This disease is caused by a species of coccidia commonly found in the feces of puppies and occasionally that of an adult dog. Coccidiosis is a particular problem in neonatal puppies who are over-stressed by filth, crowding, chilling, and poor sanitation.
The main symptom is diarrhea. Due to the mild nature of the infection, symptoms do not usually occur unless the puppy's resistance has been lowered by a concurrent disease, malnutrition, or immunosuppression.
The first sign is mild diarrhea that progresses until the feces become mucus-like and tinged with blood. The diarrhea is accompanied by loss of appetite, weakness, and dehydration.
Puppies acquire the infection from contaminated premisis or from their mother, if she is a carrier. When kennel sanitation is poor, puppies reinfect themselves from their own feces. An outbreak of coccidial diarrhea can also occur in association with roundworm infestation or the trauma of shipping. Coccidiosis is an opportunist. Always look for another precipitating cause.
5-7 days after ingesting oocytes, infective cysts appear in the feces. Infected dogs and carriers can be identified by finding oocysys in a microscopic slide of fresh stool. Dogs who recover become carriers.
Treatment in adult dogs is usually not necessary due to the mild nature of the diarrhea. Puppies with severe diarrhea may need to be hospitalized for fluid replacement.
Antibiotics that are effective against coccidiosis include sulfadimethoxine, trimethoprin-sulfa, furazolidone, and amprolium.
Known carriers should be isolated and treated. Clean all infected quarters daily with boiling water and/or dilute bleach or chlorhexidine solution to destroy oocysys. Coccidiosis can be prevented by maintaining clean quarters and providing an appropriate whelping environment.
Please contact your veterinarian if you suspect your pet may be infected with this condition.
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