Giardia is a type of bacteria that is seen in many species, including humans, but as I’m a veterinarian we will concentrate on dogs in this blog!
How can dogs get Giardia?
Dogs pick up this bacterial infection very easily as it is transmitted by the fecal-oral route. What does that mean?
The dog can walk through a contaminated area and lick his paws, or he can eat feces from another animal (yuck! but we know it happens!) and get the infection. Contaminated water is also another source.
What are the symptoms?
Giardia affects the intestinal tract and causes diarrhea, soft stool, sometimes even vomiting or lethargy. It can also lead to a failure to gain weight in puppies.
Can humans contract Giardia?
Humans can get Giardia infections from their dogs if they do not wash their hands well, or handle feces, or have a lowered immune system from some other health issues.
Human children are more likely to contract the disease than adults, since their immune systems are not fully developed and they don’t wash their hands as often as adults.
Please see your physician if you have any concerns for yourself or your children.
How is it diagnosed and treated?
Giardia diagnosis is by fecal testing, usually with a sample sent in to the lab. Once diagnosed, treatment involves antibiotics that usually kill this type of bacteria. Antibiotics may be combined with a dewormer that has also been shown to help kill this parasite. Sometimes multiple rounds of medications are needed to clear the infection.
Follow-up fecal testing will need to be done to verify that treatment was a success. A small percentage of puppies may clear the infection, but retain a positive antigen on testing until their immune systems catch up in development. Your veterinarian will discuss this issue with you.
If you are interested in more details, you can read more about Giardia here.
Schedule an Appointment Today
To schedule your next wellness appointment, or if your dog is showing any of the symptoms I outlined above, please contact us online or call 480.774.6995 to book an appointment at your home, or at our Queen Creek vet clinic.