We remain open to provide care for your pets. We are following the direction of government and regulatory authorities and have implemented hospital and visit protocols to keep both you and our team safe. For regular updates on our hours and visit protocols, please follow our social media platforms.

Giardia in Pets

What is Giardia? Giardia was first discovered in the 1600s by Antony van Leeuwenhoek while studying a sample of his own stool. Giardiasis is a common intestinal disease found in our pets all around the world. Looking at the picture to the left, you can see it is a single-celled protozoan parasite. It is NOT a worm, bacteria or virus. Giardia is commonly known as travellers’ diarrhea or ‘beaver fever.’ Giardia has two forms. First is a fragile feeding form that lives in the gut of its host; called trophozoite. Second, is a cystic form. This cystic form is harder then it’s counterpart and is shed in the feces of its host. Due to its hard outer shell, the cyst can live in the environment for several months. If the environmental conditions are damp or wet, the cyst can survive even longer! There are seven genotypes. The table below illustrates the different genotypes and the animals they affect.

(Click the image to make it larger)

How do our pets get giardiasis?
Our pets can pick up giardia by sniffing the contaminated ground, licking their paws after contacting the contaminated ground or by drinking contaminated water. Once the parasitic cyst has entered our pet’s intestines, the cyst transforms to the trophozoite stage and attaches to their intestinal wall. From this point, they feed and multiply. Reproduction for trophozoites is a matter of dividing itself in two. In 5-12 days for dogs and 5-16 days for cats, the pet will pass infectious cysts in its stool, infecting the environment around it. In small amounts, these parasites can go undetected. Only if there is a sufficient amount of trophozoites in the pet will clinical signs show.

What to look for?
For the most part, you will be looking for sudden foul smelling diarrhea. Weight-loss, intermitted diarrhea and fatty stool can also be seen in infected animals. Their stools often have a greenish tinge. They may also range from soft to watery and sometimes may contain blood. Vomiting and lethargy have been observed in some cases. As the disease continues, weight loss may become apparent as nutrients are not being absorbed as easily, as well from diarrhea.

Giardiasis is not normally life-threatening to a healthy animal. In a young puppy/kitten or an immune compromised pet, it can be more severe, and even result in death. All pets diagnosed with giardia should be retested in two to four weeks after treatment is completed.

How do I know my pet has giardia?
A fecal float can be done at your veterinary clinic to detect if cysts are present in the stool. Most often fecal floats require a special flotation solution, and on occasion, your veterinarian will see the parasite on a direct smear of the stool. Since they are shed inconsistently in the stool, often a tentative diagnosis is made through medical history and clinical signs.

How is giardia treated?
Your Veterinarian will prescribe you one of two antibiotics for three to ten days. In some cases, fluid therapy and diet changes are required.

Can I become infected?
Looking back to our chart above, you can see two genotypes can affect us. If infected with these genotypes; yes – our infected pets can infect us. We will also have similar clinical signs as our pets.

If your pet is infected, always wash your hands after playing with them. Pick up feces as soon as they are deposited to lessen the environmental contamination. WASH YOUR HANDS after dealing with feces. Our pets do like to clean themselves, so ‘kisses’ might have to wait until the final test after treatment has been administered.

Written by: Chelaine Bragg, CCR & Nutrition Consultant



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COVID-19: Additional measures we are taking

Dear Clients,

Due to the close contact that our work requires, we have taken additional measures to protect you and our team while providing care for your furry family members.

The following changes are effective as of Thursday, March 26, 2020:

1. We are currently operating a "closed waiting room" policy to protect our clients and staff. When you arrive, please remain in your vehicle and use your cell phone to call us at 604-463-7100. We will bring your pet into the hospital for an examination with the veterinarian. The veterinarian will then call you to discuss our recommended treatment plan. After your appointment, a technician will return your pet to your car and take care of any needed medications and payment.

2. We are continuing to accept appointments for urgent or sick pets, as well as time-sensitive puppy/kitten vaccinations. All other services will be scheduled for a later time. However, if you're unsure whether your pet needs medical attention, please call us to discuss your situation.

3. We are still OPEN with the following hours:
Sunday to Saturday: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

4. If you are ordering food or medications, please allow 2-4 business days as our suppliers are dealing with increased demand and are trying to fill orders as quickly as possible. We will advise you as soon as your order arrives. Please call us when you arrive to pick up your order, but do not enter the hospital. Our staff will bring your order to your car. You can also use our online store and have your food delivered directly to your home. To sign up for the Online Store, please visit our website.

5. For the time being, we are not accepting cash as payment. Credit cards and debit card payments are still available.

6. Online consultations are now available! If you wish to connect with a veterinarian via message, phone or video, visit our website and follow the "Online Consultation" link.

7. Following the recommendations of our government and medical experts, we are doing our best to practice social distancing within the constraints of our jobs. We have taken these measures to avoid both contracting and facilitating the spread of this disease.

Thank you for helping us be diligent for everyone's safety. As we have heard from all levels of government, the situation is fluid, and any updates will be provided as changes occur.

- Your dedicated team at Alouette Animal Hospital