Coccidia are single-celled organisms that infect the intestinal tracts of dogs and cats. Coccidia are transmitted by ingesting an oocyst (the infective stage of the Coccidia), which are found in feces-contaminated ground. Ingesting an infected rodent, such as a mouse, can also be a cause of infection. Coccidia oocysts are very difficult to kill, and can live up to a year in the environment, so maintaining good sanitation is very important.
Coccidia infections are very common, especially in young animals that are housed in groups like an animal shelter, breeding kennel, puppy mill etc. It usually causes illness and voluminous watery diarrhea in young animals, whereas older animals do not seem to become ill from it. In some youngsters, Coccidia can actually make them very ill and lethargic.
There is a little bit of controversy on the treatment of Coccidia. Some veterinarians advocate only treating animals that are showing symptoms of Coccidia, others believe all infections should be treated. The medication used to treat a Coccidia infection is geared to slow down the infection long enough that the pet’s immune system gets the chance to eliminate the infection.
We elect to treat most all of the pets we diagnose with Coccidia, unless the individual patient displays adverse effects to using the antibiotic.