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Giardia is a single-celled parasite that lives in your dog’s intestine. It infects older dogs but more frequently infects puppies. Dogs become infected when they swallow Giardia that may be present in water or other substances that have been soiled with feces.
How will Giardia affect my dog?
Many dogs infected with Giardia do not get any disease. Giardiasis, the disease caused by Giardia infection, usually results in diarrhea. Having giardiasis for a long time can cause weight loss; poor condition; and even death.
How do I prevent my dog from getting Giardia?
The best way to prevent Giardia infection is to make sure that your dog has safe, clean drinking water. It is important not to allow dogs to drink water from areas where other animals have left their feces.
Your veterinarian can perform a test on your dog’s feces to see if it has giardiasis. If your dog is infected with Giardia, your veterinarian can prescribe safe, effective treatment for control of the disease.
To prevent spreading Giardia (and other parasites), pick up the feces left by your dog immediately and place it in the trash. Be sure to avoid contact with the feces by using gloves, a bag over your hand, or a scooping device.
Bacterial Infection (Leptospirosis) in Dogs
Leptospirosis is an infection of bacterial spirochetes, which dogs acquire when subspecies of the Leptospira interrogans penetrate the skin and spread through the body by way of the bloodstream. Two of of the most commonly seen members of this subspecies are the L. grippotyphosa and L. Pomona bacteria. Spirochetes are spiral, or corkscrew-shaped bacteria which infiltrate the system by burrowing into the skin.
Leptospires spread throughout the entire body, reproducing in the liver, kidneys, central nervous system, eyes, and reproductive system. Soon after initial infection, f17 ever and bacterial infection of the blood develop, but these symptoms soon resolve with the reactive increase of antibodies, which clear the spirochetes from most of the system. The extent to which this bacteria affects the organs will depend on your dog’s immune system and its ability to eradicate the infection fully. Even then, Leptospira spirochetes can remain in the kidneys, reproducing there and infecting the urine. Infection of the liver or kidneys can be fatal for animals if the infection progresses, causing severe damage to these organs. Younger animals with less developed immune systems are at the highest risk for severe complications.
The Leptospira spirochete bacteria is zoonotic, meaning that it can be transmitted to humans and other animals. Children are most at risk of acquiring the bacteria from an infected pet.
Symptoms and Types
*Sudden fever and illness
*Sore muscles, reluctance to move
*Stiffness in muscles, legs, stiff gait
*Lack of appetite
*Increased thirst and urination
*Vomiting, possibly with blood
*Diarrhea - with or without blood in stool
*Bloody vaginal discharge
*Dark red speckled gums (petechiae)
*Yellow skin and/or whites of eyes – anemic symptoms
*Difficulty breathing, fast breathing, irregular pulse
*Swelling of the mucous membrane
*Mild swelling of the lymph nodes
The Leptospira spirochete infection mainly occurs in subtropical, tropical, and wet environments. Leptospira spirochetes are more prevalent in marshy/muddy areas which have stagnant surface water and are frequented by wildlife. Heavily irrigated pastures are also common sources of infection. The infection rate for domestic pets has been increasing in the U.S. And Canada, with infections occurring most commonly in the fall season. Dogs will typically come into contact with the leptospira bacteria in infected water, soil, or mud, while swimming, passing through, or drinking contaminated water, or from coming into contact with urine from an infected animal. This last method of contact might take place in the wild. Hunting and sporting dogs, dogs that live near wooded areas, and dogs that live on or near farms are at an increased risk of acuiring this bacteria. Also at increased risk are dogs that have spent time in a kennel.
Because leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, your veterinarian will be especially cautious when handling your pet, and will strongly advise you to do the same. Protective latex gloves must be worn at all times, and all body fluids will be treated as a biologically hazardous material. Urine, semen, post-abortion discharge, vomit, and any fluid that leaves the body will need to be handled with extreme caution.
You will need to give a thorough history of your dog's health, including a background history of symptoms, recent activities, and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition. The history you provide may give your veterinarian clues as to what stage of infection your dog is experiencing, and which organs are being most affected.
Your veterinarian will order a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis, an electrolyte panel, and a fluorescent antibody urine test. Urine and blood cultures will also be ordered for examining the prevalence of the bacteria. A microscopic agglutination test, or titer test, will also be performed to measure the body's immune response to the infection, by measuring the presence of antibodies in the bloodstream. This will help to definitively identify leptospira spirochetes and the level of systemic infection.
Dogs with acute severe disease should be hospitalized. Fluid therapy will be the primary treatment, in order to reverse any effects of dehydration. If your dog has been vomiting, an anti-vomiting drug, called an antiemetic, may be administered, and a gastric tube can be used to nourish your dog if its inability to eat or keep food down continues. A blood transfusion may also be necessary if your dog has been severely hemorrhaging.
