Symptoms and  Treatment of Coccidiosis in Dogs


"Coccidiosis in dogs is caused by dog coccidia parasites that are ingested after eating fecal matter. The condition is commonly seen in puppies age 6 to 8 weeks. The most prominent symptom is blood and mucous streaked diarrhea that is sometimes accompanied by vomiting. Diagnosis is via a fecal test. Even if results are negative, if a veterinarian suspects coccidiosis, treatment may still be recommended. Most dogs will recover without any treatment or after taking one of several low cost medications. Reinfection between puppies in the same litter is a problem in kennels or pet stores. Most dogs with the infection are asymptomatic carriers (don't show symptoms). The most common form of Coccidia does not cause disease in people, however, in rare cases less common forms can infect humans (Cryptosporidium). Because it is rare, dogs are not removed or isolated from people in the household."

Microscopic View of Dog Coccodia Parasite,
A One Cell Organism That Causes Watery Diarrhea in Dogs.



There are four types of coccidiosis dogs (lsospora canis, ohioensis, eorivolta, and I. burrowsi). It is usually found in puppies under 1 year of age and is usually not serious. Up to 72% of dogs have some sign of coccidian in their feces. The condition occurs in immune comprimised dogs such as puppies that no longer have the protection of the mothers immunity.  Dogs under stress is another risk factor.

After contracting the disease, protozoa enters the dog's intestine and begins to rapidly multiply. The protozoa then form an egg which is released from the dog in the feces. This cycle continues for up to 14 days before it stops.

Stress is a common cause of this disease which is why it is commonly seen in puppies that are brought into a new home. If the puppy gets the disease in under 13 days, it probably caught coccidiosis in the kennel or puppy farm. If greater than 13 than it was caught in the home. 

In chronic cases coccidiosis infections in dogs can cause infections.


  • Oocysts are small immature "eggs" found in dog feces
  • Once in the environment they mature (called sporulate) and hatch into a developed oocysts that can infect other dogs when ingested. The sporulate process can occur in as little as 6 hours, but on average takes 6 to 7 days
  • Dogs that ingest the oocysts can become infected once the sporulateed oocysts mature in the dog's intestine
  • If dog's eat infected feces or even a mouse that is infected, then can catch the disease

Dog Coccidia Symptoms

In addition to cough, dogs may have soft or watery diarrhea that contains some blood and/or mucous, loss of appetite, weight loss, weakness in puppies and dehydration due to diarrhea.  Since these symptoms are consistent with other diseases, it is difficult to diagnose.

Magnified View of Dog Coccidiosis
Crowding and Poor Sanitation Are Contributing Factors.


Although not 100% accurate, an examination of feces will reveal whether any of the eggs (oocyst) are present. Even having eggs in the feces is not a guarantee that your dog has this problem.  A veterinarian will need to differentiate the condition from diseases with similar symptoms such as viral infections.

Unsporulated Ooctocysts (immature coccidia eggs) are shed in feces which then passes to another host/dog

Dog Coccidia Treatment

First, the veterinarian will address any problems that are a result of the dog coccodiosis such as fluid therapy to address dehydration that is caused by the diarrhea.

There are two prescription drugs, sulfadimethoxine (AlbonĀ©) and trimethoprim-sulfadiazine (TribrissenĀ©) that are effective in both the treatment and prevention of coccidian. These drugs do not kill the organisms. They stop their ability to reproduce, so the disease take time to leave the intestine. This also allows for a dog's own immune system to remove the remaining organisms.

Most dogs are treated as an outpatient. Retesting 2 weeks after treating will confirm that the dog coccidiosis has been cured.

Preventing Reinfection

Because the coccidia parasite can survive in the environment, kennels and other areas where dogs congregate need to be sterized. The parasite can be killed with chlorine bleach (ratio 1 cup of bleach for 1 gallon of water). An alternative product is Benzarid.

Fact Sheet

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