Coccidia are very tiny single-celled parasites that like to live in the wall of your pets intestines. This parasite is found more often in puppies but can also infect older dogs and cats.
They become infected by swallowing soil or other substances in the environment that may contain dog/cat feces.
Dogs and cats are infected with different species of Coccidia, but should be treated if they test positive. Most infections in dogs and cats are a direct life cycle involving the ingestion of oocysts in the feces once they are infected.
Sporulation (immature coccidian oocysts develop into mature oocysts) can occur within 6 hours in moist, warm and oxygenated conditions but can take up to 7-10 days.
Heavy infection can lead to intestinal damage which results in decreased nutrient absorption, loss of fluids/electrolytes and with some types, hemorrhage.
Diagnoses include sending a fecal sample to the lab for examination. If your pet is positive, your Veterinarian will treat it appropriately.
If your pet is positive, feces should be removed from the area immediately and disinfected (litter boxes, etc.) Infected oocysts can survive in the environment for months and are unfortunately resistant to the most commonly used disinfectants.
Chlorine (bleach) and some ammonia-based disinfectants are successful in killing oocysts but are not to be used when animals are present. Test corrosion levels for certain surfaces.