Giardia is a single celled parasite that causes stinky diarrhea and can sometimes be difficult to treat. We will discuss everything you need to know about Giardia below.
- Not a worm: Because Giardia is a single celled organism you will not see the parasite in the stool like a roundworm or tapeworm. One way we look for this particular parasite is under a microscope.
- Spread by wildlife and pets: The most common way our pets become infected is by drinking water contaminated by other dogs, cats, mammals, or birds. They can ingest cysts of the parasite by sniffing contaminated areas on the ground as well. Giardia can live for months outside of the body and so places with standing water can often have a lot of Giardia present.
- Not all who are infected with Giardia get sick: Giardia tends to present itself more in puppies, most adult dogs tend to be resistant to Giardia as they have most likely been exposed to it at some point in their lives and just don’t develop symptoms. Dogs with intestinal tract diseases tend to show signs when infected, as well as, old and young dogs.
- Symptoms: Dogs infected with Giardia will have large amounts of mucous-y stool, often it is very foul smelling.
- Diagnosis: If you are concerned your pet has become infected call your veterinarian and bring them in a stool sample they will look for the giardia cysts under a microscope.
- Treatment: After your pet is diagnosed with Giardia your vet will prescribe the proper medications to treat the infection. Don’t be surprised if you need a couple rounds of treatment as Giardia can be stubborn and hard to clear.
- Your pup can give you Giardia too: Giardia is a zoonotic disease which means it can pass between animals and humans. Practicing good hygiene and washing your hands before putting them in your mouth or handling food is a great way to prevent transmission. Children are more likely to become infected simply because they aren’t as good at washing their hands. Keeping feces picked up in your yard and hosing down and letting areas where contamination occurred dry out really well, can help spread out the number of organisms in one area.