General Illness

Signs of Ill Health

Only a healthy pet is a happy companion. Assuring your pet’s daily well-being requires regular care and close attention to any hint of ill health. The American Veterinary Medical Association therefore suggests that you consult your veterinarian if your pet shows any of the following signs:

  • Abnormal discharges from the nose, eyes, or other body openings
  • Loss of appetite, marked weight losses or gains, or excessive water consumption
  • Difficult, abnormal, or uncontrolled waste elimination
  • Abnormal behavior, sudden viciousness, or lethargy
  • Abnormal lumps, limping, or difficulty getting up or lying down
  • Excessive head shaking, scratching, and licking or biting any part of the body
  • Dandruff, loss of hair, open sores, and a ragged or dull coat. Foul breath or excessive tarter deposits on teeth

Cancer

How Common is Cancer?
Cancer is common in pet animals, and the rate increases with age. Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, while cats get fewer cancers. Cancer accounts for almost half of the deaths of pets over 10 years of age.

How is it Diagnosed?
Strong circumstantial evidence of cancer can be attained from x-rays, blood tests, the physical appearance of the cancer, or the physical signs caused by the cancer. Most cancers, however, will require a biopsy (removal of a piece of tissue) for confirmation.

Is Cancer Preventable?
Some cancer, such as breast cancer, is largely preventable with early spaying. Unfortunately, the cause of most cancers is not known and therefore prevention is difficult.

Common Signs of Cancer in Pets

  • Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
  • Offensive odor
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing
  • Hesitance to exercise or loss of stamina
  • Persistent lameness or stiffness
  • Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

Many of the above signs are also seen with noncancerous conditions but still warrant prompt attention by your veterinarian to determine the cause. Cancer is frequently treatable, and early diagnosis will aid your veterinarian in delivering the best care possible.

Common Types of Cancer in Pets

Skin – Skin tumors are very common in older dogs, but much less common in cats. Most skin tumors in cats are malignant, but in dogs they are often benign. All skin tumors should be examined by your veterinarian.

Breast – Fifty percent of all breast tumors in dogs and 85% of all breast tumors in cats are malignant. Spaying your pet between 6 and 12 months of age will greatly reduce the risk of breast cancer. Surgery is the treatment of choice for this type of cancer.

Head & Neck – Cancer of the mouth is common in dogs and less common in cats. A mass on the gums, bleeding, odor, or difficult eating are signs to watch for. Many swellings are malignant, so early aggressive treatment is essential. Cancer may develop inside the nose of both cats and dogs. Bleeding from the nose, difficulty breathing, or facial swelling may occur.

Lymphoma – Lymphoma is a common form of cancer in dogs and cats. It is characterized by enlargement of one or many lymph nodes in the body. A virus causes most of these cancers in cats. Chemotherapy is frequently effective in controlling this type of cancer.

Feline Leukemia Complex – The feline leukemia virus is contagious among cats and will occasionally cause true cancer. There is no proof that it is contagious to humans. While a great deal of research is ongoing, no consistently effective treatment is presently available for virus-positive cats.

Testicles – Testicular tumors are rare in cats and common in dogs, especially those with retained testes. Most of these cancers are curable with surgery.

Abdominal Tumors – Tumors inside the abdomen are common. It is difficult to make an early diagnosis. Weight loss and abdominal enlargement are common signs of these tumors.

Bone – Bone tumors are most commonly seen in large breed dogs and rarely in cats. The leg bones, near joints, are the most common sites. Persistent lameness and swelling of the leg is an early sign of disease.

How is it Treated?
Each cancer requires individual care. Your veterinarian may use surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, cryosurgery (freezing), hyperthermia (heating) or immunotherapy to effectively treat cancers. Combination therapy is commonly employed.

What is the Success Rate?
This depends strongly on the type and extent of the cancer as well as the aggressiveness of therapy. Some cancers can be cured, and almost all patients can be helped to some degree. Your veterinarian will have a better chance to control or cure your pet’s cancer if it is detected early.

