Giardia is a shortened form of Giardiasis, the parasite that invades your dogâs intestines and causes the symptoms. Dog giardia interferes with absorption of food and can cause serious complications such as malnutrition if not treated.
Symptoms of Giardia
Symptoms of giardia in dogs include frequent vomiting, loss of appetite, significant weight loss, lack of energy and loss of fur. Some dogs also have a persistent fever that lasts three or four days, or a recurring fever over a period of time. The most telling symptom is diarrhea, with watery, grease-like feces that emit a particularly pungent odor.
Causes of Giardia
The giardiasis parasite is transmitted through the ingestion of animal feces containing dormant cysts, or through contaminated food or water. Many dogs are infected with giardia by swimming in water containing the parasite, since dogs frequently drink the water as they swim. No specific species are at greater risk of infection than others, but frequent exposure to affected areas does create a greater risk of infection.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Giardia
Since the symptoms of giardia in dogs are similar to signs of other conditions, your veterinarian will have to rule out other possible causes of infection such as salmonella. Giardia is diagnosed by examining three separate stool samples taken at two-day intervals for the presence of giardia cysts.
If giardia parasites are present, your veterinarian can prescribe a medication such as Metronidazole, which is commonly used to treat the symptoms of parasite infections
While a vaccine has been developed, it is still in the experimental stages and has not yet proven effective in preventing infection. However, the vaccination can help treat an existing giardia condition.
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