Giardiasis

Do you know what Giardia is?

An Intestinal Parasite Examination and/or a Giardia SNAP Test are used to find giardia in a pet’s feces. These are the only tests for diagnosing giardia, as they cannot be seen by the naked eye.

Clinical Signs and Transmission
Giardia is protozoa that infect the intestines. Giardia can cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, and dehydration. Generally, giardia is transmitted from water contamination in the environment, although water is not necessary for it to survive in the environment. Rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, cattle tanks, etc. are classic problem areas for giardia.

It is important to treat giardia because they pose a serious health risk to humans, including diarrhea. It's important to talk with a family physician right away with concerns about that!

Treatment
A pet diagnosed with giardia will go home with an anti-giardia medication (usually either metronidazole or fenbendazole depending on the Doctor’s preference). It's important to follow all instructions on the label accordingly. If the affected pet is on metronidazole, it's important to monitor for any neurological side affects including stumbling, “drunkenness,” rapid eye movement back and forth, seizures, etc. The ill pet should be bathed at least once while being treated in order to wash away any giardia cysts that might be stuck to the coat.

If needed, anti-nausea medications, appetite stimulants, probiotics, and temporary therapeutic diets may be prescribed by the Doctor based on the individual pet’s case. It's critical that pet-owners follow all label instructions accordingly. Severe cases could necessitate hospitalization for IV fluids and injectable medications.

Environment
In order to keep giardia from spreading, it's necessary to keep the yard picked up from all feces and remove any sources of stagnant water. Minimizing exposure to river, lake, or cattle tank water is also necessary. It's critical make sure that everyone washes his or her hands in warm soapy water for at least 30 seconds after handling any pet.

Indoor areas should be thoroughly cleaned, and if possible disinfected with a solution of 1 part bleach to 32 parts water. It's important to check the surface for color safeness before applying bleach solution. Allow the solution to set for one minute before drying. Steam cleaning carpets may be helpful since those surfaces are not safe to bleach. Any pet should be thoroughly bathed before being put back into the cleaned environment.

Outdoor areas, if concrete, can be cleaned and disinfected as above. Dirt and vegetation unfortunately cannot be disinfected without destroying the plants.

Follow-up
We recommend a Follow-Up Examination and recheck Intestinal Parasite Examination in 5-8 days depending on medication prescribed to make sure that treatment was successful. It's necessary to monitor appetite, energy level, vomiting, diarrhea, or neurological problems and call for a recheck appointment if your pet stops eating or has continued problems.

We recommend annual heartworm testing and year round administration of monthly Heartworm, Intestinal Parasite, and Flea prevention for all dogs and cats. Not only is this important for preventing illness in your companions, but it is important for preventing illness in the human family, too. Please contact us today about getting your companions on this vital part of their preventive wellness care.

Visit us online at www.apcnw.com for more details!

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