8, 2018

Thank you so much for giving me hope! One last question: in the article above is suggested to support the immune system. How to do that? What is your advice?

Aug. 14, 2018

Fos's Owner

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camp

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Great Dane

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5 Months

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Throwing Up Diarrhra

my 5 month old great dane keeps throwing up and having diarrhea he is fine when he is on antibiotics but the minute he comes off his back to throwing up and diarrhea help

May 2, 2018

camp's Owner

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Without examining Camp I cannot determine the specific cause of the diarrhoea, a faecal test should be taken to look for parasites and cultured to identify any possibly bacterial infections; generally metronidazole is prescribed in these cases which is a good all round antibiotic for diarrhoea in young dogs. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 3, 2018

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Bean

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Pekingese

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8 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss

Would high kidney counts be caused by eating cat poop, dog has loss of weight lethargy poor appetite was fine until couple weeks ago was told the dog was in kidney failure and was curious if anything else would mimic these symptoms

March 8, 2018

Bean's Owner


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Kidney failure may be caused by many different conditions which may include infections, parasites, poisoning, congenital disorders, poisoning, age, blood clots, trauma among many different causes; high kidney values are indicative of the kidney failing or not functioning but further examination and test are required to narrow in on a diagnosis. I would look at having an ultrasound of the kidneys done to look for any structural anomalies which may be causing issues. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 9, 2018

What are lasting side effects to toxoplasmosis? Can arthritis be one? My rescue dog was found with Toxoplasmosis. Underwent treatment but has head ticks at times where his head will jerk and slides in the floor and has difficulty climbing stairs and getting up from lying down,

April 21, 2018

Kristin C.

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Ares

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Beagle

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Three Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Vomiting

We believe our dogs have been eating cat feces out of the litter box. Now, my dog has had extremely runny and diarhea all day and has vomited a few times, but he is acting somewhat normal and has an appetite. Should I call the vet or wait another day?

Feb. 21, 2018

Ares' Owner

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0 Recommendations

There are various issues with dogs eating cat faeces and the faeces along with the litter may be causing some gastrointestinal irritation; most of the time there is no specific health risk from dogs eating cat faeces, it is just not a habit we want to encourage especially if your dog licks your face. See how they are after a day but if there is no improvement visit your Veterinarian; also ensure that you move the litter tray to an area where your dogs cannot reach like the garage or a utility room for example. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Feb. 21, 2018

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Lewis

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Cocker Spaniel

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11 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Lethargy
Vomiting
Death

My 11 year old cocker spaniel Lewis died suddenly yesterday (Monday) morning. He was fine Sunday afternoon, but in the late evening he was lethargic and overnight couldn't sleep. He was sitting up and breathing heavily, continually trying to lie down but not able to settle and get comfortable. By the early morning he was willing to go for a walk, as normal, but he went only a very short distance, had an unsteady, uncoordinated gait and seemed unable/unwilling to urinate and after seemingly trying to squat to defecate, he simply sat down and I carried him home. In the time before we could get him to the vet, he became even more lethargic, simply lying in one spot (though moving his upper body around - with hindsight it is clear he'd lost control of his rear legs by this point) and even after vomiting, he seemed unconcerned about moving. He brightened a bit on the car trip to the vet, but even in the exam room he deteriorated quickly, losing control of his limbs, unable to stand on his power and quickly passed away on the table. I realise I'm probably grasping at straws for an explanation to a shocking event - our vet said it was possibly a brain stem tumour or burst blood vessel to have taken him so fast - but his symptoms sound similar to those of toxoplasmosis and we've had a problem with our new(ish) next-door neighbour's cats defecating in our garden. I caught Lewis licking some of those faeces (which were fairly liquid - I'm not sure if due to rain or ill health on the cat's part) I think on Sunday morning (possibly the day before) and again a week or two back. Last week he had problems with diarrhoea, which was diagnosed as mild gastroenteritis and being treated with antibiotics, which were working well. More broadly, he's had some serious health issues in the past - an enlarged prostate leading to a perineal hernia and a weakened bladder - but he seemed generally healthy since an operation to fix the hernia last year (though was on medication to help with loss of bladder control), and as I said, seemed absolutely fine as late as Sunday afternoon. Is toxoplasmosis a possible explanation for his death, or are the onset of symptoms too rapid for it?

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Meatball

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Boxer Mix

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Inability To Chew

My 6 year old presents with symptoms of trigeminal neuritis and tested positive for exposure to toxoplasma gondii. Could this be the cause of "drop jaw" and muscle atrophy in his face?

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Calvin

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Rat Terrier

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5 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Lethargy
Loss Of Appetite
High Blood Pressure
Optic Neuropathy

It's hard to say when Calvin's symptoms began. About 2 months ago he had an elevated ALT at 665 but resolved at his 1 month recheck. Then about 3 weeks ago Calvin began acting lethargic, not wanting to eat as much, yelping when touched with no discernable pattern to where he was touched and mild weight loss. CBC and chemistries were normal at that time. A week ago he began acting sensitive around his eyes and and had completely dilated pupils but still retained some vision in his left eye. By the next day he was completely blind. His blood pressure was at 175 two days ago but after starting amlodipine lowered to 143 yesterday. Today we received the results of his test and he is positive for Toxo and starting Clindamycin tonight. I am curious to see if he will regain vision at this point. He has been on 10 mg Prednisone SID for the last 2 days and will be lowered to every other day starting tomorrow. I want to be optimistic about his vision returning but I am extremely worried it may never return.

Toxoplasmosis Average Cost

From 14 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$700

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