Giardia in dogs: what it is, symptoms and prevention

Giardia duodenalis is a parasite very present in the world and it is common for it to cause infections in our pets. Dogs and cats can be infected by this parasite, but it also affects humans. In Europe alone, Spain is the third country with more cases of disease caused by giardia duodenalis. Read on to learn all about giardia in dogs!

Although difficult to diagnose because of the large number of false positives, giardia in dogs is acquired by drinking contaminated water. This water, not disinfected, would harbor cysts of the protozoan that causes giardiasis for several weeks. But it is not only spread by direct ingestion of water.

Pets can also be infected by ingesting food or coming into contact with contaminated surfaces. You should pay special attention, as giardia is zoonotic, i.e. it can be transmitted from animals to humans and vice versa. Those most likely to become infected within the human species are children, the elderly and professionals working with these vulnerable groups.

What is giardia or giardiasis in dogs?

Giardia lamblia, intestinalis or duodenalis is a flagellated protozoan that lives in the small intestine of certain mammals, including humans. The pathology caused by this protozoan is giardiasis or lambliasis.

This parasite lives in the duodenum of the small intestine as a trophozoite (activated vegetative form, which feeds by phagocytosis). Within the intestine, giardia lives attached to the villi of the intestine and feeds and reproduces until the intestinal contents begin to dehydrate; this is when the trophozoite becomes encysted. It loses its flagella or tail, becomes oval and is surrounded by a cystic wall. The living being that contracts giardia begins, from this point, to expel feces with cysts that are infectious.

The most frequent places where giardia is at home are those with the highest population density. In the case of pets, it is very common for this parasite to be present in animals living in shelters, kennels and pet stores.

You should not be too alarmed by this protozoan if your dog is a healthy and strong animal. Most likely, if he develops the disease, it will pass without complications or great discomfort.!!!!!

However, in the case of puppies and vulnerable animals (elderly dogs, sick animals or animals living in poor conditions). The clinical pictures presented by giardiasis in these cases should be treated without delay by a veterinarian.

Know the symptoms of giardia in dogs

Not all dogs develop a clinical picture of giardiasis. The best way to diagnose the disease is through a stool analysis. In many cases, the sample for the analysis must be taken over several days, since not all stools show traces of giardia. Among the palpable symptoms of giardiasis in dogs we have:

  • Diarrhea, with a large volume of stool and mucus present. They give off a very foul odor and the color of these stools is clear.
  • Diarrhea may be acute or chronic and may sometimes be bloody.
  • Excessive flatulence.
  • Vomiting.
  • Bowel sounds.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Inflammation.
  • Inappetence. The pet may refuse to eat.
  • Weight loss, even when the dog is eating.
  • Dehydration.

If the symptoms are not treated in time, it is possible that the after-effects of giardiasis in dogs may become very present in the remainder of your pet’s life. For example, the dog may suffer from chronic diarrhea or inflammatory bowel disease, and it may even be very difficult to regain weight.

If you detect any of these symptoms in your dog, we recommend you to visit your veterinarian immediately, this information is for information purposes only. Once the disease is diagnosed, the veterinarian will be the one who will assess the treatment according to age, breed, size of your dog and clinical history.

Prevention of giardia in dogs

As a last tip, and to prevent this or other diseases, make sure you offer your dog fresh, clean water and a clean and sanitized environment. Your dog’s water bowl should be in good condition. If you have it outside, change it daily or invest in a water bowl with an automated filter.

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