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Beaver Lake Animal Hospital
26325 SE 39th Street
Issaquah, WA 98029
(425)557-0752


Beaver Lake Animal Hospital

26325 SE 39th Street
Issaquah, WA 98029

(425)557-0752

beaverlakeah.com

Giardia

Giardia is a protozoal gastrointestinal parasite.  Giardia can cause significant illness with vomiting and diarrhea in animals and in humans. Most commonly we see pets with loose stool or recurrent diarrhea. However pets can be nonclinical carriers of giardia.  Nonclinical means that the parasite can be sustained without it causing illness.      

Giardia is considered zoonotic, which means it can infect animals and humans.  There are several types or ?assembleges? of giardia.  Different assemblages are parasitic for different species.  Some assemblages are parasitic for multiple species.   Dogs and cats may have a giardia in their system which may or may not be a parasitic assemblage for them.  They can harbor the assemblage that is parasitic for humans.  A recent study/Article (Giardia Update: Study finds domestic dogs infected with zoonotic Giardia at higher rates than dog-specific assemlages. Source: Covacin, C., et al., Genotypic characterization of Giardia from domestic dogs in the USA. Vet Parasitol. (2010), doi:10:1016/j.vetpar.2010.11.029) completed on healthy dogs in the western United States that were giardia positive (not all are test positive) show 69% for assemblages which may cause human illness.  This study varies from prior findings.

Giardia may be detected one of several ways which include fecal smears, fecal floatation, fecal centrifugation, ELISA assay and PCR assays.  Detecting giardia with smears, floatation and centrifugation can easily miss an infection.  ELISA and PCR assays are the most accurate in detecting infection.  The PCR can detect which assemblege is involved.  The ELISA and PCRs may detect the cyst protein for up to 2 weeks after an infection has cleared which can complicate retesting interpretation.

We typically have a fecal centrifugation plus ELISA completed on each fecal sample.  A PCR can be completed upon request for additional cost.

In our current lifestyles and environment we have a lot of chances for our pets to become infected and repeatedly reinfected.  Wildlife and other pets may contaminate our properties.  Pets may become infected in our yards or even in our homes from our shoes, etc that may carry cysts.  Pets may become infected at play care, boarding facilities and a number of other circumstances.  We really cannot 100% avoid the chance for infection.                                                                              

We can reduce contamination in our environments by allowing surfaces to be cleaned, rinsed well and dried fully.  Since we cannot dry all surfaces, such as grass, etc we can only reduce the chance of infection we cannot completely avoid it.  We can wash bedding and our pet supplies frequently.  Bathing animals regularly may decrease contamination of the environment if they have cysts on their coats.

Giardia is shed through the fecal matter.  Giardia is sustained longer in moist or wet environments.  It is when people or animals ingest viable giardia cysts that they become infected.  People and animals may also spread the cyst by having cysts on their moist or wet feet or shoes.  People and animals can readily contaminate an environment, or further spread the contamination simply by walking around from a contaminated area into a noncontaminated area.  Any contaminated area that stays wet may serve to allow infection.  For instance dogs may lick their feet that if they are moist and if there are giardia cysts they can become infected. 

For any patient with clinical signs it is clear that we need to treat them.  As well as the affected patient all pets in the household should be treated.  It is not as clear about treating pets that are nonclinical but test positive for giardia.  Let me explain a little more but keep in mind that the ELISA and PCRs may detect the cyst protein for up to 2 weeks after an infection has cleared.  During the 2 weeks after infection, a pet may readily reinfect.  So testing too early may not give an accurate result or may detect a reinfection. 

While some pets will clear the parasites without our intervention, treating giardia can be difficult. Giardia is becoming more and more resistant to the medications we have.   We normally start with one of 2 common medications.  After treatment we must consider about retesting.  If we have a negative result we know treatment was successful.  However if we have a positive result we don?t know if we have residual cyst protein which can give a false positive test or if we have treatment failure or reinfection. 

Now consider if we have a nonclinical patient, if they have a zoonotic assemblege then that could increase disease in humans or other pets in the household.  Consider also that the nonclinical patient can also spread giardia to other pets which may become ill.  Another factor to consider is most boarding, training and grooming places will ask for a negative fecal sample before they will allow the pet to attend (ironic since that may be where your pet picked up the infection).

So, if your nonclinical pet has a positive giardia test you have several choices.  You can elect to have a PCR test to help determine assemblege, if that will make a difference in your decision.  A PCR test is $ 100.   We recommend all positive patients be treated initially for 1 week or longer.  Retesting is recommended 2 weeks after treatments ends.   If you elect to treat you should consider treating all pets in the household at the same time or test the other pets.  Duration of treatment and timing of rechecks will be a collaborative decision we will make together.

