What is coccidiosis in dogs?

Canine coccidiosis is a parasitic disease that mainly affects puppies up to 4-6 months of age and is caused by a microscopic organism that settles in their intestine; it is common especially in puppies coming from shelters or kennels with poor hygienic and sanitary conditions. The veterinarian will detect this parasite by analyzing the dog’s feces under a microscope, since it is impossible to detect it with the naked eye. It is transmitted when the dog ingests feces, food or water infested by the parasite.

Symptoms of coccidiosis in puppies

Although it is a disease that almost always occurs in very young puppies, we can also observe it in adult dogs, but in these there are usually no symptoms and they act only as carriers, and can infect other dogs with which they come into contact.

A week after infection, symptoms will appear. At that time, the dog’s intestine will be invaded and there will be millions of coccidia. The most frequent symptoms of coccidiosis in puppies are that their development stops, that their legs grow abnormally, with the front legs being somewhat shorter than the hind legs, that they are not hungry, that they suffer from vomiting and diarrhea, that their bellies swell, that they are dull and show malaise, and in severe cases, they even have blood in their stool. If the vomiting and diarrhea are severe and untreated, the puppy can die within a few days from dehydration. It should be remembered that a dog of a few weeks old has a very vulnerable and delicate organism, and therefore any disease can be much more serious.


Can coccidiosis in dogs be treated?


If our puppy is infested by coccidia despite our efforts to maintain hygiene and watch the puppy during walks, as soon as the first symptoms appear we will have to take him to the veterinarian. The veterinarian will administer antibiotics to try to eliminate or at least reduce the parasite load, although it is common for a small amount of coccidia to remain in the body for life. It is best to deworm the puppy promptly and periodically, which will greatly help to reduce the likelihood of the puppy contracting the disease.


How can we prevent coccidiosis in dogs?


Because of the way coccidia acts, prevention is best. If your dog eats its own or other dogs’ feces, it is essential to prevent it from doing so in order to prevent the parasite from carrying out its life cycle. To do this, it is best to make sure that the puppy is well dewormed and that we do not let him eat anything at all when he goes outside. In addition, if we have other pets, we will also have to be sure that none of them has the disease. In this sense, inside the home, a strict hygiene of all the places where the dog is usually, as well as immediate elimination of feces if he defecates inside the house, applying a good disinfection afterwards using products containing quaternary ammonium diluted to 10% in water, or using boiling water, will be essential.

To try to avoid coccidiosis in shelters and hatcheries, it is essential to house the animals in such a way as to avoid contamination of water and feed, and to eliminate feces as soon as possible. All utensils should also be disinfected and insects and cockroaches should be avoided, as they can carry the parasite between infested and healthy dogs.


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