Giardia is a water-borne parasite that can infect puppies. It can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. Left untreated, it can be fatal. Symptoms usually appear within two weeks of exposure, but they can take up to a month to show up.
Giardia is diagnosed with a stool test, which your veterinarian can do. Treatment includes antibiotics and anti-parasitic drugs. Prevention includes good hygiene practices and prompt treatment of any diarrheal episodes.
Giardia is common in puppies. Puppies are more susceptible to infection because they pick up the parasite from their environment, which includes your house and yard. Once a puppy has been infected, it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to rid himself of the parasites without intervention.
What is Giardia and what are the symptoms in puppies?
Giardia is a microscopic parasite that can be found in the intestines of certain animals, including dogs. It lives off nutrients from the host animal and causes diarrhea in most cases. The adult parasites live in the lumen (opening) of the small intestine and reproduce by releasing spores throughout their life cycle.
These spores travel through feces to contaminate the environment. Animals get exposed to this parasite by ingesting Giardia spores from feces-contaminated surfaces or infected animals.
In puppies, symptoms of this condition include severe watery diarrhea, wasting/weight loss, and abdominal pain among others. Diarrhea can have a very foul smell, making owners wonder if the animal has been poisoned.
Although the diarrhea is often explosive (meaning that it comes out quickly), it can also be more of an intermittent problem with diarrhea occurring now and then without much intestinal upset.
If you suspect that your puppy has Giardia, it’s important to take him to the veterinarian immediately. Not only may the diarrhea be life-threatening for your puppy, but Giardia can also lead to other complications in dogs that are immunocompromised or have immature/compromised immune systems. The condition usually responds well to treatment with appropriate anti-parasitic medication.
How is Giardia spread and how can it be prevented
Giardia is highly contagious and is typically spread through feces-contaminated water and food. Their susceptibility to desiccation (drying) makes them hardy, so they can survive for months outside the dog’s body. The Giardia parasite lives in freshwaters such as ponds, lakes, puddles, pools, and backyard pools. It can also survive in warm, wet dirt and grass.
To prevent Giardia infection in puppies, there are a few steps to take:
1) Keep your puppy away from water sources that may be contaminated. Use bottled or filtered water when bathing him or when rinsing his bowl/food dish with tap water.
2) Keep your puppy away from ponds, lakes, or any other body of water that is suspected to be contaminated with feces.
3) If possible, thoroughly wash the areas where your dog plays to get rid of any parasite contamination.
4) Check with your veterinarian for a shot that will protect your pup from Giardia infection. This shot is given monthly and will keep the parasite from reproducing once it gets into your dog’s system.
5) Keep his environment clean and free of feces, including those in his yard or in places where he plays.
6) Have your puppy tested for Giardia infection regularly by your veterinarian. This is especially important if your dog has a compromised immune system or a history of diarrhea.
What are the treatments for Giardia in puppies
For puppies with mild diarrhea, you can be watchful and observe their bowel habits until they become normal again. The vet may want to test your dog’s stool sample if the condition doesn’t improve in a few days. In most cases, puppies have a strong immune system that will fight the parasite off in a few weeks.
However, in some cases where your puppy may be immunocompromised or has a history of diarrhea, treatment is necessary for a full recovery. A combination of fenbendazole and metronidazole is typically given for 7-14 days depending on the severity of the infection.
This treatment will typically stop diarrhea from getting worse but it does not help to prevent future infections since no medication can completely remove all parasites from your dog’s intestines.
The prognosis for a puppy with Giardia is good if he has a strong immune system and this condition is treated early. Dogs with a compromised immune system must get prompt treatment for this condition to prevent weight loss and dehydration, which can then lead to other problems.
When should you take your puppy to the vet for treatment of Giardia
If your puppy shows symptoms of lethargy, has diarrhea (that is watery or has blood in it), and may have a strong foul smell coming from his anus, he might have Giardia.
These symptoms will usually come on quickly if your puppy does not have Giardia; they are also accompanied by other symptoms that you should be aware of. If your puppy shows these symptoms, take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible.