Yorkshire Terrier Medical Information
Things you should know. We’ve provided Medical information to assist you in learning more about medical conditions and Yorkshire Terriers.
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What is Coccidiosis?
Coccidiosis is an intestinal parasite that affects several different animal species including canines and humans. Coccidia is one of the most prevalent protozoa infections in North American animals, second only to giardia. Eimeria and Isospora are the two genera that are often referred to as “coccidia.” These two genera contain a large number of species that infect a variety of animals throughout the world. The diseases caused by these microscopic protozoa parasites are referred to collectively as coccidiosis, and they vary tremendously in virulence. Some species cause diseases that result in mild symptoms that might go unnoticed (i.e., mild diarrhea) and eventually disappear, while other species cause highly virulent infections that are rapidly fatal. The causative agent is a protozoan that has the ability to multiply rapidly. The major damage is due to the rapid multiplication of the parasite in the intestinal wall, and the subsequent rupture of the cells of the intestinal lining. Several stages of multiplication occur before the final stage, the oocyst, is passed in the feces. Oocysts are extremely resistant to environmental stress and are difficult to completely remove from the environment. Oocysts are frequent contaminants of feed and water and when other animals ingest the sporulated oocysts they start the life cycle over in the new host.
Life Cycle of Coccidia:
The life cycles of both genera of coccidia are similar. A host is infected when it ingests oocysts that have been passed in the feces of another host. The oocyst encysts in the host’s small intestine, and the sporozoites contained within the oocyst are liberated. The sporozoites penetrate the cells of the host’s small intestine and reproduce asexually. Each generation of asexual reproduction produces multiple merozoites; the merozoites are liberated from the cell and infect new cells. It is this stage of the infection that can result in destruction of massive numbers of cells in the host’s small intestine and, ultimately, lead to the host’s death. Some of the merozoites that enter the host’s cells transform into gametocytes. The gametocytes transform into gametes, the gametes fuse, and the resulting zygote begins to develop into an oocyst. The developing oocyst escapes from the host’s cell, and it is passed in the host’s feces. Typically, when the oocyst is passed in the feces, it is not infective because it does not contain sporozoites; this is an unsporulated oocyst. After several days (or weeks, depending on the species) outside of the host’s body, the oocyst completes development and sporozoites are found within; this is a sporulated oocyst, and it is infective to the next host (view diagram of the life cycle).
Clinical signs of coccidiosis usually are present or shortly following stress such as weather changes; weaning; overcrowding; long automobile or plane rides; relocation to a new home and new owners; and/or unsanitary conditions. Symptoms or signs of coccidiosis will depend on the state of the disease at the time of observation. In general, coccidiosis affects the intestinal tract and symptoms are associated with it. In mild cases, only a watery diarrhea may be present, and if blood is present in the feces, it is only in small amounts. Severely affected animals may have thin, watery feces with considerable amounts of intestinal mucus and blood. Straining usually is evident, rapid dehydration; weight loss and anorexia (off feed) also may be clinically visible. One of the most prevalent canine coccidia is S. tenella and during autopsies of dead animals appears as microscopic muscle cysts in the host animal. Oocysts in the feces of dogs are also microscopic in size and can only be positively identified through lab tests or direct observation under a microscope.
Treatment, and Prevention:
Coccidiosis is frequently referred to as an opportunist a disease that will develop when other stress factors are present. For example, the highest incidence of coccidiosis is in the first 21 days after a dog has changed owners and moved to a new residence. If a normal animal carries oocysts, it is relatively easy for rapid development when the conditions are right adverse weather, shipping, dog food changes, new owners, new residence, and other stresses are important. Infection may be treated using a sulfadimethoxine drug such as Albon®, Bactrovet®, or Tribrissen®. Data regarding acute and chronic toxicities of sulfadimethoxine indicate the drug is very safe. Albon Oral Suspension 5%: 2- and 16-oz bottles; each tsp (5 mL) contains 250 mg sulfadimethoxine in a custard-flavored carrier. Length of treatment with any sulfadimethoxine drug depends on the clinical response. In most cases treatment for 5 days is adequate. Treatment should be continued until the animal is asymptomatic for at least 48 hours.
What is Giardiasis?
Giaridasis is an intestinal infection caused by a parasitic protozoan (single celled organism) called Giardia lamblia. These protozoans are found in the intestines of many animals, including dogs and humans. This microscopic parasite clings to the surface of the intestine, or floats free in the mucous lining the intestine. Veterinary research documents suggest that 5% to 10% of all dogs in North America have giardiasis at any given time. Surveys also show that about 14% of the adult dog population and 30% of dogs under one year of age were infected at some point during their life, and thus contributed to passing along this intestinal infection to other dogs. Another Vet research article I found suggests that 100% of kennel dogs, 50% of pups, and 10% of well cared for dogs carry giardia.
What harm does Giardia do to my dog?
Giardia causes its unpleasant effects on the body not by invading the tissues, but simply by being in the way. It multiplies to the point where it sort of paves the lining of the intestine and blocks normal digestion (malabsorption). This causes only partially digested food to get lower in the digestive tract than it should, causing diarrhea.
What are the clinical signs associated with infection?
