Could Your Dog Have Giardia?
It’s been one of the wettest- and yes, hottest!- summers on record here in the Lowcountry and while that may be great news for our lawns, it’s not necessarily for our pups- specifically, the increased likelihood that Fido may come into contact with various types of intestinal parasites. Although not many canine parasites actually live in water, most of them CAN live in water, which means that the increased levels of standing water- think puddles, ponds, fountains- putting your pup more at risk for walking through, laying in or drinking the dangerous stuff!
As pet owners, we’ve all heard about the five main types of canine worms: heartworm, tapeworm, hookworm, roundworm and whipworm. These are all transferred through fecal matter (distributed more widely with excess rain) and mosquitoes (bred in standing water). But have you heard of Giardia?
Giardia is a protozoan parasite that lives in the intestine of affected animals. These small parasites are very easy to miss on fecal exams, so repeated exams are often necessary for diagnosis. So what causes giardia? Well, it’s simple: drinking from a lake, pond or stream. Dogs get the infection when they drink water that contains trace amounts of infected animal feces.
So how do you know if your pup has giardia? The bad news is that some dogs don’t show any symptoms initially, but eventually, you can expect foul-smelling, watery diarrhea, weight loss (because the parasite interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food), and lack of energy.
Once Fido has been diagnosed, your vet will likely give you a drug in liquid form (Flagyl is the most commonly used) to be used for 5-7 days. It’s possible that you’ll need two rounds of the medicine to completely solve the problem, but by then, your pup should be feeling like his old self again. Unfortunately, there’s no way to prevent reinfestation, especially in public areas, but you can improve conditions in your own yard by eliminating places where water collects like holes or drainage ditches. Also, disinfecting and sealing any concrete surfaces is a good idea. Beyond that, just keep being the conscientious pet-owner you’ve always been by picking up after your own Fido- every little bit helps!- throw on your rain boots and get walkin’!
Erin Thomas is the owner of Summerville’s Lowcountry Pet Sitters, the area’s premier in-your-home pet care service. For more information, please visit www.LCPetSitters.com or call 843-327-7487.