Alongside socialising and potty training, one of the most important things you need to do when bringing your new puppy home is to keep him healthy. As puppies are young and their immune systems are not yet fortified, they're more susceptible to infections that can harm them. One such infection is Giardiasis, caused by the Giardia parasite. Puppies who contract the infection can suffer diarrhoea, nausea, excessive gas, weight loss and fatigue. If left untreated, the infection can spread to you and your family, or even kill your dog. Here are 3 tips on how to keep your dog safe from this dangerous illness.
Keep Your Puppy Away From Other Dogs' Faeces
One of the most common ways the Giardia parasite gets into a dog's system is by coming into contact with faecal matter than contains the parasite. While ingesting other dogs' faeces is one way the parasite can enter the system, your dog can also get Giardiasis from standing or sitting in contaminated faeces then licking himself. That's why it's important to keep your dog away from other dogs' faeces where possible. Avoid dog parks or trails where owners fail to clean up after their dogs and stick to cleaner, fresher areas, at least while your dog is young. After a walk, try to remove muddiness from your puppy before he licks himself. You can use a damp washcloth or wet wipe to do this.
Avoid Stagnant Water
Another source of Giardia parasites is stagnant water. If you live in an area with high rainfall, avoid walking near areas that are flooded, very muddy, or full of puddles. Giardia parasites can get into the water through faecal matter. As the water is stagnant, those parasites won't wash away like they would in streams, greatly increasing chances of infection if your dog comes into contact with the water (either by drinking it or swimming in it). Instead of walking your dog in these areas, opt for dry parks and trails without ponds or swampy areas, especially if you live in a wet, tropical part of Australia.
Get the Giardia Vaccine
The Giardia vaccine isn't a core vaccination (one of the routine shots all puppies get), but there's no reason you can ask your vet about getting it anyway. This is an especially good idea if your puppy seems to be more susceptible to infection or fails to stay away from potential contaminants. The vaccine can even be given to puppies who already have Giardiasis, as it can help the body fight off the infection and reduce both negative symptoms and risk of transmission.