Parasite Management Disclosure
What are intestinal parasites?
Intestinal parasites are parasites that live inside the host animal’s gastrointestinal tract. Examples include worms, like roundworms,whipworms, hookworms, tapeworms and protozoa, such as, giardia and coccidia.
How do dogs get intestinal parasites?
Dogs can contract intestinal parasites via different routes. Parasites are usually transmitted when an animal inadvertently ingests parasite eggs or spores in contaminated soil, water, feces or food. In the case of tapeworms, they can also be transmitted when a dog eats an infected flea. Puppies, on the other hand, usually get intestinal parasites from their mother. Transmission can occur in utero or from nursing.
Puppies are very susceptible to contracting diseases that older dogs’ immune systems can fight off. Giardiasis and coccidiosis are both parasitic infections that are common among young dogs. Up to half of young puppies will contract giardiasis in their life. Both conditions are easily treatable. Both are common in parks, kennels, doggy day care and other areas dogs frequently visit. Your puppy can get Giardia many ways such as chewing on a stick, eating grass, or drinking from a puddle. Refrain from taking your puppy to these places until he is at least 12 months old.
Why and How?
It’s not uncommon for dogs coming from group environments to have parasitic infestations, and that doesn’t necessarily mean you got the dog from a “bad” facility. Parasites survive by being difficult to eradicate and easy to spread from dog to dog.
Two of the most frustrating but common parasites your puppy might be hosting are Giardia and Coccidia. These are not worms, but two species of protozoa – single-celled organisms that reproduce in the intestines of infected animals and shed their spores into the environment through the infected animals’ feces. These spores can survive in watery environments and soil, long enough to be incidentally consumed by other animals, either by drinking contaminated water, eating contaminated grass, or just walking through (or sitting or lying on) contaminated soil and then grooming themselves.
Once inside an animal, the spores find a home within the cells of the intestine and reproduce, starting the cycle all over again. Infections can be extremely difficult to eradicate from the environment. These parasites are commonly found in rescues, kennels, and daycare facilities, mainly because it is so difficult to end the life cycle.
It's important to understand that coccidia can be found in the stools of normal dogs. All dogs have some level of Coccidia in their gut. They just flare up at times of stress (i.e when pups are weaned, shipped , changing to new environments, changing food, ect...). The stress can cause the Coccidia to bloom and flair up causing diarrhea.
Once a dog is diagnosed with coccidiosis there are a couple of options for treatment. Dogs can be treated with coccidiostats. Albon (Sulfadimethoxine), Trimethoprim-sulfa (TMP-SMZ), or Corid . Your vet may recommend 5 + days of treatment or a cycle of treatment.The important thing to keep in mind about these drugs is that they do not kill the coccidia that your dog already has, they just stop coccidia from reproducing. The dogs must rely on their immune system to clear the parasite after treatment.
People ask what coccidia is and how their dogs become infected. Coccidiosis is an infection of the intestinal tract by one-celled protozoa. Coccidia spend a portion of their life living in the intestines of the infected dogs. The parasite is transmitted to other dogs in any number of ways such as eating stool, licking feet after walking on parasite, flyies, cats, or people tracking it mechanically are just a couple of ways.
Picking up stools is part of a preventive program. Preventing this parasite can be difficult with litters that live in small areas and places people or other animals frequent often. It can be picked up every easily at a dog park, pet store, shelter, and public dog places. Coccidia eggs can live in the environment for two years - so disinfecting to keep levels down is important. Steam cleaning is by far the best way to disinfect. The ONLY OTHER WAY to kill coccidia is to use a 10% ammonia solution (Bleach will NOT kill it) - but ammonia can not be used when the dogs are present - this is important you must move the pup elsewhere while cleaning. Coccidia is not transmittable between species, each species has there own form of coccidia.
Giardia is another common single-celled parasite that lives in your dog’s intestine causing diarrhea. It sometimes infects older dogs but more frequently infects puppies. Dogs become infected when they swallow Giardia that may be present in water or other substances that have been soiled with feces (i.e. puppy toy that was on the ground where parasite was, stagnant water where insects may transmit it to, water that has been walked through or played in by other dogs, mud puddle at a park or anywhere, often just from walking in areas dogs frequent after rain!). The parasite is aquatic and loves any water source it can get in. Many dogs infected with Giardia do not get any disease. Periods of stress may cause these organisms to multiply resulting in symptoms of a dog that was previously symptom free. Giardiasis, the illness caused by Giardia infection, usually results in diarrhea. Having giardiasis for an extended period of time can cause weight loss; generally poor condition; and even death in very serious cases.
Once a dog is diagnosed with Giardia the vet will prescribe one of several options. Many will use Fenbendazole for 3+ days (ie panacur or Safeguard). Other options are Metronidazole (flagyl) for 5+ days or Albenazole 2+ days. The best way to prevent Giardia infection is to make sure that your dog has safe, clean drinking water, and wipe paws after visits to vet, dog park, etc. It is important not to allow dogs to drink water from areas where other animals have left their feces (ie off the ground like a puddle). Baths to get parasites off of the fur especially if puppy has been through muddy areas also helps as dogs groom themselves and then lick the parasite into them. Picking up the feces left by your dog immediately and placing it in the trash. Cleaning is important to preventing the spread of this parasite also and you will need to use bleach at 1:10 or even 1:5 water ratio, lysol brand II or III, or quaternary ammonium disinfectants to kill. Giardia can live up to 10 years in the ground. Giardia is a common cause of diarrhea in people, but dog Giardia is not generally considered to spread from animals to humans. While human Giardia may infect dogs and then be passed on to humans, the majority of human cases are of human origin.
Intestinal parasites are treatable
Please note that puppies may pick up common parasites, such as Giardia, Coccidia, Roundworm, etc. Pacific Doodles LLC does everything in our power to prevent and eliminate these parasites by putting dogs and pups on a strict de-worming program. However, mother dogs tend to be more vulnerable to parasites when they have puppies, and may pass them along to the pups. Depending on the life cycle of the particular parasite, it is possible that a few pups will ago home with parasites. You must have your puppy checked by a vet within 72 hours of taking your puppy home. Please make sure the veterinarian checks your puppy’s stool for parasites.
We ask that all families read and acknowledge this Parasite Management Disclosure prior to applying for a Pacific Doodles puppy.