Giardiasis, or Giardia, is an infection in mammals and humans. However, the condition is most common in dogs. And people can get sick because of Giardia even if the dog looks healthy. A single-cell parasite causes giardia infection. And no, it is not another worm or virus or even bacteria. Instead, it is a microscopic parasite that lives in the intestinal walls that cause diseases in both humans and animals. Giardia can be found worldwide and has been infecting domestic and wild animals alike.
- The Giardia or Giardiasis lifecycle
- How do dogs get infected with Giardia or Giardiasis?
- What are the symptoms of Giardia or Giardiasis?
- What is the treatment for Giardia or Giardiasis?
- How can Giardia or Giardiasis be prevented?
- Can Giardia or Giardiasis get transmitted from dogs to humans?
- Can Giardia or Giardiasis get transmitted from dogs to other animals?
The Giardia or Giardiasis lifecycle
The Giardia lifecycle started when the host ingested something that Giardia contaminates. Giardia will enter the host intestine in the form of a cyst. Once the cyst is inside the host, it becomes trophozoites and begins eating and multiplying in the small intestine. Some of the trophozoites will shed cysts. The new cyst will then pass through dog stools and into the environment. Dog stools will contaminate everything it touches (water, soil, leaves, and even dog coat). The cyst can live for months once it has been excreted and will wait for a new host to infect.
How do dogs get infected with Giardia or Giardiasis?
Giardia cysts can live for weeks. Dogs can get it by ingesting something contaminated by Giardia. For example, walking in a dog park or swimming in a lake or river that Giardia infects. Once consumed, it will take up to 10 days for the parasite to form a new cyst and release it into the environment.
What are the symptoms of Giardia or Giardiasis?
Most dogs are asymptomatic and will not show signs of having the Giardia parasites. However, it does not mean that humans will not show symptoms when infected. However, here are some Giardia symptoms that are common with dogs that you can watch out for in your dogs.
Diarrhea is the most common symptom of Giardia. Stools would typically have a foul smell due to the infection. When your dog has
Vomiting is also present in dogs with Giardia. However, most of the time, only diarrhea is observed. It will depend on the dog’s immune system if the symptoms will accompany vomiting or not.
Due to diarrhea and vomiting, Giardia will have a significant effect on your dog’s weight. Not only that, but your dog will also lose its appetite.
Due to diarrhea and vomiting, your dog is prone to dehydration as well.
Giardia is not life-threatening, but dogs with Giardia infection are not energetic and lose their coat’s shine.
What is the treatment for Giardia or Giardiasis?
The best treatment for Giardia is to consult a veterinarian immediately. If your dog has diarrhea, especially those that do not go away, seek medical assistance as soon as possible. Your doctor may conduct several tests, especially with the stools, to determine what is causing it. After all, there are many possible reasons why your dog has diarrhea.
How can Giardia or Giardiasis be prevented?
There are many preventive actions you can do to prevent Giardia and help stop the parasite’s spread. Here are some of the few that you can do at home to prevent it from further spreading.
The best way to prevent Giardia is by making sure that everything is clean. Use gloves when removing dog stools and plucking weeds from your garden. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds or more. Spray alcohol or use hand sanitizers after gardening.
Wash your dog regularly
Giardia cysts can attach themselves to your dog’s coat, so it is best to wash them regularly, especially if you have just gone out for a run. Dogs are territorial creatures and will likely sniff everything. And your dog can get Giardia by sniffing the ground or anything in the park that would smell like dogs.
You need to periodically clean your dog’s beddings, toys, and chews. Clean anything that your dog touches. Especially if your dog has been diagnosed with Giardia, make sure to clean all of the things thoroughly.
Clean Drinking Water
Make sure to give your dog clean drinking water. Do not let your dog drink just any water as Giardia or other parasites may contaminate it. Bring a bottle for yourself and one for your dog if you are going outside. Make sure to clean your dog’s water dispensers and bowls regularly.
Clean your yard
Dogs often play in the garden. Make sure to remove any dog stools outside and dispose of them properly.
Limit going to dog parks
If your dog has Giardia or is in the middle of treatment, do not let them out. Your dog will eventually transmit Giardia and make other dogs sick. Also, since their health is already at risk, they may get other diseases as well.
Can Giardia or Giardiasis get transmitted from dogs to humans?
The scariest part of Giardia is that it can get passed on from dogs to humans. However, not all giardia species can infect humans, and the probability of getting Giardia from your dog is relatively small. But it is best to take necessary precautions to prevent the parasite from infecting you and your loved ones. Make a conscious effort of wearing gloves with cleaning your dog; it’s feeding supplies, toys, and disposing of stools. Dispose of the gloves you have appropriately used. Before touching anything, make sure to use a hand sanitizer or wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Humans can get infected by drinking contaminated water. Use a water filter to remove germs and bacteria from your water supply. You should boil tap water before drinking if you do not have a water filter at home.
Can Giardia or Giardiasis get transmitted from dogs to other animals?
Yes, Giardia is zoonotic and can infect various pets like cats and birds. If you have other pets at home, have a trip to your veterinarian so your other pets can be checked and diagnosed as well.
Giardia is an infectious parasite, but luckily it is curable. Just be alert to everything around you and your pets.