Vet tips: Contracting Giardia from water sources |

Vet tips: Contracting Giardia from water sources

Mace Dekker, DVM
Special to The Union

My dog likes to swim in and drink water from local creeks and lakes in Penn Valley and Grass Valley.

We go almost every day. Is she at risk of contracting Giardia?

I had a friend who's dog got it and it was very expensive to treat.

Unfortunately you are correct, dogs (and people) can get Giardia drinking contaminated water, and it's not uncommon in this area.

Having said that, a lot of dogs are asymptomatic; just because they are swimming or drinking the water doesn't mean they will get it.

Giardia is a protozoa that causes diarrhea, and if left untreated, it can develop to bloody diarrhea and vomiting requiring hospitalization.

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Fortunately, most of the time Giardia is pretty easily treatable, if caught in time (when they start to have diarrhea).

Another thing they can get from the rivers is Leptospirosis which is more of a concern.

I would make sure your dog is current on those vaccines, since it's something that can cause the kidneys to fail.

How do I get rid of worms?

Both cats and dogs have problems with worms if they spend significant time outside.

For cats, the most common problem is tapeworms.

These can be contracted by eating infected rodents, or as in dogs, by chewing at (and ingesting) fleas which are the intermediate host.

For dogs, the more common problem is roundworms (or hookworms), which can be picked up from the environment or even through their mother's milk.

People can occasionally get these worms (especially kids), and it can cause significant disease.

Each parasite is sensitive to different medications, so it is important to know what parasite is present.

Most heartworm preventatives also have a regular dewormer that takes care of most worms on a monthly basis.

Grass Valley Veterinary Hospital's Mace Dekker, DVM, will answer questions regarding pets each month in the Vet Tips. Have a question? Submit it to, attention Dr. Dekker.

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