21 July 2022

What is Giardia?

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Claire Smith, Vet

Giardia is an intestinal infection caused by a microscopic parasite. Giardia is not a worm, bacteria or a virus.

What are the symptoms of Giardia? 

Giardia can present itself with foul smelling diarrhoea, sometimes there can be blood in the faeces and it can have a greenish colour to it. However, not all patients who have contracted giardia present with diarrhoea, other signs can include:

  • Weight loss
  • In some cases, vomiting. 
  • Flatulence 

How do pets get infected with Giardia?

Giardia is transmitted through contact with infected things, sniffing or eating off infected surfaces, or drinking contaminated water.  

Can I catch Giardia from my pet?

Yes, giardia can be transmitted from pet to owner and vice versa. If you have concerns please contact your doctor.

How is my pet tested for Giardia?

We always recommend starting with a full health check with one of our vets. If Giardia is suspected then we will ask you to collect a small faecal sample so that we can run a  laboratory test for Giardia. We normally get the results within 24 hours.

How is Giardia treated?

A 5 day course of parasite treatment will be dispensed for you to administer to your pet orally. Please ensure to increase hygiene during this time such as hand washing after handling your pet, disinfecting areas in which your pet defecates and disinfecting/washing their food and water bowls regularly. We recommend bathing your pet during this time to reduce the risk that they will re-infect themselves by grooming.

Will the treatment work the first time?

  1. If the symptoms cease after treatment, we do not need to retest your pets faeces. Please make sure you bathe your pet on the final day of treatment. 
  1. If the symptoms persist, you will need to bring a further faecal sample for testing and your pet may need another 5 day course of parasite treatment. Depending on how your pet is feeling we may recommend additional treatments or a diet change too.
  1. If the symptoms still persist after a second course of treatment, you will need to collect a 3 day pooled sample – this means you will need to collect a sample every day for 3 days and we will then send these samples to an external laboratory for further, more extensive testing.

Have a question?

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