Lyme Disease

What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme Disease (LD) is an infectious disease syndrome spread primarily by a tick as small as the period at the end of this sentence and no larger than the head of a pin. It is caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium called a spirochete that is transmitted to animals and humans by the bite of the tick. In people, the disease can appear to be as simple as the Flu or as serious as Alzheimer’s Disease. If untreated, it can lead to joint damage and heart and neurologic complications. In animals, the disease can mimic flu-like symptoms of chronic arthritis and can lead to joint damage, heart complications and kidney problems. Studies indicate dogs are 50% more susceptible to LD than humans.

Where Is Lyme Disease Found?
First discovered in Connecticut in 1975, Lyme Disease has been reported in 45 states, however the disease is mainly clustered in the mid-Atlantic, Northeast, North Central and Pacific coastal regions of the United States.  Ninety-four percent of the human cases are reported from California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

How Is It Transmitted?
Several species of ticks transmit the disease. In Northeast and Midwest states, the common carrier and transmitter is the “deer tick” or “black-legged tick” whose scientific name is Ixodes scapularis. This tick lives about two years, becoming inactive during the winter, and feeds only three times, once each in its larval, nymphal and adult stages. During the first stage, the larval ticks feed on a variety of rodents and rabbits, but prefer to feed on the white-footed mouse, common throughout much of the United States. These hosts infest the almost invisible larvae with the infectious organism, Borella burdorferi, and the juvenile tick is ready to feed on and infect animals and humans. After its first meal and molt, it becomes a nymph. Nymphs also feed on the white-footed mouse, but add other rodents, the white-tailed deer, squirrels, birds, cows, dogs and humans as sources of meals, infecting them with the spirochete. The adult tick primarily feeds on larger animals, deer, horses, cows, dogs and humans. The greatest chance of becoming infected by the bite of the tick occurs during May through September, the period of greatest nymphal tick activity. There is a moderate risk in the fall months and low risk during winter. It is important to remember that not all ticks carry Lyme Disease. A tick bite does not necessarily mean that the disease will follow and prompt removal of a tick will lessen chances of disease transmission.

What Are The Symptoms?
Lyme Disease is not easy to detect for there are a variety of symptoms. Clinical Signs may not appear for a long period after initial infection.

In humans, there are typically three stages to the disease. The first symptom is usually a skin rash that occurs at the site of the tick bite within 3 to 32 days. The rash begins as a small red area which gradually enlarges, often with a partial clearing in the center of the lesion so that it resembles a doughnut or bulls eye. However, about 30% of people do not develop a rash. Other skin signs may include hives, redness of the cheeks and under the eyes and/or swelling of the eyelids with reddening of whites of the eyes. These signs may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, stiff neck, sore and aching muscles and joints, fatigue, sore throat, and swollen glands. The next stage can affect the central nervous system and heart. Headaches, neck pain, and rapid or irregular heartbeats are commonly found in the second stage. Finally, chronic arthritis and neurologic abnormalities can develop.

The stages in dogs and other animals, however, are not as well defined. This makes it difficult for veterinarians to diagnose the disease. The problem is that animals seldom develop the rash found in people. The common clinical signs are fever (102.5 to 106F), inappetence, acute onset of lameness with no history of trauma, and arthralgia. These can develop within weeks of initial infection. Recurring lameness, lymphadenopathy, glomerulonephritis, or myocarditis can develop weeks to months later. In addition to these signs, cows and horses may have chronic weight loss, abortions, and laminitis-like signs.

How Is It Diagnosed?
Diagnosis is based primarily on recognition of the typical symptoms of LD and by blood testing. It should be noted that early in the disease, the blood test can be negative even though the disease is present. Only with later disease does the test become reliably positive.

What Is The Treatment?
Antibiotics — tetracycline, penicillin and erythromycin — have been shown to be effective in treating the disease in both animals and humans in the early stages. If detected early enough, there is almost complete relief of pain and lameness within 24 hours of initial treatment in animals. Chronic cases of the disease respond much slower and require longer periods of treatment.

How Can It Be Prevented?
Knowledge of where these ticks are found, avoidance of such areas, and, if bitten, prompt removal of the tick are the primary preventive measures. Vaccines are available to protect dogs and humans. Consult with your veterinarian for advice regarding vaccination of your animal and with your physician if you are considering vaccination for yourself or a family member.

To remove a tick, use small tweezers to firmly grip the tick’s mouth parts as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight outward. Apply an antiseptic to the bitten area. After removing, destroy the tick by immersing it in alcohol. Save the tick, marking the date it was found on the body, in the event that symptoms arise and identification of the tick becomes necessary.