Antibiotics will be prescribed by your veterinarian, with the type of antibiotic dependent on the stage of infection. Penicillins can be used for initial infections, but they are not effective for eliminating the bacteria once it has reached the carrier stage. Tetracyclines, fluoroquinolones, or similar antibiotics will be prescribed for this stage, since they are better distributed into the bone tissue. Antibiotics will be prescribed for a course of at least four weeks. Some antibiotics can have side effects that appear serious, especially those drugs that go deeper into the system to eliminate infection. Be sure to read all of the warnings that come with the prescription, and talk to your veterinarian about the indications you will need to watch for. Prognosis is generally positive, barring severe organ damage.
Living and Management
A vaccination for the prevention of the leptospirosis infection is available in some areas. Your veterinarian can advise you on the availability and usefulness of this vaccine. Make sure to inspect kennels before placing your dog in one – the kennel should be kept very clean, and should be free of rodents (look for rodent droppings). Urine from an infected animal should not come into contact with any other animals, or people.
Activity should be restricted to cage rest while your dog recovers from the physical trauma of this infection. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, transmissible to humans, and other animals via urine, semen, and post-birth or post-abortion discharge. While your dog is in the process of being treated, you will need to keep it isolated from children and other pets, and you will need to wear protective latex gloves when handling your dog in any way, or when handling fluid or waste products from your dog. Areas where your dog has urinated, vomited, or has possibly left any other type of fluid should be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly with iodine-based disinfectants or bleach solutions. Gloves should be worn during the cleaning process and disposed of properly after.
Finally, if you do have other pets or children in the home, they may have been infected with the leptospira bacteria and are not yet showing symptoms. It may be worthwhile to have them (and yourself) tested for the presence of the bacteria. And, it is important to keep in mind that leptospires may continue to be shed through the urine for several weeks after treatment and apparent recovery from the infection. Appropriate handling practices will be the best prevention of the spread of infection, or of reinfection.
Courtesy of Petmd.
Can humans be harmed by Giardia?
Giardia is a common cause of diarrhea in people, but dog Giardia is not generally considered to spread from animals to humans. While human Giardia may infect dogs and then be passed on to humans, the majority of human cases are of human origin.
Courtesy of Dr. Chris Adolph, Southpark Veterinary Hospital
CPV is diagnosed with a physical examination, biochemical tests, urine analysis, abdominal radiographs, and abdominal ultrasounds. A chemical blood profile and a complete blood cell count will also be performed. Low white blood cell levels are indicative of CPV infection, especially in association with bloody stools. Biochemical and urine analysis may reveal elevated liver enzymes, lymphopenia, and electrolyte imbalances. Abdominal radiograph imaging may show intestinal obstruction, while an abdominal ultrasound may reveal enlarged lymph nodes in the groin, or throughout the body, and fluid-filled intestinal segments.
You will need to give a thorough history of your pet's health, recent activities, and onset of symptoms. If you can gather a sample of your dog's stool, or vomit, your veterinarian will be able to use these samples for microscopic detection of the virus.
Since the disease is a viral infection, there is no real cure for it. Treatment is focused on curing the symptoms and preventing secondary bacterial infections, preferably in a hospital environment. Intensive therapy and system support are the key to recovery. Intravenous fluid and nutrition therapy is crucial in maintaining a dog’s normal body fluid after severe diarrhea and dehydration, and protein and electrolyte levels will be monitored and regulated as necessary. Medications that may be used in the treatment include drugs to curb vomiting (antiemetics), H2 Blockers to reduce nausea, antibiotics, and anthelmintics to fight parasites. The survival rate in dogs is about 70 percent, but death may sometimes result from severe dehydration, a severe secondary bacterial infection, bacterial toxins in the blood, or a severe intestinal hemorrhage. Prognosis is lower for puppies, since they have a less developed immune system. It is common for a puppy that is infected with CPV to suffer shock, and sudden death.
Living and Management
Even after your dog has recovered from a CPV infection, it will still have a weakened immune system, and will be susceptible to other illnesses. Talk to your veterinarian about ways by which you can boost your dog's immune system, and otherwise protect your dog from situations that may make it ill. A diet that is easily digested will be best for your dog while it is recovering.
Your dog will also continue to be a contagion risk to other dogs for at least two months after the initial recovery. You will need to isolate your dog from other dogs for a period of time, and you may want to tell neighbors who have dogs that they will need to have their own pets tested. Wash all of the objects your dog uses (e.g., dishes, crate, kennel, toys) with non-toxic cleaners. Recovery comes with long-term immunity against the parvovirus, but it is no guarantee that your pet will not be infected with the virus again.
