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Severe recurring Diarrhea, Coccidia and Giardia in Dogs

Severe recurring Diarrhea, Coccidia and Giardia in Dogs - Dogs Health care Articles

Severe recurring Diarrhea, Coccidia and Giardia in Dogs : Dogs Health care Articles; Question: Hello! I am a subscriber and would be very interested in your opinion with regard to diarrhea/coccidia in dogs. I have three dogs (3 year old Portuguese water dog, 5 and 7 year old mini schnauzers) who have had a number of bouts of diarrhea, over the past several ... Severe recurring Diarrhea, Coccidia and Giardia in Dogs


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Severe recurring Diarrhea, Coccidia and Giardia in Dogs

Severe recurring Diarrhea, Coccidia and Giardia in Dogs

Question: Hello!
I am a subscriber and would be very interested in your opinion with regard to diarrhea/coccidia in dogs.
I have three dogs (3 year old Portuguese water dog, 5 and 7 year old mini schnauzers) who have had a number of bouts of diarrhea, over the past several months, but are otherwise very healthy and active. Stool specimens were positive for coccidia on two occasions, on all the other occasions, they were negative. One bout was particularly severe with much mucous and blood, (but never a diagnosis) that lingered for weeks, controlled somewhat by diet, but relapsing several times with every attempt to wean back to the old diet. After several weeks, a number of medications were tried all at once (Panacur, Flagyl and another medication, I believe, for Giardia) with good results (but never a diagnosis from stool sample). During another bout, the dogs had been noted to be nibbling on rabbit droppings in the back yard and stool at this time showed "a strange strain of coccidia," which my vet thought might have been caused from the rabbit droppings. What are your thoughts on all of these incidences of diarrhea, and is it possible for coccidia to "jump species?" Thanks so much for your input...
I've learned so much from your web site and info digest - they're just terrific. Bless you for sharing so much knowledge.
Best regards K. P.



Answer: K.P.
I think that it would be very unusual for three dogs, all adults, to have diarrhea associated with coccidiosis, especially severe bouts of diarrhea. Most dogs have reasonably good immunity to coccidia after reaching their adult years. It isn't impossible that coccidia could cause problems but I would tend to look in other directions.
Coccidia are considered to be species specific, for the most part, so it would not be likely for a rabbit origin coccidia to cause problems in dogs. It is possible for dogs to ingest the rabbit feces and coccidia organisms within them and for those organisms to show up in a fecal examination done on the dog's stools.
Giardia is a potential problem. It is most often associated with contaminated water sources but seems to be able to survive in kennels, so it does not always come from contaminated water. There has always been some question about how serious the threat of disease from giardia is. We find it in stools from dogs that are ill often enough to think it is a real pathogen, though. There are many clinical reports of chronic diarrhea associated with this organism and it would be killed by metronidazole (Flagyl Rx) and fenbendazole (Panacur Rx) so the response to medication might be a clue that it was present.
I think that food poisoning is more common in dogs than we realize, since few vets really try to confirm or refute its presence. We have seen several instances of whole neighborhoods of dogs coming down with symptoms of food poisoning (in one case botulism, which does have pretty specific clinical signs) associated with compost piles and other sources of contaminated food. If your dogs are not confined to your yard, this is potentially a problem.
There are other potential problems, including viral illnesses such as coronavirus, which may infect three dogs in one household at the same time. Coronoavirus infection is usually reported to cause a mild transient diarrhea but does affect dogs of all ages. There are a number of other intestinal bacterial pathogens, as well. Fecal cultures for bacterial infection might be worth pursuing if this problem continues to recur. Additional fecal examinations for parasites is reasonable, too. Whipworms can be hard to find on a stool sample and giardia probably shows up in normal fecal exams less than a third of the time in dogs that are known to have the problem. Repeated stool samples are often necessary to find these parasites.
Once in a while there are problems with food that don't appear to be bacterial or viral but that lead to diarrhea. We have seen this when a new bag of a dog food, same brand, is opened and all of the dogs in a household suddenly get diarrhea. I am not sure if it is food spoilage, changes in ingredients or what happens but I can remember several instances of clients complaining about this situation. It isn't a common problem but it is worth considering if you think back and realize that the problems occur when new bags of food are opened. If brands of food are suddenly changed it is not unusual at all to see diarrhea if the switch to the new food is not made gradually.
It may take more time to figure out what is going on, if there are going to be recurrent problems. Hopefully that won't be the case, though.
Mike Richards, DVM


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Severe recurring Diarrhea, Coccidia and Giardia in Dogs

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