Be aware that although transmission is not common from pets to their owners and from owners to their pets; it is possible so be sure to discuss giardia with your physician if you have any signs of illness.

For more information on Giardia, particularly in humans visit http://www.giardiasis.org  It gives information about how to avoid it and lots more. 

Heartworm and Other Parasite Information


We are now recommending year-round heartworm and parasite control.  There are reported cases of heartworm thought to be from local transmission.  The product we recommend, Interceptor by Novartis will both prevent heartworm infections and controll roundworms, hookworms and whipworms.  Several of these parasites have zoonotic potential.  Which means, these parasites can cause disease or illness in people.  The following information and pictures have been provided by Novartis.  The information as provided is specific to dogs, but, heartworm, roundworms and hookworms also affect cats. 
No Description
Heartworms
Heartworm
Heartworms are the most life-threatening canine worms, for they reside in the dog's heart and pulmonary arteries, causing heart failure and eventually death.
Adult worms are 10 to 30 cm in length and about 1 mm in diameter.
Transmission and life cycle
Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitos. When an infected mosquito bites a dog, it passes him the worms' larvae that start to migrate until they reach their final site (heart and pulmonary arteries) in about 3-4 months; here they grow to maturity (macrofilariae) within a further 3 months and start producing larvae (microfilariae) which can survive for about 2 years in the bloodstream. 
When a mosquito bites an infected dog, it picks up these larvae and can transmit the infection to other dogs.
Disease
Over time, the presence of the adult worms in heart and pulmonary arteries causes an inflammation and thickening of the walls of the blood vessels which leads to an increase in blood pressure and in the cardiac effort to push the blood in these vessels. As a consequence, the dog may develop heart failure, which can eventually lead him to death. Clinical symptoms usually appear only when the disease has reached a very severe stage (usually 3 to 5 years from infection). First signs consist of sporadic coughing and tiredness; as time passes, cough becomes chronic and is accompanied by difficult respiration, particularly during and after exercise, mild anemia and unthriftiness. In advanced cases, the dog may collapse after even light physical exertion. Most dogs eventually develop congestive heart failure.
Treating Heartworm Infection
Treatment of heartworm infection is a long and risky process. Dying heartworms as well as their larvae may determine shock and embolism. During therapy, dogs have to be strictly controlled for side effects, and their activity restricted for a few weeks. Moreover, in advanced cases, health will not be restored even after effective treatment.
For all these reasons it is now clear why prevention is so important.
Heartworm Prevention
In contrast to therapy, heartworm prevention is safe, easy and effective.Before prophylactic treatment is started, dogs should be tested for heartworm infection; those found to be infected have to be treated against adults and microfilariae, before a prevention program is started. Preventatives are usually administered monthly, starting within 1 month from the beginning of the mosquito season (or the exposure to a possible infection, e.g. during travelling to heartworm countries), until 1 month after the end of exposure.
Some preventatives are also effective against all other common dog worms thus ensuring a complete protection of your pet.
 

No Description
Roundworms

Roundworm

Roundworms, also called ascarids, are the most common worms of dogs and cats. The adult worms are found in the intestine and live on gut content. They resemble spaghetti-in the appearance, being 2-3 mm thick and up to 20 cm long.

How Roundworms are Transmitted

Almost all puppies are already infected while still in uterus or acquire the infection immediately after birth, through their mother's milk. In addition, roundworms can be acquired from the environment, by accidentally ingesting the infective eggs in contaminated soil or by eating infected rodents.

Understanding the Life Cycle of the Roundworm: The Key to Elimination

Adult roundworms live in the small intestine of dogs, where they lay up to 80,000 eggs per day. These eggs are shed in the environment through the dog's feces and, within a few weeks, an infective larva develops inside.

When a dog picks up the infective eggs, these hatches in its stomach and the larvae penetrate the stomach wall and start migrating to several organs before coming back to the intestine and develop into adult, egg-laying worms. Some larvae do not go back to the gut: they remain encysted in the various organs until a stimulus such as pregnancy, reactivates them and leads them to restart migrating and develop to adult worms in the intestine.

Disease

Roundworms are especially harmful to puppies, in which the migrating larvae can cause liver, lung and brain damage. The presence of the adult worms in the intestine leads to a gut inflammation, which affects digestion, development and growth. Common symptoms of heavy infections include vomiting, diarrhea, obstipation, colic, anemia, rachitic symptoms, poor growth and a "pot-bellied" appearance. A heavy accumulation of roundworms in a puppy can lead to death.