The best prevention you can take against CPV infection is to follow the correct protocol for vaccination. Young puppies should be vaccinated at six, nine, and twelve weeks, and should not be socialized with outside dogs until at least two weeks after their last vaccinations. High-risk breeds may require a longer initial vaccination period of up to 22 weeks.
Courtesy of Petmd.com
Most cases of CPV infections are caused by a genetic alteration of the original canine parvovirus: the canine parvovirus type 2b. There are a variety of risk factors that can increase a dog’s susceptibility to the disease, but mainly, the virus is transmitted either by direct contact with an infected dog, or indirectly, by the fecal-oral route. Heavy concentrations of the virus are found in an infected dog’s stool, so when a healthy dog sniffs an infected dog’s stool, it will contract the disease. The virus can also be brought into a dog's environment by way of shoes that have come into contact with infected feces. There is evidence that the virus can live in ground soil for up to a year. It is resistant to most cleaning products, or even to weather changes. If you suspect that you have come into contact with feces at all, you will need to wash the affected area with household bleach, the only disinfectant known to kill the virus.
Improper vaccination protocol and vaccination failure can also lead to a CPV infection. Breeding kennels and dog shelters that hold a large number of inadequately vaccinated puppies are particularly hazardous places. For unknown reasons, certain dog breeds, such as Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Pit Bulls, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, English Springer Spaniels, and Alaskan sled dogs, are particularly vulnerable to the disease. Diseases or drug therapies that suppress the normal response of the immune system may also increase the likelihood of infection.
Canine Parvovirus (Parvo) Infection in Dogs
The canine parvovirus (CPV) infection is a highly contagious viral illness that affects dogs. The virus manifests itself in two different forms. The more common form is the intestinal form, which is characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and lack of appetite (anorexia). The less common form is the cardiac form, which attacks the heart muscles of very young puppies, often leading to death. The majority of cases are seen in puppies that are between six weeks and six months old. The incidence of canine parvovirus infections has been reduced radically by early vaccination in young puppies.
Symptoms and Types
The major symptoms associated with the intestinal form of a canine parvovirus infection include severe, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, anorexia, fever, vomiting, and severe weight loss. The intestinal form of CPV affects the body's ability to absorb nutrients, and an affected animal will quickly become dehydrated and weak from lack of protein and fluid absorption. The wet tissue of the mouth and eyes may become noticeably red and the heart may beat too rapidly. When your veterinarian palpates (examine by touch) your dog’s abdominal area, your dog may respond with pain or discomfort. Dogs that have contracted CPV may also have a low body temperature (hypothermia), rather than a fever.
Common Questions Asked at the Dog Park
Question: Why does my dog always get diarrhea when we go to the dog park and no where else?
Answer: Sometimes when your dog in under stress, either excited stress or nervous stress, they will have a tendency to get diarrhea.
Solution 1: With consistent visitations to the dogs park, your dog will become more familiar with the environment, make friends, and most likely the diarrhea at the dog park will stop.
Solution 2: Most Veterinarians will recommend giving your dog Pepcid AC 10mg for your dog that is 15 pounds and over. It is best given 30 minutes before you arrive at the dog park.
***Please consult your Veterinarian before giving your dog Pepcid AC or the generic version.****
Solution 3: There might be a more serious condition. Consult your Veterinarian to test for harmful parasites and bacteria.
Question: Why does my dog drool at the dog park?
Answer: There are several reasons why dogs drool at the dog park. Sometimes it is due to the season change and the way your dog is breathing. Dogs tend to drool more during the Summer season. Dogs that drool is a sign that their body temperature is too hot and they need to get cool. In the Winter, dogs that drool is a sign that their body temperature is too cold and they need to get warm. Excitement and rapid breathing at the dog park can cause excessive drooling.
Solution 1: In the Summer, do not take them to the dog park when temperatures are too hot (usually over 90 degrees).
If temperatures are between 65 - 80 degrees or above, give them plenty of cold water to stay hydrated and keep them shaded.
Solution 2: In the Winter, do not go outside when temperatures are too cold such as below 60 degrees. Going out when temperatures are between 55 - 65 degrees, it is best to dress your dog in a dog coat, dog sweat shirt, or sweater to keep warm. You can also cover them in a blanket.
Solution 3: If the weather is suitable, excitement and rapid breathing can cause your dogs neck to expand. Loosen your dogs collar and loosen or remove your dogs harness to allow your dogs neck and chest to expand properly.
Solution 4: There might be a more serious condition. Consult your Veterinarian to test your dogs health.
Parasites and Bacteria that are Harmful to Humans and Pets