Dogs can get diarrhea for many reasons … stress, something they ate, an infection … or a parasite. One common parasite is coccidia.
So let’s take a look at this parasite … as well as natural solutions for coccidia in dogs.
Coccidia In Dogs
Isospora is the most common type of coccidia found in dogs. These are microscopic parasites that cause an infection in your dog’s intestinal tract. Coccidia eggs can remain dormant in a dog with a healthy immune system. So your dog may not show symptoms.
Still, these dormant coccidia eggs will be excreted in your dog’s poop to infect other animals. This is a hardy parasite that’s resistant to environmental conditions. It can survive as long as a year if there aren’t extreme temperatures of heat or freezing.
Puppies don’t start to build natural immunity to coccidia until they reach 12 weeks, so they can be susceptible to this parasite. But whether a puppy or mature dog, if your dog is in poor health or stressed because of other infections, chronic disease or immunosuppression, coccidia can easily take hold.
Eggs mature in your dog’s intestines to become full-fledged coccidiosis. The damage continues making it hard for your dog to absorb nutrients and water. This is especially damaging to a growing puppy.
Here are some frequently asked questions about coccidia.
What Are The Symptoms Of Coccidia In Dogs?
Signs of coccidia in dogs include diarrhea, weakness, lack of appetite, anemia, thirst and dehydrationm … and in severe cases anorexia, weight loss, vomiting and depression.
How Do You Get Rid Of Coccidia In Dogs
Most vets prescribe sulfa drugs which can have some harsh side effects. But there are several natural ways to treat coccidia in dogs (described below).
Can Humans Get Coccidia?
Humans can get coccidia but the parasite is species-specific, so it’s unlikely you’ll get it from your dog. Cryptosporidium is one kind that can infect both people and dogs, so if your dog gets this one, be very careful about hygiene.
How To Prevent Coccidia In Dogs
Preventing coccidia in dogs means you’ll need to stop your dog coming into contact with contaminated feces, soil or water Here are some ways dogs can get coccidia …
- From contaminated poop
- Contaminated soil
- Licking themselves after contact with the parasite
- Eating infected animals … like a mouse or rat.
- Drinking contaminated water
Also, check out the prevalence maps at the Companion Animal Parasite Council website, so you can see how common coccidia is where you live.
Diagnosis Of Coccidia
These parasites are microscopic so your vet needs to view a fecal (stool) sample under a microscope for a specific diagnosis. You’ll need a stool sample the size of your thumb. If you can’t take it in the same day you collect it, keep it in the fridge, not the freezer.
Fecal flotation tests and PCR tests are other ways of diagnosing coccidia. PCR tests are more accurate.
Coccidia Treatment In Dogs
These natural solutions are safe and effective to fight coccidia … and they do double or triple duty by improving your dog’s overall health in other ways. Here’s how to treat coccidia in dogs naturally …
Parasites survive on bad bacteria and fungus in your dog’s digestive system. A parasite cleansing diet will eliminate their food source.
Here’s how to do a parasite cleanse for your dog.
- Eliminate grains and sugars. Processed kibble is high in carbohydrates that convert to sugar during digestion. Harmful organisms thrive on sugarm leading to inflammation and a weakened dog’s immune system.
- Choose a whole food, raw meat diet for your dog. This removes the parasite food source of starches and sugars. Also choose berries like raspberries, blueberries and cranberries with low sugar content.
- Include high-fiber vegetables. Fiber aids bowel movements that move parasites through the digestive tract. Avoid starchy veggies like carrots and squash You’ll need to blend, finely chop or lightly steam vegetables to make them digestible for your dog.
Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain to improve your dog’s digestion and kill parasites. You’ll also find bromelain as an ingredient in many digestive enzyme supplements (see below).
Garlic contains allicin that’s effective against parasites. It also has sulfur compounds and antioxidants to destroy parasites. Release allicin by chopping organic raw garlic and letting it stand for 15 minutes. Small dogs need a quarter clove or 1/4 tsp or less, ½ clove for medium dogs, 3/4 clove for large dogs and as much as 1 clove for giant breeds. Give this twice a day. You can use garlic with Goldenseal for even better results.
