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Cryptosporidium in Dogs

Cryptosporidium, often referred to as "Crypto," is a particularly challenging intestinal parasite that can affect dogs. Unlike traditional Coccidia, which is generally responsive to sulfa medications, Cryptosporidium requires different management and treatment strategies. Understanding the nature of this parasite and how to effectively address it is crucial for the health and well-being of your canine companions.

What is Cryptosporidium in Dogs?

Cryptosporidium is a type of Coccidian parasite that is highly resistant to traditional Coccidia medications. This resilience can lead to severe health issues, particularly in young puppies. Symptoms of Cryptosporidium infection include neurological issues, drooling, diarrhea, lack of appetite, weakness, and lethargy. The disease can progress rapidly, sometimes leading from normal behavior to death in a short period.

How Does a Dog Get Cryptosporidium?

Dogs typically contract Cryptosporidium through ingestion of feces-contaminated food or water. It only takes a small number of Crypto organisms to cause an infection, making it highly contagious among littermates. Puppies are especially vulnerable just before they move to a new home, where stress and new environments can exacerbate the condition.

Diagnosing Cryptosporidium in Dogs

Cryptosporidium is often misdiagnosed as traditional Coccidia due to its microscopic size. Accurate diagnosis requires high-power microscopy and confirmation through Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing, which identifies the parasite's genetic material. PCR testing is highly reliable and provides definitive results without false positives.

Treating Cryptosporidium in Dogs

Standard Coccidia medications are ineffective against Cryptosporidium. Tylosin (Tylan powder) is commonly used, administered at 10 mg per pound twice a day for 21 days. This can be mixed with food or water, although it has a bitter taste that needs masking. Azithromycin is another option, effective at 5 mg per pound twice a day for seven days, but it is not practical for treating entire litters.

For long-term management, adding Tylan powder to the water supply post-weaning is recommended. Ensuring all puppies receive their medication is crucial, especially in larger litters. Mixing Tylan powder with yogurt can be effective for small breed puppies. Probiotics that can pass through stomach acid and become active in the small intestine are beneficial in supporting gut health during treatment.

Preventing the Spread of Cryptosporidium

Isolation of infected animals is essential due to the highly contagious nature of Cryptosporidium. Maintaining clean water and a sanitary environment helps prevent the spread. Crypto oocysts are resistant to many disinfectants, but products like Virkon and Oxine, as well as extreme temperatures, can reduce their presence on surfaces. Regular removal of feces and cleaning with detergents to break down fats and oils also help in controlling the spread.

Controlling Cryptosporidium in Kennels

Effectively managing Cryptosporidium in kennel environments requires diligent cleaning and isolation practices. Steam cleaning and exposure to extreme cold can further aid in reducing Crypto oocysts. Proper identification and treatment of Cryptosporidium are crucial in preventing widespread infection and ensuring the health of all dogs in the facility.

For more information and assistance with managing Cryptosporidium in dogs, visit

Cryptosporidium in Dogs
Cryptosporidium in Dogs


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