If Fido hasn’t been feeling well and your veterinarian diagnoses him with coccidia, you should keep him away from other dogs until he has been treated. He can transmit coccidiosis to other canines. Coccidia, a type of intestinal parasite, are generally species-specific, and canine coccidiosis is often caused by Isospora.
Coccidia are protozoa that typically live in intestinal cells. Oocysts are immature forms of coccidia that pass in the feces, where they can exist in the environment until they sporulate -- or become infective -- with ideal conditions. If Fido ingests these oocysts, he can become infected. Young dogs are generally more likely to be infected than older dogs, even if they both consume the oocysts. Fido can then shed oocysts, which can potentially infect other dogs.
Isospora species are specific to their hosts, which means the type that infects Fido will only infect Fido’s other canine friends. A notable exception is Cryptosporidium, which can infect dogs but can be transmitted to other animals, including humans. This type is less common, but you should still practice basic hygiene, such as washing hands, if Fido is infected.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your veterinarian can diagnose coccidiosis by evaluating Fido’s stool sample. He can then prescribe a medication -- a sulfonamide antibiotic, sulfadimethoxine. Because Fido can reinfect himself, thoroughly clean all areas that he may have contaminated, such as kennels or bedding.
Elizabeth Muirhead is a practicing veterinarian with an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. She has real-world experience with the husbandry, grooming, training and feeding a variety of household pets.