Now offering wellness plans! Learn more here.

What Pet Owners Should Know About Giardia

Dogs are adventurous creatures who enjoy exploring their world and getting a taste of the good life. Yes, dogs like to put all sorts of things in their mouths, and this appetite for discovery can cause problems when they gobble up something unsavory or worse—unsafe. Some of the biggest threats to your dog’s health are microscopic organisms that your canine companion can easily pick up in the environment. To learn about Giardia, read our Island Animal Hospital team’s guide, which focuses on this tiny parasite that can wreak havoc on your dog’s gastrointestinal (GI) system. Learn how to help prevent your pooch from encountering this tummy-troubling terror. 

What is giardiasis in dogs?

Giardia is a microscopic parasite that infects the intestines, leading to giardiasis, an illness that causes pets and people to experience diarrhea. This hardy one-celled parasite thrives in contaminated water sources, soil, or feces, surviving in water and damp environments for several months. Once ingested, Giardia attaches itself to a dog’s small intestine’s lining, leading to inflammation and poor nutrient absorption.

How can dogs contract Giardia?

A dog develops giardiasis by ingesting the Giardia parasite in the cyst stage. Once the cyst reaches a dog’s intestines, it transforms into trophozoites, which attach to the intestinal wall to feed, damaging the intestinal lining. Dogs can contract Giardia in various ways, including:

  • Ingesting contaminated water — Giardia parasites are commonly found in water sources, such as puddles, lakes, rivers, or streams, that have been contaminated by an infected animal’s feces. When dogs drink or swim in contaminated water, they can ingest Giardia cysts.
  • Contacting infected animals — Dogs can contract Giardia by coming in close contact (e.g., playing and licking) with infected pets or wildlife. 
  • Ingesting contaminated objects — Giardia cysts can survive outside a host’s body and remain infectious for some time. If a dog sniffs or licks objects, such as grass, soil, plants, or feces that have been contaminated, they can become infected.
  • Unsanitary conditions — Dogs living in unsanitary conditions have a high risk of contracting Giardia. Close quarters with infected animals, overcrowding, or inadequate waste management can increase the parasite’s spread.

What are giardiasis signs in dogs?

Foul-smelling diarrhea is one of the first signs that your dog has contracted giardiasis. Loose stools may be accompanied by mucus. Other common giardiasis signs include:

  • Weight loss — Giardia affects an infected dog’s nutrient absorption, leading them to lose weight loss or gain weight poorly, despite having a healthy appetite.
  • Vomiting— Dogs with Giardia may experience intermittent or persistent vomiting.
  • Lethargy — An infected dog may experience a reduced energy level and appear less active than usual.
  • Dull coat — Giardia causes malnutrition, which manifests as a dull coat. 

How is Giardia treated in dogs?

Our Island Animal Hospital team typically diagnoses Giardia by doing a fecal examination. Treatment involves a multimodal approach that includes the following:

  • Medication — Our team may prescribe specific antiparasitic drugs to eliminate the Giardia infection. 
  • HydrationGiardia can cause diarrhea and dehydration, so you must ensure your dog stays well-hydrated. Provide clean, fresh water. We may also recommend you give your pet an electrolyte solution.
  • Nutrition — A balanced diet is crucial for a dog’s recovery. Our team may suggest a special diet or recommend supplements to ensure your dog receives the necessary nutrients.
  • Hygiene — Thoroughly clean and disinfect your dog’s living area, bedding, and food/water bowls to minimize their reinfection risk.

How can I protect my dog from Giardia?

You may not be able to eliminate your dog’s Giardia risk completely. However, you can significantly reduce their infection risk by following these tips:

  • Practice good hygiene — Regularly clean up after your dog has defecated, and promptly dispose of their feces in a sealed bag. Thoroughly wash your hands after handling your dog or cleaning up after them. 
  • Provide clean water — Ensure your dog has access to clean, fresh water at all times. Avoid allowing them to drink from potentially contaminated sources, such as standing water or communal dog bowls.
  • Avoid high-risk areas — Be cautious when visiting areas where Giardia contamination is high, such as dog parks, crowded kennels, or areas with poor sanitation.
  • Regular wellness visits — Your dog’s annual wellness visit includes a fecal examination, which can detect Giardia’s presence before your pet exhibits illness signs.

Giardiasis is a common and treatable parasitic disease. If your dog has been experiencing diarrhea, contact our Island Animal Hospital team, so we can determine the cause and treat your dog’s tummy troubles effectively.

By |2024-02-14T23:52:02+00:00August 21st, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

About the Author:

Leave A Comment

Go to Top