Diagnosing parasites is a stinky business but someone has to do it!
The world of intestinal parasites tends to give most people the creeps. Knowing that creepy crawlies could be setting up camp in your beloved pet’s GI tract is a cause for concern. Intestinal parasites can be a health concern for both you and your pet. So as you look over & see Fluffy sitting on the couch or curled up on your bed, you should stop and think. When was the last parasite check I did on Fluffy?
How do I get my pet checked for parasites?
Parasitism cannot be confirmed by the naked eye therefore your veterinarian will recommend having the feces examined microscopically for the presence of parasite eggs. This laboratory test is performed in the clinic by means of special chemicals, a microscope and qualified technicians.
This test is referred to as a Fecal Floatation, or Fecal. A diagnosis of a roundworm, hookworm, whipworm or coccidia infection can be determined in this manor. However, not all parasites are easily detected by this method. Giardia is one of these parasites.
What are Giardia?
Giardia are sometimes confused with worms because they invade the gastrointestinal tract and can cause diarrhea. They are not worms; instead, they are one-celled parasites classified as protozoa.
Some pets that are infected with Giardia do not have diarrhea or any other visible signs of illness. However, in puppies or kittens and debilitated adults, they may cause severe, watery diarrhea that may be serious. Giardia can also cause changes in the lining of the intestines leading to food allergies and chronic diarrhea.
How could my pet get Giardia?
A pet becomes infected with Giardia when it swallows the cyst stage of the parasite in food or water that are contaminated with feces. Once inside the pet’s intestine, the cyst goes through several stages of maturation. Eventually, the pet is able to pass infective cysts in the stool. These cysts lie in the environment and can infect other pets.
How is giardiasis diagnosed?
Giardiasis is diagnosed by performing a microscopic examination of a stool sample. The cysts are quite small and usually require a special floatation medium for detection, so they are not normally found on routine fecal examinations. Occasionally, the parasites may be seen on a direct smear of fresh feces. A test is also available for detection of antigens (cell proteins) of Giardia in the stool. This test is much more accurate and can now be performed in the clinic.
Since starting to test for Giardia infections, we have had 36% of our samples test positive. Our recommendation is to perform a Comprehensive Fecal including a Fecal Floatation and a Giardia Ag Test on a yearly basis.
Can humans become infected with Giardia?
Giardia is a zoonotic parasite that can cause diarrhea in humans. Children are especially susceptible. Giardia is sometimes referred to as Beaver Fever, as people often become infected from exposure to contaminated lakes, creeks, and ponds where wildlife may defecate.
9 Steps to Help Prevent Parasite Infection.
1. Routine fecal and Giardia testing for your pet.
2. Practice good hygiene. Wash hands regularly, especially after handling pets or cleaning up pet waste.
3. Remove pet dropping from your yard at least 2-3 times a week. Daily is best.
4. Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
5. Keep pets flea-free. Ingestion of fleas can transmit tapeworms to animals and people.
6. Do not allow children to go barefoot, sit or lie on playgrounds or in parks where they are exposed to animal stools. Hookworm larvae can penetrate the skin.
7. Clean cat litter boxes, daily, and wash hands afterwards.
8. Do not drink water from streams or other sources that may be contaminated with animal feces.
9. Keep pets clean; bathe pet after Deworming.