Lovely little Theo, the 25-week-old Corgi puppy presented to the team at Narre Warren this month feeling pretty rough after 24 hours of profuse watery diarrhoea. He was still happy enough to eat and drink with no vomiting, however his owners were concerned at the amount and frequency at which he was going to the toilet. Diarrhoea in young animals is particularly concerning as it can quickly lead to dehydration and deficits in their electrolytes, requiring hospitalization and fluid therapy. There are many causes to sudden onset diarrhoea such as dietary changes, parasites, infections, stress, dietary intolerance and allergies, toxic ingestion, foreign bodies or things like Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Dr. Susi, who was overseeing Theo’s case began by prescribing pain relief and an anti-nausea injection. She also strongly suggested that a Giardia test be performed, and once run, the results were a very strong positive. Giardia in animals is a common intestinal parasitic infection caused by a microscopic protozoan organism called Giardia duodenalis (also known as Giardia lamblia or Giardia intestinalis). Giardia is a flagellated parasite that infects the small intestine of dogs and other mammals, including humans. Giardia is typically transmitted through the ingestion of cysts, which are the dormant and hardy forms of the parasite. These cysts are shed in the faeces of infected animals and can survive in the environment for weeks to months, especially in moist conditions. Animals usually become infected by ingesting cysts from contaminated water, food, or surfaces.
After ingestion, the cysts pass through the stomach and reach the small intestine, where they release trophozoites. The trophozoites then attach to the lining of the small intestine and reproduce, the formation of which are then excreted in the faeces. Not all animals infected with Giardia display symptoms. However, common signs of giardiasis include diarrhea, which may be acute or chronic, vomiting (not common but certainly can occur), weight loss, lethargy, and a decrease in appetite. Some animals may be carriers of the parasite and show no clinical signs.
Antiprotozoal medications, such as metronidazole or fenbendazole, are commonly used to treat giardiasis in dogs. Treatment is usually administered for a specific duration, and it’s important to follow a veterinarian’s instructions carefully.
Preventing Giardia infection involves practicing good hygiene at home and in the clinic. This includes providing clean drinking water, avoiding the ingestion of potentially contaminated water (such as stagnant ponds or puddles), and practicing proper sanitation, especially in multi-pet households or kennels.
It’s important to note that Giardia is zoonotic, meaning it can be transmitted between animals and humans. Therefore, proper hygiene, especially handwashing, is crucial when dealing with infected animals or their faeces. We have been seeing a very high number of cases in recent months.
We are delighted to report that cutie pie Theo is feeling a whole lot better after his medications and quick actions taken by his parents in seeking veterinary care, and he is back to having the cutest little butt in dog town! Well done, Theo!