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 Blood in diarrhoea

by Warren Petersen, Cape Town, South Africa

Before I start, I have to stress that I am not a vet, but only wanting to share what I have learnt through almost losing 2 of my beloved friends.

BLOODY FAECES & ANOREXIA

This condition is common in dogs under 4-5 months old and older dogs and can also be brought on by stress.

I am a Rhodesian Ridgeback fanatic in Cape Town.  Ridgebacks are renowned for having stomachs of iron. Our ridgeback puppy, at about 3 months old, started having slight diarrhea – and NO, not because of his food as everybody would tell you at first!  (Do note that fatty or foreign foods can cause diarrhea.)  The problem with the condition is that the dog’s faeces will be fine the one day and runny the next.  Not to get too graphical, the stool would be a little soft now (not quite keeping its shape) and runny 5 minutes later.  The symptoms are that the dog will never feel as if he has finished defecating and keep on trying and pushing.  The little bits to follow will have bloody mucus around it.  In severe cases as Leo’s, the feces will be mixed with blood and a tablespoon or so of blood to follow the defecation.

Leo’s weight stabilized and actually got thinner as he was growing very quickly.  His diarrhea got worse gradually until it became explosive, was bloody and had a terrible rotten smell.  The advanced condition leads to anemia and loss of appetite.  We took him to 2 vets who took X-rays. They couldn’t find anything wrong with him, diagnosed spastic intestines and wanted to operate!  Anyways, a fortune later, Leo had severe anorexia  and had to be put down at almost 6 months old.

Months later we bought another ridgeback.  Low and behold the same symptoms started at 3 months old, but less severe. At 6 months old the condition started to get the better of him.  I read some articles on the net – please bear with me as I am not a vet, but here is what I have learnt ...  

This condition is caused by parasites, NOT the wormy kind!  Of course, have your dog dewormed FIRST, but these guys don’t die from deworming tablets!  They are called coccidia and the condition is called coccidiosis.  The other less common parasite is called giardia.  You have to take medication for each one individually.  You should treat your dog for coccidiosis first as almost all dogs have coccidia in them, but the strains might be weaker or being kept in check by the dog’s immune system.

They are microscopically small and could burrow into the dog’s intestinal wall or muscles.  They could even burrow into the nervous system, causing muscle tremors!  They thrive by covering the whole intestinal wall, making digestion very difficult.  Little can be absorbed and enzymes can’t be released.  The undigested food thus passes down the intestinal tract too far, causing diarrhea.

If you take your dog to the vet, they will take X-rays to check for obstructions.  They will give him anti-biotics then, they will do a colonoscopy and check stool samples.  The problem with coccidia is that they are not detectable in each stool sample and the lab needs to go through the WHOLE stool, &  each stool for a few days.  The results might come back negative the one day and positive the next.  This is a very costly exercise and most people won’t even go this route.  It will cost you thousands of Rands to find out that they have these parasites!  

Don’t leave your dog untreated for too long as permanent damage may occur or even quick death.

TREATMENT

There is info on USA websites, but the American medicines are not all available here.

Disinfect the area where the dog is kept with bleach.  Having grass, this was not an option for me.  

Coccidia is killed by the active ingredient sulfadimethoxine.  If you want to buy medicine for dogs or cats, you have to buy it from a vet.  You can however often buy medicine for cattle, sheep, fish etc. with a different label stuck on it!  If you know how many mg per kg bodyweight of an active ingredient to administer, you can cure your dog for a fraction of the price!  The coccidia is now on your premises and might recur if your dog’s immune system isn’t strong enough.  To not get into life cycle specifics, the “eggs” can survive outdoors for many months.

I shopped around for sulfa-drugs for animals and found sulfadimethoxine medication for pigeons (Medicox made by MedPet)  It doesn’t have any other added active ingredients and contains 25g of sulfadimethoxine (100g tub, thus 25%).  I mixed the powder with his food.  As I am not a vet, the other cheaper medicines could probably have worked as well, but I didn’t want to take a chance.  The best dosage is 55mg (sulfadimethoxine)/ kg bodyweight as a shock treatment first dosage and then half that, 27.5mg/ kg.  Administer twice daily for 10 days.  Tests have shown that dogs given 160mg/ kg of bodyweight didn’t show any signs of toxicity, maybe only slight diarrhea.  The Medicox powder has about the same weight to volume ratio as water.  A level teaspoon would thus be about 5g of Medicox, which contains 1.25g sulfadimethoxine.  This would be sufficient for a 45.5kg dog.  For small dogs of let’s say 5kg, you would need 550mg of Medicox (137.5mg sulfadimethoxine).  This would be very hard to measure!  Take a level teaspoon (5g) and mix with 200ml water.  Take 4.5 teaspoons of this mixture and mix with your dog’s food.

 

THE RESULT

Our second infected ridgeback was saved and gained 5kg in the first week after starting the medication!  His stools took on the proper shape after about 2 days and the bloody mucus cleared after 5 days.

 

THE NEXT STEP

The other parasite which causes exactly the same symptoms is called giardia.  It is recommended that you treat for coccidia first for 10 days.  If it doesn’t work, your dog most probably has giardia.  Then treat your dog for 5 days with Metronidazole, which is also an active ingredient of similar medications.  I found Meditrich, also made by Medpet, but cheaper  which contains the active ingredient (for pigeons).  I have not needed to treat for giardia, but am sure it will work!  My main source of info, was again, the internet.  You should find all the info you need there on dosages.

I hope this article will save the lives of many dogs suffering from this condition.  

When we see blood in our pet's excrement, we know we must take action. Blood is such a precious thing! As God says in His word, the Bible, "The life of a creature is in the blood & I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves. It is the blood that makes atonement for one's life." Leviticus 17, 11. To make atonement means to make reparation - to "repair" the damage our sins have done to our relationship with God. The ultimate act of atonement was when God himself, in the form of Jesus, shed his blood for us at His death.

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