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Giardia in Dogs

By: Dr. Arnold Plotnick

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Optimal treatment for your pet requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Administer any medications prescribed by your veterinarian and notify your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating your pet.

Follow dietary changes recommended by your veterinarian such as increasing the fiber content of the diet. Follow specific recommendations for controlling the disease such as decontaminating the environment, keeping your pet's hair coat clean and avoiding reinfection by preventing your pet from drinking from puddles, lakes, streams and other sources of stagnant water.

After finishing treatment, submit a fresh fecal sample to your veterinarian to confirm effective treatment. If, after several days of treatment, no improvement is noted, return your pet to your veterinarian for re-evaluation.

A vaccine designed to aid in the prevention of disease caused by Giardia recently has become available. Owners of kennels, animal shelters and pet stores, as well as breeders and pet owners with several animals, may want to discuss the usefulness of this vaccine with their veterinarians. Dogs eight weeks of age or older receive one dose of the vaccine and a second dose two to four weeks later. Immunity is thought to last up to one year. Annual booster vaccinations are recommended.

The spread of Giardia from animals to humans is a controversial topic. There is little evidence of human infection arising from dogs. Cases of giardiasis in people usually are caused by person-to-person contact or by drinking contaminated water. Until this controversy is resolved, all infected animals should be treated regardless of whether or not they are experiencing symptoms. The best way to detect infection is to have your veterinarian check a fecal sample from your pet at least twice a year.

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