When combined with garlic, goldenseal has been very effective against parasites like coccidia. Mix goldenseal as a dried powder directly into your dog’s food. Use 1 tsp per 20 pounds of body weight. You can also feed it as a tea, providing ¼ cup per 20 pounds daily. It can also be given as a tincture, 5 to 10 drops per 20 pounds about 2 to 3 times daily.
(Caution: Goldenseal tincture is bright yellow and can stain whatever it touches … like fur, fingers and carpets).
Oil Of Oregano
There are antibacterial and antiparasitic properties in oregano that increase the production of stomach acid. And that kills parasites and prevents infections. Oil of oregano is pretty powerful so you must dilute it for your dog. It’s very strong, so you must dilute it with 1 tsp of olive oil per 1-2 drops of oregano oil and mix it with your dog’s food. You only need a drop or 2 for tiny dogs, 3-4 drops for medium to large dogs, 5-6 drops for extra large dogs.
Ginger has antibacterial and antiparasitic effects similar to oil of oregano. Grate it fresh and give it as you would fresh garlic. Use 1/4 tsp or less for small dogs, ½ tsp to full clove for medium dogs, a clove for large dogs and as much as 2 cloves for giant breeds.
This is an amino acid to heal your dog’s stomach and intestinal lining that can be damaged by coccidia. You can give it with other supplements, or for overall PRODUCT gut healing. The daily dose is 500 mg per 25 lbs of weight.
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This natural antibiotic and liver tonic attacks parasites. Your dog needs 12 drops of tincture per 20 pounds of weight, every day. Don’t give Oregon grape to pregnant females or dogs with liver disease.
Probiotics restore balance to the microflora of your dog’s intestinal tract. These friendly bacteria crowd out pathogenic bacteria that create an environment that attracts and sustains parasites. Give a good probiotic supplement, or feed probiotic-rich foods. And be sure to include prebiotics, needed to feed the probiotics. Prebiotic foods include mushrooms, garlic, bananas and dandelion greens.
Digestive enzymes help your dog absorb nutrients, plus they make it easier for your dog to expel parasites.
How To Stop Coccidia From Spreading
You can’t eliminate the coccidia parasite, especially because you can’t see it. However, freezing temperatures, drought, sunlight and ammonia can kill it. And you must eliminate warm, wet, dirty, overcrowded conditions where coccidia can multiply. Here’s how you can be proactive against coccidia.
Clean Up Poop
Always pick up your dog’s poop and don’t let him eat it. Cockroaches and rodents can be carriers so don’t give them a place to nest around your house and yard.
Keep Your Dog Clean
Make your own cleaning spray and wipes using a cup of water and 3 drops each of lavender and lemon essential oil. Shake well, spray and pat your dog’s butt as needed. When he’s recovered, bathe him and clean him well around the anus. Continue to clean him repeatedly until you’re certain all coccidia parasites have been eliminated from his system. And this can take a few weeks.
Clean Your Home
Prevent the spread of coccidia with good hygiene. Avoid bleach as it’s very toxic, especially for a dog weakened by illness. A better choice is oxygen bleach made from hydrogen peroxide and water (check the ingredients to be sure).
- Clean all hard surfaces – floors, crates, trash cans – using soap and boiling water, and rinse thoroughly. Carpets need to be steam-cleaned.
- You can make a mixture of castile soap and essential oils. Mix 2T of castile soap with 15 drops each of lavender and lemon essential oils in 1 ¾ cups water and ¼ cup white vinegar. (Don’t add essential oil to really hot water as it’ll dissipate.) Use this to clean your dog’s crate, food and water bowl.
- Wash bedding, towels and toys at the highest heat settings for the washer and dryer, or dry them in direct sunlight. You can also add a few drops of lavender and lemon essential oil to the laundry.
- Disinfect bowls and toys in the dishwasher at high settings. Use a rinse cycle of 113°F for 20 minutes, 122°F for five minutes, or 162°F for one minute. Items should be held in boiling water for at least one minute.
Having to treat parasites is not an easy job. That makes it more important to consistently build your dog’s long-term so he’s less susceptible. But you’ll always have this list of natural options available if you need to fight parasites like coccidia.