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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Toxoplasmosis View In Dogs




Condition Overview

This disease is caused by a protozoan that infects warm-blooded animals. Cats are the definitive host, but other animals, including dogs and humans can act as intermediate hosts. This is not common in dogs.


Most dogs with toxoplasmosis experience no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they include fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, cough, and rapid breathing. Other signs are weight loss, diarrhea, lymph node enlargement, and swelling of the abdomen. Young puppies with toxoplasmosis may show signs of pneumonia, hepatitis, or encephalitis. In brood females, intrauterine infection can result in abortion, stillbirths, and the birth of sick puppies who die within the first week of life.


The principal mode of transmission in dogs and people includes raw or undercooked pork, beef, mutton, or veal that contains the organism Toxoplasma gondii.

Oocysts excreted in the stools of infected cats, or ingesting spores, are other potential sources of infection. Oocysts require 1-3 days under ideal conditions of warm temperature and high humidity to produce spores. These infective spores can survive in the environment for months or years. Only cats will excrete the oocytes in their stool. The dog is not capable of infecting other dogs and humans this in this way.


The diagnosis is made by serology. An elevated IgM titer (by ELISA tests) is diagnostic for active or recent infection.


Antibiotics are available to treat acute toxoplasmosis. Clindamycin is the drug of choice.


Prevent the disease by keeping your pet from roaming and hunting. Cook all fresh meat to a temperature of at least 150 degrees F (65.5C). Wash your hands with soap and water after handling raw meat. Always clean kitchen surfaces that come in contact with raw meat.


Please contact your veterinarian if you suspect your pet may be infected with this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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