Giardiasis is caused by Giardia lamblia, a single-celled parasite that is part of flagellated protozoa (Giardia intestinalis, or duodenalis or lamblia). It can affect dogs, cats, other animals and even humans and causes a disease known as giardiasis (in humans it belongs to the group of the traveller’s diarrhea).
Normally, the transmission of Giardia occurs by fecal-oral route through the ingestion of contaminated food, water or earth. The life cycle is direct and does not require intermediate guests.
Giardia in stool appears in two forms: mobile, flagellated (i.e. the form taken in the intestine) or cystic (more common to be found in stool exams). In the cystic form Giardia is able to survive for several months in the environment, especially where there is a lot of water and humidity. Once the cysts enter the organism through the mouth, they mature in the intestine and become trophozoites. Here they reproduce and can begin to produce cysts that are excreted through the feces.
Giardia affects about 10% in dogs living in the family, from 36% to 50% in puppies and up to 100% in breeding kennels.
The prevalence in cats varies from 1.4 to 11%.
Most infections in which the cysts pass into the feces are asymptomatic. However, sometimes the symptoms can become manifest, especially in puppies and kittens, in older animals, in debilitated animals, in those suffering from other diseases (for example cats with FIV and FeLV), as well as in those with multiple intestinal verminoses.
Here then the symptoms are:
- Diarrhea (acute, liquid, sometimes intermittent)
- Loss of weight
- Mucous and foul-smelling stools, sometimes with streaks of blood
- It may occur with a single discharge of very strong diarrhoea or with multiple and repeated discharges
- Sometimes lethargy in cats
- Loss of appetite
- Stunted growth
An early diagnosis of the disease is the best way to safe your pet’s life.
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