(KCBS) – Giardia has been described as a cause of “camper’s diarrhea,” but dogs and cats get this as well. KCBS’ Jeff Bell spoke to Dr. Jack Aldridge, Director of Veterinary Services at The San Francisco SPCA, about this disease in this week’s Animal Update.

Giardia is a protozoan infection of the intestines and is very common. Most dogs contract this disease by drinking water contaminated by other animals, either wildlife or domestic. Since this is the rainy season in the Bay Area, we see many cases of Giardia.

The most common symptom is stubborn diarrhea, sometimes with lots of gas and occasionally, bloody mucus, usually without stomach upset or loss of appetite. If you see these symptoms, collect a stool sample and visit your veterinarian right away. And always wash up well after handling your pet and fecal samples. Although rare, it’s possible for people to acquire Giardia directly from animals.

For treatment, the drug called metronidazole (better known as Flagyl) is commonly used first, though other medications are indicated for stubborn infections. The classic, “soft bland diet,” of well-cooked white rice and lean protein can also help. Dogs do not acquire permanent immunity to Giardia after treatment, so they can contract the disease again. And although a vaccine is available, experts don’t consider it effective in most situations.

For more information visit the San Francisco SPCA website: www.sfspca.org.

Animal Update airs on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM on Sundays at 1:35 p.m., 3:35 p.m., and 9:21 p.m.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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