Not only worms but also parasitic protozoa threaten the dog’s intestinal health and can cause infections. Giardia is the most common. Giardia is a microscopic, unicellular parasite whose evolutionary development is still largely unknown. If Giardia had a memory, you might still remember saber-toothed tigers or Miacis, the ancestor of all canine animals. In the intestines of these prehistoric creatures and their descendants, Giardia has saved their existence up to modern times.
Puppies particularly affected
And so they still make life difficult for many dogs today. Giardia is one of the most common parasites in dogs, along with roundworms. They colonize the animals’ intestines, where they multiply and encapsulate, causing diarrhea, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
Hundreds of thousands of infectious cysts are excreted in the animal’s feces. Infection occurs through sniffing and licking feces piles and ingesting contaminated feed or drinking water.
According to research, almost 20 percent of all dogs are infected with Giardia. Puppies and young dogs under the age of six months are particularly affected. With them, the infestation rate can even be up to 70 percent.
Transferable to humans
Adult dogs often remain asymptomatic for a long time. This increases the risk of an undetected spread of the intestinal parasite by the infected animals. Due to the high risk of infection, dogs should be examined for this pathogen and treated if the result is positive because Giardia has zoonotic potential. This means that a disease can also be transmitted to humans. The veterinarian decides which treatment promises the greatest success.
However, dog owners can significantly support the success of the therapy with appropriate hygiene measures. This includes absolute cleanliness of the drinking and feeding bowls, immediate intake, and disposal of the excrement. Avoiding places where many dogs go for a walk and regularly clean the skin and coat, especially on the back of the body including the tail.
Coccidia & Worms
In addition to giardia, other unicellular intestinal parasites – coccidia – threaten the dog’s health. Puppies and young animals are particularly affected. In addition, roundworms and hookworms, the dog tapeworm, and the fox tapeworm are among the unpleasant intestinal parasites. Dogs that travel or are brought from abroad are also at risk of contracting heartworm. People can also become infected with these types of worms. Regular deworming is therefore an absolute must when humans and animals live together. The frequency of treatment depends on the dog’s age and living conditions.