SINGAPORE – In this bimonthly column, National Parks Board vets answer questions about pet health and behavior
I have heard that I can get toxoplasmosis from cats. Should I get rid of my cat if a family member has recently become immunocompromised?
Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by the single-celled parasite Toxoplasma Gondii (T. Gondii), which can infect both humans and animals.
Humans and other animals can become infected with toxoplasmosis through multiple routes, including ingesting undercooked and contaminated meat or shellfish; contaminated soil or water; and congenital transmission or accidental ingestion of the parasite through direct or indirect contact with contaminated cat feces.
Toxoplasmosis does not usually manifest clinically in healthy individuals, but can cause long-term health problems in pregnant women and immunocompromised people and animals.
Cats become infected when they ingest infected prey or raw meat and excrete T. gondii oocysts (parasite eggs) in their stool. Newly infected cats usually start shedding oocysts three to 10 days after consuming infected meat and continue to shed for 10 to 14 days. These oocysts become infectious after 24 hours.
Cats that do not hunt prey or consume raw meat are unlikely to be infected with T. gondii. The chances of humans developing toxoplasmosis through their pet cats are relatively low, as infected cats release T. gondii oocysts for only a short time – less than 30 days – and the oocysts in their stools do not immediately release. infectious.
Frequent removal of feces from cat litter boxes and good personal hygiene, such as wearing gloves and washing hands thoroughly after cleaning, will help minimize the possibility of infection.
In short, owning a cat does not mean that you will be infected with toxoplasmosis. A pet is for life and it would be irresponsible to get rid of your cat, as the risks of exposure are generally low.
There are many simple preventative measures that can be taken to prevent accidental exposure. Household members who are at a higher risk of infection may be encouraged to avoid contact with cat feces and to wash their hands after interacting with cats.
If you have any concerns about toxoplasmosis in cats, seek advice from your veterinarian.
Can I feed a dog with bones?
While chewing bones can entertain dogs and maintain a certain level of dental hygiene, it is not advisable to give them to dogs without first consulting a veterinarian, as there are many potential risks and health risks. .
Raw bones can contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli, listeria, and campylobacter, which can be dangerous to humans and dogs and can be transmitted through the dog’s saliva or feces.
Cooked bones should never be fed to dogs as they are brittle and break easily when chewed. The sharp fragments can damage and even puncture a dog’s mouth or gastrointestinal tract, which will require immediate and major veterinary intervention. Damage to the gastrointestinal tract can also lead to internal bleeding and abdominal infection, which can be fatal.
Ingesting bones – both raw and cooked – can also present a choking hazard and cause blockage or obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract. This could lead to suffocation; constipation, which is painful and traumatic, and may require veterinary intervention; or a major or complete blockage of the stomach or intestines, which requires invasive abdominal surgery.
Additionally, chewing bones increases the risk of broken teeth in dogs because the bones are very hard. Certain types of bones are also high in fat and can increase your dog’s propensity to develop health problems such as pancreatitis and obesity.
Additionally, not all dog breeds are suitable for chewing bones, due to their anatomical differences.
Instead of offering your dog bones, consider alternative methods such as regular brushing of your dog’s teeth and products like veterinary dental treats and toys to keep him entertained.
Check with your veterinarian which methods are right for your dog.
• Questions and Answers from Dr Grace Yam, Animal Service Veterinarian and National Parks Council Veterinarian.
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