Think your Puppy has been Dewormed? Think Again



By Dr. Ed Mapes
Stonebridge Animal Hospital
McKinney, TX

Coccidia are one-celled protozoans that live within cells of the intestinal tract of animals. These organisms are capable of causing diarrhea that often contains blood. Inflammation of intestinal cells can result in bacteria and toxins entering the bloodstream, which causes a more serious disease.

Coccidiosis affects young puppies most frequently; it is passed to them directly from their mother. When one puppy in a litter is found to have coccidian in a stool sample, the odds are good that the litter mates are also infected.

Puppies are often given deworming agents before being sold or given to adopters, but those agents are usually only capable of ridding the intestinal tract of roundworms and are ineffective in coping with coccidia. People may think their puppies have been cleared of all intestinal parasites when in fact they have not.

Hookworms and coccidia are commonly detected on stool samples of these puppies that have been “dewormed”. Puppies that are brought to our animal hospital McKinney often show symptoms such as lethargy, diarrhea with or without vomiting, and often blood in the stool. They may stop eating and can actually be anemic because of blood loss due to these parasites.

Coccidia (and other intestinal parasites) are easily diagnosed with fecal analysis. At our animal hospital McKinney, we use a technique that centrifuges the fecal sample, making identification of organisms much easier and far more accurate. We’re also able to transmit the microscopic images to a computer so that pet owners can see the organisms very clearly. These images can be e-mailed to owners as well.


animal hospital McKinneyImage of coccidian organisms as they appear on the computer at our animal hospital McKinney. This puppy had been “dewormed” by the breeder, and the owner was surprised to learn of this infection.

Treatment for coccidiosis is actually very easy and effective, and is completed by using either sulfadimethoxine or fenbendazole. At our animal hospital McKinney, we always recheck stool samples in two to four weeks following administration of medications. Those dogs that are anemic, dehydrated, or have absorbed bacteria may require hospitalization for more intensive therapy.

Pet owners that adopt puppies should be aware of the false impression often given when they are told their pups are dewormed. In the vast majority of cases the puppies been given medications that are only effective against one type of intestinal parasite while the other parasites are left to flourish and make puppies sick.

animal hospital McKinney, TX 75071
Stonebridge Animal Hospital
5913 Virginia Parkway
McKinney, Texas 75071

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