At SWVH we recommend yearly fecal tests. Why, you might ask?
Not only to protect your petâs health, but yours, too!
Giardia is a single-celled organism, or protozoon, that lives in the small intestines of dogs, cats and other mammals. It is found throughout the U.S and is the main reason why hikers and campers are advised not to drink directly out of streams or ponds! Giardia is also responsible for a large percentage of positive fecal samples we see each year.
Infections may cause diarrhea (either acute or intermittent), where the feces appears abnormal in color, odor, and can be gelatinous in consistency. Abdominal pain and cramps may also be associated. Because giardia interferes with proper nutrient absorption and damages the delicate intestinal lining, pets with an infection can lose their appetite, leading to weight loss.Â Â
Giardia is transmitted by ingestion of cysts or the active form of the parasite (trophozoites) that are shed in the stool.Â This can happen from ingestion of contaminated fecal material or soil, or by ingestion of cysts in contaminated water sources.Â Cysts are very resilient and can persist in moist conditions for several months. So, if your pet is infected, be careful to clean up all stools to limit contamination of the soil and water, and wash your hands thoroughly to prevent direct transmission.
Veterinarians diagnose giardiasis based on a fecal sample submitted to the lab as well as symptoms present.Â Giardia can be difficult to diagnose because the cysts shed in the stool are so small and are not shed routinely. Luckily, there are several effective medications available to treat giardia, which are often prescribed for 7-10 days.Â A follow-up fecal test is recommended to ensure complete eradication of the infection.
Giardia is a zoonotic parasite â meaning it can be passed from our pets to us, and vice versa. To prevent human infection, maintain strict personal hygiene when handling pets and their waste. Make sure to educate children in the importance of washing hands after handling pets and before eating. If any of your family members develop symptoms, contact your family practitioner.
For more information about giardia and other parasites, visit the Companion Animal Parasite Council website at www.petsandparasites.org. As always, feel free to call us at 775 825-7984, or email@example.com. Donât forget, keeping your pets healthy can help keep you and your family healthy too!