This is an “opportunist protozoa” that lives in the bowels of all dogs. ALL DOGS carry coccidia. Something has to weaken the immune system of an animal for the protozoa to have an opportunity to take hold and start multiplying. That “something ” is usually stress of one kind or another.
Coccidia is usually accompanied by a loose, stinky stool that can even have streaks of bloody mucus in it. Some Vets will explain coccidia to their clients by saying the animal is loaded with parasites. Coccidia is not exactly a parasite but can be just as hard to get rid of . So long as good bacteria exists in an ample supply in the gut, coccidia can not grow.
Coccidia is shed in the stool like a virus. If the animal is not shedding it when a stool sample is taken, the animal can be misdiagnosed as being free of the protozoa. If your puppy is put on antibiotics of any sort, feed yogurt to replenish the good bacteria that is killed off by the antibiotic. It will in no way affect the antibiotic from completing it’s job but may save your animal from secondary infections caused by an imbalance of good bacteria.
When coccidia does exist in the G.I. tract of your puppy, it can easily spread up through the system and into the lungs and if unchecked, it can cause pneumonia and eventually death. The first signs of coccidia is usually a lack of eating properly accompanied by a loose stinky stool and sometimes escalating into bouts of hypoglycemia.
Coccidia can be transmitted to humans if hands are not washed and contaminated utensils are handled improperly.
Coccidia should never be allowed to progress to a point that the puppy’s life is threatened. If your puppy shows signs of this disease, immediately seek professional advice and treatment.