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What are coccidiosis ?

Coccidiosis are parasitic diseases due to the presence of intestinal microscopic unicellular parasites (Coccidia). There are several kinds of coccidia in dogs: the most frequently found in canine breedings are due to Isospora species.


Lacteal feeding inhibits the development of coccidia, but the stress of the weaning is a favorizing factor for coccidiosis. Though, coccidiosis is mainly seen in puppies at weaning time. It occurs as it was a contagious disease.

Puppies have diarrheic and yellowish stools, sometimes containing red or digested blood (black). In general, these symptoms disappear spontaneously within two weeks : puppie get rid of their parasites and become immunized. However, more serious cases can happen: then, diarrheas go with dehydration, lack of appetite, nervous troubles. Those severe clinical signs can lead to death when puppies do not have enough immunity capacity to react against the infestation. Coccidiosis can also be associated with a viral disease: Distemper or parvovirosis.

Parasites sources

Puppies get contaminated through egg ingestion (oocysts), that become infective within a few days (sporulation). In wet conditions, with too little sun, eggs can resist more than one year in the external environment. But they are easily destroyed by the heat, dessication and ultra-violet rays. Eggs can be transported by many different ways: boots, soiled litters, coprophageous insects, safe-carriers (= non-receptive animals who ingest oocysts and excrete them intact)…


One or two weeks after the clinical signs occurrence, it is possible to find oocysts in the stools of the puppies. When the coprologic examination is made earlier, the result is generally negative. In case of mortality, parasites can be observed in the intestine of the puppies, providing that the veterinarian takes and fixes samples within 6 hours after the puppy's death.


It is ensured by the strict control of hygiene measures in the maternity.

  • taking off stools and soiled litters twice a day (to prevent the eggs from sporulation ; they must not become infective)
  • cleaning with very hot water steam (Supervap ND)
  • fighting against human vectors : maternity should be cleaned first, with tools that are not used somewhere else ;
  • fight against animal vectors : insects and rodents.
Most of usual disinfectants are helpless against oocysts. Only a few ammoniacal products (Oo-cide ND) can be used to treat some grass or muddy areas.


The treatment is based on sulfonamide therapy. Some intestinal bandages can also be used ("anti-adhesine"), that prevent the parasites from adhesion and penetration into the intestinal cells. The treatment must start early, and last one week minimum, to get reliable results.


Coccidiosis due to Isospora can affect any canine breeding, event those that are well-managed. A coprologic analysis made at the right time can often allow to detect and identify the coccidia involved. If the analysis is negative, it is advised to do the examination again, looking for less common coccidia species, such as:

  • cryptosporidia transmitted by intermediate mammalian hosts (rodents cats, remnants…)
  • sarcosporidia transmitted by the flesh of a contaminated animal (poultry carcasses, raw meats…).

The breeder must concentrate his efforts on the puppies' environment.

Donated by the Borg Cardona and Co. Ltd. visit Borg Cardona website

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