If your dog has been in an area where the tick is found, or if you have found a tick on its body and it develops any of the symptoms mentioned above, make an appointment with your veterinarian for an examination, blood test and possible treatment. The blood test may have to be repeated several months later. It would be wise, whether or not you have found a tick on your dog, to have it tested in the spring and fall to assure yourself that your pet does not have Lyme Disease.

It is not as easy to detect ticks on horses and cows, particularly in herds, but horse owners and farmers should be alert to any sudden onset of fever, lameness, abortions, laminitis-like signs or chronic weight loss in their animals and should consult with their veterinarian for evaluation.

If you have been in an area where the tick is found, or if you have found a tick on your body and develop any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should see your physician for evaluation and treatment.

Parasites

Internal

Parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and heartworms can make a home inside your pet and rob your animal of vital nutrients, leading to poor appetite, loss of energy, serious anemia, and even death. Puppies and kittens are especially susceptible. Parasite infestation can be controlled and prevented. Your veterinarian can tell you about the extent of the parasite problem in your area. Simple diagnostic procedures can be performed.

Toxoplasmosis is a related disease.

External Parasites

General Information
From time to time most pets have parasites such as fleas, ticks, lice, or mites. It’s simply in the nature of things, parasites being parasites. The pests abound everywhere; therefore, their presence is not a disgraceful reflection on one’s living habits. It is, of course, not necessary simply to accept such a state of affairs. Because external parasites can be extremely irritating to a pet and cause serious skin disorders or even disease, you have an obligation to rid your pet of these unwelcome guests if they are infested with them.

Yet external parasites, like squatters, are tenacious and difficult to “evict.” They are not always discernible to the unpracticed eye and are therefore sometimes present in great numbers before you become aware of them. If you find your pet scratching frequently, or if you discover bald spots or inflammation of his skin, chances are your pet is playing host to an army of non-paying boarders. And it’s high time for you to take him to the veterinarian.

The Adaptable Flea
The flea is an acrobatic pest that is adept at finding a warm place to live, jumping readily from dogs to cats or even human beings. The life cycle of the flea is about 30 days. The eggs are dormant in cool weather, but, with the advent of milder days, they hatch into worm-like larvae which eventually become fleas. The best way to rid your pet of fleas is to see a veterinarianfor advice. They may recommend powders, sprays, dips, specially treated collars, or even tablets to be taken internally — whatever the veterinarian’s prescription, you should take care to follow their instructions exactly.

It will do little good to rid the pet’s body of fleas if you don’t simultaneously cleanse their sleeping quarters and other equipment. Aerosol sprays can be used for this purpose with excellent results. Regular and thorough vacuum cleaning of the pet’s living area also helps to remove eggs, larvae, and pupae. Getting rid of fleas not only makes your pet more comfortable, it also reduces their chances of acquiring tapeworms since many fleas harbor tapeworm eggs.

Lice Not Nice
Lice are not just aesthetically unpleasant, and therefore, not “nice” but, they can become a source of danger for your pet — especially to puppies. Often dogs with just a few lice are very “itchy,” while those harboring thousands of lice may not scratch themselves at all. So small they escape notice, some lice penetrate the pet’s skin and suck the blood. The females will lay eggs which in just three weeks will hatch and develop into adult lice.

The constant blood-sucking, if extensive, can cause severe anemia in puppies and greatly weaken mature dogs, particularly females with nursing puppies. The pest can also be a source of irritation to cats and kittens.

Your veterinarian is your best resource to detect and eventually eliminate this dangerous parasite.

Mites and Manges
Mange is caused by another type of external parasite — the mite. Fortunately, mange is rare in the well-fed, well-kept cat.

In dogs, two types of mange are the most common: DEMODECTIC mange or “red mange,” and SARCOPTIC mange or “scabies.” They may be present at any time of the year.

Dogs suffering from demodectic mange usually do not scratch. This mange is most common in young short-haired animals and is marked in the early stages by small areas of hairlessness, accompanied by a red, irritated appearance. In sarcoptic mange, a severe itching is usually observed, with consequent skin irritation and loss of hair. This type of mange is contagious to people as well as to other dogs and therefore should be checked as soon as possible.

