What is Coccidia?

Coccidia are a group of protozoan parasites that are extremely common and which infect a
wide number of animal species, including dogs, cats, horses, cattle, goats, sheep and chickens
and many other species of animals, as well.

Most commonly in puppies and kittens less than six months of age or in animals who are stressed in other ways (e.g.; change in ownership,).

The first thing that has to be considered is that coccidosis is very common. It is likely that 30 to
50% of puppies have coccidia in their stools at some time during their first few months of life.
A puppy or kitten becomes infected with coccidiosis, produces lots of oocysts of coccidia but never has clinical signs of disease such as diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting or failure to thrive. These pets may never show any clinical signs and without signs it is questionable whether they should be treated or not, although I think that almost all veterinary practitioners go ahead and treat for the infection.

Isospora species that affect dogs include Isospora canis, I. ohioensis, I. neorivolta and I.
burrowsi. These coccidia tend to be pretty species specific, so infection of a puppy or kitten is not thought to be a risk to humans and puppies are not a risk to cats or infected kittens a risk to dogs. It is extremely difficult to prevent coccidia infections, especially in group situations, so puppies coming from a
breeder with coccidia is not an indication of poor sanitation or poor health care practices. It is
simply a very common problem.

What are the symptoms of coccidiosis?

Puppies and kittens often show signs of illness. The primary sign of an animal suffering with coccidiosis is diarrhea. The diarrhea may be mild to severe depending on the level of infection. Blood and mucous may be present, especially in advanced cases. Severely affected animals may also vomit, lose their appetite, become dehydrated.  In  addition, lots of dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are infected and are shedding oocysts despite
having no clinical signs of infection.

While it is probably impossible to kill all the coccidia in a puppy with clinical disease using medications, it may help reduce the numbers of organisms that littermates and housemates are subjected to and to shorten the duration of clinical signs.

General cleanliness does not ensure that infections will not occur, but removal of contaminated
stool reduces the potential for infection. The oocysts are supposed to be pretty resistant to most
disinfectants and things like steam cleaning or flame guns may be necessary to actually kill the
oocysts, which is impractical for most.

What is the treatment of coccidiosis

The most commonly used medications are sulfonamide antiseptics, such as
sulfadimethoxine (Albon Rx, Bactrovet Rx)

Since one of the highest incidences of the infection spreading is in a kennel, boarding kennel and dog parks seek places that offer private spaces for pets in order to avoid contamination from the other animals

We hope these tips help you and your new puppy enjoy a long healthy life!!