Monthly Archives: August 2015

Toxoplasmosis and Pregnancy


For anyone who doesn’t know me…I am that crazy cat lady!  Cats are awesome, truly amazing, fuzzy little acrobatic ninja’s that I could never imagine my life without.  Last year, I invited my boy, Bronson, into this great big world.  My pregnancy was NOT a normal pregnancy and being in a position of working in a veterinary hospital and having a larger number of cats living in my home…I was at risk of a parasite called Toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasma_gondii_tissue_cyst_in_mouse_brainToxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that is caused by a protozoan Toxoplasmosis gondii.  Cats just happen to be one of the more common carriers of the parasite and are infected by eating birds, small mammals, or drinking infected water.  Once the parasite has infected our fuzzy friends, it is then shed in their feces.  Cat’s and kittens can shed millions of this parasite with each bowel movement for as long as three weeks after the initial infection.

Since we love and care for our cats in our home, we are at risk of contracting the infection too.  We are put at risk of Toxoplasmosis because we clean our cat’s litter boxes.  People who contract Toxoplasmosis usually suffer flu-like symptoms, but pregnant women who may contract the parasite can be detrimental to the health of their unborn child.  Toxoplasmosis can affect the unborn child and cause lasting health effects and/or disability.  Activities such as gardening or handling raw meat can also put us at risk.

If you have cats at home and are pregnant, delegate litter box duties to another individual in your home.  If you are in a position that you can not delegate the litter box duties, you may wear latex gloves and just make sure you wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.  If you are concerned that you may have Toxoplasmosis, contact your health care provider.  Annual parasite screening is also an important adjunct to regular veterinary visits to ensure your cat is parasite free.

Newborn and Pet Interaction, By: Dr. Brent Cook

Having a new baby is an exciting time in your life, but as new parents we also find it is a time of added worries.  Will our baby have 10 fingers and toes?  Will the delivery go ok?  And as pet owners, we have the additional worry of wondering how our pets will react to a new arrival in the house.  Most dogs and cats do very well when a new baby arrives in the house, but how can we better ensure that ours will be one of those?

Dr. Cardella and I experienced these worries when our daughter was born 17 years ago…

Dr. Cardella, Alice, and Nuala

Dr. Cardella, Alice, and Nuala

At the time, we had two cats and one dog, Nuala, our rambunctious wheaten terrier.  We didn’t really worry about Nuala hurting the baby on purpose, but her jumping and barking did make us think that she could accidentally hurt the baby. Plus, as one friend told us, “They all have teeth— even the nice ones can bite!”

As soon as we assembled the crib, we found that the cats thought it was for them. It was the perfect place for them to take a nap! “They will suck out the baby’s breath if you let to them near the crib” one of our friends told us.  At the time, we were not sure what “sucking out their breath” meant (and this was in the days before the internet!), but it sounded really bad so we didn’t want to go there.

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Alice with her many crib mates!

We decided that it wasn’t a good idea to have the cats even start the habit of sleeping in the crib, but what could we do to stop them?  We had to keep the door to the baby’s room open so we could hear her cry (ok, in hindsight, we could probably have heard her just fine in our tiny two bedroom apartment, but we were new to this and didn’t know better!  And we thought it would be silly to be using a monitor in place so small).

So we got creative, purchased a window screen and placed it in the doorway to the baby’s room.  Now we could hear the baby fine, but the cats could only access the room when we allowed them.

As for Nuala, even though she had limited exposure to babies prior to the birth of our daughter, she turned out to be very gentle with her. Of course, we were always there to supervise their interactions and make sure that they were positive for both the baby and the dog.

In the end, it turned out that the cats and dog were as fascinated by the baby as she was by them, and they willingly accompanied us to the nighttime feeding and changing sessions. They loved our daughter even more when she was old enough to drop food off of her highchair for them to eat!

Alice and Nuala; 6 mos old

Alice and Nuala; 6 mos old

With proper supervision, allowing your children to grow up with animals can make them smile and laugh more than you can ever imagine. Enjoy!

–Brent Cook, DVM




For more information on Children and Pets, visit our website:

The Resources Tab can take you to our Library where there is a section on Children and Pets.  

Kingsbrook Animal Hospital Puppy Stories- Julie’s Sullivan and Sasha Fierce


Baby Sullivan- 1 day old

I met Sullivan when he was 2 hours old. His nose was bright pink and he was solid white. He almost looked like a rat! But he was perfect as he fit in the palm of my hand. Unfortunately, his mother was unable to care for him or his brothers and sisters. So, they all went home with me in a home-made incubator. It turns out, I was not the best dog mommy either. At the end of the first week, we had lost all of the puppies to pneumonia except for one- little Sullivan. And he was very sick with a high fever. After consulting with our veterinarian we started him on antibiotics, but we worried that it would not be enough. In an effort to save him, we located another whippet mom who had had a litter 4 weeks earlier. Would she accept Sullivan as her own adopted puppy? At first she seemed hesitant, but the moment she heard him cry, she fell for him just as we had.


Mom and her 2 babies (look closely for Sullivan)


Sullivan- 1 wk old


Sullivan’s adopted mom had only one puppy in her litter. Now she had two. Sullivan was exactly 1 week old when he met his new 4 week old sister- Sasha Fierce. Sasha loved her little brother so much, we had to make sure she was not playing too rough as she initially was twice his size. With his new mom and sister, he quickly became a healthy puppy who thrived while tirelessly trying to keep up with his older sister. They are best friends to this day.

Both of Sullivan’s moms found forever homes. While I had intended on fostering Sullivan and Sasha until they were old enough to be adopted, I quickly realized that was not to be. I had so much fun watching these two grow into beautiful, playful, kindhearted dogs, that I knew they were already home.


Sullivan, all grown up!


Sasha Fierce and veterinary technician, Julie









These days you may see Sullivan advocating for doggie blood donation with Blue Ridge Veterinary Blood Bank or Sasha Fierce making videos with the social media team at Kingsbrook Animal hospital. They love to hike, socialize, and play ‘wild kingdom’ in the back yard. Both Sullivan and Sasha Fierce love to attend events in Frederick with their Kingsbrook family,  but their favorite Kingsbrook activity is when they help teach our Vet Academy for kids. How lucky am I to call these guys my puppies!

By: Julie Fulghum, RVT


Sullivan 6 wks and Sasha Fierce 10 wks


Sullivan and Sasha Fierce- 5 years old