A few days ago, we received a call from the vet saying that our new puppy has Giardia, a yucky intestinal parasite that is spread through fecal matter. It’s hard to tell where she contracted it from, but now I am waiting to hear whether our kitten, previously clear of all parasites, has also been infected. In the meantime, we have to keep the two separated (they aren’t very happy about this arrangement!).
Where does Giardia in dogs come from?
Giardia are protozoans (tiny, one-celled parasitic life forms) that live in the small intestines of dogs and cats, with the potential to cause serious illness. They may be contracted from contaminated water in streams, ponds, and swamps, and they are also spread through feces. My puppy may have already had Giardia when I picked her up, but it is more likely that she contracted it from a neighborhood dog. There are lots of dogs in our apartment building that eliminate on the lawn where I bring my puppy (and she likes to eat things off the ground). Not good.
What are the signs and symptoms of Giardia in dogs?
Giardia are not visible to the naked eye, so they need to be detected through a microscope. Some dogs may be carriers without any symptoms, while others can get very sick from the parasite. A dog with Giardia may have soft, mucusy stools or diarrhea, lethargy, and vomiting. My puppy had none of these symptoms, so I wouldn’t have known anything was wrong if we hadn’t brought her for her first vet visit.
Is Giardia in dogs treatable?
My puppy is starting a ten-day antibiotic treatment, which must be administered twice a day. For good measure, we are also putting her on a five-day general dewormer. During this time, she must be confined to the bathroom so she doesn’t infect our kitten. She can be let outside to go potty (in an area where no other dogs go) and feces need to be cleaned up very well so no other dogs can be infected.
Intestinal parasites can be scary, but this has been a pain more than anything else. For one, these darn animals are getting to be very expensive with all these vet visits and medications! And the poor little critters actually miss each other after being apart for only two days. (They are also toyless until their toys have been soaked in diluted bleach water, so they are quite bored.) Finally, since Giardia can be spread from animals to humans, it’s very important to wash your hands frequently when handling an animal infected with the disgusting parasite.
Dog Owner’s Guide