Because “Fecal Matter” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Today we’re going to get up close and personal with one of our favorite bodily secretions. (Can I get a show of hands?!) Most of us monitor our pet’s poop like a hawk and can describe even the slightest change in graphic detail. “It was less of a lemon chiffon and more of a saffron gold.” These observations are often very helpful for veterinary professionals, and we encourage you to keep a watchful eye. So what has us all pent up about poop today? Here’s a hint… it has four syllables and sounds like the name for “the clumsy, well-meaning Gungan outcast on Naboo”. But no, it’s not Jar Jar Binks. It is….
Giardia!!! (Sung to the tune of “Activia!”)
So heres the low down on this lil’ guy. Giardia is a one-celled parasite that we see pretty frequently in NYC. It is not a worm, but a Protozoa rather. You cannot see it with the naked eye, or even the well dressed eye. (–Dad Joke.) We see it in both cats and dogs; sometimes without any symptoms present. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to bring in a fecal sample for routine testing every six months. But more often than not, a giardia infection is accompanied by diarrhea and/or vomiting.
There are many ways for giardiasis to be contracted. Simply walking the streets of New York provides ample opportunity for the spread of this parasite. So why all the fuss now? Well, spring has *officially* sprung and the days are getting warmer. Your dog isn’t the only one feeling the sun – the snow is melting, and the piles of poop under it are too. When your dog comes home from a walk and licks his paws, he may be licking up particles of poop from an infected dog. Therefore we recommend washing your dog’s feet and rear end every time you come home from a walk with a gentle, oatmeal based shampoo or a gentle wipe. Try and keep your dog from eating or sniffing at poop during your walks, and know that this parasite can be spread through shared water bowls as well.
Giardiasis is treatable and the prognosis is often good. But here’s the kicker: Giardia can potentially be spread from dogs to humans. If your pet has tested positive for giardia, be sure to practice high standards of hygiene and wash your hands after contact with their poop. We recommend disinfecting your pet’s environment with a 1:16 diluted concentration of bleach both on the first and last days of treatment. Wash all of their bedding and allow the area to dry thoroughly before reintroducing your pet.
If you have any questions or concerns, give us a call at 212-924-6116. Have a fantastic Spring and keep an eye out for the newest Pantone color, Giardia Brown.
Written by Lauren Gamiel, Veterinary Assistant