At Paws, Purrs & Exotics Animal Hospital, we treat all manner of doggie ailments. One of the more common conditions we encounter is Giardia in dogs, mainly as a result of drinking contaminated water. Giardia causes diarrhea and malabsorption of nutrients, which can adversely affect a dog’s health (not to mention make them severely uncomfortable). Let’s take a moment to learn more about this infection and what you can do to protect your pet.
What is Giardia?
Giardia is a single-celled parasite that affects the intestines of dogs, causing diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and lethargy (although not all infected dogs exhibit symptoms). Giardia is shed in feces and can exist in the environment, especially in cool, moist surroundings. This hardy organism can live for months and can affect dogs almost any time of year.
Dogs become infected with Giardia after drinking water contaminated with feces.
Preventing Giardia in Dogs
Controlling your dog’s water sources is the most effective way to prevent Giardia infection. Make sure your dog has access to clean, fresh water at all times. We strongly advise providing multiple water bowls throughout the home and yard. Be sure to change their water several times a day for maximum safety.
Other ideas for preventing Giardia in dogs include:
- Dogs often come into contact with Giardia and other pathogens in areas where dogs hang out, such as dog parks or doggy daycares. Always bring fresh water and a bowl whenever you leave the house with your dog. Don’t allow them to drink from communal water sources.
- Don’t let your dog drink from any freshwater source, such as puddles, streams, or lakes.
- Clean up your dog’s feces daily, and keep them away from the feces of other animals, which may be infected with Giardia.
- Make sure your dog attends all of their regularly scheduled wellness exams. A fecal test should be performed annually to test for Giardia and other pathogens.
- Keep your dog on heartworm medication that also includes an intestinal parasite medication. While this may not prevent Giardia specifically, it does keep other organisms at bay, boosting your dog’s immune system.
If you have additional questions about Giardia in dogs or would like to schedule an appointment, please don’t hesitate to contact our staff. We’re always here for you and your pet!