We got a call last week from a customer who wanted to send their two large dogs out for the weekend. It all sounded great until we asked the customer about medications and he mentioned that both dogs were being treated for Giardia. Stop right there – Giardia, otherwise known as Beaver Fever, is a zoonotic disease – meaning it’s one of many contagious diseases between people and animals. Needless to say, because of the risks, the dogs are not coming to our kennel.
If your dog has occasional diarrhoea, let them skip a meal, then for their first meal, serve cooked white rice – if you’d like, you can add a little chicken broth or cooked ground beef or turkey to it. If the stools return to normal, return to your normal feeding routine – if not, try the rice option another time.
However, if the diarrhoea persists or is recurring, take your dog along with a stool sample to your vet to find out if it’s something more serious. If it’s Giardia, vets typically treat it with a round of medication and recommend that your dog be isolated from other dogs. After the treatment, your vet will likely do one or more follow-up stool samples to check if it’s cleared.
Ways to minimize risks of you or your pet catching or transmitting Giardia or other zoononic diseases include:
- Keep hands clean. Properly wash your hands after contacting animals – use soap and water, scrub for at least 20 seconds, then rinse well. When soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizers.
- Don’t let dogs drink from standing water such as puddles, ponds or lakes, or “community” sources that other dogs have access to.
- Don’t let your dog lick you – especially around your nose and mouth areas. Avoid contacting your pet’s mouth, nose and feet. Dogs can pick up disease on their foot pads, then if you shake a paw, those diseases can transfer to you. Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose or face including not letting your children pick their noses, suck their thumbs or chew their finger nails.
- Scoop poop immediately. Don’t let your dog sniff other dog’s poop. Use gloves when poop scooping, and wash hands immediately after handling it.
- If your dog has diarrhoea, don’t let other dogs come into contact. Until it’s cleared, avoid dog parks, training classes or kennels. If your dog has had Giardia, disclose that fact and ensure that it’s clear before returning to these places.
- Give your dog minimal contact with the floor and exterior grounds areas around animal shelters and veterinary clinics. If you volunteer at a shelter, keep your footwear, dog crates and vehicles clean between your shelter visits and your home.
- If you’re sick, reduce contact with your pet and cough into your sleeve rather than your hands. If you’re immunosuppressed, ask your vet about using “killed vaccines” rather than “modified live vaccines” for your pet.
- Don’t pet stray or unknown animals. If you go to petting zoos, don’t eat or drink, or take items like baby bottles or soothers, and wash your hands and shoes immediately after.
- Focus on hygiene. Trim the hair around your dog’s anus and genital area, and keep them clean so micro-organisms aren’t carried around. Keep your dog’s bedding areas clean and dry.