Thursday, January 10, 2013

Giardia in Dogs-Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Giardia in Dogs

In 1995, the kennel population of more than 110 dogs at the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association's Midlands Regional Centre in Leamington Spa was hit by an uncommon severe outbreak of diarrhoea. The cause proved to be an infection of the intestine by a commonly-occuring, single celled organism - or protozan known as Giardia.
So, What is Giardia in dogs?
Giardia is a single-celled parasite that lives in your dog’s intestine. It infects older dogs but more usually infects puppies. Dogs become infected when they devour Giardia that may be found in water or other substances that have been soiled with feces. The organisms, once ingested, make their way into the intestine, usually causing diarrhea. Giardia are found throughout the United States and in many other parts of the world(sometimes called “beaver fever”). Veterinary research docs suggest that 5% to 10% of all dogs in North America have giardiasis at any given time.
How will Giardia affect my dog?
Some dogs infected with Giardia do not get any disease. Giardiasis, the illness caused by Giardia infection, often results in diarrhea. Having giardiasis for a long time may be cause weight loss; poor condition; and even death.
Causes of Giardia in dogs
Giardia often live in different kinds of water sources, just like ponds or lakes. If your dog drinks from a contaminated water source, they may be become infected with giardia. The parasite is in the cyst phase and once within the intestine, the cyst goes through several phases of maturation. Finally your dog will pass the infective cysts in their stool and these cysts lie in the environment and may be infect other animals.
Giardia symptoms in dogs( or symptoms giardia in dogs)
Giardia may be cause a number of gastrointestinal symptoms in domestic dogs. Owners can notice one or more of the following:
+Loss of appetite (inappetance; anorexia)
+Weight loss
+Bloody stools (hematochezia)
+Pale-colored stools
+Greasy stools (steatorrhea)
+Diarrhea (can be acute, chronic or intermittent; usually poorly formed or loose stools; often profuse and watery)
+Gas (flatulence)
+Abnormally strong-smelling (malodorous) stools
+Abdominal pain (cramping; nausea)
+Lethargy (tiredness)
+Dehydration (may be severe)
+Fever (occasional; not common)
+Vomiting (occasional; not common)
Dogs with giardiasis can have no symptoms, as is the case in most dogs, or diarrhea and vomiting. In some cases, dogs will exhibit diarrhea that is soft, frothy, greasy and with a strong, awful odor or too much mucus.
Treatment for Giardia in dogs
The FDA has not approved any drugs for specific use against canine giardia. However, there are drugs usually used by veterinarians which are highly effective in treating the infection as well as to stop the shedding of cysts in feces. The drugs Fenbendazole as well as Febantel are safe and effective in treating the illness and in eliminating shedding cysts. The drug Metronidazole (commerce name Flagyl)  is an alternative, but may have some side effects/toxicity, although positive include that it can be effective against other causes of diarrhea as well.
Prevention of Giardia in Dogs
Also to vaccination, the only way to prevent giardia in dogs is to eliminate the causes of giardia in dogs which is standing water or unhygienic kennels or other areas where dogs congregate.  When walking your dog, try and give clean drinking water instead of relying on standing bodies of water or natural water sources such as ponds or lakes.
If your dog is diagnosed with giardia, environmental disinfection is important. Using diluted chlorine bleach at 1:32 or 1:16 dilutions (500 ml in 4 liters of water or one cup in a gallon of water) is effective in killing the cysts. Be sure to avoid contact with the feces by using gloves. We recommend thoroughly cleaning your dog’s living and sleeping areas, and then letting the areas to dry out for several days before reintroducing dogs.
Remember, Giardia in dogs may be infect people, so good, personal hygiene should be used by adults when cleaning kennels or picking up the yard, and by children who can play with dogs or in potentially contaminated areas.

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