Neosporosis in dogs

Neosporosis in dogs

What is Neosporosis?

Neosporosis is a dog disease caused by a coocodian parasite named Neospora caninum. Until 1988, this parasite was confused with T. gondii. Most experts agree that many dogs diagnosed with toxoplasmosis up until 1988 actually suffered from Neosporosis.

Domestic dogs and coyotes are definite hosts for the parasites, while a lot of other wild and domestic animals can serve as intermediate hosts – including deer, horses, cattle, sheep and goats. Infected dogs will shed Neospora caninum oocysts in their faeces.

Neosporosis symptoms in dogs

Puppies as well as adult dogs can develop Neosporosis. Clinical signs of Neosporosis are usually focused to neural and muscular tissues in the dog, but can also include the heart, liver, lungs and skin.

The most severe and frequent infections – including the ones that lead to ascending paralysis of the limbs – are seldom seen in adult dogs; it is instead young dogs less than 6 months of age that are most at risk. When disease is transmitted from the mother to her puppies, the puppies normally start displaying noticeable symptoms of Neosporosis at the age of 3 to 9 weeks.

Neosporosis can be distinguished from other types of paralysis by the gradual atrophy and stiffness. In dogs with Neosporosis, the pelvic limbs are also more seriously affected than the thoracic limbs. As the disease progresses, rigid contracture of the muscles will set in. In addition to this, some puppies will develop joint deformation and genu recurvatum.

Compared to T. gondii, N. caninum seem to be more prone to inducing inflammation in infected dogs, and Neosporosis can lead to severe phlebitis and dermatitis.

Weakness is common in dogs suffering from Neosporosism, and the disease can also lead to dysphagia and megaesophagus. In severe cases, Neosporosis can be lethal for dogs, while some will survive as long as someone is prepared to hand feed them and care for them. 

Neosporosis is not very commonly seen in older dogs, but whey they do fall ill they often show signs of multifocal CNS involvement or polymyositis.

Neosporosis treatment for dogs

Unfortunately, the knowledge of Neosporosis in dogs and other animals is very limited. Many vets have however successfully used Clindamycin, Sulfadiazine, and Pyrimethamine to treat Neosporosis. In some situations, a combination of these compounds will be necessary. If the Neosporosis has reached the stage where the do experiences muscle contracture or rapidly advancing paralysis, the available Neosporosis treatments are not very efficient.   

Adult dogs and puppies that has reached an age of 16 weeks are known to respond better to Neosporosis treatment than young puppies.

Neosporosis prevention

Infected bitches can transmit Neosporosis to her pups via the placenta and should therefore not be used for breeding. There is no known medication capable of preventing a bitch from transmitting Neosporosis if she is used for breeding.

In order to prevent serious Neosporosis, all dogs should be treated as soon as a vet has diagnosed Neosporosis in one of the litter mates.

Raw meet can contain Neospora caninum – especially beef.

There is unfortunately no vaccine against Neospora caninum and Neosporosis.