Giardia is a type of parasite that can affect dogs. Giardia thrives on the dog’s intestines, allowing trophozoites to multiply within the body. Trophozoites can thrive in the host for years without proper diagnosis, making it even more necessary for owners to watch for symptoms of the parasite.
Diarrhea is one of the most common symptoms associated with giardia because the parasite primarily infects the intestines. The resulting diarrhea can be chronic, intermittent or acute depending on the severity of the infection and the body’s reaction. Diarrhea occurs because the dog’s body is attempting to expel the parasite and whatever else is causing unrest in the intestinal tract.
Vomiting is another way that the dog will naturally respond to irritation in the intestinal tract. The dog may vomit on its own, or may develop an interest in eating grass and other outdoor plants that can induce vomiting. Vomiting is an indication that something is upsetting the intestinal tract and the body is naturally reacting to expel the offending irritant.
The dog may appear to be eating and drinking normally, yet still lose weight despite no changes in appetite. Weight loss is a common symptom in dogs suffering from giardia because of the upset that this parasite creates in the intestinal tract. Giardia prevents the proper absorption of nutrients, interfering with proper digestion and causing difficulty maintaining normal weight as a result.
Behavioral changes are common in dogs suffering from giardia. The dog may appear listless, lethargic or depressed. Changes in behavior are an indicator that something is not right with the dog’s health, but may not directly point to giardia. Owners should consult a veterinarian for a general examination and testing when a dog exhibits changes in behavior.
Changes in Feces
Changes in the appearance, texture and consistency of the feces can also indicate a parasitic infection due to giardia. The feces may appear fatty and grayish. These changes, in combination with unexplained weight loss, are indicators of upset within the intestinal tract caused by a giardia infection or a similar parasitic issue.