It should be remembered that mange is more serious than a simple skin irritation or abrasion or a source of discomfort to your dog — though it certainly is that. Both of these manges are serious skin diseases that can lead to complications such as severe skin infections. Veterinarians usually treat mange by clipping, medicated baths or sprays, as well as oral medication or injections.

The Tenacious Tick
The hardiest and perhaps the most “pesky” of the external parasites is the tick which has the innocent appearance of a small wart or seed. Hosting the tick is the price the dog or the cat must pay for investigating the mysteries of the shrubbery or wild undergrowth, for that is where your pet most likely acquires these pests.

Be sure and look for ticks during the daily grooming of your pet and pick off any you see — a trick that can be mastered with a little practice. Ticks are most apt to bed down in the neck area, between the toes, in the ears, and in the folds between the legs and the body.

To remove a tick, use small tweezers to firmly grip the tick’s mouth parts as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight outward. Apply an antiseptic to the bitten area. After removing, destroy the tick by immersing it in alcohol. Save the tick, marking the date it was found on the body, in the event that symptoms arise and identification of the tick becomes necessary.

If your dog has been in an area where the tick is found, or if you have found a tick on its body and it develops any of the symptoms mentioned above, make an appointment with your veterinarian for an examination, blood test and possible treatment. The blood test may have to be repeated several months later. It would be wise, whether or not you have found a tick on your dog, to have it tested in the spring and fall to assure yourself that your pet does not have Lyme Disease.

It is not as easy to detect ticks on horses and cows, particularly in herds, but horse owners and farmers should be alert to any sudden onset of fever, lameness, abortions, laminitis-like signs or chronic weight loss in their animals and should consult with their veterinarian for evaluation.

If you have been in an area where the tick is found, or if you have found a tick on your body and develop any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should see your physician for evaluation and treatment.

Enlist the aid of your veterinarian in your tick eradication campaign. Dipping your pet at frequent intervals in a medicated compound is the most common method of getting rid of ticks.

Spraying the grass and bushes with a chemical solution recommended by your veterinarian is often very effective in eliminating ticks, as is a frequent cleaning of your pet’s belongings and sleeping quarters. Ticks as well as fleas may infest the home and become a major nuisance.

Allowed to thrive unchecked, ticks may cause serious skin infections or paralysis. Some ticks serve as carriers of serious diseases to pets and humans.

Ear Mites
Ear mites can be a source of severe annoyance and disease. They are common in dogs and cats. These mites spend most of their life in the ears. Often an animal can be severely infested with the pests before there is any outward sign of their presence. It is a good idea to have your veterinarian regularly examine your pet’s ears.

If an ear mite infestation is ignored it will almost always be followed by a bacterial infection because the bacteria find easy access to living tissue through the holes left by the mites. Such an infection can spread deep into the ear and eventually penetrate the brain causing convulsions and death.

Ear mites are very irritating. They often cause the animal to scratch to the point where it tears out all of the hair and creates bleeding sores around the ears. Scratching can result in reinfestation with mites from the paw or tail. Consult your veterinarian about methods for treating infested animals.

Rabies

Facts About Rabies
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. The virus is usually transmitted by a bite from a rabid animal.

Prompt and appropriate treatment, after being bitten and before the disease develops, can stop the infection and prevent the disease in people.

Human rabies cases in the United States have occurred after close exposure to a bat without an obvious sign or recollection of a bite.

Not all rabid animals foam at the mouth and appear mad. Infected animals can be very calm and tame.

Only mammals get rabies. Birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians do not.

Rabies and Humans
Improved rabies vaccination and animal control programs and better treatment for people who have been bitten have dramatically reduced the number of human rabies cases in this country. The majority of recent human cases acquired in the United States have resulted from exposures to bats.

Dogs are still a significant source of rabies in other countries. Be aware of this risk when traveling outside of the United States.

Most cases of rabies occur in wild animals, mainly skunks, raccoons, bats and foxes. Remember, wildlife is a part of our natural heritage. Enjoy it and respect it from a distance for the benefit of all concerned.

