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Parasites and diarrhea

COCCIDIA are one celled protozoans that are parasites of the lining of the small intestine which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stools and dehydration. Dogs and cats can ingest coccidia from licking infected ground or cleaning themselves after coming in contact with infected ground or feces, or by eating an infected host itself such as a mouse or squirrel. Coccidia can be diagnosed by a fecal exam; Albon is generally prescribed for treatment. Albon (sulfadimethoxine) is a sulfa drug - antibiotic. Antibiotics do not "kill" parasites. Antibiotics simply address the secondary infection (blood) caused by the parasite giving the puppy time to build up immunity.

GIARDIA (Beaver Fever) is another protozoan intestinal parasite that infects many animals (dogs, cats, rabbits, wild birds, squirrels, rats, raccoons) and man. Giardia lives and reproduces in the small intestine of host animals. The living stage of Giardia produces inactive cysts which are passed from the host in fecal matter. The cyst is durable enough to withstand temperatures of -13 degrees C. Other animals can accidentally ingest cysts by licking the ground, each other?s coats, or eating feces. Giardia causes diarrhea and fluid loss. Metronidazole is generally prescribed as treatment. There are other treatments such as fenbendazole that has proven to be affective. Some animals have symptoms while others do not.

CLOSTRIDIUM ENTERITIS One of the most common infections seen in many veterinary hospitals, second only to periodontal disease, is diarrhea from a bacteria called Clostridium perfringens. Pets with this disease can have signs ranging from very mild to severe, watery diarrhea, sometimes accompanied by vomiting, belching, flatulence, weight loss and abdominal discomfort. There may be blood or mucous in the stool. The disease can be acute, which means it comes on suddenly. It can also be chronic (long term) or recurrent, depending on the particular strain of bacteria the pet has.

It is not known exactly where this bacterial infection is acquired. It is probably common among wildlife and many pets apparently harbor it in small numbers in their intestinal tracts all the time. The spores formed by the bacteria survive for years and are almost impossible to remove from the environment. Clostridium can be newly acquired when a pet sniffs the ground where another animal has been that carried the disease, or it may be present for a long time and suddenly flare up to cause disease. It may cause problems by itself or worsen the signs of other intestinal parasites or diseases.

The infection caused by Clostridium is easily treated with a course of antibiotics, though it may be slow to clear up. Several medications are effective, but most vets prescribe Tylan or metronidazole, as they are inexpensive and usually well tolerated.

TAPEWORMS are passed to the dog by ingestion of the intermediate host of the tapeworm - the flea. Once ingested the intermediate host releases the intermediate stage of the tapeworm into the GI of the dog where the parasite matures to an adult in the small bowel. Eggs are shed to the environment from the GI of the dog in small segments that look like pieces of rice. Flea control is a good prevention, and Cestex, Droncit or Drontal are generally used for treatment.

ROUNDWORMS (Toxocara) are very common. Roundworm larvae become encysted in the dog`s tissues and can be passed through the placenta from mother to pup. The majority of puppies are infected with roundworm and require treatment. Roundworms in puppies can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea; occasionally as the larvae migrate through the organs into airway passages, they can cause pneumonia. Regular worming of puppies is recommended. Heartworm medication for adult dogs will also control any roundworm infection in adults.

HOOKWORMS can infect the dog either by ingestion or penetration of the skin by the larvae. The larvae circulate through the blood stream into many tissues and finally settle in the intestine where they mature. They attach to the intestinal lining and suck blood. Hookworm infection can cause marked anemia, intermittent bloody diarrhea, dull dry hair coat, and weight loss. Untreated infection in puppies can be severe and require intravenous therapy. Regular worming of puppies is recommended. Heartworm medication for adult dogs will also control hookworm infection.

More Giardia  (beaver fever) links ,  ,

Bottom Line: Parasites exist all over in our environment

It is IMPOSSIBLE for us to completely erradicate this as even the deer in the back yard, the mice in the fields and the squirrels in the trees are "dropping" them as they go through our land. We don't live in a bubble. :O)

We do try to treat all parasites that our puppies are likely to have. However, sometimes several treatments at 2 week intervals are required and as a new puppy owner you may have to continue this anti-parasite agenda through the first 6 mos of your puppies life. After this, worming 2-3 times a year is sufficient.