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Information On Coccidiosis In Dogs

By Thierry Babineaux TEXT SIZE Minus Plus

Coccidiosis in dogs is an infection caused by single-celled organisms called ‘protozoa’s.’ Coccidiosis is a pet health issue that leads to diarrhea as these organisms (parasites) infect the lining of the intestine and make the intestinal tract their home.

What is Coccidiosis?
Coccidiosis is caused by ‘coccidia’ or small protozoans (organisms having one-cell), which infest the intestinal tracts of animals such as cats and dogs and affect the pet health. Commonly found in puppies that are less than 6 months old or in adult dogs that have a suppressed immune system or are susceptible to stress due to a disease or change in environment etc.

Pet health of animals such as dogs and cats is affected by protozoans belonging to the Isospora genus; however, I. ohioensis and Isospora canis are the two species that most often affect the pet health. As the time passes and the puppy grows up it automatically develops a natural immunity that helps with dog health care. A grown up dog can experience Coccidiosis in the lining of his intestine but discard the cysts through his feces without experiencing any ill effects.

How does the dog develop Coccidiosis?
Typically, Oocysts or immature protozoans pass through the feces of the dog and sustain themselves in the environment to sporulate or grow into a well-developed Oocyst that can easily damage the pet health again. This entire process require less than 6 hours, though it does take around 7-10 days. If the mature Oocysts are accidentally consumed, they cling to the intestinal lining of the dog to complete their life cycle. Since these coccidia infect mice as well, if your dog happens to eat an infected mouse it can develop Coccidiosis.

What are the problems caused due to Coccidiosis?
It has been observed that a majority of the dogs diagnosed with Coccidiosis don’t have pet health issues such as diarrhea or any other medical problem. Moreover, if your dog passes protozoan eggs through his regular bowels, there is not cause of worry or concern for your pet health. However, dog health care becomes a prime cause of concern when Coccidiosis is diagnosed in puppies as well as injured adult dogs and can cause extreme bouts of diarrhea with watery consistency, dehydration, vomiting and even abdominal pain. In a few cases, Coccidiosis may lead to death of the pet.

How is Coccidiosis diagnosed?
The vet can diagnose Coccidiosis by examining the stool sample of your pet under a microscope. Because the Oocysts are very tiny (even smaller than the eggs of some intestinal parasites), a very careful examination is demanded. Pet health can also be affected by infections caused by uncommon protozoans with the help of a blood test.

How is Coccidiosis treated?
Coccidiosis can be treated and your dog health care maintained by giving the pet sulfa-type antibiotic for a period of 10-14 days. Some other drugs may need to be given if diarrhea and dehydration affect pet health.

Finally, remember to maintain a good and clean environment to ensure proper dog health care because re-infection is common. Coccidiosis caused by protozoan’s species of dogs and other pets don’t infect human beings.

About the Author
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