Last month we went on vacation and left Oliver with friends. Much to my dismay, we came home to a dog that was out of sorts and suffering from unbelievable “gastric upset”. A trip to the vet and a few stool samples yielded the result – our furry one had Giardia.
Giardia is an infection caused by parasites often found in lakes, ponds and streams (Oliver had been enjoying a vacation of his own, swimming in mountain lakes). It is transmitted when your pet drinks the water. It can interfere with the absorption of nutrients. And your dog (like ours) may lose a bunch of weight.
Symptoms include diarrhea (sometimes uncontrollable) and watery stool that may look light-colored and oily/greasy. It can smell really bad, too. Your pup may seem lethargic.
If your dog is showing these symptoms – get thee to your vet immediately! The treatment is a prescription drug - metronidazole (Flagyl). You may also be advised to give your pup bananas and rice to help with the loose stool. You should also be prepared that many dogs will need two rounds of this drug, as Giardia can be aggressive.
It’s not easy to prevent Giardia. In fact, most dogs get it in their lifetime. However, you can mitigate the source of infection by removing places where water collects, cleaning concrete surfaces, and keeping your dog from drinking out of mountain lakes and streams.
Oliver is doing fine. He’s back to his goofy, active, 65-lb self. Me? Let’s just say, I’ll be looking into more dog-friendly vacations for our family.