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Giardia: All About This Messy Situation


All About This Messy Situation

            Giardiasis is an intestinal infection caused by a protozoan parasite giardia. Giardia is an intermittent shedding parasite, what this means is that the pet may have diarrhea for a while and then it will clear up and come back again. Giardia is also a parasite that can be transmitted to humans. In this blog today we will talk about the signs and symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Giardia can cause diarrhea, malabsorption and even weight loss. When your pet is infected with giardia it will have very loose soft stool, the stool will usually be light yellow in color and have a very strong smell. Your pet may ask to go out many more time than is normal for them or have accidents in the house. As your pet is going through this process their body may not be absorbing nutrients as well, this can cause your pet to lose weight and feel even more sick. Your pet could also lose interest in eating and drinking but keeping them fed and hydrated is going to be a big benefit to their recovery.  Some pets can carry the parasite and not show symptoms for some time. This parasite is passed in the fecal-oral route from animal to animal. When an infected animal goes to the bathroom they can spread the parasite. It is very important to clean up after your pets and it is best to keep your pet quarantined, away from other animals till your vet determines they are free of the parasite.

Giardia can affect all ages and breeds, it is however, more prevalent in the young animals than older mature ones. In order to diagnose giardia in your pet, your vet will take a feces sample. This sample will show if there are in the protozoa is present. As giardia is an intermittent shedding parasite, it is very important to test when your pet is having symptoms.

Treatments include many different things from antibiotics to a food change. Most vets will use a combination of medications to help your pet get feeling better. Using a probiotic will help your pet replace the good bacteria in their stomach and flush out the bad. Switching to a special intestinal diet may be necessary while your pet is recovering from giardia. It will help to ease their stomach and is gentle on their intestines which are sore and infected. Antibiotics will be prescribed to treat the infection that is happening in the intestines and a medication that targets the giardia.

Finally, use excellent hygiene practices: wash hands after handling this pet, pick-up and throw away all fecal matter, and disinfect where fecal matter is. Also, bathing your pet daily to remove any giardia cysts from the feet, anus and haircoat. Disinfecting all bedding by washing with HOT water, bleach and detergent, along with anything else that may be washed in this way. Furthermore, vacuum and/or wash, or steam the carpet, and mop all flooring. Bottom-line, clean and disinfect thoroughly everywhere your pet has been in direct AND indirect contact. Your pet should also be re-tested for giardia to confirm resolution of infection.

**If any person is having gastrointestinal symptoms, please contact your physician as this is a zoonotic parasite.

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