What Is Coccidia?
Disclaimer of Liability: I am not a veterinarian. The information contained in this article is that of an experienced English bulldog breeder. This is a story of “my” experience. We hope that this story helps you. When in need of medical advice be sure to get help from a good veterinarian.
Coccidia is pronounced “cock sid’ ee uh”. It is a common source of diarrhea in dogs, especially puppies. Once a dog matures their immune system matures and to a degree in healthy dogs the symptoms seem to be somewhat self-limiting in most cases. Coccidia are protozoa that affects the lining of the intestines. It most often shows up in stressed or young puppies with immature immune systems. As an adult, the puppy may posses the coccidia in his intestines, and possibly even shed cysts in his feces, but demonstrate no external symptoms of disease.
Occasionally we hear feedback from someone who has bought one of the English bulldog puppies for sale that have been listed on our website. They will tell us that their vet told them that coccidia is caused by dirty living conditions. Whether said outright or implied, the meaning is clear. The puppies were not cared for properly. This is sad. And from a scientific perspective is just not true.
A carrier dog can transmit coccidiosis. Mice, fleas, cockroaches or other bugs can also transmit them. Unless you can guarantee your dog will never be exposed to a flea, a mouse, or other bugs you cannot guarantee your dog will never be exposed to coccidia. With that said. Cleanliness will go a long way to limiting its effect on your dogs. ‘Regular rodent control is a must in your home or kennel. Flea prevention is extremely important as well. In addition to being a carrier of coccidia, fleas also are capable of transmitting tapeworms as well. On a side note, is that not amazing that something as small as a flea can transmit tapeworms? Tapeworms can grow to several inches long, or more, large enough to be easily seen by the human eye. But tapeworms are a story for another day and another article…. The point to be made is that coccidiosis is usually not the result of poor cleanliness. But rather unavoidable exposure to the feces of a carrier animal.
Exposure to the feces of a dog that has been infected with coccidia is all that is necessary for the transmission of coccidia from one dog to another. The puppy does not have the infectious organism as a pre-existing condition. Rather at some point it is exposed to the feces of its mother. The majority of English bulldogs that have ever been to a dog show, the vet, or even a dog park have been exposed to coccidiosis. While not life threatening to an adult dog, it can remain viable able to be transmitted to the puppy when it is young.
Typically the disease does not show up until after two weeks of age. The incubation period for coccidia is eleven days. A young puppy of less than 2 weeks old is unlikely to show clinical signs of coccidia. It is worth noting that stress plays a large roll in the proliferation of coccidiosis. A puppy with no visible symptoms that moves to a new home is a very high-risk candidate for seeing in increase and growth in the number of protozoan in their system.
The most common sign of a puppy that has developed coccidiosis is diarrhea and blood in the stool. In severe cases it is said that a puppy can vomit and become severely dehydrated. The good news is this in our experience is very rare. From speaking with friends who are breeders of teacup breed’s severe problems in their breed seems more common with it causing dehydration and death. With English bulldogs, at least in regards to the dogs we raise, this has never happened to any of our dogs that we are aware of. The larger breed dogs appear to be more robust in their immune system with more reserves capable of sustaining them through an ailment such as this.
Thankfully the disease is quite easily treated. The treatment is effective and easily administered. We have used two drugs. One is Sulfadimethoxine and the second is Ponazuril (sold as Marquis and is used to treat horses). Sulfadimthoxine needs to be administered for 10 days. It does not kill the protozoan, but merely inhibits the coccidia’s capability to reproduce. In time, as the puppy’s immune system is restored the organism’s is held in check by the puppy’s own immune response.
Unlike Sulfadimethoxine, which limits the reproductive capabilities of the protozoan, but does not actually kill the coccidia; ponazuril will actually kill the coccidia. Ponazuril is a drug that has developed for horses. My understanding is that it is considered “off label use” for Ponazuril to be used in dogs. However, more and more dogs are being treated with Ponazuril. We prefer the treatment of Ponazuril to sulfadimethozine. It is faster, more effective and it actually kills the crafty culprit.
Ponazuril at this time cannot be obtained over the counter. Contact your veterinarian for more information. Our protocol is to treat young dogs with sulfadimethoxine when they are young every two weeks followed with a treatment of Ponazuril prior to shipping. This protocol seems to do well in preventing the outbreak of coccidiosis in English bulldog puppies. If you have bought one of our English bulldogs for sale rest easy knowing the above mentioned protocol historically has seemed quite effective in helping your new pet transition smoothly from our home to yours.
Article by Chad McCarthy of www.sumobulldogs.com