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Cryptosporidiosis in Dogs

By: Dr. Arnold Plotnick

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Diagnosis In-depth

  • Fecal examination. Dogs suspected of having cryptosporidiosis should have a fecal sample carefully sent to a laboratory for special staining and examination techniques.

  • Serology. Detection of antibodies against the organism identifies dogs that have been exposed to the organism, but it does not necessarily diagnose active infection.

  • Animal inoculation. Oocysts may be harvested from an infected stool sample and inoculated orally into neonatal mice, followed by examination of the intestinal tissue of the mice one week later. This test is rarely done.        

  • Intestinal biopsy. Intestinal biopsy often reveals the organism as well as the damage that the organism may have caused to the intestinal tract.

    Therapy In-depth

    Although more than 100 drugs have been screened, there are very few drugs available to treat cryptosporidiosis successfully.

  • No treatment. Infections in immunocompetent dogs are usually self-limiting, and full recovery often occurs.

  • Antibiotics. Many antibiotics have been used in an attempt to treat cryptosporidiosis. Paromomycin, tylosin and azithromycin have all been shown to have reasonable efficacy when treating the disorder.

  • High fiber diet. Feeding a high fiber diet in conjunction with antibiotic therapy and supportive care may be beneficial in helping resolve the diarrhea more quickly.

  • Supportive therapy. Severe dehydration may require hospitalization and intravenous fluid therapy for several days.

    Follow-up

    Optimal treatment for your pet requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical, especially if your dog does not improve rapidly. Administer all prescribed medications as directed. Alert your veterinarian if you experience problems treating your dog.

    Infected dogs should be isolated from people who are immunocompromised due to the potential spread of the disease from the dog to people.

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