What is Giardia in Dogs?
Giardiasis, sometimes called “beaver fever,” is the disease caused by infection with tiny parasites that live in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of most mammals, including dogs and humans. These parasites are called giardia. They also infect birds. Giardia are found world-wide. Dogs become infected by ingesting contaminated water, food or feces. While infection with giardia is common, disease is not. Some dogs never show signs of discomfort, while others show mild to moderate signs of abdominal pain. Young puppies and dogs with weak immune systems can have severe reactions to the parasites, including appetite loss, diarrhea, weight loss, tiredness, dehydration, weakness, bloody or pale-colored, greasy, strong-smelling stools and sometimes death. Giardia pose a risk to immune-compromised people, including the elderly, newborns, pregnant women and people with cancer, AIDS or other serious diseases. Regular veterinary check-ups, including fecal examinations, can usually identify giardia infections. These examinations are especially important at the end of summer, after the hot season.