Toxoplasmosis is a disease process that may be more familiar to cat owners than dog owners. That doesn’t mean dogs aren’t at risk for infection, though. Thankfully, steps can be taken to not only prevent your dog from contracting the disease, but to treat it as well.
What is Toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is the disease process that is caused by a protozoal (that is, single celled) parasite called T. gondii. This parasite can infect any warm-blooded animal, including dogs, cats, and people. Although dogs can become infected by this parasite, they are not the definitive host. When a T. gondii organism infects a dog it cannot complete its life cycle but it can still cause a generalize infection as it spreads throughout your dog’s body.
A dog becomes infected by T. gondii when it eats another animal that was infected or when it eats stool from an infected cat. Once the parasite enters the dog’s gastrointestinal tract, it replicates by cloning and then migrates from the GI system and spreads throughout the dog’s body. The replicated clones will cluster together in cysts in various tissues and organs. An infected dog cannot spread the parasite through their stool.
Symptoms of Toxoplasmosis
Since the parasite can spread and encyst itself anywhere throughout the body, the symptoms of infection are varied and depend entirely on where the parasite ends up.