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Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease caused by the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. This disease affects almost all warm-blooded animals including cats, dogs and people. While infection is common among pets, few animals ever show symptoms of toxoplasmosis.

How Toxoplasmosis Affects Your Pet

Dogs become infected with Toxoplasma gondii after eating infected cat feces, contaminated soil, unwashed vegetables or contaminated raw meat. Most cats become infected by eating prey animals or through contact with the feces of infected cats. After they are ingested, the parasites replicate in the host's intestinal walls and then spread throughout the body in blood and lymph. Healthy adult animals mount a strong immune response that causes the parasites to form inactive tissue cysts. Most healthy adult dogs and cats experience no symptoms or mild symptoms. Puppies, kittens and animals with compromised immune systems, however, often become systemically ill after Toxoplasma gondii infection because they cannot mount a sufficient immune response. Kittens infected in the womb often experience particularly severe symptoms. Severe cases of toxoplasmosis in dogs and cats can be fatal. Three days after infection, cats shed infective oocysts in their feces and may continue to shed for up to 20 days. After this time, the vast majority of cats become immune to the parasite and never shed oocysts again. Dogs are dead-end hosts for Toxoplasma gondii, so they do not shed infective oocysts.

Common Symptoms of Toxoplasmosis

Most animals show no symptoms of this pet health condition, but when symptoms do occur they often include some or all of the following: Fever, Diarrhea, Cough, Difficulty breathing, Yellowing of the skin, whites of the eyes and gums and Seizures.

Treatments for Toxoplasmosis

There is no cure for toxoplasmosis, and most pet animals require no treatment because their immune systems are able to clear the infection. In animals that become systemically ill, certain antibiotics or antiprotozoals can be used to control the symptoms of this cat and dog health problem and achieve clinical resolution. Severely ill animals may also require hospitalization for fluid therapy and other supportive care measures. Prevention of this dog and cat health problem involves keeping pets from coming into contact with the parasite. This means keeping dogs away from cat feces, not feeding raw meat to pets and not allowing pets to hunt and eat small animals. Pet owners should carefully wash and cook all food and practice good hand hygiene. Cat owners should wear gloves when cleaning litter pans, and pregnant women should avoid cleaning litter pans if possible. 

Breeds Affected

Members of all canine and feline breeds are vulnerable to

Pet Insurance

When adding a dog or cat to your family you want to make sure your pet is happy, healthy and protected. During its lifetime your pet is exposed to many illnesses and diseases and some breeds are affected by a congenital disease which is a condition existing at birth. At these moments when your pet is ill or maybe needs surgery, you want to be protected for the unexpected and high veterinarian costs.

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