The trophozoites divide to produce a large population, then they begin to interfere with the absorption of food. Clinical signs range from none in asymptomatic carriers, to mild recurring diarrhea consisting of soft, light colored stools, to acute explosive diarrhea in severe cases. Other signs associated with giardiasis are weight loss, listlessness, fatigue, mucus in the stool, and anorexia. These sigs are also associated with other diseases of the intestinal tract, and are not specific to giardiasis. These signs, together with the beginning of cyst shedding, begin about one week post infection. There may be additional signs of large intestinal irritation, such as straining and even small amounts of blood in the feces. Usually the blood picture of affected animals is normal, though occasionally there is a slight increase in the number of white blood cells and mild anemia. Without treatment, the condition may continue, either chronically or intermittently, for weeks or months.
How can I be sure my dog has Giardia?
Diagnosing giardia is not easy. Diagnosis can be done in one of two ways: via fecal sample by a Vet or via educated evaluation of clinical findings by the breeder/owner or the Vet. Via fecal sample is not straightforward. Even when a flare is at it’s worst, the cysts will not be shedding in every single stool. Therefore, a negative report does not rule out giardia. The most thorough way to assess is to collect a sample from every single stool produced for 48 to 72 hours and have a Vetexamine it using the giardia test kit. For what it’s worth, my own observation is that stools that are bloody and full of mucous are most likely to contain cysts. Via clinical findings is the other way to diagnose. This means the breeder/owner or Vet takes a look at the dog, evaluates the history and symptoms, and treats on that basis. If the treatment is successful, the diagnosis was accurate.
Treatment for Giardia:
My first choice of treatment is Metrondazole (brand name Flagyl). Metronidazole has two interesting properties—the action is largely confined to the gut and it also seems to stimulate the local immune system. Metronidazole kills off the giardia and reduces the numbers to the level a dog’s immune system can handle. This is my first choice for treating giardiasis in Yorkies. You can go to the vet and ask for this specifically ¼ tablet per 2 pounds of body weight, or you can call your breeder, and pick some up. You can also use Fenbendazole (Safe-Guard or Panacur). Call your vet for the right dosage. I have also found it safer to medicate for 1 week, wait 1 week and medicate for another 5 days. Whatever treatment is chosen, it is very unlikely to eliminate 100% of the infection in all dogs. Important Note: A healthy dog may have been infected years before and never have shown any symptoms (asymptomatic carrier). They may occasionally shed very low numbers of cysts in the stools. To rule your dog out as an asymptomatic carrier you would need to evaluate every stool for 6 months. This would cost thousand of dollars! Not exactly a practical way to test. Therefore, if you suspect a protozoal infection in your Yorkie, I recommend your puppy be treated for both coccidian and giardia at the same time since both protozoal infections have the exact same clinical signs and both are highly contagious. Remember, coccidiosis and giardiasis are both very common protozoal infestations that have the exact same clinical symptoms; therfor, I recommend that both protozoans get treated one right after another: coccidian for 10 days and then giardia for 5 days. Once again, I treat coccidiosis with Albon and giardiasis with Flagyl.
Teacup Yorkies and Hypoglycemia:
Yorkie puppies are very small, so you should not be surprised if they eat only a tablespoon or so at a time. They should be fed 4 times a day to start, with a last feeding at 10pm. Nutro has developed nutrionally balanced food that doesn’t need any added vitamins or minerals. Remember, your yorkie is just like a child, he or she has to be reminded to slow down and take a nap. It is very important not to overexert your Yorkie pup. They need a healthy balance of eating, quality food and exercise. Never let them go more than 4 hours without eating and 8 hours after 14 weeks of age. The most important rule is to always have fresh food and water available. Make sure that you actually see them eating or hand feed them every 3-4 hours until 12-14 weeks of age. Sometimes they will not feel like eating. If that is the case just put a pea size drop or Nutri-Cal (a high calorie supplement) or creamy peanut butter on the roof of their mouth. Teacups must replenish their energy more frequently than larger puppies, because of their tiny digestive systems.
Symptoms of Hypoglycemia:
Your puppy may exhibit one or more of these signs. The gums of a normal puppy will be bright red/pinkish, like humans. Gums that are pale in some places or light pink means sugar levels are dropping. If the gums are white your pup needs quick attention to avoid hypoglycemic shock or coma. If the gums are white, I recommend light Karo syrup on the tongue (1 tsp) every 10 minutes until the gums are pale pink or pale in spots. Nutri-Cal (in 5-6 pea size) will also restore blood sugar. You can also use 5-8 drops of honey on the tongue, this should bring them around in about ten minutes.
Another sign that is usually seen is vomiting on an empty stomach – clear liquid, bile or saliva foaming at the mouth. If your teacup has not eaten in a while or it is first thing in the morning give them Nutri-Cal. Other signs to watch for are a puppy acting listless or tired, sometimes walking unsteadily as if drunk, shakiness and falling over. In extreme cases, even lying on their sides and being totally unresponsive. In these extreme cases if the puppy is not given nutrition quickly (e.g. light karo syrup, honey, sugar water, Nutri-Cal as described above) to raise its blood sugar, coma and death will result. You should see improvement within 10 minutes — if not, repeat and give more sugar. If you still see no signs of imrovement, RUSH to the nearest Veterinary office for a glucose injection.