Coccidia are unicellular protozoa that live in a dog's intestinal tract. Coccidiosis is life-threatening for puppies, elderly dogs and dogs with surpressed immune systems. Otherwise healthy but infected dogs may present no symptoms at all. Coccidia is extremely treatable with the use of sulfa-based drugs, which are the most commonly used coccidiostats. According to "Applied Pharmacology for Veterinary Technicians," sulfa drugs do not kill the coccidia organisms but instead inhibit their regeneration and allow the dog's own immune system to rid the body of the microorganisms in a span of one to three weeks.
What Are the Treatments for Coccidia in Dogs?
Albon is the brand name for sulfadimethoxine. It is an antibiotic manufactured by Pfizer's Animal Health division. Despite being an antibiotic, it is one of the most highly used drugs in the treatment of coccidiosis. Albon is an oral medication. The dose depends on the dog's age, weight and the severity of infection. Encourage animals taking Albon to drink extra water to prevent possible side effects associated with the drug. Common side effects include dry eye and crystal formation in the dog's urine. See a veterinarian if your dog experiences less common side effects, including pale gums, lethargy, anemia, fever, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, arthritis and allergic reactions. Do not give Albon to dogs allergic to sulfa drugs or pregnant or nursing dogs. Albon has no known interactions and is considered relatively safe from overdose, according to Pfizer. Albon is given over the course of one to two weeks to treat coccidia.
Tribrissen is the brand name of another antibiotic drug. Manufactured by Schering-Plough Inc., Tribrissen is a combination of the drugs trimethoprim and sulfadiazine. This drug is usually administered according to the dog's age, weight, overall health and the severity of the infection. Treatment lasts from one to two weeks or as determined by a licensed veterinarian. Warnings and side effects are identical to those of Albon.
Ponazuril is an oral paste solution sold under the brand name Marquis. Manufactured by Bayer Animal Health, this medication is indicated for use in horses and other large ruminants, but it may be used in dogs when compounded, or diluted. Unlike sulfa-based antibiotics, ponazuril actively kills the coccidia microorganisms. This unique method of action means a shorter course of administration and a rapid response to treatment. The drug has not been studied or indicated for use in dogs, but it is commonly used by kennels, shelters and other places where large numbers of dogs are routinely kept. While not a standard treatment, some veterinarians offer a compounded version of ponazuril to their clients.