What You Can Do To Help Control Rabies

  • Have your veterinarian vaccinate your cats, dogs, ferrets, and selected livestock. Keep the vaccinations up-to-date. Your veterinarian will advise you on the recommended or required frequency of vaccination in your locality.
  • Reduce the possibility of exposure to rabies by keeping your animals on your property. Don’t let pets roam free. Don’t leave garbage or pet food outside because it may attract wild or stray animals.
  • Wild animals should not be kept as pets. They are a potential rabies threat to their owners and to others. Observe all wild animals from a distance, even if they seem friendly.
  • A rabid wild animal may act tame. Don’t go near it. If you see a wild animal acting strangely, report it to the city or county animal control department.

 If You Have Been Bitten

Don’t panic — but don’t ignore the bite either. Wash the wound thoroughly and vigorously with soap and lots of water.

If possible, capture the animal under a large box or can, or at least try to identify it before it runs away. Don’t try to pick the animal up. Call the local animal control authorities to come and get the animal.

If it is a wild animal, try to capture it if you can do so safely without being bitten again. If the animal cannot be captured and it must be killed to prevent its escape, don’t damage the head. The brain will be needed to test for rabies.

Call your physician immediately. Explain how you were bitten and follow the physician’s advice.

Report the bite to the local health department.

If Your Pet Has Been Bitten

  • Immediately consult your veterinarian.
  • Report the bite to the local animal control authorities.
  • Dogs, cats and ferrets that are currently vaccinated should be revaccinated immediately, kept under the owner’s control, and observed for a period as specified by state law or local ordinances (normally 45 days or more).
  • Animals with expired vaccinations will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
  • Unvaccinated dogs, cats and ferrets exposed to a rabid animal may need to be euthanatized immediately. Alternatively, the animal should be checked and immediately placed in strict isolation for 6 months and vaccinated 1 month before being released.
  • If bitten by a rabid animal, other animals should be euthanatized immediately.

If Your Pet Has Bitten Someone
Urge the victim to see a physician immediately and to follow the physician’s recommendations.

Report the bite to the local health department and animal control authorities. If your pet is a cat, dog or ferret, the officials will confine the animal and watch it closely for 10 days. Home confinement may be allowed. Immediately report any illness or unusual behavior with your pet to your local health department and veterinarian. Don’t let your pet stray, and don’t give your pet away. The animal must be available for observation by public health authorities or a veterinarian.

Check with your veterinarian to be sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date.

After the recommended observation period, have your pet vaccinated for rabies if it does not have a current rabies vaccination.

Your Family Physician
It’s extremely important that you notify your family physician immediately after an animal bites you. Your physician can find out if the animal has been captured. Capture and observation of the animal can affect the treatment decisions of your physician. If necessary, your physician will give you the anti-rabies treatment recommended by the United States Public Health Service; and if necessary, will also treat you for other possible infections that could result from the bite.

For more information on rabies, contact your veterinarian or your local health department.

Toxoplasmosis

What You Should Know About Toxoplasmosis
Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a microscopic parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. It is not a new disease, having first been discovered in 1908. Since its discovery, toxoplasmosis has been found in virtually all warm-blooded animals including most pets, livestock, and human beings. Nearly one-third of all adults in the U.S. and in Europe have antibodies to Toxoplasma, which means they have been exposed to this parasite.

How do people become infected with Toxoplasmosis?
There are 3 principal ways Toxoplasma is transmitted:

  1. Directly from pregnant mother to unborn child when the mother becomes infected with Toxoplasma during pregnancy.
  2. Consumption and handling of undercooked or raw meat from infected animals.
  3. Ingestion of food or water or inhalation of dust contaminated with a very resistant form of Toxoplasma called the oocyst (pronounced o-o-cyst) during a period called Stage F.

Pigs, sheep, goats, and poultry are sources of meat commonly infected with Toxoplasma.Toxoplasma in meat can be killed by cooking at 152ºF (66ºC) or higher or freezing for a day in a household freezer. Of all the infected animals tested, only cats are the perfect hosts for the production of the infectious and resistant Toxoplasma oocysts. The oocyst, released from the intestine of cats in their feces, is very hardy and can survive sleet, freezing, and even several months of extreme heat and dehydration. Moreover, oocysts can be carried long distances by wind and water. Thus the threat of toxoplasmosis can be greatly reduced when Toxoplasma oocysts are destroyed.

