|What is Giardiasis?
Giardiasis is an intestinal infection caused by a parasitic protozoan (single celled
organism) called Giardia Lamblia. These protozoas are found in the intestines of many
animals, including dogs and humans. Giardia is ingested. Once a person or animal has
been infected with Giardia, the parasite lives in the intestine and is passed in feces.
Because an outer shell protects the parasite, it can survive outside the body and in the
environment for long periods of time and in extreme temperatures. Veterinary research
documents suggest that 5% to 10% of all dogs in North America have Giardiasis at any
given time. Surveys also show that over 30% of dogs under one year of age were infected
or 50% of puppies.
How do dogs contract Giardia?
They can contract Giardia through contaminated food, water, soil or feces.
Transmission also occurs through direct contact, especially with asymptomatic carriers.
Giardia is so prevalent throughout North America because it is highly contagious. The
ingestion of just one Giardia cysts may cause the disease, as to most bacterial illnesses
that hundreds to thousands of organisms must be consumed to cause illness.
How does this affect my dog?
The trophozoites attach to the cells of the upper small intestine where they rapidly
divide in massive numbers. They block the absorption of nutrients and vitamins and
produce toxic substances.
What are the clinical signs?
Signs range from none in asymtomatic carriers, to mild recurring diarrhea consisting of
soft, light-colored stool, to acute explosive diarrhea in severe cases. Other symptoms
associated with Giardia, but not specific to it are weight loss, listlessness, fatigue,
mucus or blood in the stool.
What do I do next?
Take puppy to the Veterinarian as soon as possible because they can become dehydrated
quickly when having diarrhea or vomiting. They will take a stool sample and check it for
a number of intestinal parasites including Giardia and Coccidia. If they are found to have
Giardia they will be put on a treatment of Metronidazole or Panacur depending on your
Veterinarian’s plan of choice.
Please call me and let me know so I can monitor other puppies and contact owners of
puppies already gone to their homes.