Your dog has an accident in your house — which in itself is totally unusual, but even stranger is that what came out doesn’t look like it normally does. Should you worry? Could this be a case of giardia in dogs or another parasite?
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Learn how to deal with giardia in dogs and other common canine parasites:
What is giardia in dogs?
Giardia is a microscopic parasite that infects almost any mammal. They live in standing or slow moving water, meaning that your dog can contract giardia when drinking from streams or puddles or even licking their paws after walking through standing water. If your dog has a sudden bout of sustained diarrhoea — sometimes with vomiting — go to the vet.
Giardia in dogs is treatable and rarely deadly. Your vet will take a stool sample and test it. If the test comes back positive, you’ll give your dog a prescription antibiotic called metronidazole, which should kill the parasite in five to seven days. It is also important to practice excellent hygiene to reduce your own chance of getting infected with giardia.
Other Common Canine Parasites
There are a number of other common parasites that could make your dog ill. Here are four of the most common:
- HeartwormsHeartworms are transmitted via mosquito bites and take up residence in the pulmonary artery. They can damage both the heart and lungs, cause heart failure or result in a fatal parasitic embolism in the lungs. But there’s some good news. This is the only 100 percent preventable parasite, through the use of heartworm preventative medication.
Treatment of an infected dog depends on the stage of heartworm infection. With yearly heartworm tests, the infection can usually be caught in stage one. The owner gives medication to the animal at home. But if symptoms develop, such as coughing or shortness of breath and fatigue, then your dog might have advanced to stage two or three. Both require careful observation during the treatment. The cost of one round of treatment is as much or more than the cost of a lifetime of heartworm prevention. So keep giving your four-legged friend monthly heartworm tablets and remember to go for regular checkups.
- TicksAfter heartworms, ticks are some of the most dangerous parasites. Ticks carry a myriad of diseases that can have serious to fatal ramifications. Some diseases, such as Lyme disease are zoonotic – meaning they put humans at risk as well as dogs. Other bacteria, such as Ehrlichia and Anaplasma, are unique to canines. Unfortunately most of these diseases have vague symptoms.
There are tests to check for these diseases, but the owner or vet must suspect tick infection. It’s important to note any tick bites on your dog and remove the tick with tweezers or a tick removal tool. Always wash both the area and your hands after dealing with the insect. Then see a vet who can prescribe antibiotics.
- HookwormsHookworms, a type of roundworm, are parasites which principally infect the small intestine. They can cause infection, malnutrition and blood loss in their host – sometimes even eventually causing death.
Hookworms can be passed on to your dog at any public place through direct penetration of the skin (normally through the pads on their feet), and through ingestion of larvae in faeces, soil or even their mother’s milk. If pregnant dogs have hookworm, it is quite possible that their puppies will be brought into the world already infected – hookworms can pass through the uterus. Hookworms can also pass on to humans, so use good hygiene when cleaning up after an infected dog.
If your dog is vomiting, anaemic or has diarrhoea, go straight to the vet, who will test a stool sample and prescribe anthelmintics for treatment.
- FleasFleas are some of the most common parasites out there and they bear their own health risks. Not only can your dog’s itching and scratching lead to infection needing antibiotics, but the fleas themselves may be carriers of bubonic plague for humans. Therefore, as soon as you suspect your dog might have fleas, it’s important to check and treat them right away.
Since parasite prevention involves observation, let your dog walker or dog sitter know about which symptoms to look for, any medication needed and the proper tick removal procedures. Ask your dog walker to avoid large, wet outside areas the parasites might live in and keep a close eye around other dogs.
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