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Coccidia and Giardia in Puppies

Coccidia and Giardia in Puppies

Two nasty but common types of parasites that you may have to face as a pet owner are coccidia and giardia in puppies.   Each one of these, their symptoms and typical treatments are discussed below.

How Do Puppies Catch Canine Coccidia?

In most cases, a puppy will get exposure to the parasite when consuming eggs that have been laid in another dog’s stool.  In general, hygiene is a significant contributor to outbreaks of coccidiosis.  Therefore, it’s important to keep dog feces out of the environment to avoid complications of coccidia in puppies as much as possible.

Also known as Isospora, coccidia are internal parasites that live within the intestines of dogs.  Puppies are particularly vulnerable to outbreaks of coccidiosis since their immune system is still in the process of developing.  As your puppy matures, he will develop a natural immunity to it over time.

Coccidiosis in dogs occurs when there is a flareup of these one-celled organisms which can manifest itself in the form of severe diarrhea (in some cases even bloody diarrhea), dehydration and even very serious illness.

Symptoms of Coccidia in a Dog

As mentioned above, an infection of coccidiosis typically shows up in the form of diarrhea.  Not all puppies show the same level of severity of symptoms but in general, the earlier that the condition can be diagnosed and treated the more likely it is that the puppy will recover fairly quickly.

Complications from coccidia can also exacerbate diarrhea which is caused by roundworms or hookworms.

Coccidia Treatment and Prevention in Dogs

Your veterinarian will typically prescribe oral medications to treat coccidiosis, usually sulfadimethoxine (Albon).  Depending upon the severity of the outbreak your vet will administer the medication for anywhere between 3 days all the way up to 21 days in some cases.

Luckily, coccidia typically infect puppies most often which means that generally speaking, older dogs are less susceptible to an infection.  Oftentimes, stress is known to be a contributing factor and since many of the puppies that get sick are just moving to their new home it’s important to try and keep them as calm as possible.

Giardia in Puppies

Canine giardia is caused by an infection of another type of one celled organism known as Giardia lamblia.  According to some estimates, the condition of  giardiasis affects approximately 10% of all dogs in the United States at any given time.

Typically a giardia infection occurs after a dog is exposed to the stool of another dog that is carrying the parasite and has passed it. Giardia infections affect the lining of the small intestine and cause severe inflammation.

Symptoms of Giardia

After the intestines become inflamed, infected animals will typically begin to exhibit symptoms of bloating, mucus coated stools, diarrhea and weight loss.

Giardia Treatment

The normal strategy for dealing with giardia in dogs is with medication administered in a veterinary office. The most common of these is metronidazole (Flagyl).  Fenbendazole which is also to treat giardia cysts.

As with other types of parasites (like hookworms, heartworms, tapeworms and whipworms) controlling coccidia and giardia in puppies can be helped significantly by keeping the puppy’s environment as clean as possible and getting it routine checkups at the vet.