Adult giardia organisms live in the dog’s gastrointestinal tract, where they attach themselves to the intestinal lining and feed from the host. They reproduce by forming cysts once they are shed from the body. The cyst is essentially a hardy outer layer that allows them to survive in the environment until they are ingested by a new unsuspecting host. Once a dog consumes giardia cysts, several things can occur. It is feasible the immunity mechanism will completely rid the body of the organism, so resisting infection. If the immune mechanism doesn’t free the body of the organism, the cysts move into the colon where they mature into adult organisms. At that point, the adults start to reproduce, thus causing cysts to be shed in the dog’s feces, which can then infect other animals.
Canine giardia can have a range of clinical symptoms. Some dogs or puppies will be completely asymptomatic carriers of the protozoa. Many dogs will present with a range of clinical symptoms that are indicative of an intestinal illness. Diarrhea or soft feces are very common with giardiasis. Since the organism most commonly impacts the large bowel, the diarrhea is mostly loose though not watery, often has mucus in it, and is normally critical and frequent. Flatulence, or gas, is also a common symptom. Infected dogs may also have a dull, sickly looking quality hair coat and may also be losing pounds notwithstanding a suitable diet.
A visit to the vet is necessary to diagnose and treat giardia. The parasite can be diagnosed either microscopically, via centrifugation fecal analysis or direct smear, or by a SNAP Test that tests for the presence of the giardia antigen in the dog’s stool. The microscopic research is generally considered to be more trustworthy for a positive result, but the snap test catches diseases that the microscope can miss. Treatment of Giardia typically consists of either an intestinal antibiotic called metronidazole or Flagyl, or treatment with a broad-spectrum dewormer called fenbendazole. Decontamination of the home environment is also necessary. Kennels have to be thoroughly cleaned, bleached, and allowed to dry completely. Bedding should be washed. Humans in contact with the affected animal should use good hygiene practices when handling the animal as theoretically transmission from a dog to a human is possible , though uncommon in a home environment.
Giardia is a typical but evasive intestinal parasite. It’s really important that you seek vet care if your dog shows any signs of giardia infection, as a dog can remain infected indefinitely if not treated appropriately. If your dog has been diagnosed as having giardia, be totally certain to use good cleanliness practices and thoroughly sterilize your dogs environment.