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Can I get toxoplasmosis from my dog?

Species: Dog
Breed: Mixed
Age: 2-5 years
I've caught my dog eating stray cat feces in my yard several times. I would then wipe his mouth clean. Recently I found out I am pregnant, my concern is whether my dog could have gotten toxoplasmosis, but more importantly, could he have transmitted to me if he had eaten the cat feces without my knowledge and then at one point licked my face afterwards???


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy!

Toxoplasmosis is something that often gives cats a bad rap. However, it is extremely uncommon for a person to get toxoplasmosis from their pets.

Let's start first of all with cats. Cats can get toxoplasmosis from eating raw meat that is infected with toxo. So, for example, some mice can carry toxo and if your cat ate it then it can get infected. Then, the toxo can either cause cysts to form in the cat's muscle, or the cat can pass cysts in the stool. If those cysts sit in the stool for a few days and somehow you ingest or inhale the stool then you can get toxoplasmosis. If you pick up toxo at a particular stage in your pregnancy then this can cause birth defects.

However, a lot has to happen in order for a cat to transmit toxo to you. The cat has to eat meat infected with toxo and then has to shed the cysts and then the litter box needs to be neglected for a few days and then you have to ingest or inhale the stool. It is MUCH more common for people to get toxoplasmosis from eating undercooked meat than from their cats.

So, now let's look at dogs. If a dog ate cat stool and that cat had ingested raw meat that was infected with toxoplasmosis then yes, the dog can get it. However, the good news is that in dogs they rarely shed the cysts. It can sit in the dog's muscle tissue but it rarely is transmitted in the stool. It definitely is not spread through saliva, so licking your face is not going to give you toxo!

Parisitologists tell us that the only way you are likely to get toxoplasmosis from your dog is if you happen to eat raw dog flesh that is infected with toxo. So, refrain from eating your dog and you should be absolutely fine. :)

Congrats on your pregnancy. I have a little girl myself and I know what it is like to be concerned about all of the different things that can affect a fetus. But rest assured that you don't need to worry about your dog transmitting toxo to your baby.

Dr. Marie.



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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I have a million worries about this in my head and I have another question. Can the cysts attach to the hair around his mouth while ingesting? (I have never actually seen any feces in his hair). Now that you have my mind at ease about the saliva, I'm worried that when he licked me it could have also been spread that way. Sorry if I sound crazy but I'm so nervous about anything harming the baby. Thanks again.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

No, what you are describing really couldn't happen. The cysts are embedded deep inside of the muscle. They're not going to get stuck in the hair at all. They only come out of the muscle once they are digested and then they either make their way to the muscle of the dog or possibly out into the feces. But dogs rarely pass toxo in their feces.



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.