Coccidia at 400%

Coccidia in Puppies and Kittens – Treatment and Prevention

Almost every dog breeder I know has encountered the nasty organism known as Coccidia at one time or another. Purchasing dogs from another breeder is often the most common route of infection, and always makes for a wonderful ‘bonus’ gift (“Oh look, the new puppy just sprayed explosive diarrhea all over the wall!” is a cry too commonly heard just after you let the little darling out of their crate for the first time). For all types of dogs, Coccidia can be picked up in a myriad of ways, in particular from dog parks or show sites – any place where your dogs can encounter cysts shed by other infected dogs.


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Breaking what isn’t broke

Teddy eating his first meal of raw dog food mixed with goats milk.

I’ve been raw feeding my dogs off and on for almost twenty years now. Back when I started, raw feeding was something that you turned to in desperation, when all the other diets had failed you. It was also something you didn’t advertise to most people, as you were almost assured of being considered a ‘kook’. I remember several potential puppy buyers who balked when informed that my pups were raised on raw food. A few thought it meant that they’d be walking salmonella farms, and one or two actually believed the old myth about ‘raw meat making dogs savage’! Times sure have changed – you can now buy raw diets commercially, some puppy buyers specifically come looking for pups who’ve been raised on raw and lists for raw feeders abound on Yahoo Groups.

No matter how long you feed raw for, it’s still possible to have the occasional crisis of faith. Mine came when it was time to wean the chipmunks. As always, I started them on a slurry of raw dog food mixed with goats milk. I then gradually reduce the milk, until they’re eating just raw. This time around, a week or so in and the little hellions all went on a hunger strike. In an adult dog, this would be time for a case of tough love – eat or go hungry, is generally my motto. With babies, it’s a little bit more worrisome – they can’t afford to skip meals, and they don’t have the energy reserves to make fasting practical.

And so, I admit it – I panicked. I picked up a bag of premium quality, grain free kibble, I soaked it in some goats milk, and I offered it to the kids. And, of course, they loved it. Like sucky, over indulgent moms the world over, instead of just insisting that the kids eat their damned broccoli, I gave in and fed them the canine equivalent of a trip to McDonalds. Initially, it seemed a simple solution – give in, feed them dry and say ‘so be it’. It wasn’t quite that simple, however.

As soon as the pups went on to the dry food, they had constant diarrhea. This wasn’t the truly frightening, dehydrating diarrhea, either. Excuse the crudeness, but their poop looked like pudding, and poor Alvin was suffering from a wicked case of diaper rash as a result. Not life threatening, but not pleasant, either, and I was desperate to get it under control.

First attempt? Re worming. I use Safe Guard, which covers the widest variety of intestinal worms, and also addresses any potential Giardia. Nothing. Next attempt, a precautionary dose of Baycox, an  almost impossible to get wonder drug that knocks out Coccidia in one dose. Still no change. Alvin’s bottom was so sore I was applying zinc oxide cream four times daily, and the poor little guy still looked miserable. Next up, we tried a course of Flagyl (aka metronidazole), surefire cure all for all mystery cases of runny poop. No improvement. Final attempt, a pricey box of FortiFlora, which my repro vet swears by. Still runny poop, still scooting their little bums, and still a sore bottom on Alvin.

On Friday, I’d had it.

I decided to switch them back to raw, whether they liked it or not, and put down a dish of raw lamb dog food. Picky as always, they sniffed at it and said ‘no thanks’, until I sprinkled a remaining packet of FortiFlora over top of it, after which they scarfed it down like they were starving.

End results? By Saturday morning, their poop was fifty percent better, and by Saturday night, their poop was 100% normal, for the first time since I switched them to dry.

Lesson learned! I’ll be sticking to raw from now on, and if another batch of puppies get picky, I’ll ride it out and use tough love until they get their appetites back, instead of feeding them junk food. As Sean said “If you know raw works, why were you messing around with their food?”. It was a simple case of breaking what wasn’t broke, and I’m not going to make that mistake again!

The Puppies Eat Their First Meal

Well, it’s official – the puppers are growing up. Monday, they ate their very first meal – a tasty slurry made from raw beef mixed with warm, raw whole goat’s milk. Think ‘beef goat milk smoothie’.

Alvin (aka Striker) took to it like a champ – you could almost see him thinking “Thank god, it’s food I don’t have to chase across the whelping box”.

Teddy also got the hang of it right away – you could almost see him thinking “thank god, it’s food buffet style (whatever a buffet is)”.

Simon, on the other hand? Not so impressed. His basic opinion seems to be “I have fresh food on tap from mommy – why should I work so hard?”. He takes a little bit of coaxing, and even then he’s still more interested in licking left overs off of his brothers’ faces. Oh well, some kids just are slower to mature.

Here’s a short video, taken during that very first meal.

Weaning Puppies Onto Raw

Luke enjoying his first solid meal.

Luke enjoying his first solid meal.

Tula’s pups have been nibbling at her dinner the last few days, so we decided it was high time to wean them. I tend to feel less of a rush for weaning when I’m dealing with a mom like Tula, who has remained fat and happy throughout this entire litter. Her kids are both chubby and healthy, and Tula is still flowing with milk. Still, all good things come to end, and it’s time for Luke and Leah* to start eating solid food.

In the ‘old days’, I weaned onto rice pablum mixed with goat’s milk, eventually adding in some raw meat. The last few litters, however, I’ve gone straight to raw and the pups seem to just love it.

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First Time Puppy Feeding

Introducing puppies to solid food is possibly one of the most hilarious, messy and frustrating aspects of dog breeding.

Some of them, like PB, take one look at the food dish and say “Oh boy, this is the life for me“, and dive in face first.

French Bulldog puppy eating solid food

Other puppies, like Hugo, are curious about the concept, but unsure of the exact method involved.

Hugo eats solid food

Princess Vela took one look at the food dish, decided that eating out of it involved the potential for dirty paws, and insisted on being hand fed. We, being her lowly minions, of course complied.

Vela is not amused

In the midst of all the madness, Po, like his brother PB, calmly got down to the business of eating as much as possible. He was very methodical about it.

Po, Vela and PB try solid food

The only one unimpressed was Jacques, who reasonably decided that he had a perfectly good buffet on tap in the form of his mother, and that more of his siblings eating solid food equaled more milk time for him. He sniffed the food, but decided it wasn’t up to par. We’ll try again tonight.

Jacques prefers milk, thanks

More puppy feeding photos here, on Flickr.

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