Parasites in Dogs and Puppies

August 01, 2017

--by Julie Morrill

A number of our young pups have experienced loose stool while here at our kennel. We have had our pups' stool examined and sometimes it comes back positive for the giardia parasite and/or the coccidia microorganism. Giardia causes diarrhea and coccidia causes both diarrhea and sometimes a little blood in the stool. We think our pups are picking up the bugs from their moms who get the parasites from nearby creeks and irrigation ditches. (Deer and horses in pastures upstream pollute the streams with parasites in their stool. Life in the country has a few downsides.) Our current strategy is to treat the mama dogs for parasites right before they breed and right after they give birth. Thankfully, often this strategy eliminates the parasite and microorganism problems in our pups and we are hopeful that this will continue in the future.

However, just to be on the ultra-safe, preventative side, we do administer a treatment against worms, giardia and coccidia to all of our puppies. We give them Albon for the coccidia and Mentrondizole for the giardia. They receive a standard wormer to prevent worms. Unfortunately, however, the medical treatments themselves can cause diarrhea in some pups and it can take a few weeks to clear up. Our local veterinarian, Dr. Art Spencer, recommends an anti-diarrheal medication, such as Immodium, for any pups and dogs with diarrhea. He recommends that you adjust the dosage for a small puppy by cutting the pills in halves or thirds, depending on a puppy's size.

And now, allow me to take this opportunity to sing the praises of diatomaceous earth or "D.E." Diatomaceous earth is comprised of crushed marine fossils. It is ground to a fine powder that is actually harmful to breathe, so you might want to wear a mask when handling it. The fine dust resembles broken glass when viewed through a microscope. It is deadly to insects and actually cuts them up, killing parasites, yet remaining harmless to dogs and puppies. One article states that the "microscopically sharp edges contact the insect or parasite, and pierce their protective coating, so they soon dehydrate and die. The larvae is affected in the same way." (from the article "The Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth for Dogs") We give food grade D.E. to all of our mama dogs to naturally kill all of their parasites. D.E. also appears to prevent puppies from contracting parasites.

Another great benefit of D.E. is its effect on fleas. When we had a flea attack on our dogs a few years back, we used diatomaceous earth on our dogs to kill the parasites. We covered our dogs with the white powder. Any fleas coming in contact with the powder died and fell off the dogs. We sprinkled D.E. on all of our dogs' bedding, all over their kennels and runs, and even all over our lawn. D.E. can be found at your local nursery as a natural pesticide for lawns and gardens, but the only place we have found food grade D.E. (for dogs and humans to take internally) is online. We buy ours on

Because of the amazing benefits of diatomaceous earth, we recommend that our clients feed it to their puppies whenever they have diarrhea...especially if there is any suspicion of parasites. Food grade diatomaceous earth is harmless to animals in small amounts, but effectively kills parasites, so it's a great way to treat dogs without strong medication and harmful side effects. Some dogs are picky about D.E., so mix it in with their food and add a few extra enticing flavors like chicken broth to make it more palatable. The recommended dosage of D.E. for puppies and dogs is as follows:

  • Puppies less than 10 lbs. - 1/2 to 1 teaspoon
  • Puppies 10 to 19 lbs. - 2 teaspoons
  • Dogs 20 to 50 lbs. - 1 to 1.5 Tablespoons
  • Dogs 50+ lbs. - 2 Tablespoons

For additional help in the treatment of diarrhea, we recommend that you feed your pup 1 tablespoon of plain, probiotic-rich yogurt twice a day for at least 4 weeks, even after the stool is formed and healthy-looking. This is important because the antibiotics and anti-parasite treatments deplete the necessary healthy probiotics in the puppy's intestinal tract. However, beware of the fact that some dogs can actually develop an allergy to dairy products that results in diarrhea, so removing yogurt from the diet might be advised. Some recommend feeding your dog stewed pumpkin.

Thank you for reading and we wish you all the best in keeping your dogs' digestive system as healthy as possible.

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