Can dogs transmit Toxoplasmosis to cats?

My cats live inside. Are they still prone to this parasite since they are not around other cats that can infect them? Can my dog, who is outside around other cats, carry this parasite and pass it on to my cats? If they can't get this, is it still wise for a pregnant woman not to change the litter box?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

I can really understand your concern. As a cat lover (I have 3 Korats) myself, I don't want to think about my kitties transmitting any diseases to me or my family. It is believed that all Toxoplasmosis infection is ultimately linked to cats. Dogs do not carry the parasite.

The facts are that the risk is very low when your cats are kept indoors, are not fed meat scraps and do not catch mice or associate with cats who travel outdoors. (How low the risk depends on where you live -- warmer climates have a higher incidence.)

Your vet can perform a blood titer as a screening test to see if the cat is currently infected or has antibodies that demonstrate exposure. Stool specimen analysis for the oocytes is not as good.

Change the cat box every day (scoop it out) because it takes over 24 hours for the oocytes to become infective. Also wash your hands and wear gloves. After handling the cats, wash your hands before eating as the infection is carried by fecal contamination to your GI system. You could also call your local health department to find out about the incidence in your area.

In your situation it is very unlikely that your cats are susceptible and the risks are low but it wise to take the hygiene precautions anyway.

I hope this helps. I think that it is good to raise children with animals and the benefits generally outweigh the risks.

Good luck.

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