Giardia in cats and dogs

Giardia Symptoms in Cats & Dogs

If your pet dog or cat has been experiencing diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, flatulence and vomiting, your veterinarian may recommend tests to confirm the presence of giardia. A microscopic parasite, giardia intestinalis, is known to affect cats and dogs, and also humans. The parasite causes the diarrheal condition, giardiasis.

How Does Giardia Spread?

Giardia in cats and dogs spreads through contact with feces from an infected animal. Your pet may have come in contact with soil or water which was contaminated with cysts of the intestinal parasite. It may have also come in direct contact with infected animal feces. While dogs and cats that come in contact with this parasite are vulnerable to it, puppies and kittens are at a greater risk.

Some of the clinical signs of giardia include diarrhea, which has a foul smell, and may contain mucous. In some cases the stool may also contain blood. Your pet may be vomiting and showing signs of rapid weight loss.

Treatment for Giardia in Cats and Dogs

There are no over the counter drugs that can be safely given to your pet in order to treat the condition. And it is not something that will go away over time. This is why it is essential that you consult with your pet’s veterinarian.

After confirming that the animal is affected by the microbial parasite, it is likely that a broad spectrum antiparasitic will be prescribed. Additional medication may also be recommended to deal with dehydration and diarrhea. The oral medication is usually prescribed for a period of five to seven days. The doctor is likely to ask you to take some specific steps to ensure that the animal’s immediate environment is free of the parasite.

Cleaning and Disinfecting the Animal

You will need to bathe your pet with an appropriate pet shampoo to ensure that its coat is clean of any trace of feces. Its bedding, litter box, toys, and water and food bowls will need to be disinfected thoroughly. If possible they should be sterilized in boiling hot water for a few minutes. This process will have to be repeated for a few days even after the course of oral medication has been completed. This is because the giardia parasite can survive for a week in room temperature.

If you have more than one pet you will need to repeat the process for your other pet too. For some reason kittens that are infected with the microscopic parasite seem to shed more giardia cysts in their feces than adult cats. So, if you have a kitten you will have to be extra careful about disposing its feces safely.  Do remember to wear disposable gloves while you are doing this.

Cleaning the Home

All hard surfaces including floors, tables and cabinet surfaces must be cleansed and disinfected. All surfaces that your pet comes in contact with must also be cleaned and sterilized. Carpets and upholstery should be vacuumed. In addition, any stagnant or standing water source that your pet has access to should be cleaned up. If your pet likes to frequent a nearby pond, it is best to restrict its visits until you are sure that the water is safe for animals. For pets that go to a day care, owners should share their concerns with the day care manager.