Now that the weather is pleasant, more and more of you will be taking your pets on , to , in the neighborhood and other places for exercise and enjoyment. If your dog is a anything like mine, then he is a curious, water-fiend who likes to try to drink from puddles, streams, collected rain water and anywhere else he can find it. While this may seem purely innocent and just a normal "dog thing," beware... there may be a parasite lurking in the midst.
Giardia is a water-borne parasite that causes severe diarrhea that usually has a foul odor and sometimes contains blood. Dehydration, weight loss and vomiting have also been seen in pets but some may not show any symptoms at all. Pets become infected by ingesting the cysts which are found in water. Those that like to swim in lakes, streams, creeks, ponds and rivers are also at risk.
Pets with giardiasis, often have diarrhea, that may be acute (sudden), intermittent or chronic and owners often think that this is being caused by their dog or cat getting into or eating something that they shouldn't have and never even consider that it may actually be the water. What makes this little bugger so important is that we can get it too. As a matter of fact, giardia is the most common intestinal parasite of humans in North America and hikers, back- packers and campers tend to become infected frequently.
If you suspect that your pet may have contracted giardia, take him into your where a fecal test or giardia snap test will be performed in house or they may send a stool sample to a diagnostic lab where they can identify the parasite. Usually a five day treatment of Albendazole, Fenbendazole or Metronidazole does the trick, even though there are certain pets who require a second five day course of medication.
Overall, giardia is a relatively easy parasite to treat, but who wants to take the chance? So to reduce the risk of your furry, four-legged friend getting this sneaky bug, don't let them drink water on the outside and take your own water for them when they go with you on your outdoor adventures. There is also a vaccine that many veterinary hospitals carry that is inexpensive, safe and effective for the prevention of giardia. Remember, it's better to prevent, than to have to treat!