Giardiasis is an infection of intestines that is caused by protozoan parasite giardia. It is the most common type of intestinal parasite that’s found in human beings. Giardiasis in Dogs is an infection developed in dogs when they ingest infectious offspring (the cysts) that get shed in the feces of other animals (deer, other dogs, cats). The contamination could be from direct contact or indirect contact with infected cysts. Once these organisms are ingested, they make their way in to the intestine and often this causes diarrhea. Typically the treatment takes place on outpatient basis.
The disease or condition described in the article can affect dogs as well as cats.
Symptoms & Types Giardiasis in Dogs and Cats
The symptoms can be seen more clearly in the younger animals as compared to the older animals. The symptoms can be temporary (transient), sudden (acute), ongoing (chronic) or non-continuous (intermittent) in nature. Dogs might exhibit excessive mucus or a soft, greasy, frothy diarrhea with awful strong odor.
Causes of Giardiasis in Dogs
Ingestion of the infected fecal materials is one of most common causes of this parasitic infection. The most common method of transmission is waterborne, as moist and cool environment is preferred by the parasite. About 50% of the young puppies develop giardiasis and about 100% of the dogs housed in the kennels develop this infection because of closely shared living area and massive exposure.
Before recommending any treatment option, the vet will like to rule out the other possibilities for intestinal infection like malabosoption (unabsorbed nutrients), maldigestion (improper digestion), or IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). In cats, the vet will like to differentiate between this infection and other main causes of the large bowel diarrhea. Primarily, the organism is detected in feces. Normally fecal smear is sufficient for testing for the presence, although having a false positive is possible.
Typically the treatment is done on outpatient basis provided that the dog is not too weak or sick. Prescription drugs and bathing are combined for the removal of the parasite from the body of the dog and for reducing the likelihood of a repeat infection. Often, repeat fecal exams are necessary for confirming that infection is removed.
Living & Management
Observing for the signs of dehydration is important, especially in the younger animals. It’s important to administer prescribed medication and take the animal back for examination in order to have successful recovery.
As kennels have the highest rate of spread of this infection, dog owners should look for places offering private spaces for the pets so that contamination from other animals can be avoided.