Treating Roundworm Infection

Since almost all puppies are already infected at birth, and are continuously reinfected through their mother's milk or through the environment, it is important to initiate the anthelmintic treatment in their very first weeks of life and to treat them frequently afterwards (e.g. fortnightly or monthly from 2 to 8 weeks of age, then monthly until they are 6 months old). Lady dogs should be treated concurrently. This will prevent puppies to develop the disease and to shed worm eggs through the feces, thus avoiding environmental contamination. Because of the extreme diffusion of roundworms, and the facility in getting the infection, adult dogs should also be treated regularly (e.g. 2-4 times per year). Many drugs are provided for treatment and prevention. Some of them are also effective against all other common dog worms thus ensuring a complete protection of your pet. Be sure to give to your pet the one that best satisfy his and your needs, in terms of ease of use, efficacy and safety (especially if very young pups are to be treated).

 
  Just a note, kittens are infected through their mothers milk, or other ingestion, not placentally as with puppies.

No Description
Hookworms

Hookworm

Hookworms are common parasites of the small intestine of dogs and cats.

How Hookworms are Transmitted

Dogs can be infected through the ingestion of hookworms' larvae from contaminated soil or from larvae actively boring through the dog's skin.

Puppies can also be infected immediately after birth through their mother's milk.

Understanding the Life Cycle of the Hookworm: The Key to Elimination

Adult hookworms live in the small intestine of dogs, where they lay eggs that are shed in the environment through the dog's feces. Within weeks, larvae hatch from the eggs, ready to infect the dog. After the infection, larvae start migrating, until they reach their final site, the intestine of the dog, where they develop into adult, egg-laying worms. Some larvae do not reach the gut: they remain encysted in various organs until a stimulus such as pregnancy, reactivates them and leads them to restart migrating, reach the gut and develop to adult worms.

Disease

Larvae boring through the skin cause a strong, itchy inflammation; migration through the respiratory system may determine inflammation and cough.

Adult worms attach to the intestinal wall with hook-like teeth and feed on blood and tissues, causing malaise, bloody diarrhea and anemia, which is worsened by their strong inclination to migrate on the internal gut surface, leaving bleeding wounds that are particularly dangerous to puppies. 

The presence of 500 worms can cause a 2 kg puppy to lose half its total blood volume in one day and leading it to death.

Treating Hookworm Infection

Since puppies are infected soon after birth, and are continuously reinfected through their mother's milk or through the environment, it is important to initiate the anthelmintic treatment in their very first weeks of life and to treat them frequently afterwards (e.g. fortnightly or monthly from 2 to 8 weeks of age, then monthly until they are 6 months old). Lady dogs should be treated concurrently. This will prevent puppies to develop the disease and to shed worm eggs through the feces, thus avoiding environmental contamination.

Because of the extreme diffusion of hookworms, and the facility in getting the infection, adult dogs should also be treated regularly (e.g. 2-4 times per year).

Many drugs are provided for treatment and prevention. Some of them are also effective against all other common dog worms thus ensuring a complete protection of your pet.Be sure to give to your pet the one that best satisfy his and your needs, in terms of ease of use, efficacy and safety (especially if very young pups are to be treated).

 
 

No Description
Whipworms

Dog Whipworms

Whipworms are common parasites of the large intestine of dogs; they are thin and 5-7 cm long.
Using their mouths as a spear-like sword, whipworms slash and puncture the intestine wall and feed on the released blood and tissue fluids.
How Whipworms are Transmitted
A dog may acquire whipworms by accidentally ingesting the infective eggs in contaminated soil. The extreme resistance of these eggs makes the environmental control very difficult.
Understanding the Life Cycle of the Whipworm: The Key to Elimination
In the intestine of the dog, the eggs hatch and, in a few weeks, the larvae develop to adult, egg-laying worms. Since the eggs are not shed regularly, diagnosis can be difficult and several stool examinations may be required.
Disease
Because of their feeding habits, whipworms can cause bloody diarrhea, weight loss, anemia and dehydration, especially in case of heavy infestation.
Treating Whipworm Infection
A number of anthelmintic products are marketed for the treatment of whipworms. A few of them are also effective against all other common dog worms thus ensuring a complete protection of your pet.
Be sure to give to your pet the one that best satisfy his and your needs, in terms of ease of use, efficacy and safety (especially if very young pups are to be treated).