Giardiasis is a contagious disease caused by a parasite, Giardia, that is infectious to both humans and pets.
Giardia is found in about 30% of all puppies and from 5% to 10% of all adult dogs have Giardia at any one time. Giardia infection is recognized as one of the most common causes of waterborne disease in the United States and is found in the intestines of many wild and domestic animals.
Facts about Giardia:
- It thrives in moist, cool environments.
- It can only survive for a few days in dry warm environments with direct sunlight.
- The parasite can survive for 1-3 months in water in winter, including lakes or puddles.
- It can survive 3-6 months in water in spring and fall.
- It can survive in sunlight in the summer for about 1 week.
- The warmer the water, the shorter the survival time.
How does my pet get Giardia?
- By coming into contact with infected fecal material from another dog or cat. This includes touching a nose to infected fecal matter, which can often be found in the hair coats of infected dogs or cats.
- By playing in contaminated soil. This includes public areas such as parks and back yards of infected pets or wild animals.
- By licking themselves during normal grooming after coming in contact with a contaminated area or pet.
- By drinking from contaminated water (creek, pond, lake, etc…).
Diagnosing Giardia begins by looking at the clinical signs, such as diarrhea. Some hosts will not exhibit this symptom so the most accurate way is to test a stool sample. Our Vet Clinic can conduct this test in-house. Keep in mind that a standard fecal exam does not test for Giardia, so it is important to communicate with your veterinarian to make sure the correct test is being done.
Giardia in Bloomington, Indiana
Bloomington, IN and our surrounding counties are home to domestic livestock and wild animals that host Giardia, even if the animal has no symptoms. Infected water flows into streams and ponds. Indiana reports approximately 700 cases of Giardia in humans each year. The cases of it in pets are too numerous to report.
In early 2015, BloomingPaws tested a number of new resort guests that did not have updated Giardia fecal tests. We did this before we allowed them to enter our facility for the first time, even if the pet showed no symptoms. We found multiple infected dogs during each week of our testing. This confirms the prevalence of Giardia in Bloomington. As a result, we improved our already stringent 6-Star Cleanliness procedures, both indoor and outdoor. And, we established important protocols to further protect our resort guests from Giardia.
BloomingPaws Giardia Protocol
The protocols we established are the result of extensive research and collaboration with the BloomingPaws Veterinary Clinic. We will never be able to entirely eliminate Giardia, but we strive for the highest health and cleanliness standards for any pet resort.
- No Group Play areas on soil. It is very difficult to disinfect natural grass and soil. All our Group Play areas are on either impermeable “protect-all” rubber membranes with no seams, concrete, or artificial canine grass over crushed limestone. All of these surfaces facilitate deep cleaning and disinfecting.
- BloomingPaws’ stringent 6-Star Cleanliness procedures, both indoor and outdoor, help protect our resort guests from contamination. Our procedures for dealing with dog eliminations are the highest standard of any kennel in Indiana.
- Our educational program, both handouts and online, allows our clients and team members to identify when a dog is symptomatic for Giardia. Our educational program also helps pet parents establish their own cleanliness program if their pet becomes infected with Giardia.
- Puppies have their own exclusive play areas inside and outside, separate from adult dogs. This helps with cleaning and minimizes contamination.
- We require the isolation and testing of any dog that is symptomatic for Giardia. Our Vet Clinic can perform an immediate test. Dogs waiting on a negative test or who have tested positive for Giardia are isolated until they have a negative Giardia test.
- Fenbendazole/Metronidazole (Antibiotic)
- Droncit (in unresponsive cases)
- Bathing multiple times during treatment to ensure no fecal material is in their hair in case of reinfection.
- Cleaning and disinfecting properly after you pet.
- Let your veterinarian know if you have other dogs or cats, even if they show no clinical signs. They may be shedding Giardia into the environment, causing reinfection.