For a lot of pet owners, feeding their dogs and controlling what they eat can be a problem. Sometimes, dogs just seem to gulp down any object as if they're never going to see food again! This can be frustrating and often problematic, especially when they ingest something that they're not supposed to.
When your pet consumes raw or uncooked meat, roadkill, cat feces, or gets in contact with anything that is contaminated with a certain parasite, your dog may get a toxoplasmosis infection.
Toxoplasmosis can affect any warm-blooded animal, including dogs, cats, birds, and can also affect humans.
So be careful of what you eat. And if you're not willing to eat it, chances are it shouldn't be given to your dog either!
Can Dogs Get Toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasma gondii is found largely in North America and affects warm-blooded animals like our pet dogs and cats. The parasite usually affects dogs with weak or underdeveloped immune systems, and it is highly transmissible.
When consumed, the parasite can invade the stomach and the lower intestine, and eventually the whole body. If left untreated, the disease can be fatal.
Does My Dog Have Toxoplasmosis?
The symptoms will vary depending on the type and extent of the infection. The signs are also generic, so watch out for fever, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, refusal to eat and lethargy.
It will also depend on where the parasite is found in the body. In the eyes, it may cause inflammation; pneumonia in the lungs; arrhythmia in the heart; vomiting, diarrhea and jaundice in the digestive tract; paralysis or loss of nerve function in the nervous system; and loss of muscle strength in the muscular system.
Your dog may get a Toxoplasmosis infection upon consumption of or contact with the parasite T. gondii. This parasite thrives in uncooked meat, goat's milk, and cat feces.
Veterinarians can only diagnose toxoplasmosis through a variety of lab tests including spinal taps and fecal and urine tests, since the symptoms are generic.
Serological tests may also be required to measure the levels of Toxoplasma antigens, determine the type of infection and whether the infection is active, dormant, recent or long term
You can visit our guide to Toxoplasmosis in Dogs to learn more, read the experience of other dog owners, and even get your questions answered by an in-house veterinarian.
How Do I Treat My Dog's Toxoplasmosis?
In severe cases, your dog may need to be hospitalized, especially if your pet has a suppressed or weakened immune system. Antibiotics and other medications may be prescribed to control infection and prevent the progression of the disease.
To keep your pet healthy, he or she might be given IV fluids upon recovery to help fight the infection. Plenty of rest will be required, and any contact with other animals must be avoided.
How is Toxoplasmosis Similar in Dogs, Humans and Other Animals?
Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that can affect humans, cats, and dogs alike. It is caused by the Toxoplasma gondii protozoan parasite and is spread through cat feces or uncooked meat.
It can manifest in warm-blooded animals with similar symptoms:
Vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, muscle pain, and fever can be expected upon intake of the parasite.
The risk of infection is higher in individuals with a weakened immune system.
To prevent infection, it is important to be careful when handling cat litter and to cook all meat properly before consumption.
How is Toxoplasmosis Different in Dogs, Humans and Other Animals?
Although it has almost the same manifestations, toxoplasmosis can be different in cats or humans. Some of those differences are:
Only cats or felids are definitive hosts of T. gondii, so they serve as a reservoir for infection and they can transmit the oocytes through their feces.
In humans, toxoplasmosis can affect pregnant women and can be fatal for the fetus.
Unlike cats, humans and dogs can only be intermediate hosts, but they will still be affected by the infection.
According to a neurological case study, 1% of cats in the U.S. can transmit T. gondii through their feces, and more than two billion people in the world are affected by the infection.
Dogs which have been known to have ingested cat feces infected by T. gondii can serve as potential vectors of the parasite. They can shed the parasite through their stool and can transmit it to other animals.