Ever heard a tourist say “don’t drink the water” and wondered why when visiting a third world country it’s advisable to drink bottled water? Often light heartily referred to as Montezuma’s Revenge, it can be not only deadly for you but for your susceptible Pit Bull.
The medical term is Guardia Lamblia and it is a parasitic protozoa. This tiny single cell organism is found in all fifty states and may be lurking in your back yard or even on the unwashed food you just brought home.
The Guardia parasite is often ingested through fecal matter. It can live in the intestine of humans and dogs. Outside the host body it can live in a warm environment and can be spread in water or when coming in contact with a food source.
When a dog eats Guardia infected feces or drinks Guardia contaminated water his symptoms will usually be watery, foul smelling diarrhea but he may not vomit which is a symptom more common in human cases. Pups are more likely to show symptoms than adult dogs. Giardia if untreated will cause severe weight loss and an in ability to thrive in growing dogs.
Giardia is one of the few parasitic infections that can be transmitted from dogs to humans and vise versa. 50% of all puppies may become infected with Giardia but it is fairly easy to diagnose by your vet with a fecal smear or stool sample.
The treatment for dogs and humans are the same and that is a course of the medication, metronidazoke. This drug will kill the Giardia protozoa living within the intestinal track. One thing for you and your Pit to avoid is drinking from lakes and streams especially when beavers may be present. Any body of non salt water may contain the parasite. Your Pit should not be allowed near diaper pails or around infants with soiled clothing.
Next time you take you Pit for a hike and both of you are tempted to take a drink from a cool mountain stream, don’t!