Dangers of toxoplasmosis in human beings
There are two populations at high risk for infection with Toxoplasma; pregnant women and immunodeficient individuals. In the United States it is estimated that approximately 3,000 children are born infected with toxoplasmosis every year. Although the majority of infected infants show no symptoms of toxoplasmosis at birth, many are likely to develop signs of infection later in life. Loss of vision, mental retardation, loss of hearing, and death in severe cases, are the symptoms of toxoplasmosis in congenitally infected children. Ideally, women who are in frequent contact with cats should be serologically tested for Toxoplasma gondii before becoming pregnant, because, if they are already seropositive, they are not at risk of acquiring a primary, acute infection during pregnancy.

The epidemic of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has created an expanding population of susceptible individuals. Usually, people suffering from both AIDS and toxoplasmosis have been exposed to the Toxoplasma parasite earlier in life and the HIV infection simply allowed theToxoplasma parasite to grow unchecked. These patients develop neurologic diseases and can experience convulsions, paralysis, coma or even die from toxoplasmosis even after treatment is administered. Pets can be companions for AIDS patients suffering from toxoplasmosis and usually pose no additional threat from further transmission ofToxoplasma parasites. Since cats usually shed Toxoplasma in their feces for only one to two weeks in their lives and because oocysts are not infectious immediately after passage from the cat, the risk of human Toxoplasma infection from pet cats can be greatly reduced with minimal prevention.

To prevent exposure to Toxoplasma:
Follow these steps, especially during pregnancy, to prevent exposure to Toxoplasma:

  • Change litter daily before any Toxoplasma oocysts can “ripen” and become infectious (Stage F). Dispose of used litter safely, preferably in a sealed plastic bag. If pregnant, avoid changing the litter box if possible (or use rubber gloves).
  • Wash vegetables thoroughly before eating, especially those grown in backyard gardens. Boil water from ponds or streams before drinking when camping or hiking.
  • Cover sand boxes when not in use to discourage cats defecating in them.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after working with soil or after handling raw or undercooked meat.
  • Cutting boards, knives, and the sink and counters should be washed well after cutting meat.
  • When cooking, avoid tasting meat before it is fully cooked.
  • Cook meat thoroughly until the internal temperature reaches 152ºF (66ºC) in a conventional oven. Microwaving is not a sure way to kill Toxoplasma in meat.

How do cats become infected with Toxoplasma?
Although cats can be infected by the same means as humans, the most likely sources of toxoplasmosis in cats is from eating mice, birds, and other small animals that are infected with the Toxoplasma parasite. For indoor cats, the most likely source is uncooked meat scraps. When a cat is exposed to Toxoplasma parasites through the consumption of infected meat or tissues, the cat can eventually excrete millions of Toxoplasma oocysts in its feces each day. This release of oocysts can continue for up to two weeks. Oocysts in feces become infectious (reach Stage F) after one to two days. Since most cats do not leave feces on their fur for two days, it is unlikely that humans become infected from direct contact with cats themselves. Because cats usually exhibit no signs of illness while passing oocysts, it is difficult to determine when a particular cat’s feces may be infectious to people or other mammals. Most adult cats will not pass oocysts eve year. Although the majority of infected infants show no symptoms of toxoplasmosis at birth, many are likely to develop signs of infection later in life. Loss of vision, mental retardation, loss of hearing, and death in severe cases, are the symptoms of toxoplasmosis in congenitally infected children. Ideally, women who are in frequent contact with cats should be serologically tested for Toxoplasma gondii before becoming pregnant, because, if they are already seropositive, they are not at risk of asymptoms of toxoplasmosis, there have been cases in cats associating toxoplasmosis with pneumonia, liver damage, and loss of vision. Why some cats show symptoms and other cats do not is not known. Concurrent infection with other diseases (feline leukemia, feline AIDS) can aggravate toxoplasmosis in cats. Treatment can be effective if the disease is diagnosed early. A blood test for Toxoplasmaantibodies helps in diagnosis of toxoplasmosis in sick cats.

To help prevent Toxoplasma infection in cats, follow these steps:

  • Keep cats indoors and do not allow them to hunt rodents and birds.
  • Feed cats only cooked meat or processed food from commercial sources.

At present there is no vaccine for toxoplasmosis in cats. Efforts are, however, underway to market a vaccine to prevent Toxoplasma oocyst shedding by cats.

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