Neosporosis in Dogs
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Neosporosis in Dogs

Dogs
Health & Safety

Fortunately, neosporosis is a relatively rare condition seen in puppies and dogs, although they are often exposed to the protozoa that causes the infection which is called Neospora caninum. The condition affects puppies and young dogs more than it does older, more mature dogs although they too can develop neosporosis, but this is rarely seen.

The Causes

Research has established that the condition is not zoonotic and that cats do not suffer from neospora. However, in dogs, puppies become infected when they are still in their embryonic stage because the protozoa responsible is passed onto them by their mothers. Most of the time, a mother's own immune system prevents the damaging organism from being passed on to her unborn puppies, but the problem is that when dogs are pregnant, the neospora organisms become active again which is when they can be passed on to the foetus. With this said, this often results in abortion. Should puppies survive, studies have shown that half of them could be infected. Older dogs that suffer from an immunosuppressant disorder can also be affected when tissue cysts are reactivated, although this is quite rare.

Symptoms Associated with the Condition

As previously mentioned, neosporosis is typically seen in puppies and younger dogs and the symptoms associated with the condition includes the following:

  • Muscle atrophy
  • Paralysis
  • Back legs are overextended with no patellar reflex
  • Difficulty breathing in severe cases which can be life-threatening
  • Dysphagia in severe cases which often proves fatal

When older dogs are affected the symptoms that are typically associated with neosporosis are as follows:

  • Polymyositis
  • Meningoencephalitis
  • Neurological issues
  • Nodular dermatitis

Diagnosing the Problem

A vet would ideally need to have a dog's full medical history and their ancestry too which would help establish if a puppy is more at risk of having been affected by the protozoa responsible for neosporosis. The vet would thoroughly examine a puppy or dog suspected of suffering from the condition and would recommend carrying out specific tests to identify the presence of the damaging organisms.

Treatment Options & Prognosis

Once a vet has confirmed a diagnosis, they would treat a dog with the condition with specific drugs which a dog would need to be given over a period of 8 weeks or so. However, the prognosis for puppies suffering from neosporosis tends to be poor if treatment is left too late. With this said, if the condition is caught and treated early enough, the prognosis tends to be that much better.

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