Protozoal disease in dogs

Protozoal disease in dogs

Protozoal diseases in dogs are infections caused by protozoa, one-cleed eukaryotes. A eukaryote is a unicellular microbe where the cell has developed a membrane-bound nucleus. Protozoal infections in dogs can affect multiple systems and be responsible for a wide range of symptoms and dog diseases.

Symptoms of protozoa disease in dogs

Since there is such an abundance of protozoa species capable of attacking dogs, it is hard to give any general guidelines regarding which symptoms to watch out for in your dog. The symptoms of protozoa infection in your dog will also depend on which organs that are infected. The point of entry for the protozoa can for instance determine where the initial symptoms will manifest in a dog. Below you will find a list of symptoms commonly associated with protozoa disease in dogs, but as you see a wide range of them are commonly associated with a high number of other diseases, e.g. diseases caused by virus and bacteria.

· Anorexia
· Blindness
· Breathing problems
· Cough
· Diarrhoea
· Enlarged lymph nodes
· Depression
· Fever
· Muscle spasm
· Paralysis
· Seizures
· Vomiting
· Weight loss
· Yellow colouring

Examples of dog diseases caused by protozoa

·  Acanthamebiasis, caused by Acanthamoeba species
·  Amebiasis, caused by Entamoeba histolytica
·  Babesiosis, caused by Babesia species
·  Balantidiasis, caused by Balantidium coli
·  Coccidiosis, usually caused by Cystoisospora
·  Cryptosporidiosis, caused by Cryptosporidium parvum
·  Cytauxzoonosis, caused by Cytauxzoon felis
·  Hepatozoonosis, caused by Hepatozoon canis
·  Encephalitozoonosis, caused by Encephalitozoo
·  Giardiasis, caused by Giardia species
·  Leishmaniasis, caused by Leishmania species
·  Neosporosis, caused by Neospora cani
·  Pneumocystosis, caused by Pneumocystis carinii
·  Toxoplasmosis, caused by Toxoplasma gondii
·  Trichomoniasis, caused by Pentatrichomonas hominis
·  Trypanosomiasis, caused by Trypanosoma cruzin cuniculinum

How to diagnose protozoa infections in dogs

If the veterinarian suspects that your dog might be infected with protozoa, he or she can carry out one or several tests in an effort to determine the truth. To begin with, most vets will order a complete blood count (CBC), urinanalysis and a biochemical profile. In addition to this, the vet can decide to carry out serologic testing, check the faeces of your dog, have chest and abdominal X-rays taken, and/or engage in direct organism identification. In order to carry out direct organism identification, the vet will most likely need to remove and evaluate a cell or some tissue from your dog. 

How to treat dogs with protozoa infections

The exact treatment will depend on which protozoa that has infected your dog, which organs that are infected, and how severe the infection is. The breed of your dog and your dogs overall health must also be taken into consideration. (Certain breeds can be intolerant to certain treatments.) In severe cases, the protozoa treatment might need to be accompanied by intensive supportive care, and your dog might need a blood transfusion. A lot of protozoa species causes severe diarrhoea with significant loss of fluid and keeping the dog hydrated is often one of the most important aspects of the intensive supportive care for protozoa infected dogs.