As pet owners, part of our responsibility is being aware of illnesses and diseases that could possible infect our pets. Unfortunately, there’s a wide host of illnesses that our pets could contract at any given time. As active as dogs and puppies are, they are highly susceptible to acquiring different kinds of ailments. One such thing that pet owners should keep an eye on when it comes to their pets are parasites. One example of this is giardia. If you’ve never heard of giardia before, here are 7 things that you should know about. These will help keep you informed and help keep your dog safe and healthy.
1. Not a worm
While many people imagine giardia in worm form, it’s actually not a worm. This parasite is not like a tapeworm; it’s a one-celled protozoal parasite that attaches itself to the walls of your puppies’ intestines. This is essentially how they feed themselves and how they survive. If you ever find your typically bouncy puppy suddenly take a turn for lethargy, a check for parasites might be the next logical move.
Giardia can be passed on from pet to pet when animals that have the parasite contaminate a drinking vessel. This is why it’s not recommended for your pets to drink from public vessels. You never know when it might be contaminated, and this is one of the most notorious ways of transmitting giardia. Otherwise, your pet could also ingest giardia cysts by sniffing around any ground that has been contaminated.
There’s a possibility that your adult dog might have resistance to giardia. However, it’s fairly common for puppies to have giardia. The good news is that by the time they get to their adult lives, they should have developed some type of resistance to the parasite. If your adult dog didn’t have giardia as a puppy, then you can’t expect it to have any type of resistance whatsoever. You’ll start to notice symptoms if your dog ever ingests giardia.
4. Specific symptoms
When your puppy has been infected by giardia, you’ll see some noticeable signs. Most of the symptoms will be gastrointestinal. The evidence will be in the stool. If your puppy has stool that’s extremely smelly and full of mucous, your dog is likely to have giardia. At that point, you should bring your dog in to see the vet in order to get a proper diagnosis and to make sure that it’s truly giardia.
5. Simple diagnosis
To get a definitive diagnosis of giardia, your vet will have to examine your dog’s stool under a microscope. Cysts in the stool are indicative of the existence of giardia. You can either collect the stool sample yourself, or if you can’t, the vet can collect the sample for you at the animal hospital. If you’re unsure of what to do, it’s best recommended to just bring your puppy to the vet for further testing.
6. Difficult to resolve
Giardia could be difficult to resolve depending on the case. After diagnosis, your puppy is typically treated using two medications: fenbendazole and metronidazole. These medications are administered for three to ten days depending on the case. If one round of medications is not enough, your vet might order another round especially if the symptoms recur. After treatment, it’s typical for your vet to check your dog’s stool again after two to four weeks. You’ll also want to keep a keen eye on stools and behaviors as well.
7. Transference to humans
Unfortunately, humans could be infected with giardia as well. Giardia is considered to be a zoonotic disease. This simply means that the disease can pass between humans and animals. You’d have to be careful with and around your dog if you suspect that it has the parasite because you could easily ingest the parasite as well. Children are more likely to ingest giardia because of hygiene habits, but adults could just as well ingest the parasite. The best defense against this is good and proper hygiene. Washing your hands is the best defense you could ever have against giardia, and of course, making sure that your dog doesn’t get the disease in the first place. Keeping a clean and tidy home also helps tremendously.