Coccidia are parasites that are often misunderstood in dogs. After the first exposure, coccidia parasites are always present in the puppy's intestines, and they're just waiting to take advantage of any digestive upset. It is rarely the initial cause of the diarrhea, but once diarrhea starts, the coccidia will overgrow to large numbers to keep the diarrhea going. Coccidia are a major issue for puppies under 8 weeks old and can even kill them.
Puppies are born with a sterile gut, and their mother seeds their gut with good bacteria during cleaning and care. However, puppies can also get coccidia from their moms, so the goal is to keep the puppy's exposure to a minimum number. There are a variety of products you can use for both treatment and prevention, but prevention is most important for consistently healthy puppies.
TREATMENT VS PREVENTION
CocciGuard is an easy way to prevent coccidia - simply add it to your puppy's food. The mother should also be fed puppy food with Cocci Guard when you bring her to the whelping area two weeks before birth. This decreases the number of coccidia the mother can give to the puppies. When you wean the puppies onto Cocci Guard, it controls the issue until you move them to their new home.
Amprolium (Corid®) can also be used as coccidia prevention. The flavor is terrible, so some people add raspberry or strawberry flavoring to help the taste, but no flavor works well. For small breeds, do not mix it with water, because they tend to get dehydrated from not drinking. The preferred way to use Amprolium is to drench the puppy daily - you know the dose is in and they will also drink adequate water.
Marquis® is used to both prevent and treat coccidia. It works well and the once-a-week dose is easy to use. Marquis (ponazuril) will cause dry eye, so use caution in puppies under 6 weeks old - eye ulcers may develop in flat nosed breeds. Marquis lasts 7 days, and when it's given before shipment, it's very effective in stopping coccidia from overwhelming the puppy as they adjust to their new home.
Sulfa drugs have long been used to treat coccidia and they're still effective prevention. However, Albon® has seen some resistance from years of use. The best way to monitor resistance is to track the complaints post sale and switch your preventative before issues arise. You can switch back to Albon after 6 months or a year of using another preventative. Sulfa-Trimeth is related to Albon and has been used as an alternative with excellent efficacy.
FOREIGN PRODUCTS - AUSTRALIA
by Bayer is a product we are often asked about. The bad news is that this drug is not available in the United States legally, but it is available in some other countries by prescription. The active ingredient, Toltrazuril is active inside the cell where coccidia reproduce. This means Baycox kills coccidia, while most treatments just prevent coccidia from reproducing. A study on puppies showed it to be very effective for eliminating coccidia from the puppy. Off label use for kittens in Germany showed no adverse effects, and it's also effective against Toxoplasmosis. Toltrazuril is closely related to ponazuril (Marquis®
) and has no benefit to use Baycox over Marquis. Bayer has no plans currently to bring this product to the US.
Coccidia are always present in the dog, but if you can prevent them from becoming an issue, you may never need to treat coccidia again!
If you need help, call us at 1-800-786-4751.
Don Bramlage, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of a qualified veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical