Pet Health Problems: Giardia in Dogs

Healthy Old English Playing in a River

In response to a question asked…

Giardia is a simple single-celled parasite – it isn’t a bacteria or virus.  The parasite occurs worldwide and causes of diarrhoea in people as well as dogs. It can be zoonotic (transmitted from humans to animals, and vice versa) but it is more likely to be transmitted from humans to dogs, and much less likely for humans to catch it from an infected dog. Giardiasis is the name for the intestinal infection that Giardia causes; this causes illness, especially diarrhoea. The diarrhoea is often discoloured (greenish tinge) and very loose. Vomiting is also a symptom, although less common.

Other symptoms may include lethargy (extreme tiredness), weight loss, poor coat condition, and in extreme cases – death. Other dogs may show no signs save for the loose and/ or discoloured faeces.

This is not usually life-threatening as it is treatable as long as you do something sooner rather than later, to prevent your pet becoming immuno-compromised.

The most common form of contraction, is waterborne as the parasites prefer moist conditions. Unclean and stagnant moist areas/ water will be good places for the parasites to thrive – so try to ensure your dog does not drink from unknown/ unclean water sources.  Water contaminated by faecal matter is common ground for Giardia. Ensure you provide your dog with fresh water daily.

The less common form of contraction is ingestion of the parasites/ eggs from other infected animal faeces. Watch your dog when out and about, and ensure (s)he doesn’t eat anything (s)he shouldn’t!

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