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.
Jessie was alert, but seemed lazy. I checked her gums and they went white and stayed white. I rushed her to the vet, who diagnosed her as having a tumour that was blocking her circulation.
Three-year old Zack was unsteady on his feet and lethargic. I checked his gums and they went brick red. I rushed him to the vet, who said he had suffered a stroke.
Your dog’s gums are a window to their health. If you suspect a medical problem, lift your dog’s lip and press the gums just above their teeth. By doing this the blood is forced out of the small capillaries under the skin, and you’re able to see the “capillary refill time”. If the gums stay white or take two seconds or more to return to their normal pink colour, or if the gums are bright, firey red, your dog could be experiencing a serious medical emergency.
If you suspect your dog is ill, check their gums. If they don’t return to their normal colour quickly, get immediate veterinary care.
When you live in Saskatchewan, you long for summer. Ah, hot days, comfortable clothes, BBQs, Rider pride, and bugs!
Prevent ticks by keeping your dog healthy with proper nutrition and grooming, and by talking with your vet about suitable chemical or alternative tick treatments and collars. And, after your dog romps and plays in tall grass, make your pup happy by doing a full body tick check. You'll discover ticks before they do too much damage, and your dog will love the extra attention.
If you find one of those nasty little buggers, spray it with a small amount of human insecticide, then wait 10 minutes - or cover it with Vaseline. (Do not spray insecticide near your dog's face!) Use tweezers to grasp the tick close to the skin, then pull it out using steady even pressure being sure that the tick's head comes out. (To avoid infecting yourself with disease, don't use your fingers to pull it out.) Monitor the bite spot - if you notice signs of infection, take your dog to the vet for additional care.
Learn more about parasite prevention and treatment by taking a Walks 'N' Wags Pet First Aid class near you.
Our dogs Daisy and Buddy are the best dogs in the world ... yes they are. (That's Daisy on the left and Buddy on the right.)
Daisy was born February 14, 2001 in Turner Valley, Alberta. She came to live with us eight weeks later. We lovingly refer to her as the Queen of our kennel. She’s a real doll. Her favourite things are running, chewing and barking.
Normally she’s an extremely healthy, very happy little girl. One evening last summer – completely out of the blue she ran over to me, and dived under my chair. It looked like she was chasing something. Then she just lied there and twitched. Holy crap. She was having a seizure. I knew to stay calm, comfort her and let it pass. It didn’t last long. Once it was over, she looked confused, and stayed very close by my side. Her tail was straight up and her body was on full alert. I called the vet that night who said I could bring her in the morning.
Blood tests were inconclusive. My veterinarian recommended that, if episodes are short in duration and infrequent, I shouldn’t worry. Since then, we know of only one other brief episode occurring exactly like the first – starting with her diving under my chair.
A few of the dogs who visit our kennel have epilepsy and are on medication to control it. They tend to look a little stoned - drooling a bit and being a little dopier than normal. But they seem happy.
A friend of mine didn’t realize that her dog was having seizures until she was on maternity leave – so if you're out a lot, it may be happening to your dog, but you may not know about it.
If your dog has a seizure, stay calm and let it pass, then call your vet and ask for advice. If it lasts a long time, it may be an emergency needing immediate medical attention. When coming out of seizure, some dogs turn aggressive for a few minutes, so be safe and be alert for that possibility – especially if you live with young children.