Antibiotic Treatment of Toxoplasmosis in Dogs

Toxoplasmosis is caused by a microscopic, intracellular parasite called toxoplasma gondii. While this parasite can and does infect and warm blooded animal, such as dogs, it is only able to complete its life cycle in cats.

Symptoms of Infection

Most dogs that are infected with toxoplasma gondii don’t show any outward symptoms. However, there are symptoms your dog may exhibit that aren’t only indicative of this type of infection. Shortness of breath (dyspnea), jaundice and fever are some of the more notable symptoms. Skeletal muscle inflammation (myositis), tonsillitis and vomiting are some of the more noticeable symptoms. Your dog’s nervous system may also become infected. If this happens you may notice seizures and weakness. Inflammation of the retina (retinitis) may also be present in some infected animals. Inflammation of the iris (uveitis) or cornea (keratitis) may also be found. Toxoplasmosis in puppies, whether infected in utero or from the mother’s milk, is often fatal.

Proper Diagnosis of Toxoplasmosis

Many of the systems of this infection in dogs are similar to a number of other, lesser conditions. This is especially true in regards to parasitic infection with Neospora caninum. This parasite is far more common in dogs. Your vet may take blood tests or tissue samples for biopsies or both to properly diagnose this condition. Proper diagnosis is extremely important to ensure the correct medication is administered.

How Infection Can Occur

Ingestion of this parasite is the only way a dog can be infected. Dogs that ingest meat from an infected animal that is raw or undercooked can become infected. This is the most common means of infection in dogs. Aldo, dogs that eat the feces of cats that have primary toxoplasma gondii infection will also become infected. Ingestion of milk from an infected source that is not pasteurized is also a way that your dog can become infected.

Treatment of Toxoplasmosis

Because toxoplasmosis is an infection, treatment of this condition is done using antibiotics. Most vets will prescribe Clindamycin to treat your dog if he becomes infected. If your dog exhibits an allergy to this antibiotic, or it proves ineffective, your vet may prescribe pyrimethamine as a remedy. These two drugs are the drugs of choice for treating this type of parasitic infection. However, on very rare occasions, they prove ineffective. In cases such as these, your vet will try other drugs like diamino diphenylsulfone, atoyaquone or spiramycin. Finally, if none of these prove effective, your vet will prescribe trimethoprim. Treatment proves effective in over 60 percent of infected animals unless very young or their immune systems are severely suppressed.

Dangers to Humans

While humans that ingest infected meat that is undercooked can become infected, there is no danger of infection from an infected dog since dogs don’t shed oocysts during infection.

Prevention of Infection in Dogs

The easiest way to ensure that your dog doesn’t become infected by this parasitic infection is to ensure that, if you have cats, she doesn’t have access to dirty litter boxes. If you don’t have cats, make sure your yard is kept free of cat feces.

If you feel your dog has toxoplasmosis, you should take her to your vet immediately for proper diagnosis and medication.