What are the Symptoms of Coccidia in Dogs and Cats
There are many causes of puppy diarrhea, but one of the most common, is coccidia, a parasite that can cause major issues, especially for young puppies and kittens. Coccidia is something to take very seriously, especially in puppies under eight weeks old, as it can be fatal. You may notice that the puppy or kitten has watery, mucous-like diarrhea. As it progresses, the pet may experience bloody diarrhea and you’ll most likely notice your pet having more potty accidents and being unable to hold it. They may also be weak and feverish.
Cryptosporidium is a different type of coccidian that is more commonly seen in catteries. Kittens affected with Crypto show most signs just before moving to a new home. Cryptosporidium looks similar to normal Coccidia, except they are very tiny. It’s best to send the animal’s feces to a lab to confirm. Symptoms of Crypto include a neurological component, along with drooling and diarrhea. They might also suffer from lack of appetite, weakness, and lethargy.
Drugs that work on normal coccidia do not have any effect on Crypto and that could become fatal for the puppy or kitten, so you’ll
want to talk to your vet to find out what medication would be best for your pet in this situation.
How Did My Dog Get Coccidia?
Coccidia is transferred through feces and it can be spread from puppies to kittens and vice versa. Oftentimes, the puppies are first exposed to coccidia through their mother’s infected feces and once exposed, the coccidian parasite is always present in the animal’s intestine, then in times of stress, it makes itself known. Some pets stress more than others, so some are more prone to getting coccidia. Weaning, travel, and moving are all stressors that can result in coccidia causing problems.
Mice and cockroaches can also carry Coccidia. You’ll also want to practice strict sanitation and use disinfectants such as Virkon S and Oxine. Since Coccidia spreads primarily through feces, all fecal matter should be removed regularly to prevent food and water from becoming contaminated.
How Do I Know if My Dog Has Coccidia?
The MySimplePetLab Routine Stool Test gives diagnoses most major feline and canine intestinal parasites, including coccidian. Otherwise, your veterinarian can perform a fecal examination. The coccidian parasite is usually very visible under a microscope.
Many people mistake coccidia for giardia, which is a different intestinal parasite. The thing is, treatment is different for these two parasites so you want to make sure you are treating the right thing. Most people don’t treat coccidia as long as they should and then it comes back. Most treatments need to last at least 21 days.
How to Help a Dog With Coccidia
Sulfa drugs have long been used to treat Coccidia, and they’re also typically effective for prevention. I recommend talking to your veterinarian to see what is recommended for your pet.
Meanwhile, during this time, preventing dehydration due to diarrhea is also critical. An electrolyte such as Breeder’s Edge Puppy or Kitten Lyte to help maintain hydration and replenish electrolytes. Puppy and Kitten Lyte can be easily mixed with warm water and can be given to nursing puppies and kittens as young as two weeks old.
A probiotic such as Doc Roy’s GI Synbiotics supports the growth of good bacteria in the gut and helps remove bad bacteria from the GI tract. GI Synbiotics is recommended to minimize the potential for diarrhea and it is a great support product to strengthen the dog or cat’s immune system. Just remember when choosing a probiotic, be sure it can pass through the stomach acid and enzymes or you will be disappointed. GI Synbiotics does that and works well.
For newborns, Breeder’s Edge Nurture Flora is a probiotic designed specifically for newborn puppies and kittens and can be given from birth through three months of age. A puppy starts with a sterile gut, so we want to give the pups the immune system a great beginning and layer the good bacteria in that puppies intestinal system before coccidia can cause a problem.
Coccidia prevention needs to be started before birth and continued to the weaned babies. However, be cautious as many products are not safe in pregnant moms. You can never use a sulfa drug between the 25th and 30th days of gestation as you increase the risk of cleft palate in dogs or cats. Another prevention tip, if possible give your puppies and kittens their own place to run and play – NOT with the big dogs and cats. Big dog and cats can usually handle coccidia and giardia to a point, so giving the little ones a place of their own to run, keeps them out of trouble with running into any fecal matter from the adults.
Written by: Shelley Hexom
Shelley Hexom is Revival's Content Manager and helps develop educational pet health resources. A three-time Emmy® Award-winning news anchor, Shelley works with Revival's Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, to help create useful and easy-to-understand articles, videos, and webinars. Shelley received her bachelor's degree in Mass Communications from Winona State University in 2002. As a pet owner, Shelley enjoys time with her Boxer mix, Sally. Shelley has been part of the Revival Paw Squad since 2016.