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Toxoplasmosis in Dogs



In case of severe disease, your dog may need to be hospitalized for emergency treatment. This is rarely the case with dogs, and is more likely only with dogs that have suppressed immune systems. Fluids can be given intravenously to dogs with poor hydration. Antibiotics may also be given to control the infection and prevent further progression of disease symptoms.




While cats are the best known transmitters for the T. gondii parasite, it is important to remember that the parasite is more frequently acquired through handling raw meat and eating unwashed fruits and vegetables. The best protection against this parasite, for you and your pet, is through prevention and hygiene. Do not feed raw meat to your dog, and do not allow your dog to have access to cat feces. That is, if you also have a cat in the home, keep the litter box in a location where the dog cannot gain access to it, as dogs are known to eat cat feces.


Other protective measures include covering outdoor sandboxes when not in use to prevent cats from using them as litter boxes, wearing gloves while gardening, washing hands after playing outside (particularly with children), wearing disposable gloves while changing litter boxes (and possibly a face mask as well, if pregnant or immune compromised), and keeping the litter box clean on a daily basis. The longer the infected feces remains in the litter box, the more likely the possibility that the eggs of the parasite will become viable and infectious. If at all possible, pregnant women should avoid cleaning litter boxes, as this parasite has been known to cause severe complications during pregnancy. If it is unavoidable, make sure that all precautions are taken to avoid contact through the respiratory tract (face mask, disposable gloves).


If you do also have a cat in your home, you may choose to have your cat tested for the T. gondii parasite, but the irony is that cats that test positive are less likely to be a threat of infectious transmission than cats that test negative, since cats that test positive are only testing positive for the antibodies to the parasite, meaning that they have already been previously infected and are now nearly immune to the infection; therefore, posing a much lower risk of being infectious. In fact, cats that have been infected with the T. gondii are generally immune to repeat infections for up to six years.


Conversely, if your cat tests negative for T. gondii antibodies, you will need to be that much more preventative in your approach to protecting your cat from infection, since they have no immunity to protect them from infection.


You can also have your dog tested for T. gondii antibodies, but the same rule applies generally. If your dog has antibodies in its bloodstream, then it has already been infected. Dogs are not regarded as a threat for transmission of this parasite.



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