Giardiasis is known as an intestinal infection caused by a giardia parasite that lives in various animals, giving them terrible diarrhoea and stomach cramps. Giardiasis is often spread through contaminated food, water or faeces. This germ can survive a long time indoors and outside too, but this parasite will need another organism like a person or animal to survive. It is a prevalent parasite all over the world. Still, it is bad for people in developing countries with contaminated water and environments, so they tend to get the germ more than in our regular suburbs.
Giardia and Pets
Your pet’s faeces may contain giardia bacteria. This could infect other animals. Although your pet looks healthy, you might become infected and sick if your pet carries the giardia bacteria.
When the germ enters your body, it goes straight for your small intestine and will give you extreme stomach pain and diarrhoea
Symptoms of the infection in both people and pets include:
- Abdominal discomfort
You can be infected and have no signs or symptoms of illness, which is dangerous because those who do not show symptoms can not treat it and will spread the germ to other people and animals without knowing it.
Other less common symptoms include:
- Itchy skin
- Swelling of the eyes and joints.
Giardiasis may cause Weight loss as well.
When Do Symptoms Usually Appear?
The symptoms usually start to appear 1 to 2 weeks after becoming infected by the bacteria. However, symptoms could last for 2 to 6 weeks. In people and animals with weakened immune systems, symptoms could last a bit longer than in people and animals with strong immune systems. Healthcare providers and vets will prescribe the needed medications to help reduce the symptoms and how long they last.
How Does Infection Spread?
Infection can spread by:
- Being in contact with infected faeces from another dog or cat
- Being in contact with contaminated soil
- Licking its body after close contact with contaminated surfaces
- Drinking water from contaminated water
Who is More at Risk?
Young puppies and kittens, due to their weakened immune systems because they are newly born. Unfortunately, this also means that smaller animals are more likely to get fatal symptoms because of their size and tolerance!
How is Giardiasis diagnosed?
Your vet will examine your pet physically to see if it has any type of cyst on its body and then take a sample of that. If your pet does not have a cyst, they will take a sample from your pet’s faeces and send it in to the lab for testing to see if your pet has Giardiasis or not, and if the lab does not pick up the virus, they will need more faeces samples so that they can test again and make double sure about the virus before giving the needed medication and treatment.
How is Giardiasis treated?
Your pet will receive medication to treat the Giardiasis depending on how bad the symptoms are or will become, but the medication will take a few days actually to work and take it away completely. If your pet has cysts from Giardiasis, the vet will give you medication and an ointment to smear on the cysts for the pain or itchiness. If your pet has the worst symptoms, the vet will keep your pet hospitalized to analyze them and give them the proper treatment they need, which they cannot get at home.
Always remember to listen closely to the vet, so you give the right amount of medication and give it the way that they tell you to give it; otherwise, the infection may come back, and you might not think it is bad, but your vet always knows best, and if it is not treated or treated correctly it can be deadly and spread to your or other animals.
Some people and animals are extremely lucky. They don’t need any type of medication or treatment when getting Giardiasis. It just goes away on its own.
Peventing and Controlling Giardiasis!
- Make sure your pets have clean drinking water
- Keep your pet from drinking where you think another animal might have left excrete behind.
- Your pet should always be kept on a leash. Know they don’t listen to you when out in public, so they don’t drink in strange places
- If you think your pet has Giardiasis and you take it on a walk, make sure to pick up their faeces, so it does not spread to its next victim
- Clean your pet’s toys
- Cover sandboxes outside when you do not use them
- Always go for annual vet checkups
- Stop your dog from hunting small animals like birds and rats
- Clean their water bowl and food bowl. If they have accessories like clothes or a collar, make sure to clean those daily too.
- wash your hands after picking up our dogs’ faeces and after petting them, so the germ does not spread to other animals or pets
- Do not give your pet raw food cook correctly
- If you have several pets and one of them has Giardiasis make sure to test the others so the germ doesn’t stay around the entire time, and they can all get the treatment they need.
- Clean your home and the outside environment where your pet usually spends their time.
It’s best to disinfect your house and garden regularly if you have pets and children. Always pick up your pet’s faeces when going on walks using gloves and throw them away in a plastic bag. This will ensure that other animals or children don’t contract any bacteria. If you display any symptoms of Giardiasis, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Take your pets for their annual vet checkups to ensure they are healthy. Follow each step for prevention, too so you or your pet does not get the virus.