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Giardia Questions and Answers From Our Troutdale and Gresham Vet Center

giardia

While your pet may be fully vaccinated against diseases such as rabies and distemper, intestinal parasites remain a threat to his well-being -- including the organism known as Giardia. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about Giardia from our Troutdale and Gresham vet team at Paws & Claws Pet Medical Center.

  • What is Giardia? Giardia is the name of a parasite that can infest the digestive tract of your pet. The cyst form of this organism lives in water. When your pet drinks the tainted water, the cyst enters and attaches itself to the intestinal wall. Giardia organisms eventually exit through the feces.
  • Does Giardia affect both cats and dogs? Giardia can affect both cats and dogs. It also affects other mammals, including humans, who are exposed to contaminated water; in fact, Giradia is the most common of all human parasitic infestations. The risk of a cat or dog spreading Giardia to you or your loved ones is very low, but not impossible!
  • What are the symptoms of Giardia infestation? Giardia infestation can produce a wide spectrum of reactions, from no visible signs of trouble to intense abdominal pain/gas, weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea. 
  • How dangerous is Giardia? The diarrhea often caused by Giardia can have devastating consequences. Severe, uncontrolled dehydration and mineral loss can actually lead to death, especially in geriatric or baby animals.
  • How does your veterinarian diagnose the presence of Giardia? Fecal testing can confirm a case of Giardia. Your Troutdale and Gresham veterinarian may discover Giardia cycts on a smear sample. But the organism isn't necessarily present in every stool sample, so we may also have to check for signs of Giardia's identifying cell proteins, or antigens.
  • What Giardia treatments does your vet center offer? Our vet center can help your Troutdale or Gresham pet through an acute case of Giardia infestation. First and foremost, we will work to get dangerous diarrhea under control and rehydrate your pet if necessary. We may also administer an antibiotic drug called metronidazole and/or an antiparasitic drug called fenbendazole to kill the Giardia and remove cysts from your pet's digestive system. 
  • How can I prevent infestations going forward? Don't let your pet drink any water you're not sure about; bring a separate supply of clean water for his use on walks or trips. Always pick up your pet's feces immediately for the protection of other animals, making sure not to come into direct skin contact with it. Clean surfaces in the home with a weak bleach solution to kill any traces of Giardia.

Your Veterinarian Has More Answers to Your Pet's Giardia Issues

If you suspect that your pet might have Giardia, or you just want to learn more about how you can protect him against this potential killer, call 503-661-1833 to schedule a consultation with our veterinarian. Let's do everything possible to keep your pet healthy!