When our pets are ill, we do our best to not only provide them with the best possible care, but we go the extra mile to educate ourselves on the condition. If your dog or puppy has diarrhoea that has a fungus-like smell, they might have Coccidia. In this article we’ll discuss not what Coccidia is, but the symptoms, causes and how it will affect your dog as well. Ensuring that you are informed about your dog’s condition as well as which lifestyle changes you can make to ensure that your dog has the best possible quality of life.
What is Coccidia
Coccidia in dogs is also known as canine Cystiososporra spp. It is a protozoan parasite that can infect the gastrointestinal tract of your dog. It is a tiny-celled parasite that lives in the intestinal wall of your dog. This parasite is most commonly found in puppies, but it can be found in cats as well.
The Symptoms of Coccidia in Dogs
There are a range of symptoms that could indicate that your dog suffers from Coccidia. Pay close attention to your dog to see if they portray any of the following symptoms:
- Watery or bloody diarrhoea
- Diarrhoea that has mucus in it
- Weight loss
These symptoms need to be taken seriously before they become severe. When your dog suffers from a severe case of coccidia, their symptoms will include:
- Not eating and anorexia
It is possible for dogs with Coccidia to be asymptomatic. This means that they’ll likely show no symptoms of an infection. Even without symptoms, the infected dog can shed the egg-like structure in their poop and infect other dogs and puppies. This makes faecal exams at their annual vet visits very important.
What Causes Coccidia in Dogs
Dogs are known for chewing and eating various strange things. Your dog could get infected with coccidia by ingesting the oocyst. This is the immature coccidia. If an environment is contaminated, it enhances the chances of your dog ingesting this parasite. The parasite is commonly found in soil or poop.
Puppies carry the highest risk of being infected with this parasite. This is due to their underdeveloped immune system. This is why your vet will insist on multiple faecal exams during their first few visits.
Stressful situations such as travelling or moving to a new home, immunosuppression, or chronic diseases often make dogs more susceptible to this parasite.
How Do I Clean Up After a Dog That Has Coccidia
When a dog with coccidia does their business in a certain environment, the parasite can infect other dogs for months afterwards. This is why it is important to pick up your dog’s waste after they’ve done their deed; especially in public spaces.
When cleaning up after a dog with coccidia, you need to thoroughly clean up your dog’s faeces as well as clean the ground on which the deed was done. This will not only prevent other dogs from being exposed but prevent your dog from being reinfected as well. Keep a bag and paper towels on hand to make cleaning easy.
It is important to pick up after your dog as the coccidia parasite can live in your dog’s stool for a whole week! If possible, wash the surface down with boiling water. It is one of the most effective ways to kill the coccidia parasite on surfaces. Direct sunlight can kill the parasite within a few days.
Can I Get Coccidia from My Dog?
There is no excuse for cleaning up after your dog as humans cannot get coccidia from their dogs. Coccidia is not a zoonotic disease, this means that as a human, you cannot get infected from a dog.
Can I Prevent my Dog from Getting Coccidia
Prevention is better than cure, they say. Therefore it is best to prevent your dog from getting coccidia, rather than taking the risk of them getting infected. The best way to check for coccidia is through a faecal exam. Your vet will be able to do this when you take your puppy or dog in for a check-up or regular vet visit.
This exam should be done at your dog’s yearly visit, or when your dog shows symptoms such as diarrhoea. It is best to try and avoid public spaces where dogs and puppies are or could be infected with coccidia.
Dog parks are high risk areas and therefore should be avoided especially if your dog is still a puppy. It is best to organise a puppy play date with dogs that are healthy in a clean and controlled environment.
The treatment of coccidia is fairly simple, your goal is to kill the parasite.
Firstly you’ll need to get a prescription from your vet for sulfadimethoxine. This treatment is the only FDA approved treatment for the elimination of coccidia. There have been successful in the use of other drugs such as ponazuril, but the effectiveness is yet to be known.
Your vet could prescribe Metronidazole to help treat the diarrhoea that is caused by the coccidia, but it has no effect on the parasite itself. Be sure to administer the correct dosage at the same frequency as prescribed by the vet.
If your dog has been diagnosed with coccidia, it is best to avoid public spaces such as dog parks, boarding centres, and other areas where dogs are frequently found. This will ensure that the parasite does not spread to other dogs and lowers your dog’s risk of being reinfected.
The End Result
Coccidia can be fatal if not treated when symptoms first arise. It is possible to treat as well as prevent coccidia. Ensure that you do your part to prevent the spread and consult your vet if your dog shows any symptoms. Puppies are more often infected with coccidia than larger dogs, therefore, it is best to avoid doggie hot spots with your puppy.