What is giardia? It is a single cell parasite that lives in the intestine of dogs. Canine giardia is caused by a microorganism present in contaminated feces and bodies of water. Giardia in dogs is a common health problem. Symptoms of parasitic infection include dog diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss and lack of appetite. Some parasites can cause intestinal upset. Fecal samples can be examined for the presence of giardia, and a drug called Flagyl is commonly prescribed to treat it. Dogs with giardia do not always show symptoms. It can be especially fatal in puppies under six months of age.
The dog giardia vaccine is not recommended because it only prevents spreading of the disease through fecal matter and not the disease itself.
Dogs, cats and all animals can get this disease. It has the potential to infect humans too. They are too small to be seen by the naked eye. It is spread by feces of infected animals. Some dogs can be carriers and show no signs of the disease. Humans that have giardia have diarrhea, abdominal cramps, bloating, and sometimes fever and nausea.
The best way to diagnose the disease is by a trichrome stain of fresh feces. The cysts may not be seen on a regular fecal examination.
Treatment of giardia is done by giving the antibiotic metronidazole or Furazolidone. Kaopectate can be given to help control diarrhea in dogs.
Since the dog parasite is spread by fecal contamination of food, water, and the environment, prompt disposal of waste is very important.
The best way to prevent giardia infection is to make sure your dog has clean drinking water.