Giardia

What is Giardia?

Giardia is an illness that infects the intestines and can cause issues with the digestive system within dogs. This infection occurs when the animal has been drinking water that has been contaminated with faeces. This disease is common throughout the United States due to the risk being present throughout the entire year. This infection, if left untreated, can lead to inflammatory bowel disease that can lead to digestion problems in later life. 

What are the symptoms of Giardia?

When diagnosing Giardia, sometimes symptoms aren’t present in the animal. However, in some cases the animal can suffer the following due to the infection:

  • Diarrhoea & gas (can be severe to light)
  • Vomiting and sickness
  • Diminished appetite leading to weight loss
  • Abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Changes to their stool (be it smell, colour or texture)

How is Giardia diagnosed?

If you suspect that your pet has contracted Giardia, then take them to the vet for a check-up. However, as Giardia is often not traceable in animals it is important you take your pet to the vets regularly regardless of symptoms, to make sure they haven’t contracted the disease without your knowledge. 

The diagnosis of Giardia can be difficult, as the cysts that develop in the intestines are pushed out with the faeces. Usually your vet will test and evaluate your animals stool to determine if they have Giardia or not. A test of a fresh stool sample (30 minutes old) is needed when detecting the disease. 

Your vet may suggest doing a set of tests over several days to make sure the diagnosis is correct and begin the proper treatment plan for your pet.

What is the treatment for Giardia?

Once Giardia has been diagnosed a simpler diet that will harden your pets stool will be recommended to try and ensure that any medication given to your pet isn’t being pushed out before it can take proper effect. 

If your pet isn’t suffering from severe diarrhoea, then they are usually sent home to complete treatment. Typically, treatment will include oral medication and more bath times with a shampoo that has been prescribed by your vet, to clear up the cysts and faeces from your pet’s body. 

Do I need to change my pet’s lifestyle after being diagnosed with Giardia?

It is key to make sure that in the medication process you are following the advice given by your vet closely. Regular bathing, making sure you have removed anything on your pet’s skin and fur, and completing the medication plan is essential to make sure your pet is feeling better. 

Your dog shouldn’t be outside in the back yard during the treatment process, and after that it is a good idea to make sure that faeces are cleaned up properly, and that any still water in the back yard is removed. 

Can Giardia be prevented?

It may be hard to completely prevent Giardia in your pet, but there are some measures you can take that may minimise the chances of your pet contracting the disease:

  • Monitoring the water your dog is drinking, try to make sure it is clean and fresh. However, Giardia is often found in tap water, so it may be prudent to get your water tested for the disease. 
  • Making sure your house is clean, and any dog faeces is cleaned up promptly.