Giardia is an intestinal infection of man and animals. It occurs worldwide and is a common cause of “Traveler’s Diarrhea” in people. It is a fairly frequent infection of outdoor enthusiasts who drink contaminated water. “Beaver Fever” is another name for Giardia in people. Giardia is caused by a protozoal parasite called Giardia intestinalis.
Giardia can be an important cause of illness, mainly diarrhea, in animals and man. However, many animals are infected without clinical signs. Giardia infections in cats and dogs are undoubtedly more common than recognized.
How did my pet get Giardia?
A pet becomes infected with Giardia when it swallows the cyst stage of the parasite in the environment or through infected drinking water.
What are clinical signs?
The stool often foul smelling, ranges from soft to watery, and occasionally contains blood. Infected pets tend to have excess mucus in the feces. Vomiting may occur in some cases. The signs may persist for several weeks and gradual weight loss may become apparent. The diarrhea may be intermittent. The disease is not usually life-threatening but can be more serious in young and old dogs or cats.
What is the treatment?
The typical drug used to kill Giardia is metronidazole, an antibiotic. It is normally given for 5-7 days. Other medications may be used if diarrhea and dehydration occur. Repeat treatment is often necessary.
During hot weather remember to
- Be sure plenty of fresh water is always available.
- Provide a shady area at all times for outdoor pets.
- Don’t leave your pet in the car. The temperature inside a vehicle, even with the windows open, can reach deadly temperatures within minutes!
- Work slowly into an exercise schedule and limit walks, hunting, and outdoor activity.Pets can’t sweat, and cool themselves by panting. In hot or humid weather panting becomes inefficient for cooling your pet down. Inefficient cooling can lead to heat stroke. Heat stroke can be fatal.
If you suspect your pet is suffering from heat exertion, do the following:
Apply or spray cool water to the head, under the arms, and in the groin area. Call a vet immediately! High body temperatures can cause damage to the brain and other body systems very quickly. The best rule to follow is this: If it’s the kind of day that you’d like to sit by the air conditioner with a big glass of ice water, your pet probably feels the same way.